Ask Team Practical: Involving Kids in the Ceremony by Liz Moorhead 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? —Lindsay 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? —Allyson 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! Liz Moorhead Staff Writer Liz is an illustrator and writer who paints custom stationery and types up impassioned opinions about weddings, etiquette, feminism and motherhood (usually while shaking a fist and mumbling expletives around mouthfuls of cheese fries). Her spare time is spent sipping bourbon with her husband and playing Don’t Throw That in the Toilet with her sons.