Thursday, August 5, 2010

Flower Girls, Ring Bearers, and Meltdowns... Oh My!

A tiny ring bearer in a mini-tux and petite flower girls with poofy dresses are such a cute sight at a wedding.  But before you plan for the young'uns to walk down the aisle, consider their ages and what is likely to happen when they are confronted with a room full of strangers watching them.

Flower girls and ring bearers should typically be between the ages of three and seven. At this age, they are usually able to follow directions, understand what they will be doing, and even enjoy the attention.  It can be tempting to dress up your best friend's one year old and put her in the wedding, but kids younger than three are much more unpredictable.  I have seen baby flower girls run up the aisle with glee at the rehearsal and then erupt into tears and screaming when prompted to walk down the aisle on wedding day.  I've had baby ring bearers that are known as happy go lucky kids, refuse to walk down the aisle and then run the other way.  Your best bet is to stick to the age guidelines and choose children no younger than three to participate in the wedding.  But if you just can't resist showcasing that adorable bundle of joy, here are some tips to prevent kid meltdowns.

Bring a Buggy ~ For babies and young toddlers, instead of having them walk down the aisle, consider rolling them down the aisle! You can decorate (or have your florist decorate) a wagon or stroller with flowers and ribbons to fit in beautifully with the ceremony decor.  An older child can pull the wagon down the aisle, eliminating the worry that the youngest kids will refuse to walk or will run the wrong way!

Use the Buddy System ~ Don't expect a one-year old to walk down the aisle alone.  Even the most energetic, cheerful kids can get scared and confused when faced with a long aisle lined with strange faces. Give young children a buddy!  The buddy will be another flower girl or ring bearer that is slightly older and someone the young child already knows. The buddy can help the young child get down the aisle and hold his or her hand if necessary.

Utilize the Power of Parents ~ There is no one a child trusts more than her own parents.  Tantrums and meltdowns seem to occur most often when the child is left alone.  If a young flower girl or ring bearer's parent is in the wedding party, consider having the child walk the aisle with the parent.  If the parents are not in the wedding party, then one of the parents can wait with the child in the lineup for the processional and be there to help prompt the child when to walk.  In case of a temper tantrum, that parent is then on hand to carry the child down the aisle (and back out the door if necessary).

Walk and Be Seated ~ You want to make the experience as easy, fun, and comfortable as possible for children participants.  Avoid making young children stand up at the altar with the wedding party for the entire ceremony.  They are likely to get tired, restless, and even cranky.  Once a flower girl or ring bearer walks down the aisle, it is usually best if they go sit in the audience with a parent or family member.

Remember the Rings ~ If you have a tiny little ring bearer, it is not his job to remember the rings.  The best man should hang on to the rings until it is time to lineup for the ceremony.  At that time, the rings should be tied on to the ring bearer's cushion.  However, tiny tots are known for their tantrums.  That ring cushion could get thrown, tossed, trampled, or misplaced.  The safest option when dealing with young ring bearers is to use fake rings on the cushion while the best man and maid of honor carry the real rings.

Be realistic when incorporating kids into your ceremony.  Considering the comfort and abilities of your youngest wedding participants in advance will help curb any meltdowns and disturbances during your Big Day.

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