Put toddlers in your wedding at your own risk or how I learned that bribery really works

Children in weddings have two key jobs: The first part is the job itself (ring bearer, flower girl, or junior something) entailing a well-timed walk down the aisle while carrying something (optional) followed by quiet standing or sitting.

The second job — perhaps more important — is to be cute in a picture. To do this, one must reassemble the wedding outfit (re-tuck in discombobulated shirt, brush off dust from rolling on the floor, and spit-fix hairstyles) then convince the child to stand/sit/smile in the photo(s).

Both jobs are challenging and bizarre for the average toddler or preschooler.

You want me to do what?
You want me to do what?

For the most part, calm yourself and remember that even bad behavior is somewhat adorable. Try to believe this.

Also, I would like to suggest some bribes as a tactic for eliciting good behavior: quiet toys and candy. I hate to admit it. But these things work.

Rehearsal
For my baby brother’s wedding this past weekend, both Holden (now four) and Milo (a wily two and a half) were expected to walk down the aisle together holding hands and a small pillow. The priest did not believe that bad behavior is somewhat adorable. In fact, he said that if they couldn’t do it right the first time in rehearsal, they would not be able to do it for the wedding.

He pronounced their likely failure about four minutes into meeting us.

I choose to believe that there are good days and bad days, so if our guys were Absolutely Horrible during the rehearsal, maybe they would be Perfect Angels for the wedding itself. Holden impressed me by removing his button-down shirt and placing it on his head (while screaming his hatred of weddings). I didn’t know he had the dexterity.

Impressed? Yes. Proud? Not exactly.

Job One
On the Big Day, Alec lined them up together and promised them each a lollipop before darting to the end of the aisle to meet them. Milo was confused and momentarily broke for the exits before seeing me beckoning to him from the front of the church.

Once they made it past their first job, Alec was waiting for them with a book and a free lap. All three of them spent a good 30 minutes quietly reading a dinosaur book snuggled together in the seats. Occasionally, one of the kids would be mesmerized by the service, pageantry, or music and forget to read the book. Mostly, they loved snuggling with their dad. Once communion began, the three of them snuck into the back room for coloring and their promised lollipops.

After the ceremony, both boys were done. DONE. Finished with weddings – forever, if you believe them. Finished with good behavior. Finished with dress clothes.

Job Two
I suggested to the photographer that he photograph the kids first so we could remove them from the scene, but he obviously had his own plan. Whatever man.

By the time our turn rolled around, Milo wanted to be held upside down and Holden wanted to face backwards for the pictures (if he was to be photographed at all). The wedding had been during naptime after all. And did I mention how done they were?

The photographer asked them to sit on a chair in front of me. I whispered that there was a fortune cookie in it for each of them if they would sit in the chair and look at the camera smiling, but I was shocked that it worked. Shocked. As if I was the first rookie parent to discover bribery.

Why don’t we do this more often? I thought. Dang.

And then we were done. Alec dropped both boys off with a babysitter so we could party like child-free 26-year olds singing and jumping to 80s music that we remember the first time around.

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RookieMoms co-founder & mom to 3 boys in Berkeley, CA. Bossy big sister and project manager turned blogger helping moms enjoy their first years of motherhood. Find me on my other site on 510families.com or hiding in my minivan eating dark chocolate.

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