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Children at weddings can bring excitement
MISSISSIPPI STATE -- Whether as guests or part of the wedding party, children add an element of uncertainty that may or may not be welcome at these ceremonies.
Louise Davis, child and family development specialist with the Mississippi State University Extension Service, said a simple rule of thumb is to bring children to weddings if they are invited and are 5 years or older.
“If the bride and groom have said they welcome their friends' children at the wedding, then parents can bring their own if they are old enough to sit quietly during the ceremony,” Davis said. “Even when children are invited, parents may be more at ease and able to enjoy the ceremony if they know their children are elsewhere being entertained and watched over.”
Davis said children under age 6 have a difficult time sitting still for long periods. It is unrealistic to bring infants, toddlers and preschoolers to functions that require lengthy periods of quiet and stillness.
Wedding hosts should arrange for child care during the ceremony for children of members of the wedding party. This courtesy could be extended to children of out-of-town guests who may be unable to make their own child-care arrangements in an unfamiliar town.
Invitations should note whether children are welcome and if child care is available. Any guest who has questions should check with the wedding planner or the bride's mother before bringing children. Be sure to include children on RSVPs.
Davis urged couples planning a wedding to consider their expectations of the wedding day when deciding whether or not to invite children to attend. Plan even more carefully if children will be asked to participate in the ceremony.
“If you envision a perfect ceremony where everything goes exactly as planned, you probably should not invite children to participate,” Davis said. “But if you have a laid-back personality and your ceremony is informal, children could be a fun addition to the event.”
Davis urged parents and wedding planners to take time preparing children for how they are expected to act during the ceremony and what will be expected of them.
“Tell your child that a wedding is a very special occasion for the bride and groom, and that the child needs to be very quiet and still during the ceremony,” Davis said. “It's probably a good idea to give your child some unstructured time before the event to let off steam by running around or playing as they like.”
Karen Benson, Extension child and family development southeast district area agent, said she has witnessed a variety of displays when children are at weddings.
“The key to including children in any formal event is to have realistic expectations,” Benson said.
Consider the time of the wedding ceremony, rehearsal and reception when planning to include children. Children may need naps or snacks, and they may enjoy simple foods not typically available on rehearsal dinner or reception menus.
Benson encouraged wedding planners to seek advice from florists when selecting the flowers children will handle. Some flowers, such as daisies, may be easier than rose petals for a young girl to scatter, and some flowers can stain clothing.
“A wedding planner can give tips for a child in the wedding who has a lot of directions to follow,” Benson said. “And when you include children in the ceremony, have a rehearsal before the rehearsal just for children. Check the fit of formal attire and make sure the clothing is not itchy. These things are time consuming and should be checked out in advance.”