Children attending a wedding can be a touchy subject. You may be planning a formal event, your venue may or may not allow kids, or your budget may not allow room to pay for a child's attendance. Or perhaps you just prefer that your weddings be kid free - an evening where adult family and friends can come together and celebrate - which I totally respect and understand. There are no words to describe how much I love my daughter, but I would much prefer to attend a wedding sans baby - giving myself and hot date (my husband of course!) a night free of graham cracker smears and adult conversation - and dancing! Some other attendees may feel differently: cousin Jane R.S.V.P'd five people (two adults, and three kids), when clearly the invitation was addressed only to Mr. and Mrs. John & Jane Doe; or your friend Stacy's babysitter cancelled last minute; or perhaps you invited the entire Smith Family intentionally (2 parents and 4 kids!) There are many reasons children attend weddings - hopefully, it is because you requested their presence, but circumstances arise that may be our of your control. Fortunately, you have 530 Bride Event Coordinators to help you navigate the child attendance dilemma.
Below are some ideas to help you control the uncontrollable, and maintain your desired atmosphere by providing some entertainment to keep your little guests occupied and well-behaved.
1. Designate a separate kid-friendly space!
Look to see if your venue has a separate room or outdoor space that would be available to act as a 'childcare' setting. Hire a babysitter(s) and pay them an hourly wage. Make sure you have an appropriate babysitter to child ratio, and sitters who are CPR trained. Parents will want to make sure that their child is sufficiently cared for. For kids who are relatively young, make sure your space is child-proofed. For example, cover electrical outlets, make sure stairs are blocked off with a gate, and breakable items are stored out of reach. Bring in books, movies, coloring books, or other craft items to keep children occupied.
2. Offer a kid-friendly menu and dining table!
Designate a "kids table" where kids can eat unbreakable dinner wear (paper plates and plastic cups for example.) If you feel up to it, provide a more kid friendly main dish (chicken strips, hamburgers, carrot sticks, 100% fruit juice, cheese sticks, etc.) You may opt to avoid foods like spaghetti that may end up staining a young boy's clean white shirt. Cover the kids table with a paper 'tablecloth' and allow kids to draw silly versions of the bride and groom.
3. Provide alternate activities!
- Provide kid-friendly (quiet) activities. For example: coloring books, crayons, quiet toys (foam blocks, bubbles (kids love bubbles!), balloons), puppet show, hop scotch or other crafts. Avoid providing kids with balls, bats, swords, or other fun toys turned weapons. A fun game of wiffle ball or tag would be fine if there was a space away from your reception area.
- If it fits within your theme (and budget), you could hire outside entertainment (like a magic show!)
- Show a "drive-in" movie. Lay some blankets on the ground, pop some popcorn, hang a sheet, and feature a popular Disney movie.
- Give kids some glow sticks, and let them have their own dance party.
- Get a polaroid camera and some photo booth props (mustaches, boas, hats, sunglasses, dry erase board with markers, etc.) and allow the kids to create and enjoy their own photo booth.
4. Include them!
Depending on their age, you can always include them by give them jobs, such as manning the guest book table, helping guests find their seats, or passing out wedding programs.
5. Don't be afraid to designate a person to monitor out-of-control behavior!
However you decide to provide entertainment to children - or not provide alternative activities - ideally, a parent or guardian should be responsible for their children's behavior. It is your big day, which entitles you to whatever type of ceremony and reception atmosphere you and your groom desire. However, sometimes our hopes do not turned out as planned - in extreme circumstances, be prepared to have an individual that can nip chaotic behavior before it ruins the atmosphere and vibe of your wedding.
We'd love to hear our 530 Brides thoughts and ideas on innovative ways to include children in your wedding!
Posted by 530 Bride Event Coordinator, Alisha Rouland (firstname.lastname@example.org)