Aren’t kids in weddings just too cute? Admit it. They are, but they’re especially cute when they aren’t pitching a fit at the foot of the aisle because they’ve suddenly found themselves staring out into a sea of strangers. How often does that actually happen? Enough to make it a worthwhile topic to touch on, I think. And with that in mind, here are my very own five tips for dealing with a reluctant ring bearer of your own:
1. Avoid reluctant ring bearers altogether by choosing one that is outgoing yet polite, and old enough to understand what he’s being asked to do. Books like 10 Cool Things About Being a Ring Bearer and The Best Ever Ring Bearer can help you give your prospective ring bearer a taste of the roll. Does he seem interested? Enthusiastic? Unsure? Make sure he knows he can opt out.
2. Don’t expect the moon from any ring bearer – especially if you’ve chosen a really young ring bearer or a shy one or one who’s normally outgoing but hasn’t yet been tested for confidence in a room full of strangers. Walking down an aisle with lots of strangers on either side? Easy for most adults. Utterly terrifying for some children. If your reluctant ring bearer makes it from point A to point B without bawling, flopping down on the aisle runner, or making a break for the door, consider it a job well done.
3. Practice makes perfect. One rehearsal is enough for most adults, but if at all possible, have your reluctant ring bearer’s parents bring him to your ceremony venue and show him where he’ll be and what he’ll be doing during the wedding. A reluctant ring bearer may simply not understand what’s expected of him. Kids don’t have the experience to think, oh yes, a wedding with chairs and an aisle and a ceremony then cake. The wedding itself may be this mysterious thing in your little man’s mind, and nothing is as scary as the unknown.
4. Assign a ring bearer shepherd, preferably one who is close to the child. Walking down an aisle flanked by tall grownups becomes a lot less frightening when you have your tiny hand firmly settled in papa’s big one. If this feels too much like you’re asking the parent to participate in your wedding – which you kind of are no matter what since they have to buy junior’s babytux – you can give your reluctant ring bearer the confidence to go it alone by having him escorted to the foot of the aisle by mama, who sets him on his path, and caught by papa, waiting for him by the couple in the first row.
5. Finally, say “It’s okay, you don’t have to be in the wedding if you don’t want to or are afraid.” Some adults are easily offended by children, but in so many cases, a child’s choices don’t have malicious intent behind them. Maybe your chosen ring bearer started out enthusiastic and has grown increasingly reluctant as the wedding draws nearer. If he says he’d rather not participate, don’t force it. No, his fears or impulses aren’t anything like logical, but children aren’t logical creatures. Better to go ring bearer-less than to have a sulking little boy in all your wedding photos or worse yet, a crying one.
P.S. – If it wasn’t entirely obvious, all of these tips pertain to flower girls as well! Or, hmmm, girls who are carrying rings or even boys who are carrying or sprinkling flowers around. No reason why a girl child can’t carry rings or a boy child can’t be in charge of petals.