Inviting Children to a Wedding
This article has been writen by Paula Majstorovic of Majstro
At a recent wedding I had the pleasure of attending purely as a guest. This gave me the opportunity to look around, observe what was happening and wonder what other guests were thinking.
As the service began several children were giggling. Just as the couple began to exchange their vows, the giggles turned to screeching and children began chasing each other up and down the church aisle. There was a chorus of loud ‘Sshes’ from nearby adults. The parents were forced to get up and hurry their children outside. The congregation struggled to hear the vows through the hurrying steps of the parents, the skidding feet and moans of the children as they were dragged outside and the penetrating squeak of a door being opened and closed.
At the reception similar scenes occurred during the speeches. As the couple began their first dance as man and wife, one child entwined himself in the bride’s veil. Later in the evening the children started to pull the decorations apart. Most guests were obviously commiserating with the couple and wondering where the parents were.
Are you having children at your wedding? If so, what are you doing to make sure they don’t upstage your day?
Many brides agonize over the question of whether to invite children to their wedding. Regardless of whether you want to invite your younger guests or feel obligated to do so, it is important to remember that even the most cheerful and well behaved child can become bored and disruptive - with three young children I speak from experience!
Take a child out of his or her normal surroundings, put them into ‘special’ and uncomfortable clothes, break their routine, land them in an adult setting - and it won’t be long before they are tired and bored. How can you keep kids entertained and having fun, enabling parents to enjoy themselves? How can you avoid ‘episodes’ at your wedding?
Wedding planner Paula Majstorovic of Majstro shares over 50 tips and ways to keep your younger guests occupied.
At The Ceremony
Assign a guest to distribute small bags to the children just before the ceremony – bags containing a small box of sultanas, and perhaps a puzzle, small crayons and a colouring book. Avoid products enclosed in noisy plastic bags. Most churches have a small room near the main area which they use for children’s activities during their weekly services. Ask the minister if you can use this area and arrange for a babysitter, nanny or even a few of your teenage guests to play with the younger children during the service. Ensure that parents know they will be safe and cannot get outside. Your vows will be easily heard by all your guests. Make sure you instruct your carers to stick to quiet activities! Immediately after the ceremony, arrange with the photographer to take a group photograph with all the children. Distribute small bottles of bubbles, asking the kids to blow bubbles for the photograph. This will make them feel special. Make sure you notice and acknowledge their good behaviour.
At The Reception
Kids are not interested in adult’s etiquette, conversation and behaviour - well not for long anyway. Consider having the staff serve the children their meals first, even while the adults are standing enjoying entrees and drinks. Children are not very patient when they are hungry and tired.
Break the boredom for children by creating specially designed spaces for them.
- Depending on their ages, consider seating the children together and serving lots of child-friendly and nutritious food. See if your venue can cater for more than the usual chicken nuggets and fries. Avoid artificial colours and preservatives and serve only low sugar treats. Make sure you know if any children have diet intolerances such as nuts and wheat products. Consider asking a few teenagers at your wedding to supervise these tables.
- Children from the age of four will love a waiter greeting them, putting a napkin in place and even explaining the menu.
- Depending on your numbers, consider a menu where the children can make their own meals, such as pizza. It will keep them busy for ages and usually means that they eat their whole meal. They will love this one.
- If seating children together is not an option, place favours at their place to keep them entertained until the meals are complete.
- Set up a large table for the children filled with inexpensive toys and activities. Make sure the table is not near the exit doors. Cover the table with white craft paper and add a centerpiece of a basket with items such as:
- non-permanent markers
- glitterglue sticks
- playdoh utensils
Get your best man or a guest to collect artwork as it is completed and write each child’s name on their work of art. In years to come you will love to show your artwork to the artist. Ensure that your activities do not contain smaller pieces which could be swallowed by younger children.
- On the paper tablecloths, draw in empty noughts and crosses and hangman templates to encourage the children to play.
- In another area away from the activities table, set up a few smaller tables for older kids, say six and up. Make sure somebody is always nearby to supervise. Bring in board games such as Trouble, Snakes and Ladders, Twister, checkers, cards such as Uno and Skipo - even packs of different beads for beading necklaces, bracelets etc.
- A great idea that will probably end up including adults as well is a piñata. A piñata is a bright plaything which is available in many shapes. It is filled with small toys, sweets and candy and suspended from a height for blindfolded children to break with sticks.
- This one will require a bit of forward planning, but a treasure or scavenger hunt is so much fun. Depending on the age of your young guests, you may need one for older and one for younger children.
- If you are stretching the budget, why not tape a few games of hopscotch on the floor? Cheap and easy. Make sure you provide some small bean bags for the game.
- If you have older children, consider a small room which you can set up with cushions, beanbags - even lounges. To keep them entertained bring in a television and a Nintendo or Playstation console and games. Board games are also a great hit.
- You can give the teenagers a disposable camera and ask them to be your photojournalists. Give them instructions to move around taking candid shots.
- If you are concerned about asking guests to look after younger children for an hour or so, you can hire a professional babysitter or mobile crèche service. Look at their experience, insurance and references, as well as their qualifications. With any childcare, professional or voluntary, it is important to check how many children each adult is able to legally look after at one time.
- Consider hiring dedicated children’s entertainers such as magicians, face painters, storytellers, caricaturists, and clowns - even a puppet show. As with babysitters you will need to look at their experience, insurance, references and qualifications.
- If your wedding venue has the room, consider hiring a jumping castle. You will need to ensure that somebody is always present to monitor the children on the castle. Most companies have a policy that their own staff members stay for the duration of the event.
Caring for the Babies and Toddlers
- Arrange for a mums and bubs room for guests with young children where they can feed, change nappies and settle babies away from other guests. Ensure there is ample and comfortable seating and facilities. If you can get hold of a few portacots, guests who are parents of young children will never forget your thoughtfulness.
No matter how mature you think your young guests are, don’t forget that they are children, with individual levels of patience and tolerance. Expecting them to behave like little adults all day will only create awkward moments where you wish you had catered for them.
Keeping children entertained can be difficult at the best of times and with all the details you need to organise for your wedding it is easy to overlook your younger guests. Children are not a necessary logisitic when getting married, but dedicating a small amount of time to catering for your younger guests will create an enjoyable atmosphere for all your guests. Ensure that the only tears on your wedding day are tears of happiness, not the cries of bored or restless children. Not only will the kids appreciate it, but every parent at your wedding will think you are amazing!
Knowing that couples are often burdened with the details of wedding planning, Majstro has introduced the Children’s Activity Box - a convenient, purpose packed box for children.
The Children’s Activity Box is a bright, fun and unique way to ensure that your younger guests feel just as important as the adults. The specifically designed range provides for children under 2, and girls and boys between the ages of 2-5 and 6-10. The non-messy activities require minimal or no adult supervision. Guaranteed to keep the ‘little people’ from being bored or rowdy, all the contents have been carefully selected and tested by children for safety and entertainment levels. For more details regarding the contents of the Children’s Activity Boxes, visit www.majstro.com.au
About the author: Paula owns and operates her own wedding planning firm which is now assisting brides all over the world with its unique and exclusive range of products and services. For free wedding planning advice and suggestions forward your wedding related questions to firstname.lastname@example.org. All questions will be posted in Brides News, the free newsletter released by Majstro. Simply visit and register on our website.