How Young Is Too Young?

In my day, I’ve seen flower girls refuse to walk down the aisle and ring bearers burst into tears. I’ve watched them fidget in pictures, toss their baskets and ring pillows to the ground in irritation, and steal handfuls of wedding cake before the bride and groom had a chance to cut it. I would never suggest that children and weddings don’t mix, because I think the right kind of wedding can be a lot of fun for the wee ones. But when it comes to participating in the wedding? Then I’m a firm believer in age limits.

As cute as flower girls and ring bearers can be, many don’t have the patience or the stamina to handle certain matrimonial activities. Think dealing with an empty tummy while the wedding photographer takes posed shots or standing for an entire wedding ceremony. Even walking 50 feet alone in front of 100+ grownups can be a scary experience for shy kids. Not to mention the fact that weddings can be a little overwhelming for introverted children or (especially?) children kept up past their bedtimes.

flower girls ring bearers

But all that aside, there’s also the issue of age. Does the two-year-old flower girl understand what’s going on around her? Can you guarantee that the three-year-old ring bearer won’t be scared of the officiant in her black robe of the photographer with his bright flash? Will the infant attendant coo contentedly as she is carried down the aisle but scream bloody murder as soon as the ceremony begins? Tiny tots are by their very natures unpredictable. They may look like little gentlemen and little ladies in their ring bearer suits and flower girl dresses, but their minds are far from mature.

You tell me:

My vote: I’d recommend choosing flower girls and ring bearers who have at least some understanding of the role they’re being asked to play in your wedding *and* the confidence to play that role well (i.e., without tears or tantrums caused by anxiety or fear).

8 Responses to “How Young Is Too Young?”

  1. Twistie says:

    I find myself a bit torn on this one. Obviously, the personality and individual maturity of the child should be the first concern. There are some kids who can handle wedding duties with surprising maturity at three, and others who still aren’t ready at eight for one reason or another.

    OTOH, I have to say the vast majority of problems I’ve seen with wee attendants happened when they were under the age of five. Short legs, short attention spans, tiny bladders, and lack of worldly experience all combine to make it a choice fraught with danger. I’d hesitate to choose a child that young.

    My advice is to think carefully before choosing a very tiny attendant, keep the ceremony short (or let them walk up the aisle and then immediately go sit with a parent in the front row) if you’re having small children at the altar, and then be as zen as possible if a very young ring bearer or flower girl can’t deal at the last moment.

  2. Abbie says:

    We sent our flower girls and ring bearer cute books about their “role”. They loved it. Their parents read with them and explained that their aunt & uncle were getting married and why they were being included. The kids took it very seriously once the day arrived but had fun, too. I was okay with them not making it down the aisle if they got nervous, but even the young ring bearer made it!

  3. Mary says:

    It depends on the type of wedding and the attitudes of the couple, too. Our ringbearer had just turned three. We expected his mother to have to walk him down the aisle of our outdoor daytime wedding, but he wanted to go by himself. It turned out he just wanted to show the pillow to his grandmother. She encouraged him to go the rest of the way (“Go to Daddy” since his father was a groomsman). He spent most of the ceremony either running up and down the aisle or sitting in his mother’s lap. All that was fine with us, but for someone who was more uptight or wanted a really formal ceremony, it would have been bad. He looked adorable in his Eton suit, and showed the pictures of himself to everyone (even his pediatrician) for weeks afterward.

  4. a meg says:

    My sister-in-law’s daughter was our flower girl when she was just two. Right up until (and during, really) the ceremony, everyone involved in the wedding knew that she was allowed to “drop out” if she just wasn’t in the mood at the moment. We’d practiced her job and she is an outgoing little tyke who likes to perform, so we figured it was worth a shot, but I didn’t want her or anyone else to get hung up on it. I mean, a flower girl is not exactly an integral part of a wedding in my book. It is adorable and a way to make a small child feel special and included. But if the moment had arrived and she had even a little bit of angst over walking down the aisle in front of people, she would have just been carried in to sit with the rest of the family and the procession would have skipped that step. As it happens, she was a little ham and it came off without a hitch, with her toddling down the aisle sprinkling flower petals around before joining the rest of the family in the pews (long ceremony, the whole bridal party sat once it was underway).

  5. I don’t see a to young over the legal age.i do however see 40 and over as to old.i grew up as # 10 of 11 children and my parents were was embarrassing having everyone thinking they were my grandparents and it was horrible them never having the energy to do things with us.

  6. Shenandoah — I don’t understand your point. Are you saying you wish you had never been born? That your parents just shouldn’t have had you at their age? Or that nobody should have 11 kids because they’ll be exhausted?

    Regardless, what does either of these have to do with little kids being in weddings?

  7. Katie says:

    I think it depends on both the child in question, and your expectations of them. We plan to ask our youngest (currently) niece and nephew to be flowergirl/pageboy along with their older cousins. They will be a little over 2 at the time of our wedding. Our only expectation/hope is that they will walk down the aisle accompanied by an older cousin (aged 9 and 6 at the wedding) and look cute in a few photos. We will have them seated with their parents for both the actual ceremony and reception. We will bow to their parents wisdom if they deem them too young.

  8. Margaret says:

    My flowergirl was 26 months old at our wedding and was the star of the show. A little bit of early nerves were overcome by having a few books and her dolly by her seat in the church and giving her crayolas and a colouring book for the meal at the reception.

    Though she did tell her parents that as parties go, she didn’t think much of this one.