Hola Readers! My apologies for not writing all week. I’ve been having serious technical difficulties and because I’m a wedding planner and not an IT expert, I had to get my webmasters to straighten everything out (thanks Ben and Cathy!). But rest assured – I’ve missed you guys! Today’s topic was inspired by a potential client who contacted me earlier this week. She’s very sweet, has some great ideas for her wedding, and wants to get married in Vieques with 10 children in her wedding party. Ay dios mio!!!Wow. That’s a whole lot of kids for any wedding party, whether you’re at your country club or local banquet hall. But when you’re talking about bringing that many kids to a Caribbean island for a destination wedding weekend, that adds a whole new dimension to things. I’ve blogged about kids at weddings before – but the topic was more focused on what to do if you don’t want kids at your wedding but have guests who want to bring them. Today let’s talk about what to do if you do want to have children in your wedding. First off – there are three kinds of child attendants that are traditional in weddings. Flower girls, ring bearers, and junior bridesmaids. Let’s go in reverse order because I have the least to say about junior bridesmaids. A junior bridesmaid is a “tween” that isn’t old enough to be a bridesmaid (15 or 16 is the traditional cutoff point) but is wayyy too old to be a flower girl. She is usually garbed the same as the other bridesmaids unless there is a risqué element to the dresses you’ve chosen. In that case, her dress should be a slightly more modest version of the other girls. Same color and same general style though. A junior bridesmaid is too old to be treated like a kid during your wedding weekend and, with the exception of being served alcoholic beverages, she should be treated as an adult and an equal member of the wedding party. She goes down the aisle after the flower girls but before the other bridesmaids. Junior bridesmaids are an easy addition to a destination wedding weekend. Flower girls are generally between the ages of three and seven. It has been popular in the past for people to have multiple flower girls (picture Princess Diana’s wedding) but it’s really a pain in the butt in most cases. If all of the girls are on the older end of the scale, it shouldn’t be too difficult to wrangle them. But if you’ve got three four year olds, you may be inviting trouble. Let’s face it, you’re the star of the show on your wedding day. You’re the prettiest girl in the room. All eyes are on the bride – or at least they’re supposed to be. But we’ve all attended weddings where we weren’t watching the bride because of the chaos going on halfway down her dress in the form of little people who can’t sit still through a long ceremony. Lots of brides are smart enough to have the little ones grabbed and contained by parents as soon as they hit the end of the aisle. But some of you overly ambitious brides just can’t resist having them stand with the other attendants during the ceremony. What do you want your wedding guests to focus on? It’s up to you. If you want them to be listening to the beautiful ceremony you spent months planning, then you don’t want them watching the pretty little girl in the sundress who keeps turning around to find people she knows in your audience and giving little waves. Sure, it’s cute. But it’s all going on behind you and you may wonder why people are giggling while you’re pledging your undying love. At one wedding I attended, the oldest flower girl (age five) got too bossy so the littlest one hauled off and socked her. Hilarious? Heck yes! Distracting? Oh yeah. At that point the minister inserted a little joke into the vows about using words rather than fists to settle differences, and everyone laughed again as the two mothers of the little girls grabbed them and hauled them out of the aisle. But the romantic moment was lost. As was the seriousness of the moment. When you’re pledging your eternal love, you and the groom should be focused on the promises you are making and your guests are your witnesses to those vows. Did you really mean to let a five year old steal the show? The same goes for ring bearers. And let me stop here to tell you to call any little boy in your wedding party below the age of eight a “ring bearer.” I recently attended a wedding with “flower boys.” Basically, two little boys joined the three little girls in sprinkling rose petals as they went down the aisle. Not only did this mortify those little boys’ fathers, but someday they may both discuss it as a repressed memory with their therapists. My point? If you want to have little boys in your wedding, give them little boy jobs. Make them ring bearers. And for God’s sake, don’t tie the real rings to the ring pillows. Go to your local craft store and buy fake rings in the color of your real bands. Let the Best Man and Maid of Honor hold the rings for the actual ceremony. Ring bearers, like flower girls, need to be corralled at the end of the aisle and taken out of direct eyeshot of the guests if you don’t want them to steal the show. Okay, so you’re thinking about having multiple little people participate in your destination wedding weekend. Why? Is it because you’ve always wanted that chaos during your ceremony? – some brides do! Or is it because you have a bunch of family members or friends with little people who would be devastated if you didn’t invite their child? You should really truly examine your reasons before asking more than one little person to perform each role. It’s hard enough to manage one or two little ones and get them down the aisle without incident. Unless you really want your wedding ceremony to be remembered for it’s Romper Room atmosphere and juvenile antics, you need to restrict the number of child attendants. So maybe a few of you are getting grumpy with me now, thinking you can have as many little people in your wedding as you want. And you’re right. I’m just telling you that I think it’s a really bad idea. If you decide to do it anyway and I’m your wedding planner, you can bet I’m going to make you hire a number of babysitters to help wrangle the group and keep them out of trouble before and after the ceremony. Your wedding party doesn’t want to be responsible for them, even if they’re their own kids. Reality check – most adults look forward to dropping their little bundles of joy off with a sitter to attend a wedding and have a good time. Parents can’t drink and dance and party while they’re making sure the toddlers don’t toddle right into the pool unnoticed in the dark. So if you do decide to ask children to be in your wedding party, you should provide a backup system for their parents to help them be able to relax and enjoy your reception. Okay, so back to the bride with 10 children in her wedding. Again I say – are you kidding? For a destination wedding? Okay, if she wants to do it, we’ll have to do the following things:1) Arrange babysitters for the night of the welcome party, for the beach party, for the rehearsal dinner, and the day and night of the wedding2) Arrange for a children’s table and a special menu for your little people at your reception. Fresh fish, mofongo, and flan aren’t likely to go over big with the average tot3) Prepare over-full goody bags for each child that include a large selection of coloring books and crayons, puzzles, paper dolls and Colorforms. Skip the messy stuff — no paints, markers or Play Doh4) Plan games, contests and races for your little guests at the beach party. You need to keep them entertained and out of trouble without having to tether them to the floating beer cooler (tacky, tacky, tacky)
5) Bring picnic lunches in special lunchboxes for your littles ones at the beach party. They don’t want to eat what you’re serving at a pig roast! PBJs, chips, fruit and cookies with a drink box go over great when packaged in a sand pail for them to play with at the beach
You should have whatever kind of wedding you want. But you have the right to not let the kiddies steal the show at your destination wedding weekend. You also have the right to control what events the children attend and how they behave at those events. I won’t step in to babysit and neither will my staff. And your wedding party will hate you forever if you stick them watching your three-year-old niece because her mother is busy sucking down rum punch.
But if you’re determined to make sure that your wedding looks like that scene in the Wizard of Oz where Glenda the good witch is surrounded by munchkins after Dorothy smooshes the bad witch with her house, we can still take steps to make sure that you are the ultimate center of attention and that none of the “munchkins” steals the show by taking to the dance floor getting jiggy while you and your new husband are trying to remember the steps to your first dance.
My next blog will address wedding attire for child attendants in the Caribbean. Be sure to tune in!
Happy Wedding Planning from Weddings in Vieques!