Finch And Oak
Whether you're welcoming children to your wedding because you have your own, you want to create a family-friendly vibe, or you don't want to get off on the wrong foot with your fiance's huge family - a little planning goes a very long way in ensuring the little ones have a great time without stealing your limelight, or adding to your stress.
Certain wedding settings or styles just aren't suited to clans of kids so it's important to work out early whether you're going to be inviting children to join the celebrations, whether they're only welcome for the ceremony, but not the evening events, or whether yours is an adults-only affair.
Find out more about having an adults only affair.
If you've picked the latter - there's no need to read any further. Otherwise, we've put together some tips to keep the kids entertained and on the straight and narrow, and to help their parents have a blast at the same time.
Let's tackle newborns first as they're kind of in their own category. Although you may want a child-free wedding, if you have close friends or family with small babies you might find that if you can't accommodate their littlies they won't be able to join you, especially if they're breastfeeding. And, since newborns aren't going to crawl across the dancefloor , make inappropriate comments during speeches or turn your napkins into paper planes, having them around isn't usually a problem.
If you do have new babies on board, it's helpful to let the reception venue know, and to factor their presence into your seating plan, so that Mums with bubs can be seated in a pram accessible area.
They'll also really appreciate your thoughtfulness if you let them know there'll be a discreet, quiet chair somewhere for their use for feeding throughout the night.
Moving up the age range and the planning gets a little more involved, but rest assured, the benefits on the day are worth it.
One suggestion is to book an experienced babysitter or two (or more depending on your numbers) to help entertain the children at the wedding whether it's with games, face painting or storytelling.
For the ceremony, kids like to feel important, so a little effort goes a long way. Make sure children have confetti bags too and if they're old enough maybe ask them to distribute confetti bags, service booklets or wedding bubbles to arriving guests.
Mealtime will be much more relaxed for all concerned if you can seat children at their own table (perhaps with a babysitter depending on their ages) and if possible, serve them a children's meal rather than your more gourmet fare. Include puzzles on the table for younger kids, along with colouring books and pencils, stickers and age appropriate activity books to keep whining at bay.
Ask older kids with iPods to record moments of your wedding to share with you later, or to upload to Instagram, at #idoweddings or your own account.
Don't underestimate the value of a separate room at the wedding reception, if you can possible arrange it. It provides somewhere for babysitters to amuse the kids with games (drop off Monopoly, Twister, cards...whatever you can think of...in advance); as well as a place to watch DVDs or even to crash for the little ones too tired to wait around for Mum and Dad to be done with the dance floor. If you have this option, advise parents of small children to bring along favourite DVDs and sleeping bags to make it easier for their kids to settle down to sleep.
And remember to thank the little people for their good behaviour with a special lolly or goodie bag at the end of the night - they'll appreciate it no end, and so will their parents.
Kids Friendly Wedding Day Ideas
1. Give Kids A Job
To make the kids really feel they are included in the wedding celebrations, distribute a bag of confetti for them to throw after the ceremony or ask some of the older children to hand the confetti or wedding bubbles out to the guests.
2. Book A Babysitter
Organise for a babysitter or two to care for and entertain children on the day. Check with the babysitter or agency how many sitters you will need as there are regulations that specify how many kids a babysitter can safely take care of at any one time.
3. Set A Separate Table
Decorate a different table for the kids that's fun and full of surprises. If children are joining you for the wedding lunch or wedding dinner, let them sit at their own table and organise for kids meals to be served. Include some disposable cameras on the table and drawing equipment to keep them entertained.
If children are not to be seated in the reception room, then organise for their meals to be served in a separate room or outside, picnic style.
4. Capture The Moment
For kids with iPods or iPhones, distribute a list of things or moments that need to be recorded or photographed. They can tick them off when they have completed the tasks to share with you on Instagram or Facebook.
Put together some age appropriate entertainment packs or wedding themed showbags to keep them entertained. Include colouring in books, crayons, stickers, craft, magazines, activity books, craft.
6. Room To Camp
If your wedding will run later into the evening, organise for a separate room to be available where children can retire to later on in the day or night to play games, watch DVD's and sleep.Kids could bring sleeping bags to make it more fun and comfortable for them while waiting for their wedding weary parents to take them home at the end of the festivities.
7. Kid Friendly Bomboniere
If birthday parties can have lolly bags why can't weddings too. Put together some kid friendly bomboniere with some age appropriate goodies and gifts for the well behaved kids to take home at the end of the wedding, they also make great bribes for parents to encourage better behaviour! Lolly buffets are magic to any child, so spoil them with one for dessert.
Moneybox weddings favours with a gold coin to thank your young guests for being so good.
8. Board Games
Bring board games such as twister, kids scrabble, monopoly or cards to play snap that will help babysitters entertain the kids in a separate room.
9. Entertainers For All Ages
Hire a magician - the grown ups will love the magician just as much as the kids. The promise of a visit of a fairy from a far off land just for children who have been well behaved during the wedding ceremony will be well received by you. Time the fairy arrival during pre-reception drinks and your guests will love it too!
10. Snap Crackle Pop
Fireworks are exciting at any age