As he shyly makes his way down the aisle, everyone turns and smiles. Whispered exclamations of “how adorable!” are heard, while his mother wipes a tear from her eye. Carefully balancing the precious wedding rings on a pillow, the ringbearer is a darling sight who, along with the flowergirl, can lend charm to any wedding. Who can resist the sight of a child dressed up like a little man, after all? The following are some tips for making sure your ringbearer pulls off his role with ease.
Ringbearers usually range from ages three to eight. An older boy would be better suited as a junior groomsmen or usher, while a younger one would be better suited to… well, either the playroom or nestled in his parent’s arms. While you may think your toddler nephew would look precious in that ringbearer ensemble, you may not find his terrible-twos meltdown so cute in the middle of your vows. Instead, consider having some family photos taken with him before the wedding, and then having a babysitter entertain him during the ceremony (or better yet, taking him home to bed). If you are determined to have him as your ringbearer, simply proceed with caution and a carefree (read: non-perfectionist) frame of mind. Very young children are as unpredictable as earthquakes, and cannot be expected to comprehend the importance of your special occasion. (For more, read Kid Control.)
A ringbearer will always look wonderful in a classic Eton jacket and short pants (in white or navy), but there are many other styles to choose from today. Depending on his age and the season, he can wear a velvet or satin suit (preferably in a dark color that blends with your scheme), a linen suit (little boys can wear shorts with jackets), or even a miniature tuxedo. If he is wearing white, his socks and shoes should be white, and if he is wearing a dark color (such as green or navy), his shoes should be black.
Make sure that whatever he wears fits comfortably (no scratchy fabrics, please!), and that he feels good in it. If he hates what he is wearing, he won’t be happy parading in front of all those guests, so try to be sensitive — if your eight-year-old ringbearer thinks it’s uncool to wear shorts and knee socks, don’t force him.
It’s entirely up to you whether you want your ringbearer to carry your actual wedding rings or inexpensive facsimiles on the ring pillow. If he is very young, it may not be wise to give him the responsibility of carrying the real thing. Instead, ease your mind (and his parents’) by giving him imitation rings to carry, and let the best man be in charge of the big-ticket gems. If you want him to carry the real rings, consider sewing them onto the pillow with a single thread for some peace of mind.
You wouldn’t choose any old flowers for your bouquet, so take some time to select the right ring pillow. While the most popular choice is still ivory silk or satin, ring pillows come in different fabrics and colors, and are decorated with everything from ribbons to flowers. If your gown is adorned with pearls, you may want to choose a pillow with tiny pearls; alternatively, you may choose one with ribbons that complement your bridesmaid dresses.
While your little ringbearer may have rehearsed his role to perfection, there is no guarantee that he won’t get stage fright during the real event. Young children in particular often become shy in front of large groups of people (can you blame them?), so in the event that your ringbearer suddenly refuses to walk down the aisle, be prepared. Have his mother or father standing nearby to gently coax him. Or you could resort to flat out bribery, i.e., “Just carry this pillow down the aisle, Billy, and you can have as many lollipops as you want.” If all else fails and he is on the verge of melting down, his parents will take their cue to take him outside to calm down. Hopefully, the best man already has the real rings in his pocket (if not, perhaps your father could discreetly hand them to him at the beginning of the ceremony). If your ringbearer goes AWOL, simply take a deep breath and continue without him. You’ve got a long walk ahead of you.
Once the ringbearer has performed his duty (and hopefully, your rings are still intact), where should he go? While an older boy may be able to stand during the ceremony, it isn’t fair to expect a three or four-year-old to do the same. The best idea is to have him join his parents in their seats for the remainder of the ceremony.
For most brides, what the ringbearer wears and what he carries during the ceremony are secondary to the deeper meaning of his inclusion in this special occasion. If you choose to have a child in your wedding, it is undoubtedly because he or she is special to you. Therefore, once you have chosen his ensemble, sit back and enjoy the joyful spirit that he will bring to your wedding. And if he happens to get mud on his little white suit just before the ceremony, don’t let it ruin your day. After all, boys will be boys.