April is a BIG month for me: after six years together, my partner and I are finally getting married! *Cue the confetti!*
As we were creating our guest list months ago, we were tasked with making two big decisions: do we want children present for our wedding day and how will they be involved in the festivities? It’s certainly understandable that not every couple wants to throw a kid-friendly soirée. But as a proud member of DBRL’s youth services team, I just couldn’t bear the idea of leaving our littlest loved ones off the guest list. When one of my best friends expressed hesitation at bringing her toddler along, I assured her that we would do everything we could to make sure she and her kiddo felt safe and welcome at our big day. And of course, I went in search of picture books all about weddings!
There’s a lot of excitement and nervousness which come along with weddings for everyone involved, but especially for young children who are just learning how to be tiny humans in this great, big world. From unfamiliar settings and confusing traditions to fancy attire and long, boring ceremonies, weddings present a number of challenges for little ones. A wedding might also signify a huge life change for a child, such as welcoming a step-parent or step-siblings into the family. Sharing a book with a trusted adult can help set expectations for the day, initiate difficult conversations and provide a window into which kids can see themselves and their families. Below, you’ll find a list of my favorite picture book picks for flower kids, ring bearers and every other mini wedding guest!
“Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century” by Jane O’Connor
Our favorite fancy gal has grand expectations for her aunt and uncle’s upcoming wedding: an exotic resort, beautiful ball gowns, waltzing ’til midnight and of course, Nancy will be the flower girl! When her family arrives at a lakeside cabin for the low-key nuptials, Nancy pouts that “informal and nontraditional” are just “fancy-sounding words for plain.” This adorably illustrated story gently acknowledges the disappointment that may come when adult reality doesn’t quite match up with childhood fantasy, but Nancy soon finds that this quirky family affair will be just as magnificent as the “wedding of the century” she had imagined. And of course, in Nancy’s signature style, she can’t help but spread some sparkle wherever she goes!
“Green Pants” by Kenneth Kraegel
Jameson can do anything in his green pants: dunk a basketball with ease, gracefully dive into a pool and boogie across the dance floor! But he’s faced with a tough decision when he’s asked to be the ring bearer in his cousin’s wedding. Will Jameson be able to give up his beloved green pants for the big day, or will he be forced to resign from his ring bearer duties? I appreciate how Jameson and his mom work together to strike a balance between choice and compromise, settling on a fun solution that satisfies everyone. And green pants or not, Jameson can still do anything he sets his mind to, including being the best ring bearer ever!
“The Ring Bearer” by Floyd Cooper
Jackson’s mom is getting married, and he’s got a lot on his mind. He’s anxious he’ll trip and drop the rings, but most of all, he’s worried about making room in his heart for his new stepdad and his little stepsister Sophie. Sweet encouragement from family old and new begin to set his mind at ease. And when his new stepsister needs him most, Jackson steps up to the plate as big brother. This heartwarming story is a perfect pick for soon-to-be blended families, handling the topic simply and sensitively with an extra dose of sweetness.
“Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” by Sarah Brannen
Readers may be familiar with the equally lovely but older version of “Uncle Bobby’s Wedding” (which we also have available in our catalog). But I want to take a moment to highlight the newest edition refreshed for a new decade, now featuring brightly illustrated humans instead of guinea pigs! Chloe and her beloved uncle Bobby have a sweet relationship full of kite flying and star gazing. But when Uncle Bobby announces that he and his partner Jamie are getting married, Chloe can’t help but feel disappointed at the prospect of having to share her favorite uncle with someone new. Chloe is encouraged to talk to Uncle Bobby about how she’s feeling, and before long, Chloe and her newlywed uncles are busy making brand new memories! Things may feel a little different at first when a loved one gets married, but this book is an adorable reminder that welcoming someone new into your life just means twice the fun!
“The Electric Slide and Kai” by Kelly J. Baptist
At some point growing up, many of us seem to lose the carefree attitude we once had to let down our hair and dance like no one’s watching. Wedding receptions are meant to be a time of celebratory fun, but our fear can sometimes get in the way of our own enjoyment. For kids who might be feeling awkward and nervous about participating in the festivities, Kai’s story might be just the confidence boost they need. The Donovan family loves to tear it up on the dance floor, and everyone has a signature move and a nickname to go along with it. Everyone, that is, except Kai. With his aunt’s wedding quickly approaching, Kai is desperate to tame his two left feet and find his place in the family’s favorite line dance. With a little reassurance from his brand new uncle, Kai is finally able to shed his inhibitions and show off his own special style!
“Worm Loves Worm” by J.J. Austrian
My last pick is purely fun! Worm loves worm… but what would it even look like for two worms to get married? The cricket officiant insists they do things “the way it’s always been done,” but the worms defy expectations at every turn. They don’t have fingers, so they wear the rings as belts. They don’t have legs to dance, so they wriggle across the dance floor. And when the other bugs just have to know which will be bride and which will be groom, the worms know just how to answer in a way that feels right for them! A silly concept indeed, but a sweet and lighthearted way to talk about weddings and marriages which buck tradition. In the end, it doesn’t really matter how it’s done… because worm loves worm!