One of the hardest decisions to make when planning a wedding involves kids. Should you include children in the wedding and the ceremony? For those of you with large families and for dads about to tie the knot, the decision to host a kid-friendly celebration usually is a no-brainer!
But keeping those kids occupied can be a bit of a challenge…especially if the wedding and reception will include a range of ages on the guest list. When adding kids to the party, though, the best advice is to plan ahead and create an environment where kids will feel welcome…and, of course, where they will have a blast!
Kids often make the best stories at weddings and receptions. Your pint-sized guests often will be the first ones to hit the dance floor, because, let's face it, kids are fearless and fun like that! Before you head to the reception, though, plan to keep kids occupied at the ceremony. With a little help from DIY creativity and some careful thought-out arrangements, the kids at your ceremony will be well behaved happy little ladies and gentlemen.
Here are some helpful hints to keep children happy, entertained and out of mischief:
1. Give Your Kids a Role in the Ceremony!
Sitting through any ceremony can be an ordeal for kids…even the most well-mannered children may get bored. You don't have to sacrifice sentiment to host kids, however. Just because kids are in the audience doesn't mean your ceremony has to be any less in length or less emotional.
Ideally, your children should have a role in the wedding. Whether this means that they serve as a ring bearer, flower girl or an honor attendant, including children in the celebration shows them that this is their day, too. You may also have your child recite a special poem (GayWeddings.com has a great list of readings), scripture verse or sing at the wedding. The Rainbow Babies also recommends presenting kids with a special piece of jewelry and including children in the vow exchange (your future husband may exchange a family vow with the child).
2. Ceremony Survival Bags
Create a bag filled with age-appropriate activities and designate a friend to pass them out to kids. Include doodle pads, crayons, coloring pages, silly putty (or wedding-hued dough) and maybe even personalized wedding pencils! You may also include snacks and water. Fidget spinners also make cool and fun toys to keep little hands occupied! Just make sure that nothing in the bag causes any distracting noises, and The Knot also recommends keeping all gifts (or bags) the same. Otherwise, you may have a few disagreements on your hands!
3. A place for quick getaways.
Parents with small babies or toddlers often may need a place to go if their child becomes fussy or disruptive. Be sure to make the exit easy for parents by designating an area for babies and little ones who might be exhausted or too overwhelmed. You may also include a basket of snacks or small toys in the area.
4. Create a Kid-Friendly Menu
The two of you may choose to incorporate kid-friendly entrees into their dinner options (think chicken tenders, burgers, and even personal pizzas). Or if you're hosting a buffet, add some easy kid menu staples like small burgers, macaroni and cheese or pasta.
5. Create a Kids Room During the Reception
Sheknows recommends hosting an area at the reception where kids can get away from the noise and craziness and relax with books or even some favorite movies. You may also include a note to parents in the invite that suggests bringing pajamas for lounging.
6. G-Rated Playlists
Kids love to jump on the dance floor. Just be sure to keep the tunes from dropping any lyrics that may be inappropriate for little ears. Stick with upbeat fun songs, and add the grown-up tunes later on in the night.
7. Candy Tables
Many receptions feature a candy table or (dessert table) in addition to the traditional wedding cake. Kids will love selecting from mountains of sweet goodies—and so will adults! You can customize a candy table to include all your favorite treats, just be sure to provide guests with bags for their sweet hauls. The serve-yourself candy table works best as a take-home treat! Otherwise, you'll end up with lots of sugar-crazy guests.
Kids often have so much fun at weddings that they're exhausted by the end of the night. While you might be concerned about hosting kids at your wedding for fear of meltdowns, boredom is often the prelude to an unhappy child. Plan ahead with activities, a few snacks and inclusive entertainment, and you'll have a celebration with lots happy guests…kids and adults!