Whether the little ones are yours or those of close friends and family, having them to be fully included in the proceedings will always be rather special but can seem a bit daunting to some. Tiny flower girls, little ring bearers, or simply small witnesses can be a little unpredictable, so here are some tips on how make the best it it without too much stress or too big a dent in the wedding funds!
Talk it Through
When a little person has a key role, it sounds obvious, but many forget to talk about it with the right mind set - that it is something special to look forward to, that mummy and daddy will be very proud if everything goes to plan, that he/she will play a very important role, etc. They should of course know what is expected of them (whether it is just sitting pretty for photos or walking down the aisle). A verbal story or pretend play with little figurines or similar items are great for explaining it all, as are books with weddings scenes.
Manage the Pressure
Which all depends on the child's character and abilities. If little one is too young to understand instructions, let alone follow, don't count on him/her to be able to be able to carry the rings, have a back up plan, e.g. an older bridesmaid who can help. If your child is shy, walking down the aisle on his or her own is very stressful, so have someone else hold hands and practise a lot. Or allow them to carry a favourite teddy.
Make Sure it's not all Go Go Go on the Day
A tired baby or toddler (or even bigger kids) are more likely to lead to melt down, so make sure that there is enough quiet time, or relaxing time - as well as a suitable place to wind down, have a cuddle, read a book, etc. Have a little bag of snacks and a drink ready too, because hungry tots are no fun too, and food is nearly always late at big dos!
Think of Entertainment
It doesn't have to be anything fancy or expensive if your budget doesn't allow: entertaining the kids can be as simple as having a few balloons, crayons and paper, some simple games, or if you have quite a few little ones to entertain, a cordoned off area with borrowed garden toys.
This can be a bit complicated if you don't give it a litte thought in advance. Make sure the venue has what you need for little ones - changing facilities, high chairs, children menu, etc. You might be surprised how many places lack some basic facilities. If that's the case, then just plan ahead and bring your own stuff, such as a proper changing mat, booster chair, or tubs of food.
Clothing and Accessories
Nothing more frustrating that buying expensive clothes and accessories and have the kids throw them at the wall because they don't like them. Unfortunately, this very often happens, whether as a way of expressing their independence (and being fed up of just been told to do this and that), or simply because what you bought is uncomfortable, clumsy, itchy, etc. As an accessories designer, my advice to parents is to never get something too expensive, to allow them to choose before purchasing whenever possible, and to try to get them to wear and try in advance, with a lot of emphasis on how much fun it is. Books showing a character in a pretty dress, with the type of accessories you want them to wear etc., are always useful as they can be used to point out the pretty dress, the bow tie, the bouquet, etc. Have a back up plan, if there is a melt down on the day about getting dressed up!
Praise Good Behaviour
Finally, when you see good behaviour, don't forget lots of praise to keep them going. Little ones are proud when they feel that they have achieved something, so show them that you approve!