Standing on Ceremony

From the politics of choosing a flower girl to determining how and where guests will sit, wedding ceremonies are fraught with challenges. Donna Garlough tackles readers' quandaries, big and small.

Everyone seems to think we’re going to choose their cute little kid as our flower girl or ring bearer. How do we say no?H.T., Andover

This is a wedding, not an episode of Toddlers & Tiaras, people. So don’t worry about offending anyone. Whether you’ve already made your choice or you’ve opted out of having flower girls and ring bearers altogether, just politely brush off the inquiries. When your aunt asks what little Mackenzie should wear for the ceremony, sidestep the question: “As far as I know, most of our guests’ kids are wearing slacks and skirts. I’m sure that’ll be fine.” If she asks specifically about roles? “Oh, don’t worry. We’ve got the bases covered already, so you and your family can just relax and enjoy the party.” Problem solved (I hope).

My father passed away many years ago, so I can’t do the traditional walk down the aisle. Who else can give me away?A.F., Brookline

The only rule in today’s wedding ceremonies is that there are no rules. With brides waiting longer to get married, couples planning their own weddings, and second marriages making family structures ever more complex, brides rarely get “given away” anymore. While it’s great if a stepdad, uncle, brother, or family friend wants to walk you down the aisle, don’t limit yourself to a male relative. Focus instead on choosing a person who has always supported you and cheered you on, and whose presence will calm any last-minute wedding jitters. Depending on who you’re close with, that might be your mom, a sibling, or your maid of honor. There’s no reason you can’t do the walk solo, either. Want to guarantee a tear-jerking ceremony? Have your groom meet you halfway, and approach the altar as a pair.