Taming the Beasts (Or Keeping the Kids Happy at the Wedding)

I can understand why some couples don’t want to include children on their guest lists. Kids are unpredictable. They scream, run, cry, talk when they shouldn’t, and might dig their little nose-picking fingers into the icing on your wedding cake while it’s on display. (I seriously saw this happen at a wedding a few years ago.)

Potential disasters aside, kids will be invited to our wedding. I love kids! Children are just as much a part of the family as anyone else and I couldn’t imagine having a celebration without them. I’m really only drawing the line with children of co-workers. Pretty much everyone else who has small children, regardless of whether they are family or friends, will have the option of bringing their kids along.

When I was a kid, I loved going to weddings. I have a lot of older cousins who were getting married when I was little (I even landed a flower girl gig for one of them) and there was always something magical about seeing the bride and groom all dressed up, smiling and celebrating.

But no matter how magical parts of the wedding can be, a lot of it can be pretty boring for the youngsters. Ceremonies are the worst.

You get there early and you have to sit quietly while someone is playing boring music without words. Then, there is the sermon that accompanies the ceremony. After that, it’s on to the reception and there is a long wait for dinner to start, followed by toasts, more waiting, and a few traditional slow dances before you’re allowed to get up and shake off some of your pent up energy during the twist, chicken dance, and ‘Shout’. And how could I forget to mention that throughout all of this, kids are wearing their Sunday best, so normal playing and horsing around is frowned upon.

Because I know there’s a good chance that any and all of the 20 plus kids invited to our wedding will experience boredom at some point on the wedding day, I’m going to put together goody bags for them containing various puzzles, coloring sheets, small toys and other fun things.

I really like the idea of making an activity and coloring book and have had some luck with finding a few good templates online. I’m hoping to put one together soon for our younger guests, but with a few more difficult word searches and puzzles for those in the 8 -14 age range. To accompany the books, I picked up a couple dozen 24-count boxes of Crayola Crayons for $0.24 each during Walmart’s back-to-school sale.

I also purchased packages of cute, self-inking animal stamps at Michael’s (clearance priced at $0.50 for 6 stamps), a variety of temporary tattoos, some inexpensive plastic puzzle games and this weird foam-like substance that is sort of like Play-Doh, but without the smell and the mess.

I’ll probably pick up a few more small items and then package them in little paper sacks for each child. I’m hoping that the kids and parents will appreciate the gesture. I’m also hoping it will result in the ceremony and dinner portions of the wedding day being temper tantrum-free. After dinner is over and the fun begins, I’m all for every man, woman, and child getting jiggy with it on the dance floor.

de1

Wedding reception air guitar courtesy of my nephew, Trevor (March 2006)

Are you inviting kids to your ceremony and reception? How are you keeping the children entertained on your wedding day?

BLOGGER

Mrs. Deviled Egg

Location:
Pittsburgh
Wedding Date:
May 2014
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  1. Member
    nicgac 60 posts, Worker bee @ 12:40 pm

    This time of year is PERFECT for Dollar Store finds for wedding kid kits. All the Easter basket stuff is out and it’s perfect! I loaded up last Easter for my Fall wedding. Ring Pops candy was a great find for me! Get it? I also created my own wedding day coloring book. I have the file at home, and will share it if anyone is interested!

  2. Member
    88Mwifey 60 posts, Worker bee @ 12:43 pm

    Yeah we’re inviting children. We’re almost the only ones without kids :) We’re having bags at the ceremony, and lots of fun stuff at the reception. Bubbles, cookie decorating, play dough…and we’re having our reception at a location where there is a playground, so that helps :)

    But the best advice? Bubbles. My friend had them at her wedding (she had other plans for them, but it rained and all the little kids were “trapped” inside. It was almost chaos), and they played with them for hours!

  3. Member
    Crash 377 posts, Helper bee @ 12:44 pm

    We only have one child coming, my future nephew who will be 2. Don’t think we’re horrible, but FI and I don’t particularly love kids. We only have the one who is related to either of us and since his dad is the best man and will be traveling to the wedding, there was no question on whether he would be invited. But none of our other close relatives or any of our friends have kids yet, so I don’t expect too much of an issue. OK, you can think we’re horrible for this part if you want: our wedding is on a boat and we’re telling co-workers there are no children’s life jackets (which is true, but we could easily request them if we wanted).

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    leslie, Guest @ 12:50 pm

    At my wedding the photographer caught a fun shot of the cake with my stepsons finger going straight for the icing. Luckily he was caught before any damage was done :) On the dance floor the kids are the best! All of my favorite reception pictures involve the kids breaking it down!

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    West Coast bride, Guest @ 12:51 pm

    I would seriously suggest you get a babysitter, Miss Deviled Egg! With all the activities you’re giving them (which are great, by the way!) you want someone around to make sure no one is stamping their Sunday Best, or colouring on a wall or just generally doing the curious but inconvenient things kids do when they’re in groups! Personally, I see this as a gift to all of your guests since it will give parents and childless guests the freedom to enjoy the adult company/entertainment.

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Auggie, Guest @ 12:54 pm

    I found it interesting that you are not inviting the children of co-workers to your wedding. I only say this b/c I struggle with this issue with my family. They think if you invite one kid you have to invite them all or other parents will be upset that their kids were not invited. I only want to invite children of family members and very close friends. We are having a very LARGE small town wedding and the last thing I want is 50+ kids running around like crazy. So my question to you Miss DE is…do you think your co-workers will be upset when they realize their children were not invited but other children were…or is this a fairly normal thing to do and my family is just nuts-o?!?

    Thanks!!!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    peachypear, Guest @ 12:57 pm

    We definitely wanted children at our wedding; we adore our nieces and nephews, and many of our friends have children. Also, since many were OOT, they didn’t really have the option of a babysitter. As much as we wanted them there, we also knew that keeping them happy was important if we wanted their parents (our siblings and friends!) to stay at the party!!

    We had a kids room, which was a small room adjacent to the ballroom. We provided games, fairy wands, crayons, etc and also let parents know that kids could bring their favorite toys, etc (as long as they couldn’t damage anything). Unlike some other kids rooms, the children weren’t confined to the room; they ate with the rest of the guests and could come and go as they pleased. *It worked wonderfully.*It kept them entertained before and after the ceremony and even functioned as a cry room during the ceremony for the babies. The kids had fun, and their parents were so appreciative.

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    mainfr4me, Guest @ 1:05 pm

    Since we’re having our reception at my parent’s house, we’re planning on setting up the living room with a couch and a loop of Finding Nemo/Monsters Inc for the younger kids to watch. Thankfully, we’re pretty limited on our kid numbers, but the kid bag idea is great. We’re also planning on having a few servings of chicken nuggets and such for kids as well (or worst case someone stops off at McDonalds beforehand).

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    Heather, Guest @ 1:21 pm

    i recently posted about a few great ideas for wedding “kid kits” here:

    http://asweetwife.blogspot.com/2009/01/economy-sucks.html

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Jess, Guest @ 1:24 pm

    This has been a VERY difficult thing for us… we have no children, and most of our close friends are also childless… but my family has no idea how babies are made. :) I have 16 cousins on one side (all of whom are younger than I am).. and about 8 or 10 of them have multiple children!

    Not only does this make the guest list go up… but regardless of how many crayons you give some children.. they’re NOT going to use them! Their parents allow them to be wild animals at home… and they will assume they can do the same at a wedding. I do not blame the children, I blame the parents… but that still doesn’t change the fact that I don’t want 30 small children running around. They get bored… so… they play in the chocolate fountain, crawl under the tables, get a sugar high at the candy station and run around the room.

    A few other reasons:

    Parents can’t relax when they’re worried about their kids. If you’re chasing a 2 year old it’s hard to join in on the dance party.

    Someone’s child always ends up crying during the ceremony and one of two things happens… 1. The parent is kind enough to remove the child from the room but then they miss the ceremony that we wanted them to witness… or 2. They just sit there “trying” to quiet their child and making more of a scene than the crying itself.

    We’re having an open bar. Granted, I can’t tell people how to raise their kids… but it seems inappropriate to take your small child to a place where people will be drinking in excess.

    Bed Time. Small children usually can’t make it to midnight. That means mommy and daddy have to leave early.

    It’s not that we don’t love all of our family and our friend’s kids… it’s just this is an adult party. It’s a wedding, not a birthday party.

    (sorry this was so long… I think I have to continue to justify my reasons for not allowing children… )

  11. Member
    deviledegg 1250 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:39 pm

    @88Mwifey: Bubbles! I have those, too, and I forgot all about them. Bubbles are a great idea!
    @Crash: I don’t think you’re horrible. It’s your day and who you invite is up to you.
    @West Coast bride: I thought about a babysitter, but I don’t think I have that in the budget. I really think having one would be awesome, but spending $20 or $30 on activities for the kids made more sense for us.
    @Auggie:I think my co-workers understand that weddings are expensive and guest lists have limits. Most were surprised that we were even planning on inviting co-workers. We had to draw the line somewhere and that’s where we did it. I see your point and I understand how co-workers could be upset, but what it comes down to is that my family and friends are the most important to us and they get priority treatment.

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 2:44 pm

    We planned bubbles, crayons, healthy-ish snacks, and ring pops. The flaw? There were four kids, two way too young for that, and two way too old. The older ones got a YA book and a kite with their “kid” packs, and the younger kids…I just let the parents deal with it. Thus, I have pictures of one of the moms torturing a Teddy Graham in a centerpiece candle.

    Our whole thing was outdoors, though, so when the little ones needed to get away from it all, there was plenty of room to run around.

    At a very similar wedding about a year before ours, the kid packs all had matchbox cars. Good for kids, good for dads, fun for all.

  13. Member
    latte 651 posts, Busy bee @ 3:41 pm

    We’re inviting the kiddies too! I don’t know how many of them will actually show up though…the partay will be going on till midnight. I also wish we could hire a babysitter but have no room in the budget for that. :( And good for you for thinking ahead and getting crayons and stamps while they’re on sale!

  14. Member
    olelucky 59 posts, Worker bee @ 4:10 pm

    This has been a really hard issue for us, too. Thank you for posting. I feel like kids are part of families and weddings are about families, so we are inviting kids, but I don’t want to invite the kids of my coworkers because I am their teacher too! How awkward would that be? In a side note, one of my friends told me that during her wedding, one 8-yr old boy drew mustaches and scribbles all over their matted engagement photo that people were supposed to sign. That kind of made me shudder a little. I hope that doesn’t happen to anyone else!

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Krystyn, Guest @ 6:02 pm

    I had an activity table for kids at my wedding in December. I bought the placemats that you can color and the mini coloring books/crayons from oriental trading as well as the “color your own” sippy cups. We also had some random trinkets and toys. I thought that this would keep the kids occupied. Wouldn’t you know that not one single child out of the 15 or so there played with any of it??? They had too much fun dancing! I did have several parents thank us for the gesture, so at least my efforts were appreciated. :)

  16. Member
    bellenga 7536 posts, Bumble Beekeeper @ 6:54 pm

    I’m making DIY coloring books and will also have on children’s tables paper tablecloths with colored paper “runners” for them to color on and of course bubbles, stickers, and like the above poster Krystyn, there are thousands of fun little things from http://www.orientaltrading.com that can go in a kids’ pack. Once we choose a venue we can get specific with the kids’ packs too.

    Btw, I’m a mom and my guy is a dad too. We’re used to kids, and our affair will be very child-friendly. Plus his brother will be a dad for the first time in May and there will be an ity bitty baby attending our wedding too!

    It’s fun with kids around. Just remember to be prepared! You can have kid friendly snacks too at a shorter sized food table…perfect for mac n cheese, chicken fingers, mini cakes, and such!

  17. Member
    chaikac 127 posts, Blushing bee @ 8:43 pm

    I’m doing the exact same thing–only inviting children of close friends and family. I’m inviting co-workers but not their kids. It would get out of control otherwise. I also bought ‘back to school’ crayons when they were dirt cheap!
    I’m getting so excited for my wedding!

  18. Member
    amester26 256 posts, Helper bee @ 8:30 am

    We’re having coloring and activity books like a lot of other couples, but we’re also a little wierd…. we’re thinking of putting games out at the reception for EVERYONE to use, not just the kids!

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Jerseys, Guest @ 11:13 am

    Wasn’t there another entry on here about the same thing?

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