And no, we don’t mean oompa loompas! These days many couples are getting married later in life, often after they have had a child or two. Second marriages are much more common, with one or both of the couples having children from a previous relationship. Your children are obviously such a large part of your life that you undoubtedly want to include them as part of your special day. Here are some tips to do just that (while at the same time making sure that the little tyrants don’t throw a wobbly and spoil your day!):
GET THEM INVOLVED
Flower girl/Bridesmaid/Page Boy/Groomsman
If your son or daughter is old enough, you always have the option of including them as part of the ceremony. This may be in the role or a flower girl or page boy or, if they are a bit older, as a bridesmaid or groomsman.
The flower girl or page boy will normally walk down the aisle ahead of the bridesmaids and the bride. However, depending on their age, this can be a bit tricky with the child sometimes becoming very ‘shy’ at the last minute and being reluctant to walk down the aisle. In such a case, the first bridesmaid coming down the aisle may have to take the child with them, perhaps holding their hand so it is a good idea to pre plan for this before the day.
It is a great idea to have the children attend pre-wedding functions or rehearsals so that they become comfortable with the other bridesmaids and groomsmen. Remember, even the most confident child can get stage fright!
It can be a nice way to involve your child by letting them bring the rings up to you when the time comes in the ceremony. Traditionally, a young boy is used, although these days people are less concerned with tradition. The ring bearer may bring the rings (on a pillow) up the aisle when the bride first comes in (the ring bearer is normally the first down the aisle, followed by the flower girl, maid of honour, bridesmaids and then the bride and her father). If you don’t want to entrust the rings to the child to bring up the aisle, you can just have them waiting up the front (being looked after by one of your parents!) ready for the child to bring take up to the couple when the time is right. This can be a simple way of including the child, without putting too much pressure on them. What’s more, if the child refuses to do it at the last minute, it is easy enough for the best man to come and collect the rings and take them up.
If your child is a little bit older, they might like to read a small poem that they have written (most probably with your help!). This could be at the ceremony itself or at the reception. Once again though, you have to be prepared for them to get stage fright when the time comes to stand up and do it so have a ring in at the ready.
INCLUDE THEM IN PLANNING THE DAY
The more you can include your child in the planning of the day, the more excited they will be about it (and we all know that an excited child is a happy child!). For, example, if you are going to look at venues, you can always take your child along to some of them (it may be a bit much taking them to all of the venues you look at). You can ask them what they think of the venue and, if you have chosen your venue, why not introduce them to the people who run the venue. This will help them feel comfortable on the actual day and will give them another ‘friendly face’ who they will know.
Invitations and wedding favours
If you are making your own invitations, this is a great chance to get your child involved, whether by helping stick things on the invitations or putting them into envelopes for you. The same goes if you are making wedding favours – children are great at putting sugared almonds in little bags (although be prepared for a few to go astray!).
OTHER THINGS TO THINK ABOUT
Food & Drink
Venues will often be willing to create kids meals for the reception if you give them some warning. Make sure that you find out about this early on so that, if they don’t, you can make sure that someone brings something suitable for them to eat. Having meals that you know the kids will like will help reduce the chances of tantrums come dinner time.
If the kids are a bit older, include them in the toasts by giving them non-alcoholic “mocktails” or sparkling grape/apple juice in champagne glasses. Kids who feel like they are included are less likely to become bored and will feel special and part of the day.
Come the end of your wedding day, you will most likely be knackered – getting married is pretty tiring! The same applies for your children – there is likely to have been long periods of time when they have had to wait around and be on their best behaviour. This is inevitably going to result in them getting tired and grumpy at the end of the day.
To ensure that your day isn’t spoilt by a tired tantrum-throwing child, you need to remember that, no matter how well-behaved they are, young children get tired quickly, especially if they have to wait around and, even more so, if they are hot (which is often the case if they are ‘dressed-up’). To prevent this becoming an issue, make sure that someone is designated to look after them the whole time and have an area set aside where they can ‘play’ while waiting for things to happen (such as waiting for the bride to arrive or while you are having your photos taken).
It is also a good idea to try to organise a space at the reception venue where they can lie down and have a sleep if they start getting tired. Alternatively, organise for someone to take them home to a baby-sitter when they are getting tired. If you know that someone is in charge of looking after the kids, you can get on with enjoying the day.
If you want your kids to be a major part of your whole wedding day, you may want to schedule the wedding for the middle of the day and have a lunch reception. This is a great way to ensure that the kids can be included in both the ceremony and the reception.
Your wedding is one of the few times in your life where you are likely to have a professional photographer snapping away and you should make the most of it. Get the photographer to take heaps of photos of the kids. If you are going to a separate location for bridal party photos, you could also take your kids with you. However, make sure that there is someone to look after them in case the photos go on for a while – it pays to discuss this with your photographer beforehand to see whether it is going to be suitable.
In the end it, is just a case of making sure that your child feels important and involved in your wedding day - after all, his or her parents getting married is a big deal to a kid and what a great memory it will make for you as a family.