Don’t tell us you didn’t have a break out into a Cheshire grin when you heard the royal wee ones would be having key roles in Pippa Middleton’s May 20th wedding?! The outfits alone would be reason enough to justify having Prince George, 4, as page boy and Princess Charlotte, 2, as a bridesmaid; however, this recent revelation also got us thinking about the implications of including kids in the wedding party. While yes, they are precious and darling scene stealers, wee ones can also be a serious handful! Anyone considering including kids in the wedding party needs to be prepared for all that this decision entails.
We asked Toronto-based wedding and events planner Gillian Roberts, principal at Gillian Roberts Co. for her thoughts on the subject.
Weddingbells: In your opinion, what is the minimum age a child should be before being included in a wedding party?
Gillian Roberts: “Every wedding and every child is different, however I like to say that if you can ask a child to be in your wedding, and they understand what that means, they are old enough to have the responsibility and will be able to take direction on the day of. Typically around four years old.”
WB: What are the ideal roles for young kids? Can you have more than one child in the wedding party? (Or is that just a recipe for chaos!)
GR: “Having multiple children in the wedding party can actually be very helpful, especially if there is one older child the other children look up to. You can ask the younger children to follow the older child and do what he/she does. I’ve seen this work well on a number of occasions. In terms of roles there are the traditional flower girls (and boys) and ring bearers but I’ve also seen sign carriers, train bearers and children who come in on wagons or with the family dog. I also have one client whose own young son is the best man, which is bound to be adorable and very special for the parents.”
WB: What can one expect to go wrong, or not quite according to plan, when it comes to having kids in the wedding party?
GR: “When it comes to having children in your wedding party—especially children under four—you have to be prepared that their involvement in the wedding will ultimately be a day-of decision. Parents and the bride and groom can do everything they can to prepare the little one to be in the wedding, but as a mother to a toddler myself I know every day is different and if the toddler is refusing to walk down the aisle or having a temper tantrum, there is little that can be done, so you must be prepared to skip their turn if required. Accordingly, I suggest not spending much time or money preparing for their involvement because there’s always a fairly good chance it may not actually happen.”
WB: What is the child’s parent’s role in the event?
GR: “The parents have a significant role when their children are in the wedding. You often see the mother of the children at the front of the aisle coaxing the children toward her with cookies and treats, which she’ll then use to try and keep them quiet during the ceremony. The parents have to be fully on board with the child’s inclusion and understand the bride and groom’s expectations. The parents also have to be prepared more often than not, that small children will refuse to walk down the aisle and may need to be carried in.”
WB: Do you have any other tips and tricks for including the little ones in a wedding?
GR: “As a parent, I think the most important thing is to first ask the children’s parents if they would like to have their child in the wedding and never to assume. For many parents, going to a friend or family member’s wedding is a rare night out and bringing a young child can be a lot of work. Logistically, they have to get them there and take them home for bedtime (or arrange a babysitter to do this) but also there is a lot of stress trying to ensure the ceremony goes smoothly and your child isn’t having a mid-aisle temper tantrum. Children in a wedding party are such a lovely idea, and a picture of the bride with small children surrounding her is very majestic. In actuality, however, there are a lot of risks associated with having kids in a wedding. If you’re low key and completely comfortable with the idea that there could be crying and screaming before you say ‘I do’ then go for it; but if you’re a perfectionist and that’s going to bother you it may be best to skip on the little ones for your big day.”