Unruly bridesmaids banished

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The Independent Online
Dressed in charming lacy dresses or miniature sailor suits, the bridesmaids and page boys never fail to draw indulgent smiles from the assembled congregation. But one church minister has had enough of their unruly tendencies and is urging couples not to use small children because they ruin the service.

The Rev Ian Gregory, 64, said screaming bridesmaids and rampaging pageboys turned services at his church in Newcastle-Under-Lyme, Staffordshire, into a "farce". He announced in his church newsletter that he would "discourage couples" from having bridesmaids and pages under eight years old.

"Children are not ornaments," he wrote. "By and large they hate being dressed up, especially little boys, and can be a thorough distraction in what should be a profound and delightful service."

Mr Gregory, who perhaps not all together surprisingly is the founder of the Polite Society, acknowledged that some children behaved properly and stood demurely holding the flowers at some services. Others, however, ran riot.

"Little girls dressed up to look like fairies and little boys in top hats have been such a nuisance that I have hardly been able to do the wedding at all. I have had to stop services and ask people to look after these children," he said.

"Children are virtually out of control these days.

"No one ever says 'stop it' or 'don't do that', so children think they can get away with anything."

He still shudders at the memory of the page boy who climbed into the pulpit and stuffed his head into a bag used for collections.

"Everyone seemed to think it was hilarious," he said. "But it stopped the service dead in its tracks."

He finally reached "breaking point" a few weeks ago when a five-year- old page, dressed in a top hat left his place to wander round the church.

"I found him on his back behind me, shouting with his legs in the air. I just had to stop and ask someone to look after him.

"Everyone thought it was a huge joke."