When Mark’s cousin Michelle asked Julia and James to be in her wedding it was a dream come true. No, not for them! For me! What mom doesn’t want her kids to be a flower girl and a ring bearer?! Plus, Julia and James were four years old. The ultimate age for cuteness yet still able to fill their matrimonial duties.
But then I remembered: Julia was going through a lot of anxiety and separation issues. While normally this would be her cup of tea for the same reason she loved sharing time at school (“All eyes are on me? Sweet!”), I wasn’t sure how being a flower girl would play in Julia world. So I did what any mother would do. I checked out EIGHT books from the library on being a flower girl and a ring bearer.
And I showed them pictures from their Uncle Ira’s wedding to their Aunt Jan where Mark and his siblings were in the wedding.
|Mark at age five (on the far right) with his brother Daniel and sister Rachel at his Uncle Ira’s wedding|
Thankfully James and Julia were still young enough not to spot my plan from a mile away. When they were sufficiently psyched about the awesomeness of being in a wedding, I told them they would be in their favorite cousin, Michelle’s. They were excited. Phew!
Mark’s first cousin, Michelle, met the kids once three months earlier during our first trip to New York. She took a shine to them and the feeling was mutual.
The twins meet Michelle and Mike (also present: Mark’s parents and brother) at Second Avenue Deli during our August trip to New York for a different wedding.
Michelle revealed that when her mom’s brother got married in 1989 that being a flower girl was a highlight of their wedding for her: “I was about the same age as the twins (maybe a few months older) and think it would be so special to get to share that experience with the next generation.”
|Michelle (walking here with her parents) says, “Here's a photo of me leaving the ceremony. Despite the puss, I was having a blast!”|
After looking at approximately 1,000 flower girl dresses online I got the first one I saw - a $39 dress at David’s Bridal (technically it was $70 after shipping). I already happened to have a floral crown for Julia’s hair. James was easy. I had a matching suit vest and pants on hand for my boy and a choice of bow ties. Doesn’t everybody?
James was sad that Julia would get to throw petals as she walked down the aisle. I pointed out that Julia’s job was over after she walked down the aisle, but he had a really important job. During the ceremony he would present the rings.
The rehearsal dinner was at Pescatore, a restaurant Mark and I randomly went to ten years before when the restaurant next door was closed. Julia and James were the only kids at the dinner (at the wedding, too). Thankfully, they were happy to color their velvet posters and the back of their placemats for three hours. (As for our previous trip to New York, we kept the kids on West Coast time so they could stay up late for the wedding.) Julia kept asking if she could sit with Michelle, her girl crush.
|“Let’s toast to driving Mommy and Daddy crazy.”|
|"Of all the gin joints, in all the towns, in all the world, she walks into mine."|
|James and Julia pose with the bride-to-be.|
The next day we took an early shuttle to Water’s Edge in Long Island City, Queens, for the official wedding portraits. Julia, a girl who only wanted to wear jeans every day until eight months earlier, loved twirling in her fancy dress.
|Julia spends about an hour on and off, twirling.|
|Before the ceremony Julia enjoys hiding behind Kathy and then hopping out.|
|When pictures start getting too boring, throwing out a “give your brother/sister a kiss” always livens things up.|
A few days before when I told the kids they would walk down the aisle together, James asked me if they could hold hands. I explained that it wouldn’t work because he had a pillow to carry. He responded that he only needed one hand because, “I can do tricks.” Apparently James had some pillow balancing and pillow flipping tricks in mind that unfortunately for all he did not get to bust out for the ceremony.
|Michelle hands out ring bearer and flower girl accessories. (Thanks to Mira for the photo.)|
|James demonstrates his pillow tricks.|
|It’s good that the pillow didn’t come with jewelry.|
We had the kids practice walking down the aisle before the guests arrived.
|The trial run|
|Julia practices tossing flower petals. Then she puts them back in her basket.|
|The kids pose under the chuppah.|
Then, both ran around the room distracting the rabbi who was preparing to officiate until it was time to go next door for the ceremony.
|Julia chases James. James is not so thrilled.|
I waited in my chair in the front row while Mark ushered Julia and James through the door to begin their walk down the aisle. (With me the kids tend to become helpless or scared to do something; hence Mark was with them.) When the door opened and those little heads popped out I was the only one standing because, like Bruce Willis - or was it Ben Affleck? - in Armageddon, I don’t want to miss a thing. Unfortunately I also suddenly came down with mom cry face with everyone still looking towards the front of the room where I stood.
|Right here, when James and Julia are halfway down the aisle, Bubby whispers to Julia, “Don’t forget to throw the petals!” (You can see Mark’s dad on the right.)|
|The kids get to the front of the room and then get a little lost. Bridegroom Mike is amused by their confusion.|
|“Pssst! Kids! Over here!”|
Right after Julia sat down she revealed, “I think I farted.” Next she started fondling me (which I didn’t notice at first because of the beading on my dress) and asked, “Is this your boob?”
I’m so glad we were in the front row. I hope that scene is in the background of some of Mike and Michelle’s official wedding pictures.
Meanwhile, a wedding was taking place:
About ten minutes later when Michelle’s brother, Alex, handed Mike the rings, James turned to me, upset that he didn’t get to present the rings himself. With big eyes on the verge of tears, James told me, “I didn’t get to do my job.”
Thankfully, James got over it and had a great time at the reception. They both still love telling everyone how they were a ring bearer and flower girl so his not "being able to do his job" doesn't seem to have bothered him that much.
James endures the conversation between Mark and Cousin Mel.
“Make it stop!”
|Gracefully eating on the floor in their wedding attire|
James was entranced by the speech made by Uncle Allan (Michelle’s dad), and afterwards repeated certain lines at the end of Allan’s stories that got a laugh. (James does this even now, six months later). Clearly James believed those lines by themselves - without the context of the actual stories - were the magic that made the audience laugh.
Julia and James loved dancing, especially when I held their hands and twirled both of them around at the same time. Before our trip, I tried to find a hip hop dance video with instructions for kids because I thought it would be hilarious for them to bust out some moves at the wedding, but the youngest age any of the videos were made for was 8 or 9.
|Dancing with Bubby|
|Dancing with Mommy|
|Getting too hyper while dancing and flopping on the ground. (Hopefully no one noticed.)|
|Mark tells Michelle that Julia’s dying to dance with her.|
|Earlier Julia said she wanted to marry both Michelle and Mike.|
The End… Okay, one more picture...
And thanks to Michelle and Mike’s photographer who took such awesome pictures.