Reading skills are essential but so are other qualifications that matter, too.

natalie elijah wedding ceremony couple at altar with child

You love the idea of the children closest to you-your own or those of a sibling or friend-taking an active role in your wedding. You think having one of them do a reading during the ceremony would be perfect. Or is it? Ask yourself these six questions before deciding.

Is the child old enough?

It would be cute for a seven-year-old to step up to the mic but "adorable" will quickly turn to "awkward" if he can't pronounce any words with multiple syllables. Make sure the child is old enough to read the passage you've selected before putting him or her into an uncomfortable situation.

Will the child be too shy?

You'd be thrilled if your 10-year-old niece took part in the ceremony and did a reading, but she's very shy and uncomfortable speaking in front of others. Should you push her? Probably not. Giving her a nonspeaking job, like handing out programs, may make her happier.

Will the child get nervous?

Even the most extroverted kid may freak out a little bit in a big room with lots of eyes staring at him. But don't dismiss him-instead, prepare him for what he'll be encountering at the ceremony and make sure he attends the rehearsal. Knowing what to expect ahead of time can make all the difference.

Is the content too mature or inappropriate?

Death, destruction, infidelity-all would be off-putting coming out of the mouth of a babe. Give her a reading that's more in line with a youngster, like one about kindness.

Will the child speak loud enough for guests to hear?

Just when you don't want him to use an "inside" voice, he suddenly becomes soft-spoken and barely audible. Have him practice the reading using a strong, confident voice. And be sure a mic is available at the ceremony.

Does he know how to work a mic and adjust the stand?

Show him how a mic works-preferably the same or similar to the model he'll be using on the wedding day. An adult should be close by to adjust any mic stand and turn on a light.


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