What's it like for children at a Wedding

Just editing last weekend’s wedding, which was with the lovely Bex & Jon at Loseley Park in Surrey. I came across this picture and it stopped me in my tracks.

Not because it’s particularly remarkable as a photograph, although it does look nice and bears a second look, but for whatever reason it struck a chord for me. It might be that I’m drawn to a picture like this because I have two daughters who are around the same age as these two girls, or something in that arena, and I also spent more than just this moment with these two and got to see a little of a snapshot of their personalities over the course of the day. Lots of playful, lots of fun, lots of tired, a few tears.

What I actually got immediately from this picture is the story of children at most any wedding.

Graphically, speaking, the two adults on either side of the children seem to frame them, protective, like guardians, or guides. The adults are doing what we might all do at a wedding. Participating in the proceedings, knowing of the format, and in this story, perhaps oblivious to the smaller world below them.

The girls themselves aren’t constrained, but they are acting in the role that they are there to act in. They’re there for the bride as flower girls, (and they did a grand job at that too), and they’re also in what must be to a 5 year old a very strange and alien vortex! There are a set of rules and protocols that are surely explained to children, but they really do have their own concept of what exactly is going on, and it’s something we can’t guess at or maybe even comprehend.

More often than not children do very well in their role at a wedding. There are stubborn tears, especially when they realise that they are going to be made to ‘perform’ (to try to put it into a child’s terms), but there is also elation when they realise in some small way that there is pretty much no way that anybody will think they have stuffed it up. The reality is that nobody is going to look at a flower girl walking backward up the aisle and think “they should have got someone more professional for this”.

If anything goes wrong the kids generally miss it anyway – it’s the adults (who have constructed their own ideas about how a wedding should routinely play out) who are more likely to get stressed when things veer off course.

To me this photograph shows a range of emotions on the two different girls’ faces that tell a story of childhood, mischief, responsibility, restraint and love. A splash moment in time.

After the ceremony they were off, with all the energy a five year old should have. Stars of the show in more ways than they would even need to know.



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