I vividly remember going to a wedding as a flower girl when I was 5 years old. I was so nervous on the morning of the big day. After I had played my part, the adrenaline wore off and was replaced by something much worse: boredom. A few others and I, were the only children at this wedding, and it was abundantly clear that the bride and groom had not taken us into consideration.
The food served was pea soup, which I neglected in favour of sugar cubes on the table intended for teas and coffees because I would have rather eaten anything but that green, bland pea soup. There was nothing to do and it felt as though the event went on forever. The unfortunate truth is that weddings are boring. It may be your big day, but to the little ones it’s a difficult to understand and very time-consuming occasion.
With that in mind, it’s important to plan your wedding with the children in mind, whether they’re yours or a guest’s little ones. Here are a few factors to bear in mind when planning your child-friendly wedding.
The wedding venue is an interesting topic because of the variety it presents. For some, the venue is no question, as a place of religious worship like a church is the only answer; for others, however, the venue is a much more open concept.
If you are being openminded about where your wedding is held, consider how child-friendly it is: are there any separate rooms that can be turned into a ‘kids only’ zone? If it has considerable outdoor space, this might be perfect for the kids who need to sprint off some of their excited energy.
If you’re thinking of an all-outdoor wedding with tents or tipis, it’s the perfect opportunity to set up forts of all kinds for smaller guests to have their own space throughout the reception; a crowd of rowdy adults – many being strangers – can be very overwhelming to some children, who may just want a break. Don’t be shocked if you find one or two of your adult guests in there looking for some shut-eye!
In many ways, weather and venue go hand in hand, as you’re hardly likely to want your tipi wedding to happen in December as long as you’re living in the northern hemisphere. If you are wanting to marry outside of the more typical summer season, consider the impact this will have on your kids and any other little ones invited to the wedding.
Make sure there is enough well-sheltered, indoor space for everyone, including space for the kids so they don’t feel trapped into an adult event that is both boring and sometimes scary.
If you’re hoping for sunny skies and warm weather, then by all means maximise your outdoor space so the kids can roam free and get some fresh air – nothing tires kids out like a hot day of running around.
If you’re a decent human being, you’ll want to avoid the pea soup nightmare that I once endured. The food you choose to serve at your wedding may not appeal to children the same way that refined adult guests can appreciate it. This doesn’t have to mean that you ditch the classy meal ideas all together, however, but try to be flexible.
If it’s not just your kids at the wedding and there’s going to be a variety of children, set up a kid’s table that’s just for them and serve them a modified menu. Pizza and burgers will go a long way to keep young guests happy as well as full, making it less likely that you’ll have any complaints from them or their parents. If you want, you can help make them feel fancy and important by using the same antique silver cutlery that the rest of the wedding guests have. Ensure you keep a few elements from the main wedding at the kid’s table so they don’t feel like they’re missing out.
Serving snacks is also an essential, as many kids a more likely to graze than commit to an entire meal all at once. Set up a snack table with different sweet and savoury snacks so that everyone is well-fed; there’s nothing worse for your wedding than hungry guests, regardless of their age.
Kids get bored at weddings, that much is a given, but if you provide the right set up for your kids and any others invited, you can turn your wedding into a child-friendly event that they’ll love. Outdoor activities like twister, giant Jenga, and blowing bubbles can keep smiles wide between the ceremony and the meal, whilst also being sure to ignite the more competitive sides of some of your adult guests.
For indoor entertainment, a kid’s room or corner of the venue is the best set-up to guarantee their enjoyment of the day. If you can, consider setting up a T.V with some DVDs for those who prefer to sit still and take in a story. For more action-oriented children, colouring books, building blocks, crafts stations and board games might be more interesting. You can even find wedding-specific entertainment packs for children online for a range of prices.
If you have room for it in your budget, you could also consider children’s entertainment. Hiring a performer like a magician or an impersonator gives the kids involved an extra special treat and turns a wedding into a fun-filled event.
With all these points taken into account, the last – but most important – thing to consider is supervision. You can hire professionals who specifically work in the sector of child-minding for weddings. By hiring babysitters and childminders to keep an eye on the little ones, you can ensure that you and your fellow parent guests can have some real fun and let their hair down without having to worry about how the kids are doing.
You can check in on them every now and then to see that they’re enjoying themselves, but the worries about injury or the dreaded runaway child scenarios can be out of your mind knowing that a trained professional is keeping the kids entertained and safe.
And there you have it, just a few tips towards planning your wedding with your kids involved. Weddings don’t have to be boring events that scar your kids for life with horrible memories of being sick and having to eat pea soup. Children are people too, and they deserve to have as much fun at your wedding as you do!