Including children or pets in the wedding party, or at least the formal photographs, is fairly common. Having a flower girl or a ring bearer is also a common practice. They will add an air of fun and joy to most weddings. To ensure this is the case, here are a few tips based on our experience that will help make the day great.
Young children have the attention span of a flea so you should not expect them to be able to stay still (or even in place!) for more than a few minutes, if they do, you are lucky. If you are having a flower girl deliver anything to the bride, make sure it happens as soon as possible once the bride is in place, and plan for the flower girl to then be seated near the bridal party with her parent(s), family member or caregiver. Also make sure the flower girl and ring bearer have practiced the walk a few times carrying something close to the object or pillow in size and weight.
For very young children it may be wise to have someone they are likely to want to go toward waiting for them near the bridal party. This will help them get to the desired location and not back out to someone they know outside. This will help ensure the object/rings make it to the bridal couple safely and intact.
If you have a ring bearer think about how they will get the ring to the groom. It is often on a small pillow. If the ring is not attached to the pillow in an effective, but simple manner, you may have folks crawling around under pews or chairs looking for the rings. This will happen, we have seen it occur. The ring bearers’ ability to focus and hold the pillow steady will be limited. Make sure the rings cannot readily come free of the pillow, but can easily be released by the groom when needed. Again it will be wise to have the rings handed over sooner than later so that you do not need to be hunting down the ring bearer that went off exploring. Trust me, it happens.
When it comes to pets, especially dogs that are to be included in any of the photographs before or after the ceremony, consider some well known canine habits and prepare for them. When you take a dog out for a walk after it has been inside for a period of time it will need to relieve itself pretty soon. If the dog is going to be in photographs make sure it has been walked and the pent-up pressure and energy has been allowed to dissipate. We say this based on real life experience at a wedding. Suffice to say that the bride had to have the wedding dress sent for specialized cleaning after the pictures with the dog. The second point is to make sure there is someone that can manage the dog to keep it calm, direct it to sit/stand/lay when and where needed, and can care for it and make sure it is safe after the picture taking is done. You don’t want to be worrying about a lost dog instead of enjoying this special day.
Include the children and pets as you wish in the day, but make sure you consider how to keep them safe and their participation is the fun you intended.