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What Do Kids Wear to Weddings?

by Kathryn Walsh

Taking children to a wedding is nerve-wracking, even when the affair is open to youngsters. If leaving her at home with a sitter isn't an option, look for dressy clothing that's also comfortable to minimize the chance of tantrums. In the future when you look back at photos, you won't think about the eye rolls, arguments and bargaining it took to get her dressed up. You'll just smile at how precious she is.

Babies and Toddlers

Unless the wedding is formal, dress a boy in dark pants, a collared shirt and -- in cooler months -- a sweater vest. While a tot in a bow tie is adorable, he'll likely object to even a clip-on. Only wrestle him into a suit for a formal event. For a girl, a fluffy dress and tights are appropriate for a dressy or cold-weather wedding, while a summer event calls for a patterned sundress and a coordinating headband. Dress shoes complete the look for a walking toddler, but an infant can get away with wearing her least-scuffed soft shoes or slippers since she'll never be on her feet. As children in this age bracket grow quickly, buy clothing in a size up if the wedding is more than a few weeks away. Your little one will be happier in clothes that are slightly too large than too small.

Preschoolers Through Preteens

If your school-age child would wear it to a holiday service at a house of worship, it's probably appropriate for a wedding. For a boy, think dark pants, a collared shirt and -- yes, he's old enough now -- a tie, either clip-on or legitimate. Bribe him into wearing a suit jacket for a formal wedding. Help a girl pick out a skirt-and-blouse or sundress-and-cardigan combination. If she wants to wear a fluffy, princess-style skirt, let her enjoy the opportunity while she's young enough to do so without being accused of trying to upstage the bride. A young girl can wear white if she wants, but to keep her from looking like a mini-bride, add a colored sash and bright cardigan sweater.

Teens

In the teen years, your child can't fall back on the excuse of "I'm just a kid!" She's old enough to dress with nearly the same level of formality that you do. A boy needs to dress like his father would to attend a wedding. A suit, tie and dress shoes are generally appropriate, though he can go more casual for a daytime summer affair or a beach wedding; if the wedding is black tie, he needs a tuxedo. You should have no trouble getting your teen daughter to dress up in a sundress or modest cocktail dress. A teen girl might see this as an opportunity to try out her first pair of heels, but encourage her to hold off if possible. Without much heel-wearing experience, she might find herself wobbly and in pain before the end of the night. Wedges or sparkly flats will keep her more comfortable.

Kids in the Wedding

When your child has a role in the wedding ceremony, consult the bride before buying an outfit. (Don't expect the bride to pay for your child's wardrobe, however; according to "Emily Post's Wedding Etiquette," the parents of a junior wedding party member pay.) A flower girl generally wears a knee- or mid-calf-length white or pastel dress, and the bride might prefer that her ring bearer or junior groomsman wear a suit that coordinates with the groom's. If an older girl has been invited to be a junior bridesmaid, she may order a dress that matches those of the bridesmaids. Keep in mind, suggests TheKnot.com, that the chosen bridesmaid's dress might be too sexy for your preteen or teen. With the bride's approval, buy an age-appropriate dress matching the color of the bridesmaid's dress or hire a seamstress to adjust the chosen dress to your child's needs.

About the Author

Cooking, travel and parenting are three of Kathryn Walsh's passions. She makes chicken nuggets during days nannying, whips up vegetarian feasts at night and road trips on weekends. Her work has appeared to The Syracuse Post-Standard and insider magazine. Walsh received a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.

Photo Credits

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