Small children at weddings can be rather marmite – you either love them or your hate them. Small children have to be managed regardless of whether they are part of the bridal party or not. Weddings can be long, fraught days for little people (and for some big ones too) so it’s worth spending some time and figuring out how best to cater for their needs and then that should keep them happy. Happy contented children equal happy adults. Here are some devices to help cater for children of all ages on your big day.
- If you are worried about noise or loud behaviour during the ceremony then set up a kids competition which children will love. Make a game so that whichever child is the best behaved will receive a special prize during the reception. Another game is the magic game of silence so whichever child is the quietest will win. Put competition leaflets at the door to the church or ceremony room and give them a few gummies to be going on with or marshmallows – use clear sweets which are not coloured so cannot stain their clothes and preferably ones which take time to chew which can also encourage a vow of silence. Don’t put out anything different so keep them all the same as siblings may become competitive over different coloured sweets and that can get very noisy!
- Have a kids entertainer at the reception – this can be combined with food and drinks for children in a different area where they can run around whilst the adult guests are eating. Remember though, small children will need to be supervised by somebody and the hotel staff will be too busy to do it
- Hire in professional childcare and book a room at the wedding venue which can be kitted out with activities to keep the children amused. Drawing and colouring, quiet activities can work well or set up a mini cinema and screen their favourite film. Obviously, activities have to be relevant to age so you might need quite a range of things to keep a selection of children occupied. Even if you hire in a children’s entertainer you will still need childcare on hand to keep order and supervise what’s going on. The children don’t have to stay in there permanently but they will need time to let off steam and also have a break from a reception which might be hot and noisy
- If you can, incorporate an outdoor area for the children with games and activities if you are getting married in the summer but remember, a wet weather alternative is essential. Again, the children will need supervising, don’t expect them to amuse themselves, behave themselves and stay out of trouble. Professional childcare can solve that problem
- Create a craft room and make sure the photographer or a photographer can take some images of them which the hotel can print out and then the children can decorate them and keep these as a memento of the day
- Always make sure that there are child-friendly options on the menu particularly if the children will be eating a sit-down meal with their parents. Have some interesting colouring or a quiz for older children all centered around the wedding day to keep them occupied at the table
- You can arrange for the children to eat first when you arrive at the reception particularly as the adults are usually chatting with a glass of champagne. If it’s been a long ceremony or maybe a long drive to the reception, behaviour can start to deteriorate – children can be transformed once they have had something to eat and drink
- Make sure through expert research that you provide one favourite item for every child but if possible, try to avoid fizzy drinks and junk food as they are liable to be even more excited after they have eaten than beforehand
- If you are having live music or a disco after the meal then have a child-friendly musical alternative on offer in the kids’ room
- If your reception is in a hotel, make your suite of rooms available so that mums can have some time out space with their children and even bath them and put them down for a nap if the reception is going on into the evening
If you do want small children at your wedding then it will pay you back in spades to think about their needs and cater for them both during the ceremony and at the reception. There is a huge amount of useful ideas and information online about clever and innovative ways to keep them amused.
Tell people what you are doing either on the wedding invitations or after they have replied. Most sensible people will realise that small children can be a handful and they won’t want it to be their children who ruin your big day. Ask parents if their children have any special needs, literally, or any other requirements that will help make the day comfortable for them. You can ‘t expect them to behave like adults as they are not grown up and even the best-behaved child can find a long wedding day both tiring and overwhelming. Tiredness and lack of food or the wrong food are the principal reasons for bad behaviour in children, the other is lack of parental control and discipline and there isn’t much you can do about that on the big day other than leave them off the guest list.
If you don’t want to invite small children then be consistent; it will cause greater offence and upset if you invite some because you think they will be bettered behaved and not others. Some couples invite children over a certain age but this can be tricky territory and a few parents are bound to be offended. To avoid comparisons and speculation when the postman arrives, you can state on the wedding invitations what you have decided to do so it is set out plain and simple for everyone to see, just don’t say why.