On her wedding day, this Alabama bride was surrounded by a whole lot of love — and loving little people.
When Jennifer Wright and Jake Schneider tied the knot in a relaxed barn wedding in Gurley, Alabama, on Nov. 18, 2017, they were preceded down the aisle by 15 adorable young attendants, all boys and girls whom Wright had cared for as their baby sitter.
“I love each and every one of them,” Wright, 28, said of the kids, who ranged in age from 4 to 12. “They’re these special, wonderful, amazing human beings that I think are just wonderful. They’re a part of my family and I’m a part of their family in a way.”
“It wouldn’t have been the happiest day of my life without them being there,” she added. “They were phenomenal.”
The bride began caring for kids after high school, and kept baby-sitting and working as a nanny through college. About six years ago, before she knew her husband, a 4-year-old girl asked Wright when she was getting married and who her flower girl would be and, well, could she be the flower girl?
“I had no idea if I was ever going to get married, if I wanted to get married, if she’d still be interested, if she’d be too old,” Wright recalled. “Instead of explaining how uncertain my future was, I told her, ‘Yes, you can be my flower girl and your sister can, too.’”
From there, more children inquired about when she would wed. “All of them were curious about this,” Wright said. “Usually if a kid was asking about the wedding, it was because they wanted to be a part of the wedding. I told them all yes. Why not? I love kids.”
Wright wasn’t certain if they would remember or hold her to it. “I thought for sure, the minute we made this promise it’d be forgotten in a couple days,” Wright said. “But the first little girl, she would ask me, ‘Are you going to let me be a part of your wedding still?’”
In fact, all of the kids reminded her as the years passed.
By the time she became engaged, Wright realized how much she truly wanted them in her wedding and she kept her promise, even as their parents offered her a way out. Her bridal party grew to include eight excited flower girls, four junior bridesmaids and three ring bearers.
“It was important to them and I wanted them there,” she said.
Schneider, 35, was not surprised that Wright followed through. “I knew it was coming given that she cares so much about them,” he said.
While some of Wright’s friends and family “flat out told me it was kind of crazy” to involve so many children, the bride made sure they were neither bored nor hungry. She created a “Box City” made of empty boxes for them to play in and stocked the kids’ tables with Legos, dolls and coloring books.
“When most brides are spending time sipping Champagne and getting primped, she was running around like a crazy person making sure they had a box fort and toys to play with,” Schneider said. “That’s just her.”
When afternoon ceremony finally arrived, fears about tantrums or disruptions proved unfounded as the day went off without a hitch.
“It was absolutely perfect,” Wright said. “No complaints. I couldn’t have been more impressed with all of them. They did such a great job.”
Wright let the girls pick out their own dresses in ivory or burgundy, and she made sure they all had tiaras. The ring bearers donned adorable jackets that read “Ring Bearer Security Services” on the back.
“I loved that it was a special day for them too,” Wright said. “Most of them had never been a flower girl or junior bridesmaid or ring bearer, and it was kind of fun for them to have a big responsibility.”
The kids insisted Wright lead a conga line, enjoyed cake and dancing and had a blast singing karaoke and pulling Wright to the microphone.
They were also front and center for the bouquet toss.
“One of the junior bridesmaids tried to catch the bouquet in her arms but it hit her straight in the forehead, and while she was stunned for a moment, the bouquet fell to the floor and her sister grabbed it and ran off with it,” Wright said.
Throughout the day, Wright mediated disputes among siblings and cheered up a girl who was having a bad day, worried that she would be losing Wright to her new husband.
“I felt nothing but love from the children,” Wright said. “My husband likes to call me the pied piper. Especially at our wedding, I was surrounded by kids almost the entire time and I loved it. They’re some of my closest friendships.”
But, don’t think that Wright was giving these kids a special night to earn the title of best baby sitter ever. “They already thought that,” she said with a laugh. “Most of the children have told me that I’m their favorite baby sitter.”