Aren’t kids in weddings just too cute? We can all agree on that. Ring bearers and flower girls – the more the merrier! 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 grown up strangers. How often does that really happen? Often enough to make being prepared a smart move. Here’s how you can help a reluctant ring bearer (or flower girl) have a great day:
1. Avoid reluctant ring bearers altogether by choosing one that is outgoing and 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 future ring bearer a taste of the role. Does he seem interested? Enthusiastic? Unsure? Make sure he knows (and his parents know) 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 one who can sometimes be a little shy. 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 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 well known 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’s whims, 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. 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.