Whether a child is ready to act as a flower girl or ring bearer is perhaps the most important consideration when selecting him or her to participate in your nuptials. We wish we could give you a hard-and-fast rule about the age when a child will make it down the aisle. But, as you know from our previous post “Girls Cry, Boys Freeze”, we can’t. We’ve seen two year olds make it down the aisle without a hitch and have had six year olds freeze at the end of the aisle upon realizing that all eyes are turned their way.
What we can recommend, however, is considering:
The child’s age: normally, the older the child the better because this increases the likelihood of his or her making it down the aisle and decreases the chances of a tantrum.
The child’s personality: shy children are less likely to make it down the aisle, or at least not without some moments of fright.
We know that these considerations are very general. However, without knowing the child or the child’s relationship to the couple it’s impossible to determine whether a child should participate in a wedding. However, the fact of the matter is that, unfortunately, some children just aren’t ready and shouldn’t be asked to act as ring bearer or flower girl.
This sentence is never an easy one to say, and is sometimes impossible to relay to parents of youngsters expecting their beloved child to be involved in your ceremony. Note the use of “parents”. I use that word because the people most likely to be upset about their child not participating in your wedding are the child’s parents or your other family members. Several of our couples have admitted to asking children who are not ready to participate in a wedding to act as a flower girl or ring bearer to avoid arguments with family members.
While our couples know best, we have been asked how to address the issue of why a child is not being asked to participate in a wedding. In these circumstances, we recommend calling upon:
The church or ceremony location’s rules: having a limited amount of time for your ceremony is a good reason to exclude sometimes slow-walking children.
Having a small wedding party to avoid stress: wrangling more attendants is always more stressful than managing a few. Not having children involved in your wedding is entirely acceptable if your wedding party is small.
Not having any other children in the wedding: if you decide that one child isn’t old enough to participate, you might have to not have children in your wedding at all.
Asking the parents whether the child is ready to participate: starting a conversation about the child’s abilities to walk down the aisle often leads parents to the (correct) conclusion that he or she can’t. Although the parents might not admit it then and there, many couples have received phone calls a day or two later in which the parents say that they don’t think their child is ready.
If you really can’t get out of asking a child to participate in your wedding despite knowing that he or she isn’t ready, we recommend not having the child walk down the aisle. Instead, have him or her be carried by his parents during the processional or even when family members are seated. Guests will still know the child’s special designation by their attire and mention in your program.