By Ashley LeCompte
Photos by In His Grace Photography
These come to mind when I recall my first experience of wedding celebrations. It wasn’t as a bridesmaid in a satin cornflower blue dress, hair pulled back and held with more pins than grains of sand along the Chesapeake. Not even my own wedding day, as a beaming bride in ivory satin, barefoot and carrying roses.
No. My first wedding magic was experienced as a flower girl for my aunt. I was seven and highly opinionated. I was forced into a scratchy lace dress and had my permed hair piled high. I was quite a sight.
One hundred and twenty pairs of eyes landed on me as I tossed white and pink flower petals down on the red aisle carpet. At the time, I was sure it was the worst task I had ever been asked to do in my seven years on earth.
This was before I discovered a little drink called Shirley Temples. I became convinced maraschino cherries were a fruit plucked from the orchard of the gods. After a sugar rush, my mother removed the cumbersome hoop skirt from my dress so I could swish when I turned. I felt like a princess.
My reluctance aside, being in and observing a wedding was a defining moment for me. My younger sister got engaged last year, and planning has led to one of the most tedious debates amongst modern brides to be: Should young children be included on the big day?
I enthusiastically say: yes.
As a parent, I admit there is at times nothing more tedious than being at the chaotic whim of a toddler or mealy-mouthed small child. Children, as wonderful as they are, present unique challenges all their own. The notion of potential temper tantrums or a toppled wedding cake doesn’t mesh with the image of a storybook wedding day.
Yet despite how they may complicate matters, there is not much that compares to the unscripted and wild magic children bring with them. In a challenging time that sees our society rushing to adapt and reorganize itself, is it time to welcome children like never before?
Is it past time to remember what weddings should really be about?
Weddings are tremendous occasions. The most paramount day in the life of a bride or groom. A joining of souls, a celebration of what matters most and what is to come . A commitment to build and choose love; isn’t this what such a day should be about?
Weddings are one of the few intergenerational occasions we have that draws people across decades and distance to celebrate together. A chance for children to see people choosing something bigger than themselves. An opportunity to celebrate love across generations and time.
Whether it is as a ring bearer or flower girl, a junior bridesmaid or groomsmen, or simply as a guest, children, even in their beautiful innocence, still seem to grasp the enormity of such moments.
Wedding planning can become a blur of appointments and decisions, losing its magic along the way as couples arrange seating charts and menus for the caterer. The monotony of wedding planning can exhaust even the most eager bride before the big day has arrived.
It is unscripted moments shared with family and loved ones that a wedding evolves from being merely an occasion to becoming a memory. It shapes not only the memories of the bride and groom, but all who are privileged to partake in their most special of days.
It is a day for legacy building, from the oldest guest to the youngest.
During family gatherings, it is still not uncommon for a cousin or aunt of mine to point out how much I pouted before I was saturated with ginger ale and grenadine syrup, dancing to “Twist and Shout.” To remind me of how I fell asleep on my dad’s shoulder on the way back to the car or how I’m pouting in wedding photos that still hang in my mother’s hallway.
Seemingly imperfect moments involving children, ones that don’t land on the glossy pages of bridal catalogs, are moments worth savoring. Cake covered faces. Children dancing furiously all night long. Tiny flower girl dresses and cummerbunds. Starry eyed faces watching people pledge their lives to one another. These are all worth cherishing.
Small or imperfect moments can become memories that last a lifetime. Keeping us company long after the cake has been eaten, the tent broken down and the wedding photos framed. Even for children, if we allow them the chance.