If you have a big family like me, you probably remember going to lots of weddings as a kid. You have even been a flower girl or ring bearer a few times. The memory is always the same: you get dressed up, see all your cousins, eat cake, dance, and overall it… kind of sucked.
Here’s the reality: weddings are for adults, and they are not fun for little kids. They are asked to sit still, be quiet, and watch a long, boring ceremony they don’t understand—yuck! Even the wedding reception can be rough for a little one, particularly if the party goes on past his or her bedtime.
So, you and your fiancée want to have a beautiful, elegant wedding. But you also want the youngsters in your life to attend. What do you do? First, don’t panic! There are many things you can do to ensure you have a classy ceremony that’s also kid-friendly. Here are some tips to get you started.
Set Your Expectations
Some kids can sit still and look pretty for hours on end. Other kids are off to the races the minute the car seat is unbuckled. Once you have your RSVPs in hand, it’s important to consider which type of kids will be coming (and be honest, you know which kids are the rambunctious ones).
Will you need to hire some childcare? Will you have to accept that those kids (and by extension, their parents) may only arrive for the reception? While it would be nice if every kid dressed up in their Sunday best and sat like adorable little angels during your ceremony, set some realistic expectations early on.
Hire a Sitter
When it comes to kids and a fancy wedding, one of the easiest ways to have your (wedding) cake and eat it too is to hire a baby sitter. He or she can keep an eye on the little ones while you and your guests (including the parents) can enjoy the ceremony and reception.
If you’ve rented a room at your wedding venue (maybe the bridal suite or your hotel room for the evening), have your sitter post up there with games, movies, and treat for the kids. You can even order pizza for them—it will be cheaper than a catered dinner, and they’ll probably like it more!
Also, if you want the kids to take part in your wedding fun, you can invite the kids down to the reception for cake and dancing. But hiring a sitter for an hour or two can give you the classy, interruption-free ceremony you’ve always wanted and give the kids a fun-filled night they’ll love. It’s the best of both worlds!
Give Them Some Space
Another way to keep the kids happy at your wedding is to give them their own designated area. Set up a “kids tent” in your reception space and fill it with games, coloring books, and other toys. While the rest of the venue may be your dream come true, that space will be perfect for your little guests!
Of course, if you want a kid-only space, there are a few requirements: your venue must be enclosed so no one wonders off, your little guests should be old enough to play on their own without worry, and you can’t be surprised when parents pop over there to check on their kids throughout the ceremony.
Have A “Kid-Friendly” Wedding Reception and Ceremony
Your sitter in unavailable. You don’t have space for a “kids tent.” How can you entertain the kids while still celebrating your wedding your way? It’s easier than you might think—just add some kid-friendly elements to your event.
You’re going to give out programs for your ceremony, right? Well, add a few sketches in the back and slip a solid surface and some crayons under the chairs. Voila! Just like that, you’ve created a fun coloring activity that will keep the kids happy and quiet while you say “I do.”
…With An “Open Bar” For Everyone
The start of the reception can be tough for kids. They’re hungry, they can’t have champagne, and they don’t want to listen to your maid of honor speak. So, give them something to satisfy their appetite (they’re own open bar, if you will).
Set up a table with kid-friendly snacks: chips, chocolate, candies, the whole nine yards. This will keep the kids from getting too cranky before dinner comes along, which everyone will appreciate. Just don’t be surprised if you see a grown up or two sneaking a handful of Doritos between toasts!
With these tips, you’ll be able to share your wedding day with the special kids in your life in a way that makes everyone happy. You’ll enjoy yourself, the kids will have fun, and their parents will appreciate the steps you took to share the love! And really, that’s what weddings are all about.