Deciding to have children at a wedding can be a bit of a nightmare. Whether your friends and family’s children are little devils or little angels, the combination of children with a long day, lots of people, and an abundance of cake can be a recipe for disaster. However, unless you are having an ultra chic, super formal, black tie evening wedding, it will probably seem unreasonable if you state ‘no children’ on your invitations. Guests with children may be bitter about them being excluded, and will also have the additional stress of trying to find a babysitter in order for them to attend your wedding.
If the children belong to the bride and/or groom, involving them in the ceremony will help them to feel valued and important. Traditionally, younger children can be page boys, flower girls, or ring bearers, while older children can be bridesmaids or groomsmen. You can also ask them to do a reading, such as a poem or bible verse, or perhaps incorporate a family sand ceremony or unity candle to make them a part of the proceedings.
The best way to makes sure that children (and therefore adults) stay happy and enjoy the celebrations is to be prepared. Think about the age ranges of the children who are likely to be at your wedding. If there are young babies and toddlers, check the nappy changing facilities at your venue. You do not want bare bums and worse on your reception tables!
Think of fun ways to keep the children entertained. While your father’s speech may be a carefully crafted masterpiece of wit and sentiment, children are going to miss the point entirely and get bored – fast. Bored children will normally then try to create their own entertainment which can range from anything from screaming at the top of their lungs, to running around and under tables, to flicking peas across the room with their fork. Ideally parental discipline would step in at this point, but if the child is full of sugar, and the parents are full of champagne, then this solution may never happen.
Simple ideas to keep young ones busy include having a children’s play area at the venue. Set up a table with colouring sheets (crayons and pencils – not marker pens!), small toys (try and avoid cars or dinosaurs, that just won’t be as much fun without loud sound effects) and puzzles. If the layout of the venue allows, you can even set up a TV with a popular DVD for them to watch. Give the children something they can play with at the reception as a favour, such as bride and groom bears, yo-yos, or wedding bubbles.
Hiring a child-sitter is a great way to let the parents relax and enjoy the day with you. Child-sitters can be available for your whole wedding and reception, and will look after and play with the children. Be sure to ask them what ages of children they are willing to watch, if they are willing to change nappies or feed younger children, and what entertainment they might provide. If hiring a child sitter, you should make sure that the parents of each child meet the sitter to exchange guidelines about discipline and behaviour. When introducing the children, try not to use the word ´babysitter´ with older children, as this may invite trouble.
Entertainers such a balloon artists, clowns or magicians are also a nice option to keep children happily occupied. You may also be surprised at how many adults enjoy the show!