The decision on whether to invite children to your wedding is one that needs to be made early on.
The things to consider initially
- Numbers: Count up all the children of family and friends to give you a clearer idea, you might be surprised when that number is creeping up
- Maturity: What are the ages, toddlers will invariably need highchairs next to parents whereas older children can be seated elsewhere on a ‘kids table’
- Cost: Will you be paying a child rate or adult rate for the meal and how does this affect your budget
- Capacity: Do you have venue restrictions on numbers
- Preferences: you might decide to just invite some children, if this is the case made the definition clear, i.e. immediate family only or children over a certain age
- Location: if your wedding is local to the majority of guests this is easier for them to arrange childcare as is unlikely to necessitate an overnight stay. So if your wedding is not local, and you don’t want to invite children, call your guests to give them a lot of early notice.
Once you have made the decision on children, and for the purpose of this post I’m assuming you are inviting them, you need to incorporate them into the planning. Whenever I’m teaching at the UKAWP courses I tell students to put themselves in the mindset of a bride, well here you need to start thinking like a child.
You may think why should I spend time on organising the children but remember weddings can be tediously boring for a child and what happens when a child is bored? Mischief and Mayhem – not a good mix for a wedding!
Get them excited
If you have chosen a flower girl or page boy get them involved, take them with you when choosing their outfits, girls especially will love the chance to try on lots of pretty dresses.
Think about designing a separate invitation for the children, Emma from A Bespoke Design did this for her own wedding, the invitations for the children were worded as if her daughter was inviting them and I thought this was a wonderful touch. The design was ‘Evie in Wonderland’ with a caricature of her daughter .
Silence during the ceremony please
Let’s face it, a ceremony is boring for many adults, yes I know you won’t admit that out loud but sshhh no one is listening! So think about how it is for a child, sitting in silence for 30-40 minutes.
If you have a few children capable of reading + clear speakers think about asking them to read a poem together. For my daughters christening I asked my oldest son to write a short prayer to read out on the day, ok it was short, but I was proud of him for getting up in church of front of all our friends and family.
Give younger children a small bag with some raisons, small toy like a wooden puzzle or book. Try the range for reasonably priced items. Ask the flower girls to hold a basket of petals for the confetti shot and give every child some bubbles to blow for when you exit the ceremony. No matter the age, bubbles seem to keep children amused for hours.
Drink Reception – let them play
The drink reception can be the perfect place for the children to let off steam, this way when the wedding breakfast is ready they are more inclined to sit down quietly to eat their meal. If you have the space think about organising some sports day type games for the children, think sack races, egg & spoon etc.
Alternatively hire in some large garden games that both adults and children will play. At Dream Occasions Hire our games are out most weekends, the giant snakes n ladders, jenga, limbo and connect 4 are especially popular. If there are a lot of children, avoid games like bowls or croquet as the balls themselves are very heavy and could cause injury if a child decide sto throw in the wrong direction.
If you have a lot of children why not organise a treasure hunt with one of the ushers in charge? I once hid lots of mini fairies for a midsummer nights dream wedding.
Drink Reception – food & drink
Instead of ‘boring’ adult canapés why not have mini sandwiches displayed on a tiered stand along with grapes & cocktail sausages? Don’t provide too much food at this time as you want them to eat the main meal.
Think about the display of the sandwiches, some options are to cut into rectangles with crusts off (like for afternoon tea), as pinwheels or to use shape cutters. I especially love these dinosaur cutters albeit not exactly romantic! Of course you could stick to hearts and flowers for the girls!
Provide something like pink lemonade in infuser jars (Vintage Style Hire ) or ask your caterer to create some children cocktails to make them feel grown up. Try to stay away from children drinks laden with e numbers as the end result won’t be pretty!
Depending on the age of the children, you might want to consider having a children’s table set to the side. Have paper for them to draw on & crayons/pencils, small kits for them to make (think make a tiara or build a train sets) and bright flowers.
Emma created a vintage style table for her wedding with mix - match chairs and lace cloths. One I designed for a June client had green paper rolls, windmills, felt watering cans with printed pictures for the children to colour in & a mini watering can with crayons.
This could be either for children to go to independently during the meal to do some art or used for them to eat their meal as well.
It is perfectly possible to combine practical with pretty AND this doesn’t have to cost a lot. I asked Emma to design a child friendly placemat for children to colour in, we choose a ‘dog’ as dogs featured heavily in the design of the wedding.
Buy some coloured plastic glasses for them to use and keep after the wedding and choose a child friendly meal like sausages & mash followed by ice cream. This isn’t the time to introduce new tastes to them.
Now’s the time the kids can go wild if they want to, it doesn’t matter, the formality has now finished. But there are still a few things to keep those children happy.
Think about having party dances for kids for the first ½ hour of the evening, after all this is when guests are stretching their legs after the meal and getting their drinks. Give them some glo bracelets and they will be happy as anything.
If you have a sweetie table which is popular, just think about ‘what sweets’ as again you don’t really want them bouncing of the walls from a sugar rush – and candy floss? God NO stay away from it!
If you can afford a photo booth buy some children props for them to use, they’ll have hours of fun posing.
When the evening food comes out think about something easy for children like mini hot dogs, mini chips, ice cream cones or crumpets and jam (yep at night this is fabulous). Have a glass of milk with a cookie to finish of the evening.
Ok so those are my top tips to have a stress free wedding with lots of children!
Flowergirl – Debenhams
Bridesmaids in church – Kate Anderson
Infuser Jar – Vintage Style Hire
Children table, place mat, cookie & milk, watering can – Mark Bothwell