How to get kids (or drunk friends) down the aisle at weddings

When my best friend from college invited my 21-month-old son to be the ring bearer in her wedding, my first reaction was eyes-welling-with-tears honor and pride. My second reaction was, “Oh crap, how is this going to work?”

If you have a 21-month-old boy, or have ever seen one in public, you know that they are less than inclined to quietly walk in a straight line while carrying a delicate pillow that holds an expensive and meaningful trinket on top.

For those who are unfamiliar with toddler behavior, imagine trying to convince your loudest, drunkest, most emotionally unstable friend to quietly walk in a straight line and then stand still and silent for like 15 minutes. It’s a little bit like that, but that person is also wearing a diaper.

So my expectations were low. And my anxiety was high.

Fortunately, my best friend has a terrific sense of humor (and we went to an SEC school, so she’s extremely familiar with dealing with loud, drunk, emotionally unstable people on a Saturday evening), so I knew no matter what happened, she’d keep on loving my son and go on to have a fabulous wedding day.

Still, I took to the Internet looking for tips on how to mold one wild and unpredictable toddler into a well-behaved cherub who would help shepherd my bestie into her new life of wedded bliss.

This Internet search did not ease my anxiety. And it will not help yours, if you are fortunate enough to have your child asked to be in a wedding. So don’t do the search. Just listen to my tips, because I am now a pro:

Use bribery

It’s necessary, and can come in many forms. Find out which bribe your child will respond to best. For us, it was a pack of Teddy Grahams strategically placed in the pocket of my bridesmaid’s dress. For you, it might be the promise of ice cream, a new toy, a trip to Disney World, whatever. Just throw a promise out there and hope junior takes the bait.

Make it a game

Luckily for us, my son wasn’t the sole kid walking down the aisle. Our other best friend’s two daughters were flower girls, and during practice my son adored running after them like it was a race to the finish. Which brings me to my next point.


We did this a lot, and most of the trials involved my son throwing my couch pillow as hard as he could across the room before running in the other direction. I began to suspect the Big Day wouldn’t go well.


Just. Do it.

So the wedding came and went, my gorgeous BFF married her handsome prince and got started on her happily ever after, and my husband got to claim he was also in the wedding because he had to carry our son halfway down the aisle. But I will tell you, thanks to my system, my son knocked that second half out of the park. Now if anyone knows any tips for cleaning ground-up Teddy Grahams out of silk, please let me know.

Photo: Sarah Pryor