Never Work With Children Or Animals …

It is thought the 1940’s Hollywood actor and comedian W.C. Fields coined the phrase, never work with children or animals.  Children and animals can be unpredictable, they certainly have the ability to steal scenes and upstage an adult.  That is exactly what I love about them!  I will often advise my clients that should they have small children or beloved pets as part of their ceremony, then they need to understand they will not always be the centre of attention.  Something some couples prefer as it allows them a moment of breathing space from being the focus of so many eyes upon them.

As a Family Celebrant I actively encourage couples to involve small children.  They are not embarrassed and have a natural curiosity to be part of the ceremony.  Young children have the ability to relax the rest of the guests.  As adults we are all far too polite and upstanding, especially at a wedding.  Children break the ice.  They enable us an unexpected giggle or momentary attention diversion.  

Recently as I greeted guests at the beginning of a ceremony, offering a courteous ‘Good Afternoon …’, a small child piped up in reply ‘Good Afternoon’ and gave me an enthusiastic wave, so I could see where he was amongst the other guests. I smiled and waved back. This was enough for him to begin a conversation, telling me who he was and that we were at a wedding.  It was perfect.  People laughed, were at ease and I was able to continue the ceremony.

A wedding ceremony by a lakeshore nearly sent us all in panic.  The family dog was the ring bearer.  The wedding rings in a little pouch, securely fastened to the dog’s collar.  That was until the dog saw the water, in a flash he had pounced in.  Managing to retrieve the dog from the water was easy enough.  But, as all dogs do, a good shake to rid the water from its fur, was enough to fling the pouch from the collar.  A quick scramble by the guests and myself and the wedding rings were recovered.  The wedding then continued, no worse for wear, and fun was had.

One of my favourite children moments was during a vow renewal.  The couple had two teenage children who were happy with their roles but didn’t want to engage too much more. That was absolutely fine.  However, their youngest child, a girl of seven or eight, wanted to ‘help’ me.  How could I possibly resist.  Her enthusiasm for the role of helper knew no bounds.  As agreed she sang a song for her parents, at the beginning of the ceremony.  A round of applause obviously followed from the guests.   While I was doing ‘my bit’ she put her hand up, as she would in school, to ask me a question. Perfectly reasonable, as I had forgotten to mention her parents were ‘love birds’.  The finale came during the rededication of their wedding rings.  I asked her to hold the ring box, without hesitation, she knelt before her parents, ring box aloft towards them.  I really couldn’t make it up.  She was a star.  Her proud parents so happy she was making their special moment, an exceptional one to treasure.

No matter how prepared and rehearsed you are as a celebrant, you really must go with the flow.  It’s all about judgement, when to reign children in and when to let them shine.  When you do allow them to shine, it makes for additional memorable moments that guests will remember for a long time to come.