With a lot of young relatives walking around, you may be wondering how best to include the little ones in your wedding. Children of all ages can play a role in a wedding, and their spirit always adds something special to the celebration. These are some ideas on how to include your nieces and nephews in your wedding.

Your nieces and nephews can occupy a place in your wedding ceremony regardless of their age. The most common role for young children is ring bearer or flower girl. Don’t feel like you have to choose between your nieces and nephews when you have a large family. While too many bridesmaids can look a bit silly, having a large group of kids in your bridal party will generate lots of smiles and “awwwws”. Some brides, who need to involve a very large group of young relatives in their wedding, will choose to have just one maid of honor and one groom for the groom and forego the rest of the bridesmaids in order to have a wedding reception that is off all composed of nieces and nephews.

The most common role for young children is ring bearer or flower girl. This works best for children between the ages of three and eight years. The flower girl (or flower girls) can either carry a small bouquet or a basket of petals to throw (if permitted by your venue). They’re usually dressed in cute little dresses with patent leather shoes and may have a wreath of flowers in their hair. The bride should plan to give flower girl gifts to little ones. Traditional flower girl gifts include silver medallions or very dainty pearl pendants.

The ring bearer theoretically wears the wedding rings down the aisle to the altar (I say theoretically because the rings on the pillow are often fakes). If you had two little boys and you wanted each to be a ring bearer, they could each carry a small pillow, one with the bride’s wedding ring and one with the groom’s ring (or facsimiles). If you have a large number of nephews these pages can be. This works best when the wedding is a large and formal affair. Sides traditionally help carry the bride’s train. It is very cute if the wedding dress has a large train the length of a cathedral but would be rather impractical for a small train. In this case, just have the young men all dressed the same way and walk down the aisle in a group. Even without a specific assignment, your nephews can be a part of the fun.

Older nieces and nephews can be invited to the wedding as junior bridesmaids or groomsmen. This is a bridge position for a child too old to be a flower girl or ring bearer but too young to be a full-fledged bridesmaid or best man. The typical age range for junior staff is between nine and fourteen years. Once they’re around fifteen or sixteen years old, they’re ready to be regular bridesmaids or groomsmen. The junior bridesmaids wear dresses that are similar in style to the bridesmaids’ dresses, only more reserved and age-appropriate. Because the men’s formal attire varies so little, the junior groomsmen can wear the same suits as the groomsmen, or they can wear a jacket and pants instead of a full suit.

Even young children can play a role in your wedding as long as you don’t expect things to go perfectly. There is nothing more delightful than a very young niece or nephew driving down the aisle in a fancy carriage or sleigh pulled by an older sibling. I’ve even seen babies being pushed down the aisle in flower-decked strollers! Bringing as many of your nieces and nephews into your wedding as you want is wonderfully fun.

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