goodManners: Wedded bliss Six steps to success when bringing children to weddings

Weddings are one of life’s most joyous occasions. They’re about family and the circle of life. Nothing embodies that cycle more than children at weddings.

However, if you’ve ever been at a wedding where children were not prepared and behaved poorly, then you know first-hand how a joyous occasion can quickly turn into an unpleasant circus.

No one wants that to happen. There is no magic age where it is okay to bring a child to a wedding. A lot depends on the individual child.

If a child is still developing self-control and cannot be patient for a lengthy period of time, it might be better for everyone if the child stays home with a baby sitter.

On the other hand, if a child is socially ready and has been invited, it’s a wonderful social event to attend.  The goal is to prepare, prepare, prepare your child for a wedding. Prepare by teaching your child what to expect and how to behave at a wedding.

Responding to the invitation

Show your child the invitation and explain what it means to RSVP. Repondez s’il vous plait (RSVP) – roughly translated from French means to “please respond”.  The majority of the time this means completing a response card that is usually included in the invitation. Responding promptly is an important social lesson for children to learn. It enables the bride and groom to plan appropriately for the wedding.

Respect during the ceremony

This is a time when children should be on their best behavior. Some wedding ceremonies can be lengthy and require the guests to pay attention to what is going on. Some times the guest is required to stand, as a sign of respect, and then sit. It’s important for children to be aware of their surroundings. It’s not the time for a child to ask lots of questions. Questions are great, but tell your child to save them until after the ceremony. This is also not the time to shuffle prayer books, wedding programs, etc. This is the bride and groom’s special moment and should not be interrupted.

Patience and the receiving line

The receiving line is designed as an opportunity to have a short congratulatory communication with bride, groom, host and sometimes the wedding party. Weddings are sometimes large and this may be the only time you’ll be able to personally offer your congratulations. You may want to teach your child the proper way to shake someone’s hand, and practice a short congratulatory comment, such as “Congratulations. It was a beautiful wedding”.

Juggling hors d’oeuvres

Eating hors d’oeuvres frequently requires standing while consuming food. This could prove a disastrous combination for a child if it is not practiced before hand. Teach your child to hold the plate and napkin in her left hand. This leaves his or her right hand free to consume food or shake someone’s hand. Also, remind your child to only take a small amount of food on their plate.

The reception and self-control

The reception is usually a fun, celebratory time for all. Show your child that there may be assigned seating cards instructing you to sit at a specific table. Your child should remember their table manners while eating and participate in conversation at the table.

Thanking the hosts

Prompt your child to thank the hosts – the bride and groom, the bride’s parents, or another combination of relatives – for inviting you.