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Taking care of young children
in the wedding party
If the young people are 5 or older, you can probably relax. They will be able to do what you ask them to do and will probably listen better at the rehearsal than the adults in the wedding party.

For children under 5, you need to make some judgments, based on the temperament of the child and the stress of the situation. If you are not sure your little ring bearer will actually be there when the officiant needs the rings, give the real rings to the Best Man and Maid of Honor and put two dime-store rings on the pillow. If the Ring Bearer "bails out" at the last minute, you will still have the rings when you need them in the ceremony.

You may want to arrange for several rescue points for children under 5 who either may not make it down the aisle at the beginning of the wedding or who may not be able to stand with the wedding party for the duration of the ceremony.

The 1st rescue point is to have an adult known to the child(ren) but not in the wedding present with the Bride's party just prior to the processional. If "nerves" suddenly strike, that adult will be there to take the child to sit with other relatives and watch the wedding. Young children's successful performance at the rehearsal often has little to do with how they will perform with all the guests watching!

Another rescue point can be arranged for young people in the wedding party who you think will be able to do the processional, but may not be able to stand or stand still during the wedding ceremony. Arrange for a relative of the youngster to be sitting on the center aisle toward the front. The child processes in and then is invited by Grandma, or whoever, to sit with them and watch the wedding. The children can be reinserted into the wedding party as the recessional passes by on the way out.

A 3rd rescue point for children under 5 is to designate a member of the wedding party (a Bridesmaid for a Flower Girl; a Groomsman for a Ring Bearer) who is given specific permission and responsibility to decide when and if the young person should be offered a hand and walked to a waiting relative among your guests. Bribes of lifesavers or quarters work sometimes; hissing and threats never work.

The wedding was underway and everyone had successfully arrived at the front of the Chapel. There were 4 or 5 bridesmaids and ushers. Two or three minutes into the ceremony, the 3-year-old flower girl started squirming. As time went on, the squirming increased, and in distress the flower girl finally turned to the Maid of Honor and said "I have to go potty."

The Maid of Honor didn't really know how to solve the flower girl's problem at that moment, and told her to be quiet. The squirming escalated and there were more announcements of a similar nature. The bridesmaids stood like statues.

Then the flower girl began to cry. No one was taking her seriously. She really had to go! Everyone was frozen in place.

Finally, the organist, having watched the squirming and heard the comments, took the situation and the little girl in hand and walked her off the altar area and into the choir room where there was a bathroom. The flower girl (much relieved) and the organist were back in their places before the wedding was over. A large percentage of the guests were not even aware that the flower girl had left the scene temporarily.

The Lesson:
Always have a designated member of the wedding party authorized and encouraged to deal with the needs of 3 or 4-year olds during the wedding!

The responsible adult should not be your Maid of Honor or Best Man. He or she may have other responsibilities during the wedding ceremony that would prevent them from taking care of a youngster. If the young person was walked off the altar to sit with a relative, he or she can be reinserted into the passing Recessional if they choose. 

Submitted by:
Dave Sugarbaker


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