It's not uncommon for children to be on a wedding guest list. In addition to attending the wedding, though, many children play a more important role in this life-changing event.
Traditional Wedding Ideas That Include Children
If the wedding is the second marriage for the bride, groom, or both, there may be children from a previous relationship. Children may traditionally take on any number of responsibilities during a wedding. The more common roles that children hold during wedding ceremonies include:
- Flower girls
- Miniature brides
- Ring bearers
- Bridesmaids or groomsmen (for older children)
- Candle lighters (if the church allows)
- Playing host at the guest book/gift table at the ceremony or reception
Other Ceremonial Roles for Children
Never underestimate the importance of creativity when it comes to a wedding. That doesn't just apply to floral arrangements and food. It's also pertinent when it comes to designating the roles that various family members will play during the wedding. When children are concerned, this decision is of prime importance. They may occasionally feel left out amid the general hubbub surrounding the planning stages. It can be helpful to let them know they're a part of the process by involving them in key elements of the wedding. Of course, this can be accomplished in many ways.
- Standing by the bride's and groom's sides allows children to be active participants in the wedding. This represents the new family unit that is formed through the bond of marriage.
- Unity candles symbolize the union of two becoming one. One taper represents the bride, and one represents the groom. During the ceremony, the mother's children may light their mother's candle, while the father's children may do the same for their father's candle. The individual candles are then united with the unity candle, which creates a vivid flame. There are other practices that are acceptable; for example, if only one individual has children, the other individual's mother may light his or her candle instead.
- Vows are traditionally given by the couple, but it's not unusual for a couple with kids to request the minister include a set of vows especially for the children to recite. These vows may state that the children promise to love their parent's new partner, and may end with "we do" to confirm the sentiment. This is a particularly loving way to include the children, as it involves their participation in a very direct manner.
Roles at the Reception
Children can easily take part in reception festivities.
- Older kids can announce the bridal party when they enter the reception.
- Kids can help grandparents and other guests find their tables or help serve cake.
- A toast for the kids is a heartwarming gesture that makes the wedding a true family affair.
- Include dancing with the children after the traditional bride and groom dance.
- Have a special list of songs that kids can request. For example, The Bunny Hop and The Hokey Pokey are always fun to include, and if kids are allowed to put their requests in, they'll feel important.
- Let kids take turns handing out favors as guests leave the reception.
The Creative Route
While letting kids help in a more traditional manner is typical, you can also ask kids to help in less conventional ways at the wedding.
Unique Entrances and Exits
The flower girl and ring bearer don't have to walk amid flower petals. Instead, come up with a unique way for them to enter and exit the wedding. Ideas include:
- Vrooming away - Instead of walking down the aisle, allow preschool-aged children to take a small ride-on toy down the aisle that's decorated for the wedding. This works well outdoors; it probably won't work inside.
- Dancing down the aisle - Come up with a cute, short step kids can do in and out of the ceremony. For example, moving together with arms linked two steps to each side and back again or snapping fingers and swinging arms back and forth.
- Bubble exit - Have kids walk in front of the bride and groom while blowing bubbles. This is a fun way to exit the ceremony after the couple's first kiss.
Kids can wield cameras as well as adults, and you may get unique shots and perspectives that adults wouldn't consider. Assign about three different kids this job so you get a variety of shots. Speak with their parents prior to the wedding to make sure they understand their role and what you'd like to see them do. You should also let them know you don't expect them to be taking photos the entire ceremony and reception. Ask their parents to email you (or post on social media) photographs from the wedding for everyone to see.
Reception Activities and Games
While not as common as traditional dances, playing reception games is a growing trend. Games are especially fun at a wedding with lots of kids. The games can be for the bridal party only, kids and the couple, or all the reception guests. Ask a few children to help you plan some fun activities that people will enjoy. Nothing needs to be overly complicated; games could be as simple as:
- Tying the knot around the couple - Let youngsters wrap the couple in ribbon; whoever finishes their ribbon strand first wins.
- The Bride/Groom Says - A spin-off from the traditional Simon Says game, the kids can come up with commands for the couple to give to everyone on the dance floor. This is especially funny if they set the commands to music.
- Couple trivia - Older kids, especially if they are the couple's children or nieces/nephews, can help craft trivia questions to ask the entire reception hall. Let the kids pose the questions out loud and guests can write their answers down. Whoever gets the most answers correct is the winner.
Kids of all ages love playing with balloons. Give them additional responsibility and let them hand out balloons to everyone as they enter the reception. Make sure the kids know that other children are a priority and to give each one a balloon when they come in. This serves a dual-purpose of giving additional children a role at the reception as well as keeping children attending as guests busy throughout the evening. Balloons scattered about the reception also add a festive ambiance to the event.
Including Babies in Your Wedding
Couples may want to add babies and infants to their nuptials. While the couples' own children would obviously be included in family photographs, special nieces/nephews, and close family friends may be incorporated in additional ways. For example:
- Candid photographs - Instead of all the posed photographs, make sure the photographer knows you want candid photographs of the babies as well. This can include shots of them being calmed by parents, investigating the wedding decorations and flowers, or even as they play by themselves nearby.
- Decorated high chair at the altar - Just because a child is young doesn't mean you have to exclude them from the vows or ceremony. Decorate a high chair and place it near the altar or front of the ceremony so the child can partake in activities. The chair can then be moved to the reception for the meal.
- Wagon entrance/exit - While using wedding wagons for flower girls is common, you can also use them for babies. Look for a wagon designated for babies and secure him in it just before sending him down the aisle. Again, this is something that can be moved to the reception for the bridal party entrance.
- Light-up toys and wands - Dark receptions might be a little scary for infants and babies. Keep them occupied and happy by providing light-up toys and wands to play with at the reception. Make sure any toys are safe for infants.
- Reception play area - Instead of sending the baby home immediately after the ceremony or passing her from person to person, set up a designated play area at the reception. Include soft plush toys, balls, blocks, and other age-appropriate playthings. Pay a couple sitters to watch the babies and take them back to a room for sleep as the evening progresses.
Create Memories With Children
Make your day a truly memorable affair by including children of all ages in the event. Whether you go traditional or get creative, kids in the ceremony are sure to delight the bridal party and guests alike.