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There are few young children that can sit quietly for thirty minutes or more with their hands folded on their laps at home. It’s even less likely that they can suddenly muscle enough control and maturity to sit through a meticulously detailed wedding ceremony.

Some children don’t do well at weddings. A room full of anxious adults, fidgeting in a milieu outside their norm isn’t a particularly hospitable setting for people with a two to six year perspective on life. It can seem forever! The ceremony may be well thought-out and serenely perfect for the exchange of your vows, or the paint could be peeling off the walls from the blood-curdling cry of an unhappy child.

In as little as one minute into your wedding ceremony, it will become evident whether or not you put thought and time in planning for the children on your guest list. You have to decide if you are excluding children, and if you are not, you have some planning to do.


In some parts of our very diverse culture, it is abhorrent to put “no children please” in print. Others may have a “get-over-it, I don’t want kids at my wedding,” attitude and plainly tell family and friends with children to leave them at home!

You get to decide if your wedding celebration will be a family-friendly or an adult event. Just realize there are consequences with either decision. You may take some flack from families that would never exclude their children. If you are including children, start making some plans.


When children are ignored at weddings they become unhappy and in turn, can make those around them just as unhappy. If you haven’t made appropriate plans for children at your wedding they will make their own.

Know the children you are inviting. If you don’t know them well, speak to the children’s parents and find out what activities they enjoy and how their parent’s think the kids will do at a wedding. Who knows, maybe the parents will ask themselves if their child is ready to attend a wedding.

Enlist help. Find an experienced wedding planner to help you devise the best agenda for children that arrive invited or uninvited at your wedding. Ask a couple of good parents to become involved in planning for the children. You can certainly find lots of help because everyone wants the wedding to be as perfect as you do.

Accommodate the children. There’s a welcoming guest book at the venue entrance, the atmosphere is filled with delightful music, and everyone is dressed to the 9’s. The adults are patient and enjoy every little nuance you have orchestrated for your wedding. Be sure of one thing, most children are impressed for two seconds before their mind’s imagination begins to wander. A wedding can get boring fast.

Get Creative. Perhaps the children could have their own guest book table where they could sit a moment and become involved by signing their very own name, or at least making their mark. Some folks have created personalized activity bags or boxes with age-appropriate stickers, coloring books and a treat.

Your own small children are coming? Etiquette is not learned at the wedding, but before. Make sure their day isn’t filled with abrupt emphatic comments like, “Stand up straight,” “Look here,” and “give grandpa a kiss.” This is not the day for unexplained demands and testing a child’s limits.

Be sure to attire them comfortably. If you insist on a small boy wearing a tux, get it a week early and let him learn how to wear it. If you have the first formal dress for a small girl, teach her how to sit in her “special” clothes. You don’t like wedding shoes and neither do children, so make sure you have the kids in comfy shoes.

You might consider having all the kids in an entirely different place, but close by. A baby sitter or family and friends can be recruited to care for the children separate from the wedding. A captivating video, a puppet troupe, or even a dance lesson might keep the children appropriately occupied while the wedding is going on peacefully.

In as little as one minute into your wedding ceremony, it will become evident whether or not you put thought and time in planning for the children on your guest list. You invited them as special guests, so make sure they feel welcome.


A few years ago my small daughter, Sarah, and I found ourselves in the family dining room of a couple I had just married. The ceremony was held in their beautiful garden backyard and we were patiently waiting as the groom looked throughout the house for their marriage license.

As we waited and without saying a word, Sarah pointed to the framed wedding invitation located in the middle of the buffet centerpiece. The final line of the invitation read, “No children, please.”

Now, this minister makes it a point to ask couples not to spend any of their precious wedding budget on an invitation, a boutonničre or even a seat at the reception for my family or me. Needless to say, we left immediately after signing the license.

Have you considered not having children at your wedding? Consult with your invitation expert for the wording in your invitation so that it is not offensive.

Everyone else…let’s consider the children attending your wedding.


Most everyone delights in seeing children dressed in their flower girl gowns and miniature tuxedos. They are always darling to watch!

I remember hearing about little 5 year-old Kevin who growled, lumbering from side to side coming down the aisle because he was the ring “bear.”

Taryn & Jeff, getting married this coming December told me about their flower girl, 3 year-old Kenly. She said she was excited to be the flower girl so she could splash in the “puddles.” No, Kenly, you cutie, they’re “petals.”

Just don’t put too much stress on these children. It’s could be cruel to force them to do what you imagine is perfect. A wedding is foreign and uncertain territory for most small children, so be patient with them.


Many new families already have young children. They are “yours, mine,” and sometimes “ours.” The act of family creation often involves more than just two, so it is sometimes appropriate to recognize the children during the ceremony.

A real highlight for any minister is to take a moment to reassure the children that while blending a family can seem challenging, they can look back upon moments like these to draw strength. This strength will come from a parent who is stronger and happier because of his or her marriage.

What a blessing to ask the parents, “Do you promise to love, care for and be a good example of marriage…?” Many parents present their children with gifts like medallions or name bracelets. The children can also be included in the lighting of a family candle or The Arizona Sand Ceremony.

Some children do not need to be put on the sport during a ceremony, so discuss how they feel about being included. Respecting that wish will help you in the long run!


Other people’s children have attention problems. Other people’s children get tired and cranky. Other people’s children get bored and become mischievous. Other people’s children whine and cry loud enough to peel wallpaper off the walls. It’s true!


If your invitations have not specified that children stay away, you are stuck. However, there are some things you can do:

1) Accept that you are, to a degree, responsible for the children attending your wedding. The children at a wedding are invited guests and should be treaded as such.

2) If the children are yours, make sure they have adequate rest and have received their meals at the usual time. Their little insides need sleep and fuel to keep up the frantic pace of a wedding and reception.

3) No child should be uncomfortable at a wedding or reception. Their clothes should fit right. Their seat should be at the correct height for the table. Children should not have to sit in direct sun or have harsh glare making their eyes squint. Comfortable = Quiet?

4) Invite friends for the young! Make sure they have the companionship of at least one other youngster that will ensure comfort and pleasure while they are somewhat ignored by the partying parents. Have some quiet little activities they can do together.

5) Consider childcare. It might be a wonderful option to secure a relative or childcare provider to set up a separate location for the children of parents attending your wedding. They could have their own meal, activities and the wedding and reception might be better for everyone!

6) If your child gets loud, get out. Take the child outside of the celebration immediately and “parent” the child as you do so well at home. Pouting and crying are symptoms of a need that only their parent can meet.

7) Let the children spend time at the reception with other supervised children by taking shifts with some other parents. Imagine enjoying the dancing and maybe closing your eyes for a kiss because you know the children are properly occupied.

When planning your wedding, consider the children! Love them if you invite them. If you didn’t invite them, please forgive the minister if he brings Sarah!

Wedding Ministers

Gwen & Phil Waring

Phone: 480-502-0707

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