Ask Team Practical: Involving Kids in the Ceremony

Hi there! My fiancé and I are stoked to have four awesome kids in our lives—two stepsiblings: a boy, ten, and a girl, four; one cousin: a girl, five; and one nephew, four. We’d really like to involve them in the ceremony, but while I think flower girls and ring bearers are adorable, I feel like these kids are getting hit with enough gender reinforcement every day. I don’t feel compelled to stick the two girly, but also totally fierce and rambunctious girls, in white dresses and expect them to behave like glowy little angels and feel important because they have baskets full of flower petals (again, not that this sounds un-fun!). And I don’t feel inclined either, to stick the two boys in mini-suits and expect them to be entertained by the somber task of carrying something tiny and expensive. Those scenarios don’t entirely reflect the kind of bride I want to be, or the kind of groom my guy wants to be, so why project it on kids? So, should we have them draw straws to wear the rings hanging from yarn around their necks, while the whole group rambles down the aisle while jamming out on kazoos, or drums, or just hollering “THE WEDDING’S STARTING, EVERYBODY!”? Have other couples come up with fun ideas for this?


Dear Lindsay,

Your ideas are awesome! Maybe they can throw confetti, or carry banners, balloons, or streamers. Maybe they can sing! The cuteness options seem endless (the kazoos? My favorite idea of the bunch).

But, really? You should just ask them! Kids have pretty good ideas, and they’re usually practiced at thinking outside of the box. They might (okay, probably will) come up with some hair-brained ideas involving candy and circus animals, but there also might be some (not-quite-as-good-but) practical ones in there.

While you’re careful not to project the stuffy old gender stereotypes onto kids, maybe be careful you’re not projecting your own ideas onto them either. Meg says, “Ask the kids what they want. I would have knifed you in the back if you’d taken away a cute dress and flower petals from me as a flower girl. I didn’t care what kind of girl you wanted me to be; I cared about what kind of girl I actually was (and I think sometimes adults forget that?). Maybe your little girls like pants. Great! But maybe they like puffy pink dresses, and that’s okay too. And same goes for the boys, on both the pants and the puffy pink dresses front.” Apparently Meg’s still not over not getting that puffy dress when she was a flower girl.

Your ideas are great, but figuring out what kind of attendants the kids want to be is the nicest thing you could do for them.



I have a very spread out family. My youngest brother is the same age as my fiancé‘s niece, who will be our flower girl, so I was thinking he could be the ring bearer, which I think he’d be happy about. I have another brother, though, who is twelve—he’s great, and I’d love to have him involved. But I don’t know where to put him. I’m not big on the junior groomsman idea, and neither is my fiancé. Usher is an idea, but I’m not sure about that, either. My fiancé has an eleven-year-old nephew who’s a bit less responsible and doesn’t really like people (he’s a sweet kid inside, just more introverted and scatterbrained). I don’t think usher would work for him, but with his sister as the flower girl, and my brothers being similar ages, I don’t want to leave him out. I have no idea what to do with them!

I’m open to outside-the-box ideas… I just don’t have any! Help?


Dear Allyson,

Not to be redundant, but I’m gonna suggest what I did above—ask them! Maybe they have some great ideas of what they’d like to do. Maybe one of them will tell you they actually would rather not be involved at all, which is fine too. Just because they’re close in age doesn’t mean they need to have the same role. You may want to think of two different jobs for their two different personalities, or let one sit it out, if he’d prefer.

Like we’ve talked about before, there are a few ways to honor and involve the folks you love. You can have them carry stuff (it’s not just for ring bearers!), from candles to other decorative elements to books and things that are integral to the ceremony. You can have them incorporate some of their talents—maybe your brother is awesome with a guitar and can play while you enter, or your nephew is a budding artist and can design the program (perfect for the introverts). Doing a special reading is always an option, too, but may not suit your introverted nephew.

I know you’ve nixed the “usher” idea, but I’m wondering what aspects aren’t what you’d like. You could pick and choose pieces of this role—maybe have them just hand out programs, or only walk your parents or other honored guests to their seats.

But, really? Just ask them! At worst, they’ll just shrug at you while playing with their phones in that way that preteens do, but there’s also a good chance you’ll find out what they’d really like to do to celebrate your wedding. At the very least, it gives you a chance to find out more about who they are.


Alright, Team Practical, help these ladies out. Did you have any kids involved in your ceremony? How did you help them to feel a part of the action?

Photo: Moodeous Photography.

If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!


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  • Annie

    We had a Flower Boy and Ring Girl at our wedding. The kids didn’t care–they were just pumped to get to walk down the aisle. It was a subtle but fun way to shake up people’s conceptions of gender at an otherwise highly gendered event.

    • One More Sara

      I love that :) Here in NL, most kids who participate in weddings are simply called wedding kids. (At least that’s how it’s always been translated to me. I can’t for the life of me remember what the actual Dutch term is to translate it directly.)

      • Taylor B

        Totally stealing this term! We have 10 kids currently saying they would like to participate, (we invited every cousin and all of the older cousins’ children) so we are still in the process of coming up with jobs (probably bubble-blowing, I’m thinking) and I’ve been really unsure what to call them in our program. Wedding Kids is PERFECT!

  • One More Sara

    I’m in a similar pickle to Alyson’s. I want to ask a boy I used to babysit to be an usher at our wedding, but I feel bad asking him without asking his brother. (Younger brother, budding actor, professional schmoozer; older brother, not good at picking up social cues leads to uncomfortable situations). My solution? The older brother volunteers to do the sound for church services a couple times a year (the same church we are getting married in), so I want to ask him to manage the sound for our ceremony.

    My advice is to think about what your important pre-teens/teenagers are good at. If you don’t think they would like the traditional roles you might put them in, ask their opinion, maybe with one practical alternative. Younger children are good with thinking out of the box, but pre-teens/teens might be embarrassed to be excited about being in your wedding, or they might have rigid preconceived constructs for what their options are. After you present a different, less traditional option, I think a (pre)teen will be more likely to open up about what really is important to him/her.

    • Diane

      Can I just say what an incredibly awesome idea I think that is? I’m doing a little happy dance in my office at the thought of that one…

  • Kathleen

    I second handing stuff out and carrying stuff up for kids. We went with traditional flower girls for my husband’s nieces, but there are way more kids in our lives than we could comfortably involve in a ceremony, so we had a representative from each family bring up the gifts during the Mass – which obviously doesn’t work in every ceremony, but there might be variations that would work in other situations? My cousin had a bunch of our cousins as ring bearers, and they walked down the aisle, but then handed out the bubble or bells or whatever they used at the end of the ceremony. The same would work for handing out programs at the beginning, I’m sure, even without the walking down the aisle.

  • When I was about nine I was in my aunt and uncle’s wedding as a “junior bridesmaid” and honestly? As much as I was stoked to be in the wedding itself all I wanted was to be a flower girl and was kind of disappointed that I had a more grown up role.

    So same advice: ask the kids! Even if you don’t like the ideas that they come up with, they’ll probably at least give you a hint of what would make them happiest that you can work with. For example a child who answers that question with “I want to marry you” would be interested in announcing your first dance or your entrance into the reception as a married couple.

  • KW

    We had an extremely small and private ceremony next to a waterfall at a state park, because we have huge families and didn’t want a huge wedding. It was a surprise to most of our families, but we did have my sister (who took pictures) and her family and his brother. We didn’t have attendants or anything, as you might guess. I bought disposable cameras for my sisters 3 children (boy age 11, and 2 girls age 8 and 3) so they could take pictures and feel like they were part of things. The results are both sweet and hilarious, especially the ones taken by the 3 year old.

    Having kids take pictures may not work in a more formal setting because you wouldn’t want them accidentally getting in the way of your professional photographer, but for a more low-key ceremony like ours, it worked out very well.

    • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

      I want to see your wordless wedding. Or, y’know, somehow see the 3-year-old’s work. That sounds amazing.

  • Erin

    I think asking the kids is a GREAT idea!

    What I love about your question, though, is that it shows a willingness to let the kids enjoy themselves and BE KIDS. I see so many weddings where people get upset if the kids misbehave or squirm and fidget or play with their clothes or do anything at all child-like.

    I think it’s GREAT to have kids involved in your wedding, but also that you have to be realistic about what they can do and what you expect. If the kids are younger, you might want to have some backup plans, too (is there someone who won’t hate to miss the ceremony who can take a fussy or loud child out? Are they allowed to sit with grandparents after walking down the aisle?).

    If you’re comfortable with the idea that the kids in your wedding might stop midaisle and pick their nose or shout things out in the middle of the ceremony (I’ve seen both happen) or mess up the poem or announcement, that eases a lot of stress AND opens up a lot of options. If it doesn’t matter if it’s perfect, you can let kids do a lot more things. They can sing songs, recite short poems, introduce you, be part of a special dance, carry important items, draw pictures for the program, hand out programs or bubbles or bird seed, help man the guest book, heck, they could even usher important people down the aisle.

    I absolutely love seeing kids involved in or present at a wedding. It brings a real sense of family and love and community to things that somehow feels missing for me when everyone meets an age limit.

    • KW

      oh, this reminds me of something my older sister did when she married her 2nd husband. Her daughter was 4 at the time and her husband had a nephew about the same age that he wanted to include. They did a mix of traditional and unique ideas with the children. In addition to being a flower girl and ring bearer respectively, just before the end of the ceremony, the two children sang the Barney “I love you, you love me, we’re a happy family” song (it was back in Barney’s hey-day). Even as adults now, the two consider themselves as true cousins, not step-cousins.

      Then at the brunch reception, in the spirit of the bouquet/garter toss, they threw little bags of candy for the other kids to catch. That continued to involve them, and had the added benefit keeping the little kids out of the bouquet/garter toss process.

      • The candy idea is awesome! It reminds me of being little and going to parades. Remember when people threw candy from parade floats? Nothing is fun anymore. sigh

  • oh, meredith

    We are having two girls and three boys in our wedding. The girls are dressing up as fairies – an idea that was in keeping with both of their preferences. (Note – our wedding is 4 days before Halloween, so costumes are being moderately incorporated to the whole shebang.) I don’t really want flowers thrown, so I think I’m going to give them bubbles and have them blow bubbles as I walk up. (Little narcissistic, but hey.)

    One of the boys asked if he could carry the rings, so that was a no-brainer. We weren’t entirely sure what to do with the other boys – the younger of the two can be pretty unpredictable. We aren’t having programs or ushers, but we decided to have the two remaining boys escort our guests of honor to their seats – our mothers, my grandfather, the two friends doing readings. As a bonus, we’re assigning the younger one to walk with women who can keep him in line, in case of trouble. Oh, and the boys were asked what they wanted to dress up as; they all agreed that elves would be cool.

    • CarbonGirl

      Can you please do a wedding graduate or wordless wedding post? I really want to see pictures of the kids. It sounds adorable! And good luck with your last two weeks of prep!

      • Amber

        I went to a Halloween wedding a couple of years ago, and guests were encouraged to wear costumes. It was a blast! And, icing on the cake, I met my now fiance!! Have a great wedding and a wonderful celebration. The kid’s costumes sound adorable!

  • Nicole

    My husband and I got married outdoors and had a pretty nontraditional wedding, but I still wanted to involve my 10 and 11-year-old cousins in the ceremony. Rather than having a flower girl (I mean, there were already flowers in the field), we asked one of my cousin’s to be an “incense girl” (she carried a traditional Somali incense burner from my childhood) and my other cousin to be the ring bearer. They both loved being a part of the wedding and I loved being able to include them in a way that didn’t stick with traditional gender roles. Plus we had awesome incense that burned during the ceremony.

  • Sarah

    Between my fiancee and I, we have 4 nephews and 6 nieces ranging in age from 16 to a few months. My fiancee’s family is more religious then mine and do not traditionally have wedding parties – they also have the youngest kids. Neither of us like the unpredictability of younger kids during the service so we’ve asked all the kids to do the blessings before the meal. Its practical, cute and something his nieces and nephews will be comfortable with. My older nieces are junior bridesmaids (they are too old to be flower girls) and my younger niece (8 years) will be a flower girl. We won’t be having flowers or bubbles — she will walk and look cute. Right now, we’re thinking of having my 10-year old nephew walk down our honored guests. But we will ask them what they want to do first . . . but I love the idea of kazoos!!!!

  • Faith

    i have seven neices and nephews, ages 1-10. we wanted them all to take part, but couldn’t asign a specific job for each one, and we weren’t so into that anyway. so, we had the girls dress up in pretty coordinated dresses, got their hair done, and i had the florist make them little bouquets. the boys all wore cute, summer outfits, and awesome straw fedoras. they all walked down the aisle from the opposite direction (we were at an outside venue) at the very start of the ceremony. they all loved being a part of our day, the guests loved them, and the kids were under no pressure to “perform” or “do a good job”. they could just be their sweet selves:)

    • meg

      Awwww. I want pictures!!

  • Kara

    We had a similar situation. For our church wedding, we wound up with 2 tomboyish flower girls (husband’s nieces) who felt grown up and responsible in their dresses, 2 four-year-old ring bearers who LOVED being treated like the big kids (their moms picked out the most adorable little gingham shirts for the boys), my husband’s slightly awkward, but sweet 11 year old nephew was our “acolyte” aka candle-lighter. The three 6 year old girls in my life (2 cousins and my goddaughter) got to wear flowers in their hair and “hostess” the cocktail hour and make people feel welcome. That way, we gave them all a role and helped them feel a bit special.

    • Kara

      A note: I know (and my cousins (my age) and sisters-in-laws reiterated) that you don’t need to “make” kids feel special by giving them a role in a wedding. However, I (selfishly perhaps?) wanted the kids to know that I/we think that they’re important people in our lives and I wanted them to remember something about our wedding when they’re older.

      • Allyson

        I feel the same way! I’m not feeling obliged to include the kids, and if one or two of them say they don’t want to be involved, that’s totally fine. But I do want to acknowledge how special and important to us they are!

  • Sara B

    My husband’s (now my!) niece is 12 and nephew is 8 1/2. We had them hand out programs at the beginning, since we didn’t really need to usher people to their seats. They then began the processional, right before the parents. During the ceremony, our nephew had the rings in specific pockets so he knew to give my ring to the best man and my husband’s ring to the bridesmaid. He sat with his dad in the front row, and our pastor said “And now [nephew] will present the rings” when it was his time.

    Our niece also handed out programs and her job was to hold my bouquet during the ceremony. Since she broke her foot a week before the wedding, she was heartbroken that she couldn’t stand up with us (too long and her foot would be a mess). So, she sat next to my mom and my sister took my bouquet and handed it to her. Once we were married, she managed to get up and hop over to hand me my bouquet back for our way down the aisle (let me tell you how happy she was she was able to do that!).

    We got our nephew a boutenniere and our niece a corsage, but they didn’t have to wear our colors or get a specific dress, etc. (saved money for mom and dad). Honestly, we could probably have asked them to just stand somewhere and look official and they would have been happy to be included.

    I also heard of a wedding where they had all the kids form up to start the processional and ring bells on the way down the aisle. Someone then met the kids at the front of the church, collected the bells, and the kids went to sit with their parents.

  • I would have DIED to have been a flower girl when I was growing up, but no one ever asked me. DIED, I tell you!

    My baby sister is 6, and she was the cutest flower girl ever at my wedding. She wore a bright magenta dress, and carefully dropped flowers down the aisle. She is also a really big tomboy – very rambunctious!! Now that my middle sister is getting married, she gets to be a flower girl again, and is super excited. However, while Middle Sister was trying on wedding dresses, Baby Sister sighed, “I can’t wait to get married…” Eh, what can you do? Little girls will be little girls…

    Also a good idea are the signs that say “Here comes the bride,” or something like that. Could be a good job for 11-12 year old boys?

    • KB

      I second the signs idea! Also, I was supposed to be a flower girl in a wedding when I was that age, but the couple broke up and I cried for days because my parents had psyched me up so much for the pretty shiny dress, flowers, etc.

      • Kat

        That’s so sad!

      • Anon.

        Okay, so tell me if I’m a monster:

        There were somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12 kids who could have conceivably been included in our wedding, between his nieces and our cousins. That clearly wasn’t feasible, so we decided early on that we’d go with just the nieces. My young cousins had gotten used to being included in cousins’ weddings, since several of the older cousins had gotten married in the years before us, so I expected the subject to come up, and had come up with a little speech about how we’re so lucky to have so many kids we love in our lives, but there’s just not room for each of them to have a role in the wedding, ergo, just nieces. It never came up with them – but my husband’s cousin (apprx. 10 yo) put him on the spot and asked if she could be a flower girl – in front of the entire family. He started to say “no, we already have flower girls” she got puppy dog eyes, her mom said, “Maybe you could have one more?” and since he hadn’t been practicing the “so many kids we love” speech in his head for weeks like I had, he said yes.

        I was irrationally angry about this for a long time. I had never met this particular cousin before the day she asked to be in the wedding, and she’d be in the ceremony, over the cousins on my side who are an integral part of our lives? (DH and I had babysat them, been on vacation with them, celebrated their birthdays – we just weren’t nearly as close with these cousins of his.) Plus, it completely took away my easy excuse (and the inherent fairness) of “just nieces, not cousins.” The nieces were both on his side, but they were the only nieces any of us had – with this new addition, it was beginning to look more like “just DH’s side, not mine.”

        My mother-in-law said we could just tell the cousin she couldn’t be in the wedding, and I refused for a long time, even though I was the one who felt most strongly that it wasn’t right for her to be there. Because taking “being a flower girl” away from a little girl is just about the cruelest thing we could do! But eventually my husband told his mom to go ahead, she talked to the cousin’s mom, and we ended up having her involved in another, rather less glamorous part of the wedding. We’ve been married 18mos now, and I still feel awful about this. I don’t think there’s a worse thing we could have done than say yes and then tell her she couldn’t be in the wedding, but I also really thought it wasn’t right to be including people based on whether they put us on the spot instead of based on our relationship to them, especially when the people being excluded were kids who wouldn’t necessarily understand the situation. But more than that, I know it would have been fine to let her be a flower girl if I weren’t so pissed off about the unfairness of the situation, and how out of my control it felt – and how I felt about it is why my husband eventually insisted on saying she couldn’t be a flower girl, even though I was saying the whole time (sincerely, but maybe half-heartedly) that we just COULDN’T do that to a kid.

        This was absolutely awful of us, right? I hadn’t thought about it in a while, but this post today has has me wishing that I’d handled it better all day.

        (For the record, I have since gotten to know this girl rather better, and she’s very sweet and I like her a lot. I’m sure I wouldn’t have regretted having her in the wedding in the long run – but I do think that on the day of, I would have felt it profoundly unfair that she was walking down the aisle while my cousins were watching from the pews.)

        • KB

          Aww, you are TOTALLY not a monster – it’s funny because I (unconsciously) turned an entirely sympathetic “oh, you poor little girl” situation around by throwing a tantrum during an uncle’s wedding that summer – because I wasn’t a flower girl. Yup, like full-on brat mode. I look back on that and I am mortified. But my point isn’t that I was traumatized by it or anything, it’s that I look back on both of these events purely through my eyes, instead of the poor couple who broke up or my poor aunt and uncle who had a screaming child on their hands :-p Trust me, she’s probably cool with it and, even if she was peeved, she won’t think it’s your fault or anything – kids know that *&$% happens, they’re just more concerned with themselves versus blaming anybody for it.

        • Diane

          If this makes you a monster then the “monster bar” was just lowered and we’re all, at some point, totally screwed. Kids are amazingly good at putting people on the spot like that with clearly no ill intent. A silly story: my brother was 4 when my now-stepdad and mom were first seriously involved with each other. We went to my stepdad’s family’s house on Christmas Eve and were meeting them for the first time. Towards the end of the evening, my brother shouted across the room to ask if my now-stepdad could “sleep over” that night. My mom wanted to melt into the floor! Stepdad’s four children, ex-wife, elderly mother, and cousins (who are prim and proper and rather hypocritical but we didn’t know that then) were all there. Sounds like you guys did the best you could and were trying hard to be fair — always a tough balance!

        • Mary Peck

          Poor kid. What you did was really mean.

    • One More Sara

      I, too, would have JUMPED at the chance to be a flower girl. Sadly, by the time I knew what a flower girl was, all my aunts and uncles had already married, and none of my cousins had a drastic age difference. I used to ask my (way older) half brothers ALL THE TIME when they were going to get married because I really just wanted to get a pretty dress. I was an Aunt in 3rd grade, but never a flower girl…. sigh…. (#firstworldproblems)

  • Kat

    For a while I hadn’t really wanted flower girls or ring bearers, I saw it as just an unnecessary expense: gifts, flowers, basket, pillow, hair, outfit, etc. But then as I got thinking about when I got to be a flower girl with my sister at a cousin’s wedding and how seriously we took that and how important we felt to be part of it I just KNEW I had to include at least one of my fiance’s nieces/nephew.

    So we asked the youngest niece, she’s about 8, if she would like to be a flower girl. She very seriously responded with “What do I have to do?” So we chatted about the pretty dresses, which she loves, and getting her hair and nails done, which she also loves, and getting to hang out with me all day, humble brag…she also loves to do that, etc. She became more and more excited, but also had some serious questions: “How should I walk up the aisle?” “How should I toss the flower petals?” I told her she could do whatever she wanted to… we will probably have a leaping flower girl and petals flying through the air on guests, but she’ll totally love doing her thing.

    Her brother who was listening in to everything, nicely asked “What can I do!?” Privately we had sort of written off his interest in being the ring bearer thinking he might find it too sissy or something but the moment I turned the questions around on him “Well, what would YOU like to do?” He excitedly answered “CAN I BE THE RING BEARER!?” YUP sure thing kid! He’s been apparently bragging to everyone who will listen about how he gets to be a ringbearer at his uncle’s wedding.

    There are a few more nieces in my fiance’s family, which would be nice to include too, I love the above suggestions of handing out programs or manning the guest book, totally a great idea.

    Also, I was a guest at a wedding once where the bride put together little activity kits for the kids at the reception, which the adults really loved. Basically they were clip art colouring books with a pack of dollar store crayons, which I think I’ll do for some of our youngest guests, but I may also do up a photo eye spy game for the older ones with a disposable camera and a card with things to take pictures of: a guest dancing, a bride and groom kissing, someone wearing red etc.

    • MDBethann

      We had a bunch of kids between the ages of 1 and 18 at our wedding, and we knew most of them wouldn’t like being scattered at tables with adults. So we had a teenager table and a table for the 5-12 set (kids 4 and under sat with their parents). We got a roll of art paper and a bunch of Crayola crayons (we are from and got married in the part of PA where they are made) and covered the surface of the kids’ table with the paper so they could draw away. They were surprisingly neat and we ended up with some fun artwork after the reception. We gave coloring books & crayons to the 4 & unders.

      Also, since we got married on May 5/Cinco de Mayo, we got small maracas at the dollar store, tied them with ribbon with each child’s name on them and used them for the kids’ escort cards. The kids had a blast with the maracas (which were pretty quiet).

      My parents said one of my mom’s co-workers was surprised that we were having kids at our wedding reception. As my dad put it, our family is full of kids, and at a family event like a wedding, how could we NOT have kids there?

      • ElisabethJoanne

        I have this strange life-philosophy that I never want to invite parents to an event where they’d have to get a sitter in order to be able to attend. So, of course we invited children to our wedding. Surprising practicalities popped up. We’d ask for names and addresses, and have to ask 3 times for the children’s names. People just weren’t used to children being included on wedding invitations. My in-laws gave up on one family, and we didn’t invite them.

        I’ve been surprised by how many families are leaving the kids with a sitter. That was never my parents’ choice, but it’s fine, of course. Though, then we get “Well, is anyone else bringing their kids?” questions. That was tricky in the first week or 2 after the invitations went out.

        • MDBethann

          The only people who didn’t bring their kids were the ones with babies, and one of my girlfriends, who was very pregnant at the time, also left her toddler with her parents (they live out of town and her parents live near my parents & the wedding venue, so it was perfect grandparent time). I think she just wanted one night out with her hubby before the new baby came.

          For the most part, kids have been invited to weddings in my family in the past, so people were used to it. That and I put the kids’ names on the envelopes (the kids were pretty much either my relatives or my friends’ kids so I knew them all). I even had a check box for kids under 12 on the RSVP because our venue (which was a restaurant) had a separate kids’ meal for them.

          I can see though, how in some situations, venues, families, etc. that kids might NOT be the norm. For us, an “adults only” reception would have been weird, and some of my relatives probably wouldn’t have attended. Besides, for us at least, the kids were part of the entertainment – they were dancing machines and a joy to watch!

          • Kara

            Yes, me too! I had babysitters for the younger kids (6 and under) during dinner, but it was SO much fun to have all the kids. So sweet. And they keep asking about it all, six months later.

  • My 6-year-old godson was our ring-bearer. He wore a black suit and we got him a bow tie to match all the “big guys” in tuxedos. He was SO EXCITED to dress up. He called me about 6 weeks before the wedding, super concerned about his duties. He made his mom do a suit fitting with him a couple of times, and he just wanted to make sure everything was going to be perfect. It was adorable. Also, he split his pants at the wedding from dancing so hard. Kids are awesome.

  • our nine-year-old wanted so badly to be the ring bearer but with the condition that he got to carry the ACTUAL RINGS – he’d been the ring bearer last year but wasn’t trusted with the rings and it has been a stain on his heart ever since. so, consider that – the yarn around the neck thing might be a great way to avoid hurting an eight year old’s feelings.

    the thirteen year old didn’t really want to do anything – he’s age-appropriately lazy right now – but we asked him if he’d be our witness. it was a sweet and important way to incorporate him, and nine was also a witness as well. (in our state there are no age restrictions on the age of the witness though you should probably make sure at least one would be believed in a court of law.)

    actually the conversation was hilarious:
    My Partner: Thirteen, would you be the witness for our wedding?
    Thirteen: a witness? like, you mean, at a CRIME SCENE?!
    Me: um. yes. exactly like that, but HAPPIER.

  • Diane

    We have two pairs of kids who will be involved in our wedding. My fiance’s cousin has 10 and 12 year old daughters (who are feisty, hilarious, smart as whips and totally love getting dressed up on occasion). We didn’t want junior bridesmaids but they are going to greet people and hand out programs (if we have programs) and they’re going to have their hair done with me and the other women. Word is that they’re beyond excited about this. We also have two little guys (both 2 years old) who are going to be ring bearers. One of them misunderstood and thought he was going to get to be a “ring bear” so I think we may have to incorporate that somehow (teddy bears instead of ring pillows?). We anticipate there may be at least a bit of chaos with a pair of two year olds but they both LOVE being the center of attention and our families are excited.

    • Jen

      my cousin also misunderstood this when he was little…but nobody realized this until the day of, when he was SO DISAPPOINTED that he didn’t get to wear a bear costume!!!!!!! He’s over 30 and we still tease him about this!!! I think incorporating teddy bears is a perfect idea :)

    • One More Sara

      There is an episode of Little Bill where he is confused about this exact thing. (Things you learn when you live with a toddler)

    • Liz

      Ha this is adorable, and (oddly? maybe for the same reason?) I have a photo of my husband as a young ring bearer (bear?) holding bride and groom teddy bears as he walked down the aisle.

    • Liz

      That’s hilarious…my little nephew thought he was going to be a “ring bear” too. I was joking with his mom (my sister) that we’d have to switch over to a nature theme to avoid disappointing him. :)

  • Jen

    Definitely definitely ASK. Every kid is so different and it is impossible to know just what they’re going to want to do or contribute to your day!

    I wanted SO BADLY to be a flower girl when I was little – it seemed like everyone I knew had been a flower girl except me!! When my cousin got married I was in 6th grade (so about 11yrs old) and they may have floated the idea of ‘junior bridesmaid’, but I was having none of it…I finally had my chance to be a flower girl!!! I was the only kid in the wedding, so I figured I wasn’t taking it away from anyone…until the bride’s cousin’s daughter suddenly announced that she wanted to be a part of the proceedings too. She was a year younger than me, but luckily she was THRILLED with the idea of being the junior bridesmaid, and I got to keep my flower girl/ring bearer duties.

    When my husband and I got engaged two years ago his nieces (6 and 8 at the time) came over to see me and pointedly asked if I knew who I wanted to have as my flower girls. I replied “I don’t know! Why, do you know anybody who might be interested?!” thinking that they were wanting to snag the role for themselves…they looked at me and announced “well I don’t know, but NOT US!” After about a year of engagement we checked back in with them – I asked if they wanted to do anything, like maybe walk down the aisle with their parents (both of whom were in the wedding party), and they agreed that they were happy to do that. We basically decided that we just wanted them to be happy and have fun, so whatever they ended up doing and wearing was totally okay with us…and I think that’s what ended up getting them excited! The younger one picked a dress, then the older one decided that she wanted to get a new dress too. The next thing I heard one of them wanted their hair “blown dry straight” and the other wanted their hair “blown dry curly”, and the older one was sitting in front of the mirror practicing wearing her hair down and tucking a flower behind her ear. Their role had no title
    (although the girls doing our hair slipped up and called them flower girls a couple of times – but I don’t think they noticed!) and I think they ended up really enjoying the whole day…especially the dancing at the end!

  • Colleen O’Mara

    Our daughters (both 8) made my bouquet, walked me down the aisle, wrote stories about meeting me (his daughter) and meeting him (my daughter) that they read, wrote poems that they read and helped plan our dinner. During the ceremony DH and I made vows to them (to love and respect them and treat them equally) and gave them each a necklace that said sisters. It brought tears to everyone’s eyes when we said “You are now sisters. Love each other, care for each other and know that you always have each others back. At some point you will fight, as all sisters do, but at the end of the day, you now have a bond that is very special and no one can take from you.”

    • marbella

      So sweet this brought tears to my eyes too!

    • Marina

      Wow, I cried just reading that. Sniff.

  • Victwa

    We have three kids in our family– two from my fiancé’s first marriage (girl= 13, boy=6), and a 3 month old who will be just over a year when our wedding happens next summer. We were talking together the other day about what the 13 year old might want to do, because she’s old enough to be a jr. bridesmaid, but my fiancé suggested that maybe she’d be a “senior” flower girl and the baby could be a “junior” one, and that she could maybe take charge of her little sister during the ceremony, but we decided to talk to the 13 year old first to see what she was comfortable doing. SHE SUGGESTED the exact same thing! She is also inexplicably excited about wearing the same dress as her little sister (I mean, I don’t know that I would have been excited about dressing the same as a 1 year old when I was 13, but I think it’s adorable she’s so excited…), so we’re on the hunt for dresses that can come in 1 year old and 13 year old sizes…

  • Maria

    We had a pair of 8-year-old “camera boys.” One of the boys had done the “job” at his uncle’s wedding a couple years ago when his sister was the flower girl, and then when I asked the same sister to be flower girl at our wedding, the brother immediately assumed that he would get his same wedding job, too, and that his best friend would get to do it with him. So we went with it!

    Even though they are super high-energy boys, both of them were on great behavior, especially during the ceremony (though I think they did wander away a little at the outdoor reception- haven’t gotten the pictures back yet, but I’ve heard there are hundreds!).

    We also had the typical set of 5-year-old ring bearer and two flower girls. The ring bearer wasn’t very excited at first, but still loves talking about the wedding (it was 3 weeks ago), and one of the flower girls still wears her wedding shoes every day.

  • Teresa

    We were going to have our two nieces carry a “here comes the bride” sign or something like that…I wasn’t going to have them tossing petals. Until my mom called me one day to tell me that my niece told her she was practicing and demonstrated how she was going to hold the basket and throw the petals as she walked…well, we had to get these girls some petals after that! And they really were adorable (even when the younger one kept asking if it was over yet because she want to eat cake!) and excited to participate. Our ring bearer was only 15 months and ran back the other way…mostly I just wanted an excuse to stick my nephew in a seersucker suit! Yay!

  • Merryf

    At our June 2010, we had my 2 nieces who were 7 1/2 and 4 1/2, and my now-husb’s 2 nephews, who were 8 1/2 and 6 1/2, be the only people to walk down the aisle with us. We did not have a traditional wedding party — we asked our best friends (2 from each of us conveniently) to hold the poles of the chuppah. My oldest niece was at the age where flower girl was the most exciting thing but we just didn’t want that — so I gave them a Special Project and a Special Job.

    The 4 children were “banner bearers.” I think that I had seen a posting in late 2009 or early 2010 on Offbeat Bride or some link about children carrying little banners saying “Here Comes the Bride”. Since all 4 of our littles are crafty, and I did a lot of crafty DIY at our low-key wedding, we decided the children would make large banners and decorate them with stickers and then carry them down the aisle to announce us. Since none of them lived close by, I sent them packages of long white butcher-paper and packs of stickers (bugs and fish and stars for the boys and butterflies and sparkly things for the girls) and their parents guided the project. So my nieces made a large banner saying “Here Comes the Bride” and decorated it, and the nephews made a large banner saying “Here Comes the Groom.” I then hooked them around very large dowels from Home Depot and hung ribbons from the ends.

    At our wedding, the processional was the rabbi, my parents, my now-husb’s parents, the 2 nephews with their banner, my now-husband, then my nieces with their banner, and then me. Apparently the children themselves had decided when they got to the chuppah to turn around and “show their work.” Everyone applauded seeing the banners. Then they sat down with their parents and their job was done. The children were so thrilled to be a part of the wedding and to do a Special Project, and we were happy to include them. And the pictures are adorable.

  • Jennie

    Just a shout out for all those who decide not to include kids in their weddings in a formal way. For some reason it’s just one of those things my fiance (giggle…six months in and I’m still amused every time I call him that) and I just didn’t feel the need to incorporate.

    • Alexandra

      We’re not either. Any children I know are either under 5 or living quite far away. And my fiance decided that he’d rather have someone who understands what those rings represent carrying them. And he didn’t see much of a point to flower girls either. So we aren’t having either.

  • kyley

    We have a large number of kids in our life (around 12 cousins) and so we’ve spent quite some time trying to think of how to include them. I am very uncomfortable with the idea of including some but not others, and like the 1st OP I’m not super into the strictly interpreted gender roles of Flower Girl and Ring Bearer. Some things we are considering instead:

    -Having all the children that want to be “Flag Bearers” and start off the ceremony by excitedly waving flags down the aisle. Think:

    -Instead of traditional mother/son and father/daughter dances, I think we are going to have a “First dance with kids.” All of them love to dance, and we thought it would be a fun way to a) make them feel involved and b) get everyone on the dance floor.

    I don’t think we could ask all of them what they wanted to do and, realistically, incorporate those interests because there are so many of them. But we did sit down and think about what these kiddos love to do and what we love to do with them. The answer to that was immediate and obvious–dance parties! There are lots of different ways to ask kids to be involved, even if Flower Girl/Ring Bearer isn’t your style or the style of the children in your life.

  • I totally agree that asking the kids is the way to go!

    But whilst we are on the topic, I think that it is also important to speak with the parents and/or know the personalities of the kids very well and factor that into the planning process. What if they say they are totally into it but then have an attack of shyness or decide they don’t what to do it? Or, if the kid initially says they don’t want to participate and then change their mind and feel sad and left out? I ran a theatre camp for kids when I was a teenager and although it is rare, it does happen.

    Given the way these questions were asked, and the general awesome-ness of the APW community, kids changing their minds would likely be a non issue, but I just thought I’d mention it :)

  • We ended up having no kids at our wedding and only one teenager. Since I know that at fifteen, I would have loved loved loved to help out in some bigger way than just going to a wedding, I invited her to come hang out while I got ready (I didn’t have an official bridal party, just me and a couple of friends were there). She wound up being an AMAZING help. I hadn’t really thought about how she’s WAY more artistic than me until she was helping put together my bouquet. Best impulsive idea I had during the run up to the wedding.

  • hampton

    Dear Lindsay,

    I love you, internet stranger! I like your style, and had the same lack of inclinations towards the standard flower girl/ring bearer roles. I’m planning on confetti rather than flower petals, and letting my 6 year old niece and her mom decide on a cute fun outfit for her. I have a feeling it will be a tutu, and that is awesome. I’m also going to see if her older brother would want to participate (he may think confetti is awesome, or he may tell me, “Aunt Hampton, that’s lame and I don’t wanna do it…” so I’m gonna let that be his call. But if he is on board, i’m picturing him in cords and an 80’s-ish tuxedo t-shirt… unless he decides **that** is lame, in which case, we’ll go from there.

  • MDBethann

    Before we got engaged, my now DH and I had differences of opinion on whether or not to include his niece and nephew (at the time she was 8 and he was 5) – I was all for having kids in the wedding (especially them) but he took his dad’s point of view that kids can be unpredictable at weddings so even though he adores his sister’s kiddos, he didn’t want them in the wedding.

    Six months before our engagement, we were in Disney World with his sister’s family. I had a simple ring on my right hand the one day and his niece saw it and got worried that we had gotten married without her. We promised her that we wouldn’t get married without her there. She then looked at us and asked if she could be in our wedding. I shot her uncle a look that said “you’re telling her she’s not in the wedding, not me.” Since it was something she clearly wanted to do and she’s got great stage presence (dance class), he said okay.

    I didn’t want to exclude her brother and we asked him to be the ring bearer (he had no idea what that was until his mom told him). By the wedding, he was 7 and she was 10, so we didn’t have to worry much about kids not behaving properly – they were great and our niece LOVED dressing up, getting her hair done, and she even caught the bouquet with the help of one of my friends. Our nephew did okay, but I think he had more fun dancing at the reception than sitting through the ceremony (he kept wanting to know when he could go play video games with my husband, which is their favorite thing to do together).

  • I never intended to have kids in my wedding until I became an aunt. Now I have five nieces and nephews and can’t imagine not having them in the wedding. I’d originally planned to go with the “wedding children” idea and have them all carry pinwheels. Then my mom showed my nieces pictures of flower girls throwing petals and they got very excited about it. We’re getting married on the beach, so I got metal sand buckets in our colors to put the petals in. And my sister-in-law is going to make Here Comes the Bride flags for the boys to carry. (The rings will be with the best man. No way I want to have my whole wedding stop while we all crawl around in the sand looking for the rings if they go flying out of my very…spirited…nephew’s grasp.) They’ll all be between the ages of 2 and 5, so definitely unpredictable, but it’s a pretty laid back wedding. If they want to play in the sand during the ceremony, that’s fine. If one of their parents needs to walk up the aisle with them or the little ones don’t even go up the aisle, that’s fine too. I’m just really excited that they’ll all be there and that they’re excited about it. (Though I am a little bit concerned that my five year-old nephew will be disappointed because he’s so excited to see Aunt Lori in her princess dress. Yeah, it’s not princessy at all, but definitely fancier than anything he’s ever seen me in, so hopefully that will be enough.)

  • A Single Sarah for certain values of single

    When my aunt got married, I got to be the flower girl complete with poofy dress and my mom was the MOH. My younger sister had the more memorable role–she came up with the role King of the Wedding. And dad was “Father of the King.”

    Kid stories are fun.

  • sbc

    We had a bunch of flowers that any kid who wanted to could choose from, carry down the aisle, and put in a (non-breakable) vase at the front of the temple. We called it the kid parade and it was great because no one had to get matching outfits, siblings could hold hands and walk together, the babies could be carried by their parents, etc. They sat with their parents when it was done so they wouldn’t fidget.

    I didn’t want to trust any of the kids with the rings!

  • rachelroo

    I recently read about an old Japanese tradition in which two children, a “male butterfly” and a “female butterfly,” pour wine into a cup from which both the bride and groom drink. I have absolutely zero Japanese heritage and haven’t been able to find any examples on the internet so I can’t confirm or deny the validity of this story, but I thought it was a sweet image… maybe the kids in your family could be a butterfly parade?

  • Anna

    We had four flower girls, two ring bearers, and a bevy of other children who still wanted to be involved. At the last minute, I conceived the idea of a “bubble brigade” so that they would not feel left out. We got a bunch of bottles of bubbles for the kids, and had them sit on quilts at the front of the audience. At the end of the ceremony, they marched up the aisle blowing bubbles, and leading everyone to the porch where we had hors d’ oeuvres. Worked out great.

  • Jen

    We had a 6-year-old niece and 4-year-old nephew each carry a basket of petals to toss before I went down, and they had a blast (A great moment for the crowd was when he threw the last and said, “All done!” about halfway down the “aisle” steps). I think their mom told them they were flower girl and ring bearer – and yes, he was growling at that idea. I don’t think anyone realized that we altered the actual tasks they did to fit our liking. So while asking the kids is awesome if you’re able to, taking what you know about them and reframing it to sound cool for that developmental stage works too. We also had about 9 of the guys wear one purple and one orange sock each, and it was funny to see the other end of the age spectrum deal with that in their own way. My grandpas agreed to switch afterward so they would have a matching pair of socks.

  • Hix

    We asked our nieces to be flower girls and our nephews to carry in the rings, the wedding candle and the Bible. We sent all the kids postcards to ask them whether they would do that for us and my nephew wrote back that he thought it would be fun to carry in the candle and that he was happy to do it, but that he also wanted to throw petals :-) I suppose we should have “asked the kids” as well.

    • MDBethann

      We did the postcard ask too – we got engaged in Greece and sent everyone in our bridal party, including our flower girl, a postcard telling them we were engaged and asking them to be in the wedding.


    We decided not to have a wedding party, so I thought that would eliminate the idea of flower girls/ring bearers/junior attendants. But my brothers have informed me their daughters are really excited about helping with the wedding! I have 5 nieces and nephews between 7 and 14 years old, and my FH has about 10 cousins between 6 and 18 years old. I felt a little bit of pressure to include at least my brothers’ kids somehow. Then I read a wedding post on here about a bride who “made” her bouquet as she walked down the aisle by collecting flowers from her guests. SO….my current idea is to have kids standing on both sides of the aisle with a few stems for me to collect along the way. I figure that will give me a decent-sized bouquet with about 7 kids on each side. Also, possibly having my older niece “fix” my train during the ceremony since I won’t have a MOH.

    I see it all working perfectly in my head (except maybe how to keep the bouquet together during the ceremony)…but yeah, I haven’t asked the kids yet, so who knows if they even want to participate!

    • Kat

      I’ve always loved the Make your bouquet as you walk up the aisle thing… having the kids give you roses would be kinda awesome.

      When you get to the front you could have your mom bind the flowers together with a velvet or satin ribbon. You hold the flowers near the top and she would then wrap the ribbon around it quickly and tie it off…mom’s always seem to be the best at making bows for some reason.

  • PuppySpit

    We have nieces who are teens on my side and nephews who are in pre-school and 2nd grade on his side. We wante dto have both sides represented and we’re not keen on the idea of Jr Bridesmaids, not is it appropriate (in our opinion) to have teens be “flower girls” so we just made up a bridal party position for them

    The boys are very excited to be Ring Bearers and the young ladies are almost as excited (or as excited as 13 yr olds gets) to be “Ring Bearer Escorts”. They have a special job in getting the boys down the aisle and they get their own special dresses to wear. One of the girls is definitely not girly and much to her mother’s surprise is VERY excited about the special dress she gets to wear. I found a Sue Wong on Ebay that was very reasonably priced. She feels grown up in it and it fits her perfectly. It’s the first name brand thing she’s ever owned so it’s “cool” in her eyes.

    Sometimes the teens will surprise you in just how excited they are to be involved… just don’t expect them to show it :)

  • Emily Rae

    My eleven year old brother really wanted to be the ring bearer. He didn’t want to walk up the aisle (and I didn’t either), so his job consisted of bringing the rings up to the officiant when the time came. The only hitch was, in my quest to be really relaxed, I didn’t think to tell him to take the rings out of the boxes, so he brought the bowl up with the rings, ring boxes and warranties balanced precariously like a game of jewelry Jenga. The pastor commented on it, and my brother looked embarrassed. I remember as a kid HATING when people laughed at my mistakes, even if they were funny.
    That may be something to try to communicate to your officiant, especially if you are working with shy kids, to not make a big deal of mess-ups.

  • jes

    I had five flower girls (nieces and cousins) who carried bouquets and wore tutus that several refused to take off the next day according to my sister and aunt.

    My two teenage cousins had the job of “flower girl wranglers” and kept the little ones semi-in line. (One sat down in the aisle and refused to walk down, one decided to climb on up and spend the ceremony being held by my brother, and one insisted she would fill in for me as bride if need be).

    And my nine year old boy cousin took the job of usher more seriously than any one ever. As i was about to enter the church he came up to me and said “it’s almost time for you to go, but not yet. Don’t worry, I’ve got it under control.”

    Having lots of kids involved made me less anxious, and we rewarded them with the biggest pinata ever at the reception.

  • Louise

    We had 6 kids included in our ceremony, and although I tried to come up with some purpose for them… They ended up just walking down the aisle and looking adorable. Then, they stood up in front with their parents (in the wedding party) and continued to look adorable. I sat them all down the day before, at the rehearsal, and we talked about how much Nick and I love them and thats why we want them to walk down the aisle at our wedding. So, even though thy didnt have jobs, we tried to make it meaningful. They stood up for us, i guess, just like their parents. The girls each had a flower wand and loved waving them, but ended up escorting the smallest boy (2) and took that job very seriously. the ladies, at least, we’re thrilled just to get a new dress and be the center of attention. The boys… were sorta excited, though the oldest (6) apparently told his mom a few days before the wedding that he was marrying me. In short, it was very adorable chaos that we could have totally avoided, but I’m glad we didn’t. The oldest girl (5) had specifilly asked/begged me to be a flower girl, and now wears her (very plain, handmade) flower girl dress for all her special events, which shows me how she remembers the day.

  • Kathleen M

    I had lots of little cousins I wanted to involve, and I read somewhere about a couple giving all the kids at the wedding bells and having them run up the aisle before the bride. I loved that idea.
    BUT. Then my cousins (the kids’ parents) wanted to know what they should wear, and then my mom said they should have matching dresses, and maybe just the girls should be bell ringers and the boys should hand out programs (which WAS a great idea; that’s an awesome job to give to kids). And instead of running down the aisle, the girls walked slowly and timidly because they had been WAY overcoached by their parents.
    So, um, all this to say: the adults in these kids’ lives may have Ideas. Make sure you’re communicating with them about what you would like and what they would like, or you might get steamrolled. But that might be OK, too. The bells sounded like cowbells, but now I just think the whole thing is funny. Kids remind you to just roll with it.

  • We had my 12 year old nephew play the saxophone during our ceremony. I walked down the aisle with my parents to him playing the Star Wars theme and we exited to Hedwig’s Theme from Harry Potter. My younger niece and nephew (5 & 6) walked in front of my maid of honor, myself, and my parents carrying bubble guns. My oldest niece had the job of starting the dance party to Dancing Queen during the reception. We had a blast and they got to participate in ways that meant something to us and to them.

  • Alvi the Small

    We had a Wedding Brigade, which worked great. We slipped in an extra invite for families who had kids under the age of 10, and told them to wear all white and show up 15 min early to the wedding. Our day of coordinator gave them each a flower, and then they walked up the aisle with it, and put it in a vase at the front of the church. Super cute. Then we had a ring bearer and a flower girl, but everyone who wanted to be included had something to do.

    What worked well is that we told parents that their kid could decide whether or not to do the Brigade on the morning of, and that they didn’t need to wear fancy clothes if they didn’t want to (white sweats and a T shirt were fine). Everyone had a great time, and it was super cute in the photos. :)

  • Christy

    My idea didn’t hit nearly the level of awesomeness of your idea, but I actually included my niece and nephew out of necessity: I had no one to hold my bouquet when my husband I and I were going to hold hands during the ceremony, something that didn’t crystalize in my head until shortly before the wedding, because we had opted out of the whole wedding party thing (too much pomp and ceremony for what we had in mind…and plus, we didn’t like the idea of choosing favorites among our friends).

    We just had them come up right from the front of the gathered group after we walked down the aisle, together. My nephew stood next to my husband (who he idolizes), and my niece stood next to me. I handed my bouquet to my niece at the right time. My nephew just stood there making hilarious faces (as I learned later by looking at the photos. My sister said he had a little bit of stage fright, which became obvious when our officiant dropped his papers down the steps during the ceremony, leading to huge saucer eyes on my nephew… you could see his thought bubble, “oh my god, what do I do? the grown-ups are all messing things up!”. . The kids looked so normal, and…kid-like, and… just funny. I love having them in the pictures. And they loved being part of things, even if they didn’t know exactly what their role was, they were happy to have it undefined.

    I think whatever way you want to include the kids is fine.

  • Briggs

    My future husband has 4 sons aged 6-16. We’ve been having a bit of a time deciding how to equally include them all in the big day.

    We decided not to have a flower girl or ring bearer at our wedding, and we’ve had a surprising amount of friends and relatives ask if his 16 year old son is going to be his best man, but when we asked the kids what they wanted they came up with the most awesome idea ever: they will be the security team.

    They are so freaking excited to wear matching badges and fake ear pieces and cary (unloaded) nerf guns. They are currently coordinating elevated positions to get maximum coverage of the ceremony site, so we are fully defended in case of attack.

    They are also going to be responsible for making sure important guests (moms, grandmas, etc) get to their seats, and I’m incorporating them into my vows.

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