Karen Peterkin –

While sifting through my Google Reader, the vast majority of which are wedding-related blogs, it was one of my favorite “Mommy blogs” that got me to thinking about children and weddings.

So here’s my quick list of Do’s and Dont’s when it comes to incorporating kiddies in your wedding:

DO consider child-care before, during and after your wedding festivities, where it suits your situation/temperament.

* Most children can’t stay angelic for longer than several minutes, let alone the 4-10 hours you might actually have them on-site in some situations!

Think of the environment you want to create preparing for the wedding day: do you want children running around? Do the parents of the children, perhaps in the wedding party as well, want to occupy them while everyone is getting ready, or do they want to be able to enjoy the festivities themselves?

Consider child-watching options for wedding-prep time. Is your reception child-friendly? Do you want them at the dinner for the meal and photographs, but then tucked in elsewhere for bed before the dreaded “I’m too tired to function” toddler emerges towards the end of the night?

Think about your options for later in the evening in caring for the kiddies in your wedding party.

DO have a back-up plan should the adorable ring bearer or flower girl suddenly get stage fright!

* I’ve seen it happen dozens of times: at the rehearsal, where only another dozen people are around cheering them on, children can ace their job requirements and hold their own for 45 minutes. But when the actual ceremony begins, and they have already stood for photos and been “caged” for hours, they freeze up, tense up, and bow out of their duties less-than-graciously.

DON’T underestimate that, even calm, collected kiddies, can freak out when they feel the energy (and pressure) in the air! Have a plan B should your sweet little one get stage fright. Can they walk with another member of the wedding party? Can they be held by another attendant? Are you alright with the idea that they might not make it down the aisle?

DO designate a care-taker during the ceremony!

* Don’t think for a moment that your adorable little attendant will want to stand at the alter/site for an hour. Consider designating someone to take care of them (have them sit nearest the aisle to intercept them once they’ve made it to their destination), and please know your options when considering taking a fidgety child out of the ceremony site: is there a decently sound-proof room or entrance area to take them to? Bring snacks and toys, too!

DO consider bribery!

* No, I’m not one of those Moms that bribes their children (often), but I AM one of those wedding coordinators. Bring tangible things: a new (quiet) toy, candy, (quiet) munchies, markers and paper. When trying to entice children to either walk down the aisle or even to stand for photo after photo after photo, consider giving them some special treats to make them a little more comfortable…and distracted! It’s only for one day, after all.

DON’T forget kids during your reception (or their parents).

* The children and their parents love you, and you love them otherwise they would be included in your most special day. Help children (and their parents) by having activities for your little attendants during your reception. Even if they are sitting with Mom and Dad, you could designate a table with coloring books, puzzles, games, and other activities to keep them occupied.

Or you could include a little activity bag at their individual place settings. Including some child-friendly ideas at your reception will help them be more pleasant, engaged, and give their parents a chance to have an amazing time at your reception, too!

DO be realistic with children in your wedding party. Those sweet, adorable little ones mean well, but it’s a long day, with many responsibilities…try to think ahead as much as possible, according to your vision for your wedding day and your sweet little attendants.