I have a very big family, which includes a lot of very small children. When I got married, I wanted my cousins, aunts, and uncles to have a relaxing afternoon, where they could chat with each other, enjoy their meals, and not spend all their time chasing after their kids. This meant that finding a way to entertain all the little ones was a major priority.
My story’s not uncommon. Every day, countless couples struggle to strike a balance between an elegant wedding their grown guests will love and the kind of party that keeps kids occupied. For some, the easiest option is to leave the little ones off the invite—but what do you do when that’s not an option? Here are a few easy ways you can make your wedding more kid-friendly.
Hand Out Coloring Books
Entertaining kids during a wedding is incredibly difficult. From their perspective, weddings are boring; why should they sit still in a stuffy dress or suit while their mom’s friends kiss in front of everyone? If you want to avoid fussy kids (or worse—kids having a meltdown) while you say “I do,” you’ll have to provide them with a little entertainment.
Start your ceremony by pulling a page from the restaurant industry: let the kids color! It’s easy to find free, printable coloring pages online, and small packages of crayons or coloring pencils are available at any office supply store. The kids will have a great time filling in their little activity books, and you can enjoy a meltdown-free wedding ceremony.
Offer a Kid-Friendly Menu
We all know the struggles of picky eaters. Even if you never lived with one (or were one), you’ve seen one in action: the crying, the fussing, the throwing spoons across the room. The last thing any newlyweds want is to see their guests fighting with the kids over their dinner. How do you avoid this issue? Provide a kid-friendly meal!
If you know that kids will be at the wedding, talk to your caterer about their kids’ meal options. Some vendors are happy to provide foods kids love (think chicken fingers and fruit cups) for a discounted price, which can help ensure everyone enjoys their dinner. If catered kids’ meals aren’t an option, consider setting out platters of snacks or finger foods (French fries, carrot sticks, sliders) that the kids can choose from as the night goes on.
Give Them Games and Activites to Play
Once it’s time for cocktail hour, your young guests may have exhausted the limits of their coloring books. That’s when it’s time to bust out the games! Set up a “kids’ area” in your reception space and fill it with board games and activites you loved as a kid: Candy Land, Guess Who, bubbles, jump rope—whatever tickles your fancy! Then, let the kids get their game on while the parents head over to the bar. It’s a guaranteed recipe for a good time for everyone!
Have “Kids’ Time” on the Dance Floor
Do you know what kids love to do? Dance! Seriously, grab any toddler (ask permission first if they’re not yours) and put on some music; I can almost guarantee they’ll start dancing to the beat! If you want your guests’ kids to enjoy themselves at your wedding, you have to give them some time to let loose—and one of the best ways to do it is to give them the dance floor.
Talk with your musical entertainment and plan for a “kids’ dance” at some point in the night (ideally when the kids are at their antsiest). Find a song that little ones love (Pharrell William’s “Happy,” “Twist and Shout” by The Beatles, Taylor Swift’s “Shake it Off”) and let the kids know that this is their time! Not only will your youngest guests burn off some extra energy, but your older guests will also get a kick out of watching the kids cut a rug.
Hire a Baby Sitter or Nanny
If you have more than a few children on the guest list (especially if some of them are coming from interstate or overseas) it might be time to call in the pros. There are many babysitters or nanny agencies who are happy to send someone to watch your young guests while you enjoy the reception! Just set them up in a hotel room (or any other suite on site), give them a movie and some pizza, and enjoy your adults-only reception!
This is a particularly great option if you have lots of friends with children, but you want a child-free wedding. Finding a sitter is hard, and if your friends can’t find one in time, they may be obligated to miss your special day! An on-site sitter eliminates that stress, ensuring that more of your guests are available to attend.
These suggestions are tried and true—in fact, I actually used a few of these ideas for my own nuptials! We had kid-friendly food (BBQ to be specific) and set up a kids’ area with water balloons, squirt guns, and bubbles; needless to say, we didn’t hear a peep from the kids all day! With these tips, you and your sweetheart will be able to have the kind of wedding all your guests will appreciate.