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Overcoming the wedding jitters


Our whole family was thrilled when my sister got engaged last August. She asked me to be her matron of honour — yay! — and she wanted our eight-year-old son — her only nephew — to be the ring bearer.

He immediately declined, explaining, “I don’t want everyone to look at me!” Meanwhile, our daughter was already twirling around the room, happily shouting, “I want everyone to look at me!”

She was born to be a flower girl. Undivided attention as she paraded down an aisle, beaming and holding flowers in a fancy dress? Yup, that’s our Charlotte.

We all joked she was going to do her best to outshine the bride, but as the wedding approached, I wondered if that was actually going to be the case. She certainly practised a lot.

For months, it felt like the wedding would never, ever arrive and then suddenly, it was just a few weeks away. I was busily sewing the kids’ outfits, struggling with the slippery fancy fabrics I don’t normally mess with. It took two tries to get a flower girl dress, the first one was a hideous too-wide number drowning in navy tulle — but my first-ever bow tie came together nicely.

I had last-minute worries about how they would hold up though — the kids, not the clothes (although my sewing is always a bit questionable). Would they be exhausted before the ceremony started? Would they freak out when they saw the crowd of strangers? Neither had been to a wedding before, let alone been a part of one.

The big day began bright and early with hair and makeup appointments for the bridal party. I’d packed the iPad and colouring supplies to keep our daughter occupied, but she spent the whole morning chatting with the stylists and the other bridesmaids, relishing the chance to “hang with the big girls.”

After a flurry of photos in the Halifax Public Gardens, the kids got a brief break while the adults went down to Historic Properties for more wedding photos. By the time the pre-ceremony family dinner had wrapped up, I was exhausted, but the kids were still raring to go, luckily.

Our son was still refusing to be the ring bearer, but he took on a cute role as the “go-between” before the ceremony started. He’d duck into the main venue to welcome the guests and urge them to sit down and then delightedly rush back to where we were waiting in a back room.

“So many people are here!” he kept telling us proudly. “And the little box has so many cards in it.” (When I told him a lot of those cards had money inside, he was truly amazed.) As I waited “backstage” with my beautiful sister, we watched Charlotte step around the corner with a huge smile on her face. We didn’t get to see her walk down the aisle, but everyone said she did it perfectly, pausing at just the right spot for photos and smiling brightly as she savoured being the centre of attention.

The ceremony flashed by and the kids loved the reception even more. They thought the bar was the most fun thing in the world and kept chugging their ice water so they could go back and order another from “the barkeep.”

“Same glass?” one bartender asked our son. He coolly nodded, looking like a miniature James Bond in his spiffy bow tie. “Same glass, same lime.”

Our son had been so anxious about not wanting people to look at him, yet he was cruising around the venue confidently. At one point, he popped over to see me — another ice water in hand — and after a minute, he said, “Well, I’m off.” He spun on his heels and headed off into the crowd, totally at ease. I couldn’t believe it!

Anyone under 19 needed to be out by 9 p.m., but that was fine — their regular bedtime is hours before that! My sister knew our daughter would want to dance, so she asked the DJ to play Katy Perry so they could whirl around together before they had to go. Phones were clicking all around as everyone captured the sweet moment.

My in-laws swung by for the kids at 8:45 p.m., and they happily spilled out onto Argyle Street full of stories about “the best day ever.” I’d never expected them to power through such a long day, feel so comfortable in front of dozens of strangers and find their own ways to get involved, but they totally rocked it.

Now, they can’t wait for someone else to get married!

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist who married her high school sweetheart. They moved from the city to the country, where they spend their days making messes and memories with their eight-year-old son and six-year-old daughter. Follow their family’s adventures over at


The ceremony flashed by and the kids loved the reception even more. They thought the bar was the most fun thing in the world and kept chugging their ice water so they could go back and order another from “the barkeep.” ...................................................................

Although nervous to be ring bearer at a family wedding, Heather Laura Clarke’s son quickly learned weddings can be a lot of fun.

Heather Laura Clarke

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