1/ Understand that kids will be kids
Image by Kelly Kollar Photography
While there’s nothing wrong with putting plans in place to attempt to improve children’s experiences throughout the day, it’s important to remember that things rarely go exactly as planned. Kids can be energetic and easy going, but are equally prone to upsets, tantrums and even destruction!
Having an understanding and welcoming attitude with the full knowledge that ‘kids will be kids’ will help parents feel more relaxed in the face of a meltdown and go a long way towards giving your youngest guests the best chance of thriving in the wedding environment.
2/ Serve child-friendly food
Image by Emily G Photography
If your caterer or venue has the flexibility, choose child-friendly flavours for each food and drink offering. Adapt the adults’ meal or choose kids’ classics like burgers or fish fingers. As for drinks and snacks, opt for things like juices or flavoured milk (served in child-friendly cups!) and fruit or cheese for snacks.
3/ Do the same with favours and music
Images by Jana Williams Photography and Maria Lamb
While wedding favours are far from a requirement, if you decide to supply an extra treat or memento for your guests then it’s only fair that the kids will get something too. That being the case, there’s every reason to tailor the gift to the age range rather than stick with the sugared almonds or can coolers everyone else gets!
Don’t feel you need to spend too much time and money on them, though. For children, the aim should be a small treat to provide brief entertainment rather than anything elaborate or long lasting. Basic colouring books, bubbles or some stickers are all thoughtful ideas.
Going kid-friendly applies to music, too. Advise your DJ or band that children will be present so that they can moderate their music choices accordingly. You could even plan for a run of child-friendly favourites (Disney et al!) to get them on the dance floor!
4/ Table activities
Whether you’re seating children at their own table or with their parents, a few simple table activities will give them the opportunity to entertain themselves during any down time around the meal or speeches. While parents may arrive prepared with a bag full of favourite distractions, the gesture of supplying extras on the day certainly won’t go unappreciated.
Some inspired ideas include a paper tablecloth or placemat and some pencils or crayons for the budding Picassos to get creative, a disposable camera and scavenger hunt list full of things for them to find and photograph or an activity booklet with full of games, short stories and images to colour. For even more tips on keeping kids entertained, check out this article!
5/ Give them responsibilities or tasks
Image by Nancy Neil Photography
Many children thrive when given the opportunity to do something official. Take advantage of small but willing helpers by assigning them age-suitable responsibilities for the ceremony or reception. Have them poised as official confetti throwers, give them signs to carry down the aisle ahead of the bride, enlist them to hand out favours or invent your own unique roles.
6/ Adapt your timing
If you’re devoted to the idea of dancing late into the night following your cake cutting, feel free to skip to the next idea! If not, holding an earlier wedding can be a viable solution to avoid kids growing restless and tired (which in turn results in parents having to leave earlier than they would have liked). Start the ceremony earlier in the day, swap dinner for a sit-down lunch or brunch and aim for a mid-afternoon finish to keep everyone refreshed and content!
7/ Babysitter/kids’ quiet room
Image by Jose Villa Photography
If you’re inviting a lot of young children or you expect parents will want the freedom to stay late without keeping an eye on their little ones, setting up a babysitter (or sitters) and a separate play area may be a saving grace. Cost up how much an experienced sitter or nanny will be for the reception and consult with your venue manager about possibilities for space and facilities on site.
Of course, paid supervision is by no means essential - many parents may want to supervise their children themselves and many kids may prefer to stay with their parents. If this is the case, or you’ll only have a few kids present, having a nearby room just for parents and kids is a great alternative. It can be as simple as a quiet room where families can go if things get overwhelming or if nappy changing is required. Alternatively, add facilities for games or movies if you think more sustained entertainment may be in order!