The issue of whether or not to invite children to your wedding has always been a big debate. There are many couples who feel it is not an issue at all or feel they have no choice as they have siblings and close friends with kids. Others feel very strongly that it should be an adults-only event, and so begins the struggle to get the message out to their guests without causing offence. If you choose to have a child-friendly wedding, here are some tips to help make your day run as smoothly as possible while keeping it fun for guests of all ages.
Make it clear on the invitation
First things first; if you plan to have an adult-only wedding, or keep it to immediate family members’ kids only, then make this clear from the invitation. You might also be happy to have kids at your ceremony but not the evening event. Be specific with who you address the invite to; and don’t be afraid to include a note or a little poem to let guests know that it will be a child-free event. For example:
Please celebrate with us
at an adults-only reception
immediately following the ceremony
Please respect our wishes for a child free reception
In order to allow all guests, including parents, an evening of relaxation we have chosen for our wedding day to be an adult only occasion. We hope this advance notice means you are still able to share our big day and will enjoy having the evening off!
Children at the ceremony, we’d love them on the scene. Reception time, however, is an adult’s only theme.
This is a big question that I am often asked. Should you seat children with their parents, or all together at one kids table? There are merits to both. If some of your guests have small kids (under the age of three), then I recommend seating them with their parents – this can be the safest place for them in the event of a tantrum! For slightly older kids (up to early teens), set aside a table for them. This will make it easier for the waiting staff to serve them first and you can place kids gift bags or colouring sets at each setting to keep them occupied during the long meal and speeches. If there are a lot of kids attending, it may be worth hiring a childcare provider to manage them throughout the meal, and to entertain before and after. Make the kids feel special with individual place settings, a paper tablecloth that they can draw on to their heart’s content, bubbles and goody bags filled with sweet treats, comic books, photo props and toys. Beware of anything small and sharp though, not to mind the choking hazard but if it goes astray it will no doubt be stepped on by an unsuspecting guest who has slipped off their heels for dancing!
Meals & Sweet Treats
Ensure your venue or caterer offers a kids menu option. In general, a kids menu will be suitable for children up to the age of 12 – think chicken nuggets, burgers, pasta and ice cream. This will be at a reduced price; so bear in mind if you have some slightly older kids or teenagers and are trying to save money, but be aware that they are smaller portion sizes and may not be suitable for a 15 or 16 year old. Discuss this option with your venue to see if there is the potential to offer a half-portion of the main adults’ meal, without the wine of course, at a reduced rate. A candy buffet or ice cream cart is a fantastic way to keep kids occupied too, but keep it hidden until after the meal so that appetites haven’t been ruined.
Some kids can be the life and soul of the party, and are often some of the last to leave the dancefloor (probably all the energy from the candy buffet!). However, it is worth looking at other options to keep them entertained during the meal and after party. Ask your venue if there is an area where you can set up movies and popcorn, games and arts and crafts. There are also great wedding-specific childcare providers who will provide anything from regular babysitting duties right through to full-on entertainment for the kids, looking after them during the ceremony, meal and providing activities for the kids to do afterwards. This is especially useful if you or members of your bridal party have small children and want to have the opportunity to enjoy every moment of your wedding without worrying about a crying child or “I’m bored” face.
*WARNING* Many of the above tips will more than likely appeal to adults as well! Don’t be surprised if the candy buffet is commandeered by your adult guests too…