Teacher’s 20 Students Were Her Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

Teacher Marielle Slagel Keller invited her entire class to be in her wedding party. (Photo: Cory and Jackie Wedding Photography/ Courtesy The IPS)

What could be cuter than a flower girl and a ring bearer walking down the aisle? How about 20 of them? Then again, wrangling 20 small children to behave in a wedding ceremony could be daunting … unless you happen to be an elementary school teacher. And for teacher Marielle Slagel Keller, it was everything she’d imagined.

“When it came time to choose flower girls and ring bearers for my wedding, the kids that kept coming to mind were the students in my class,” Slagel Keller, who teaches kindergarten and first grade at IPS/Butler University Laboratory School in Indianapolis, tells Yahoo Style. “I talked to my mom about it and was like, ‘Is this a crazy idea to have all of them?’ And my family was supportive. They said, ‘If they mean the most to you, then that’s who you should have come before you at your wedding.’”

While many teachers might look forward to summer break to get away from students and their parents, Slagel Keller was happy to keep in touch with them in the weeks leading up to her June 24 ceremony. She invited the students to participate back in December, and 20 out of the 22 in her class were able to be there.

The school’s educational approach is in the Reggio Emilia style — which allows children to explore the world and guide the curriculum based on their interests — and Slagel Keller has the same group of students for two years in a row. This means that she’s had the chance to grow close to the parents, who were all present at the ceremony too.

“Every morning they would come in to drop off their kids, they would ask how the planning was going, and it didn’t feel right to not have them there the day of,” Slagel Keller said. “It was cool having them in the audience too.”

IPS/Butler University Laboratory School children participate in their teacher’s wedding. (Photo: Cory and Jackie Wedding Photography/Courtesy The IPS)

The parents probably appreciated that she didn’t make them buy their children fancy new dresses and suits for the big day and instead had the children wear white dresses or white shirts with black pants. The two children in front and two in back carried garlands attached to poles as they all walked down the aisle to the “Feather Theme” from Forrest Gump. The whole scene had guests crying before the bride even appeared — or that’s what people tell her, anyway.

“To be honest, I haven’t seen it!” Slagel Keller says. “It didn’t even occur to me until I was left standing in the back that I wouldn’t be able to see them coming down the aisle.”

Having 20 kids in a ceremony is sweet and all, but having 20 children and their parents at the reception seems like a great way to blow your entire wedding budget. But Slagel Keller says she didn’t feel comfortable inviting the kids to a reception with an open bar, so instead she held a cupcake reception for them in the church.

Monday was the first day of school for her class, and in addition to first-day excitement, the returning first-graders have had fun talking to their teachers about the event and the photos from it that made the local news over the weekend.

And Slagel Keller says she’d encourage other brides or grooms to invite their students too, if they’ve considered it. “Take the risk, because it definitely pays off,” she says.

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