by Michael Kabel

Is a wedding celebration an appropriate place to take your children? Possibly, if you obey some guidelines and etiquette that make things easier not just for baby but for the grown ups who'll also be there. A wedding is a time to respect the center of attention moving to others. Your child is the subject of love and affection, it's true - but a wedding might not be a place where they feel most comfortable. 

Presented below are five tips to make sure your baby or toddler has a good time at the wedding ceremony and/or reception. 
Err On the Side of Caution

If you've ever been to a wedding or church service where a crying baby disrupted the peaceful, happy atmosphere, you might remember something the put-upon parent was too busy to notice at the time: the rest of the guests staring ice-cold daggers at baby and parent alike. There's an undeniable selfishness to interrupting a wedding event with noise, even the crying of a child. It's tacky, and won't earn you any friends at the reception.

You need to know your child's limits.  If you're not sure the child can stand the whole wedding ceremony, or they can participate in the entire reception, it's probably best to get a sitter or simply skip the event. 

Put First Things First

Ring bearers and flower girls should be a minimum of five years old - and even then, it's important to judge if your child is ready for the attention and concentration those roles require. 

If your children do participate in the wedding event, however, try to make arrangements for photographs to be taken immediately before the ceremony. This keeps the children from growing impatient and will allow them to change clothes soon after the ceremony concludes. 

Give Them A Role Model 

Children love approval from role models, grown ups, and older children. If your child participates in the wedding ceremony, or even if your family is there as guests, a wedding role model is still an effective way to ensure their best behavior. Just introduce them to an older cousin or friend, and ask the role model to look out for them during the reception. 

The role model could also be a member of the wedding party, for example a bridesmaid or groomsman that you know won't mind a little "apprentice" friend during the wedding celebrations. 

Arrive On Time, Leave Early 

This might seem like cheating, but no one is obligated to stay the entire time at the wedding reception. It's enough that you were at the ceremony, and the newlywed couple will understand if your children take priority over everything else. 

If you bring your kids to the ceremony, you can arrive just before it begins and arrange to leave right after the ceremony ends. For the reception, simply stay until the dinner part is over and then make a graceful exit.

Make Your Children Understand

There's almost nothing better for your children than communicating with them. Before the ceremony begins, they'll likely have a lot of questions about the wedding, what it means, and what's expected of them. You can help your children prepare by being honest and telling them their best behavior is required during the ceremony and reception. It's an occasion where it's important to act like a grownup. Once they understand, you'll be ready to show them off at the wedding celebration with pride.