Expect the Unexpected
No one is perfect, and as adorable as kids may be,
they can also be very unpredictable. Some are shy,
some are extremely energetic, some can become easily upset. and some seem to have a totally different personality when your big day finally arrives. If you approach the day with a "let's see what happens" attitude, being prepared to take everything in stride, and have a backup plan, everything should work out for both you and the children.
Make Sure the Kids Want to Participate
Your little niece or nephew may be so precious that you can't imagine them not being your flower girl and ring bearer. Your teenage stepdaughter would make the perfect junior bridesmaid. You have imagined how perfect your entry into the ceremony will be, and how delightful it is to have these kids who mean so much to you being part of your big day. Just make sure when you ask them to participate, you honor their response. If they don't want to be a part of the ceremony, pressuring them to be involved can end up with less than delightful results, no matter how much you have imagined it differently.
As much as this may seem like a no brainer, if you wish to have a child other than your own participate in your ceremony, ask their parents for permission first. Nothing is worse than having a child all excited about being in you wedding only to find out that they will not be able to for whatever reason, and then have them being mad at their parents. Then you have two people upset with you.
If the child's parent agrees to allowing their son or daughter to be in your wedding, make sure the parents are seated near the front row. With very young children, they can be seated with them once they walk down the aisle. If the child is a bit older but become restless during the ceremony, it allows them to quickly and without much distraction, go back to sit with their mom and dad. Sometimes the children will remain standing for the entire ceremony but would feel more comfortable knowing where their family is seated.
Include Them in the Festivities
Spend time with the little ones before the wedding, include them as much as possible in any special events they can be part of- such as the bridal shower or rehearsal dinner. They will get to know the other members of the bridal party and feel like they fit in when your wedding day arrives.
Many weddings today do not have a rehearsal but don't skip this step when children are involved. You can practice walking down the aisle without your officiant being there to lead a rehearsal. If a young child is performing a reading, have them read it aloud several times to familiarize themselves with the wording. So practice, practice, practice...they will know what is expected of them and feel more comfortable when they actually have to perform.
Assign Them a Helper
It's time for the bridal party to line up for the ceremony and all of a sudden your little ring bearer is no where in sight! Avoid the panic of this situation by assigning a helper to stay with the youngster.
While I am mentioning the ring bearer- this should go without saying...but never have the real wedding bands tied to the ring bearer's pillow. I also mention this to the couples who plan to have a ring bearer, but one couple ignored my advice with unfortunate results. The wedding was an outdoor one, the ring bearer walked across the expanse of luscious green grass, and up the aisle perfectly as practiced, but somewhere along the way, the groom's ring loosened from its knot, and dropped in the grass, never to be found. He ended up borrowing his best man's wedding band for the ceremony.
Have Plenty of Drinks and Snacks
Avoid the meltdown of a hungry or thirsty child and be sure to have plenty of drinks and snacks on hand.
There are many more tips for having children participate in your wedding, but these should give you some direction on getting started with your plans.