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  • Ask the Readers: Kids + Wedding Tips & an Amazon gift certificate giveaway

    I have a question for you all: We’re going to be attending a family wedding this fall, and it’s going to be more formal than the other wedding we attended with both kids a couple of years ago. Also, the boys are supposed to be ring bearers, though there hasn’t been much discussion about it.

    I do have some ideas on how to keep them patient, distracted, etc. – pretty much what we’d do if we were going out to dinner. But a wedding is a different ballgame, and something tells me you have clever ideas that haven’t occurred to me. So, please leave them in the comments below.

    All tips will be entered into a random giveaway for a $5 Amazon.com gift certificate (you may leave separate comments for each distinct tip; determination of what qualifies as an entry is entirely within my discretion). Only comments will count as entries, though you are welcome to email me with your tip. The giveaway will end on at 8:00 p.m. PDT on June 20, though comments will remain open so that latecomers can add their tips. If you want me to email you if you win, please leave your email in your comment or make it visible in your Blogger profile. I’ll also announce the winner here at CFO. The winner will have 24 hours to contact me, or a new winner will be selected.


    1. Laura Webber says:

      My son was recently the ring bearer in my brothers wedding- and my husband and I were both standing in the wedding as well, which was very tricky to plan for!

      My 2 year old sat with my parents in the front row eating all of the marshmallows that he wanted!!! (SO QUIET!)! We brought his favorite plastic animals and he would stick a mini marshmallow to the zebra's tail and then eat it off- he was mesmerized for nearly an hour!

    2. Give them each a disposable camera and let them be "wedding photographers."

    3. Definitely take some fun, healthy snacks that you know they like, but don't always get. Maybe they won't like what's being served.

      Or maybe they'll get hungry well before the food is ready!

      Also, I like the idea of buying some new sort of coloring or activity book or other quiet activity that they will receive at a good time during the reception or something.

    4. Catherine (aka Gertie) says:

      I would go over with them that they really need to behave and tell them how to act and such. I would also allow them to bring two items – either a blanket or a soft toy, but nothing that makes noise or anything electronic. I hope this helps some!


    5. Lori Sifuentes says:

      Give them lollipops and all of the snacks they want.

      Buy some new toys that too not make too much noise and keep ones with you so after 30 minutes you can give them a new one.


    6. Jennifer says:

      I personally would skip the candy and cookie route because it may just lead to a burst of sugar energy and cause more problems?

      We had the mom of our RB and FG (they were sibs) sit in the front with some coloring books and crayons and let them know they could quietly go sit with mom and color at any time if they were tired of standing. However, neither of them opted to. Our ceremony was shortish (30 minutes? maybe?) and they were fine. They were 3 and 4 1/2 years old.

      For the reception, make sure to ask if there will be a "kid" meal option and if not, decide whether the kids are likely to eat what's offered. Chances are good there is a cocktail hour so they will at least be able to find crackers, cheese, and veggies if they don't like anything else. You can load up a plate for them and bring it into the dining room if you need to.

      Also as if there is childcare arranged – some brides will hire a sitter to hang out with kids in another room so parents can check in and still enjoy the party.

    7. Anonymous says:

      I would pack a fancier looking bag full of new and old favorites to play with.
      Our wedding had a kids table and the centerpiece was full of activities for all of the kids. Although some did sit and play, they really liked the attention from other kids and grown ups. They loved dancing too. Ours was formal, but impossible to not invite kids. They really made the day special. The anticipation is always the worst on parents. (That said, my nephew, the ring bearer, tried to play the organ halfway through the ceremony. I recommend placing him as far away from musical instruments as possible.) 😉

      denise_22315 at yahoo dot com

    8. Danielle says:

      I saw a wedding once where the ring bearers and flower girl each had special pillow cushions sewn and decorated with the color/fabric of the wedding. The kiddos sat on their cushions and loved it! They were still part of the wedding party, but were allowed to be kids at the same time–it made for cute pictures and happy kids at the same time!

    9. Jennifer I says:

      Our kids had a ball at my brother's wedding, but the ceremony was very short. They then spent a good portion of the reception running around and wrestling on the dance floor. My brother had a young girl who babysits for him ready to watch them in the hotel room. She watched all the kids.

    10. Anonymous says:

      We recently took a car trip with our kids and I was surprised how *very* quiet our 4-year-old was with his new Color Wonder book (from Crayola– has special markers that don't color on anything except their books). He was very a busy little boy for well over an hour.

      Stickers are fun (and quiet) too!

    11. miamihoney says:

      Try a sticker book, that always keeps the lo's entertained.Etch-a sketch or the games where ypu try to move the metal ball through the maze. A new treat also works :_

    12. My son was the ring bearer at my brother's wedding when he was three…

      The one thing that we did not take into consideration was that during the rehearsal there are no people sitting in the pews/benches/seats, so our son was able to see where we were seated… up in the front. At the actual wedding, he could NOT see us because of the guests blocking his view. He walked down the aisle saying over and over… "Hey, has anyone seen my mom? My dad? Anyone???"

    13. Anonymous says:

      I always have a talk beforehand about what kind of event it is and what kind of behavior I expect. And I ask what kind of toys or activities they want to bring and pack up a bag just for them, including snacks. I usually bring favorite books, coloring books, activity books, and markers for them and their little friends to share. Also, letting them have their Playstation or Nintendo would be okay as long as it was on silent. And letting them have a plastic camera to take pictures with always works for a while. abcegc@yahoo.com

    14. When I got married 2 years ago, I searched the web – there are several places where you can download coloring pages that are wedding specific and where you can even change names and such, making a coloring book a little more special for kids in the wedding party.

    15. Laura Webber says:

      I just remembered that at our wedding, where we had about 75 children attend (crazy, I know, but it was outdoors!) we gave out a ring pop for each kid to suck during the ceremony! It was shockingly a quiet ceremony!

      Also, you could allow your boys to kneel (facing the back of the church) and use their seat as a table to color or do another quiet activity!

    16. Juliana says:

      I would hope that they don't expect the boys to stay up on stage during the whole ceremony – I seldom see that, even when the children are 8 or 9. (I'm not sure how old your boys are).

      I have used stickers, new-to-them books, food, and the "if you are good, you will get…". These are not everyday parenting strategies, but this isn't an everyday event.

      I wouldn't use gaming devices as that could be too distracting, even without the sound.

      If you can talk to them about what they think the rules should be for a wedding, e.g "Do you think we should run around the church/location?" "What kind of voices should we use?" and make the rules together (of course, guided by what you know the expected behavior will be), then that can be helpful. They might not want to break rules that they helped make.

      Hope it all goes well for you!
      My e-mail:

    17. FunkyFrum says:

      I used to always lose my kids at weddings. Some relation would just pluck a kid out of my arms, and VAMOOSH! Where did the baby go? I learned to dress everyone with one things that had the same pattern. Th egirls have matching dresses that match a pin I wear, and the boys have matching suits and ties that match my hubby's ties. That way when I am looking for my elusive children, I just point to the pattern and say "Have you seen a kid wearing this?" because if you say "Have you seen a three year old blonde kid" everyoen is like "meh?" I also fill old plastic easter egg with small toys that don't annoy others and give them out every hour. My kids have loved bubbles, little tape measures, and the like. I have also bribed them with tickets saying that for every thirty minutes they are good, they get a ticket, and if at the end of the night they have 10 tickets, they can use them to buy a play date with a friend.

    18. Amy Rainey says:

      I LOVE the ring pop idea! Recently, i needed my 4 year old to be quiet for a lecture. I bought two packs of multi-colored paperclips (Vinyl-coated for quietness, one was the large paperclips, the other was the small). My little guy played with them for an hour and a half!!! At my whispered prompting he sorted them by color, linked them in color patterns, made bracelets…it was WONDERFUL. I keep them in my purse now.

      Another idea…a package of wikkisticks. I've heard they are great for quiet play.

    19. Melissa P. says:

      stickers! and 'color wonder' drawing pads. they can keep kids occupied for hours but don't make a mess on fancy clothes or church furniture. also, the promise of a treat for good behavior is always helpful.

    20. Peter Schott says:

      Without knowing the ages, it's hard to say for sure. The book idea may work for a slightly older kid, but not really for a 2-year old. Getting permission for the children to sit with someone close by in the front row has worked well in the past. If they get tired of standing, they can sit with the chosen people. Quiet toys and/or activity books can help – whatever is appropriate to your kids.

      Setting expectations before hand is also a must. Inside voice if you absolutely need something, play quietly, stand respectfully, this is the wedding couple's special day – let's make it great for them.

      Above all, if they do something child-like that isn't really disruptive, I'd say to just let them be or it could lead to a worse scene. We worked with a couple getting married one time where their 2-3 year old son was a ring bearer and then ended up laying down on the altar near them. It was pretty funny and he wasn't really disruptive apart from it being an amusing scene.

    21. Anonymous says:

      You might need to try several tactics. Give the kids a camera and encourage taking pictures. Also give them an microphone( make it out of a toilet paper roll) and have them ask guests a specific question). Or have them ask guests to sign a " guest book." Just staple a few pages of white paper together. You can also have them collect as many signatures as possible in their own siganture book.

    22. When my niece (age 8) and nephew (age 2) were flower girl and ring bearer in our wedding, we planned that they would walk down the aisle together, holding hands. That way, if my nephew was uncooperative about getting down the aisle, his big sister could kind of drag him down the aisle. 🙂 It worked out great and they looked so cute holding hands. Anyway, just a thought that they might feel bolder if they held hands down the aisle.

    23. Little-Bit says:

      My kids range from 4-16, so fighting over toys and such is a big deal. So, I bribe the older ones to allow the younger ones to borrow their toys for the evening (electronics, books, etc.). It works for the reception, and for the actual ceremony they could borrow an ipod with appropriate music, snacks in a spill-proof container, and/or coloring books and I-spy books.

    24. I never leave home without our "lil' bag of tricks"…be it to church, long car rides, family functions and overnights and the grandparent's house. We always have crayons, coloring books, reading materials, pencils and mini tablets for their artwork. We also include little boxes of raisins, granola bars and trail mix or nuts of some kind! I also always feel that if I mentally prepare my boys for the what, where and when of what we have planned; it's not so much a surprise or disruption later!


    25. My girls were in a family wedding as flower girls last year (They were 5.5 and 2.5). Their grandmother got them a book about a girl who was nervous about being a flower girl (The Little Flower Girl by Linda Trace Brandon). It was great to prepare them. They loved having us read it – still do. I don't know if there is anything similar for ring bearers. The 2.5 year old actually fell asleep (wedding at nap time), so she missed the whole thing. If you can rehearse/pretend with them, too, that might help them prepare – at home, at the wedding site, at the playground, etc. Also, don't get them in their fancy clothes until the very last minute! We had white dresses, and I'm glad that I waited. Perhaps bring play clothes for the reception if you want to preserve the fancy clothes.

    26. I think a portable DVD player for the reception would probably keep the kids entertained (earphones would be great). The kids at our wedding had a terrific time on the dance floor, so perhaps you could practice some dance moves with them before the wedding.

    27. Valerie says:

      At our wedding someone who brought kids brought some toys and a blanket, and set it up in the corner of the room at the reception. The kids had their own place away from the adults to play games, etc. During the ceremony I would definitely have snacks and before hand I would really make them understand that it's important to stay quiet.
      vjsweeley at gmail dot com

    28. Rocio H. says:

      My kids can only sit still for an hour. After that I would ask or pay a $5.00 to an older cousin/friend to entertain them outside quietly until the ceremony was over.

      thisbe31 at yahoo dot com

    29. Random Blonde says:

      If you try to buy new toys for your kids to play with, you will end up limiting yourself because of the dollar amount and because you don't want to be stuck with all of those toys after the wedding. Instead, borrow tons of small toys from friends. Kids love to play with new things (even if it isn't really a toy – think kitchen stuff for smaller kids) and then you can give it all back when you return from the wedding!

    30. Random Blonde says:

      For the reception, take a large bag of mini marshmallows and a box of toothpicks. Show your kids how to connect the toothpicks with the marshmallows to make different shapes. Older kids can try making 3D projects, such as dinosaurs or cars. Don't worry about making a mess. The wedding couple will mind that much less than screaming, crying kids!

    31. Random Blonde says:

      Use one of the free photobook deals to make a photobook containing pictures of things your children love: family, pets, favorite toys, favorite restaurant, etc… anything they will recognize. Encourage them to tell you a story based on the pictures, as if they were reading the book to you (or you can "read" it to them if they are small). If you don't want to make a photobook, you can paste pictures out of magazines onto the pages of a cheap spiral notebook for the same effect. Either way, you have a cute keepsake for afterward too!

    32. Random Blonde says:

      Have your kids help you make homemade play dough before the wedding (you can google the recipe) but tell them they can't play with it until the wedding. After the anticipation of waiting, they will be more entertained with it! Take along things they can use to manipulate the playdough: cookie cutters, scissors, mini rolling pin (found mine at the Target dollar spot).

    33. Random Blonde says:

      My kids (ages 3 and 1) love doing things that seem ordinary and dull to adults. They love sharpening brand-new pencils with a manual sharpener, sorting coins, and the like. Think outside the box, look around your home, and find something "ordinary" that they would enjoy.

    34. Random Blonde says:

      Ask (or hire) an older child or teenager to help you entertain your children. Kids love the attention of older kids, and it will leave you more time to enjoy the wedding instead of just entertaining your kids.

    35. Random Blonde says:

      Kids love receiving mail. Take along some "mail" (made by you beforehand) for them to open and "read". You can use magazine pictures/stickers for little ones that can't read. Just tearing open the envelopes to see what's inside should hold their interest for a while.

    36. Random Blonde says:

      If you get desperate during the ceremony (if they are sitting with you), try telling them something like, "I think I just saw the Easter Bunny right behind the bride!" Yes, you're lying to them, but kids love fantasy and adventure and don't see it as a lie. If you're desperate enough, it might keep them looking and quiet for a few more minutes!

    37. Random Blonde says:

      If the kids aren't in the ceremony after all and they are sitting with you, take along a special hat (or bracelet or lapel pin) that they can wear while they are being quiet. Tell them while they are wearing the hat that they are "King Quiet" and play up how special it is. If they start acting up, take the hat away, but make sure they know as soon as they start behaving again they can become King again.

    38. Random Blonde says:

      My last suggestion… Keep your sense of humor. Don't get uptight about your kids' behavior because they will sense your emotion and get uptight too. They are just kids, after all, and everyone who has ever had children will understand. If the bride/groom don't have kids, they will understand as soon as they become parents. Enjoy the day, enjoy your kids, and have fun!

    39. Shannon says:

      My suggestion is to maybe take along a babysitter. That way you can enjoy the grown up stuff without being all strssed out.

      Shannon DiMare