Your wedding gives you the opportunity to gather some of your favorite people to watch you as you start the rest of your life. In fact, you’ve probably been thinking about your wedding party since long before you were even engaged, the listing growing and changing as you add people, cross them out, and switch them around. One thing you may not have thought about is the age of your attendants. Does age really matter? How young is too young? How old is too old? The easy answer is it’s your wedding and your cast of characters so you can do what you want, but in reality, you may just be stressing yourself out if you cast loved ones too young in big roles. It’s your day and you’re the director, but we have some helpful hints for you when finalizing your list.
Flower Girl and Ring Bearer
I picked out my flower girl when I was 18; she was going to be the perfect little cute blonde bouncing down the aisle with her flowers. However, since I didn’t get married until I was 31, that bouncing little girl wasn’t so little anymore and she got bumped up to the bridesmaid list instead. This problem begs the question, “What’s the perfect age for a flower girl?”
Flower girls and ring bearers are traditionally between the ages of about three to seven. Maturity levels can vary greatly in little kids so a two-year old may actually be a better flower girl than a four-year old depending on the child. But, going younger than three is usually like stepping into a mine field. Two-year olds are known for their fun tantrums and changing moods. One moment, your little flower girl may be fine, ready for her walk, and the next, she might be sitting and screaming in the middle of her flowers. Even younger, the mood swings can be just as bad. With small children, changing environments, stress, and discomfort are easy triggers for unpleasant behavior and weddings are just a very busy time. Odds are, your guests won’t care if your flower girl or ring bearer performs perfectly, but it’s up to you if you want to take a gamble.
If you do choose a toddler flower girl or ring bearer, it’s best to place a loved one at the altar encouraging them so they don’t make any detours. The child doesn’t have to stand with the wedding party either. After their triumphant walk, have them sit down with loved ones in the front row so they can be content and cared for.
Since bridesmaids and groomsmen are usually close friends or siblings, they are often around your age, but there are many exceptions. Some couples love to include their siblings and cousins who may be much older or younger. Unlike with flower girls and ring bearers, age doesn’t really affect someone’s duties as a bridesmaid or groomsmen. The only trouble you might run into is with the wedding showers and bachelor/bachelorette parties.
It is tradition for the bridesmaids to pay for the bridal shower and buy gifts for the bride (the same goes for the groomsmen if you choose to have something unisex). Obviously, most younger bridesmaids and groomsmen are not going to have money to dedicate to these events, so you will need to reach some understanding with the rest of your wedding party. Most probably won’t anticipate contribution from a younger person, but some may expect their parents to chip in instead. It will likely be up to the bride and groom to straighten out any expectations on behalf of any young siblings or cousins.
Bachelor and bachelorette parties are notoriously “adults only” events. Common activities like going to a bar or club require everyone to be at least 21, and most “at home” activities are still meant to be risqué. If you’re not careful, younger bridesmaids and groomsmen may feel a little left out. I was a bridesmaid for the first time at the age of 15. The girls were all much older than me so I was often in my own little world as the future bride, my older cousin, laughed with her girlfriends.
Think about how you will handle these events as you consider who you want to stand beside you on your wedding day and decide if age is a factor. Maybe you could care less that your little sister is too young to attend your bachelorette party, or you might want every girl to feel 100 percent involved in every aspect of the wedding. I chose to place my 13 year old cousin in my wedding as a junior bridesmaid as a way to explain she was younger, but still just as special as the other girls in my wedding. I knew she wouldn’t be able to attend my lingerie shower or the bachelorette party, but wanted her to feel like she was a huge part.
Wedding Party Alternatives
There are other titles that can be given to younger children if you don’t feel they can fit in to either the flower girl/ring bearer role or as one of your bridesmaids or groomsmen. For example, many Catholic weddings include communion when the children can bring up gifts; children ages seven to 15 are a perfect fit.
Many weddings also include readings which are perfect for anyone that can read. If your friend’s little girl is a great reader, have her read verses or a poem at the ceremony. You’ve included the cute little girl you love without worry she’s too young to handle the pressure of being a junior bridesmaid or too old to be a flower girl.
Teenagers are a great fit for being greeters as people come into the ceremony. They can say a quick hello and even ask guests to sign the guest book. Ushers are usually men of any age, but a teenager can be an usher just as well as an 85-year old can. Just make sure they are polite, mature, and comfortable with making small talk with wedding guests as they lead them to their seat.