How to child-proof your wedding
Let’s be frank – kid’s can make or break your wedding. Nothing ruins the romance of the moment like a screaming baby, a stroppy toddler throwing a tantrum or a child loudly declaring they need a wee just at the moment you are about to say “I do”. On the other hand they can look adorable, provide lots of fun and come out with magical one-liners that absolutely make your day. In this post we share some tips on how best to ensure the little ones don’t get out of hand.
Invited or not?
It’s your day, so you can do it your way. And every situation is different. If you have your own children you’ll certainly want them there. You’ll also probably want to include nieces and nephews. Beyond that, however, you may not want to invite the offspring of other guests.
Whatever you decide, make it clear on the invitation – but tactfully. The tradition is that only those named on the invitation are invited. But some people assume that includes their little darlings as well. Printing “No Children” sets the wrong tone but "We're sorry, we can't accommodate children" is a more gentle way of saying the same. If you receive a few personal requests you can respond with "I'm sorry, please don't take it personally, and please don't put us in a difficult position, but we’d rather…”
If you do want to invite children make it clear they are only welcome if well behaved. Your invite could say "Children are welcome but if you'd prefer to be carefree and let your hair down, leave your little ones at home". This will make the point that parents are responsible for supervision.
Choose your venue with care
If you are going to have more than a couple of mini-guests then pick a venue that’s kid-friendly. That means choosing one where you can have the ceremony and reception one the one site, to avoid tedious travel between one and the other. Also, pick a venue where there’s ample outdoor space for youngsters to run around and let off steam.
If the venue has a variety of rooms and flexible space that’s a plus too – maybe you want to have a kid’s room for playing and eating away from the grown-up goings on. Another bonus is a venue with accommodation, so kids can have time out, a nap or head to bed early if the need arises.
Share the schedule
Work out your running order then share it with parents so they know what’s happening when. Spell out what is being provided for the kids in terms of entertainment, break out spaces, food and drink. Also let the parents know what you have planned for the adults, with timings, so that they can make appropriate plans about how best to manage their offspring and are well prepared with snacks and distractions.
Avoid distractions at the ceremony
Tears of joy are welcome from adults but not the angry sort from tantrum-throwing toddlers. Whether the ceremony is in a church or in a civil setting you might want to have a separate room with toys and a child-minder. Then let parents know well in advance that their offspring should be taken there if they can’t manage the ceremony. If a parents is part of the ceremony, sit them at the front, but at the far end of the pew or row so they can evacuate in a hurry if needs be!
Toys and treats
Provide plenty of distractions - think stickers, puzzles, crayons and colouring-in books. Also encourage parents to bring favourite toys. Games are good too, anything from dressing up in costumes to a bouncy castle, croquet to hopscotch and a treasure hunt to outdoor Jenga. You could also ask Snapchat-fixated teenagers to live-blog your day.
Ideally you should choose a venue that has a room where you can create a family VIP area, with toys and board games at one end then rugs, cushions, books and Frozen playing on a loop at the other end. That means kids can get away if they need their own space and parents have a calm and cosy place for feeding, naptime or talking down a tantrum.
If you are going to have a lot of smaller guests it might be worth organising a childminder for all or some of the time. You could also consider hiring and entertainer to keep them amused - a balloon artist, a magician or a chocolate making maestro, for instance. Having one person who is paid to keep the children amused can be worth their weight in gold.
Let them eat cake
Giving children a smaller portion of fancy food is not always such a great idea. And the formal sit-down dinner, with all those speeches, soon wears out the patience of even the most amenable child. You might be better getting the venue team to hand out a lunchbox and theme it to your day - perhaps heart-shaped sandwiches and Hula Hoops, so even mini guests get a ring on their finger! If you have a separate room for kids it might be smart to arrange for them to eat in there with plenty of things like jelly, cake and ice cream. They’ll be happier that way – and so will you!
Teens may prefer to have their own table. They may feel uncomfortable sat with parents or older relatives, but they will certainly not be impressed if you put them with the little ones.
Give them a job to do
One way to head off boredom and misbehaviour is to get the kids involved in the proceedings. Enlist them as flower girls, or page boys or just have them handing out confetti as the ceremony ends.
Any other questions?
Hopefully this post has covered the main issues around mixing weddings and children. However, if you have any other queries, or want to discuss some ideas, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch – our experienced team are only too happy to help in any way they can.