Girls, on the other hand, tend to become a little more predictable at about four and a half. The optimum age for flowers girls, in my opinion is about five to nine. By ten years old, they seem ready to fill the role of a junior bridesmaid, but there is no reason why you can’t have a sixteen year old flower girl if that is what you want.
If you opt for the younger ages in your wedding party, you absolutely must be prepared for the unexpected. A thoroughly engaged tyke at a rehearsal does not guarantee a stellar performance at the wedding. A younger child can perform like a champ or dissolve into a puddle of tears at the most inconvenient moment. The reverse is equally true. I've seen tantrums at rehearsals become wedding day pros.
This is especially true for the toddler set who are still at the napping age. The flurry of activity and disruption of regular schedules that unavoidably accompany weddings can wreak havoc on a toddler’s temperament. It can become almost impossible to ensure they are well-rested…and well-fed. A toddler with a full tummy is going to perform better than one who is being promised food if he or she does what is expected. Feel free to bribe a toddler, or younger child for that matter, with a treat, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of their hunger. Toys make better treats than food items, but regardless, bribes don’t work on most children. Neither do threats. If a child is having none of it with respect to his or her expectations relative to the wedding, no amount of bribing, pleading, or begging is going to work.
The child's innate personality has little to do with it. Just because a child is outgoing and enjoys being the center of attention at home does not mean he or she is going to relish the experience of walking down the aisle. Likewise, shy children can surprise everyone with their poise and charm. Weddings are unnatural experiences for adults, so consider how alien it feels to a child!
When it comes to younger flower girls and ring bearers, just go with the flow. If the child is cooperating, thank your lucky stars. If he or she has a meltdown, do not hold up the wedding in an attempt to improve the child’s mood and gain cooperation. This is an exercise in futility! Proceed without the child and simply include him or her in the portraits after the ceremony when the child has had some space and time to calm down. Children self-soothe in these situations much faster than attempts to cajole them into participation.
Expect the unexpected, let children be children within appropriate boundaries and go with the flow. You will enjoy the occasion much more as a consequence.