Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Inviting kids to the wedding: Ideas and advice

In our recent poll, 69 percent of you said that you're inviting kids to the wedding. Tomorrow we'll talk about what to do if you've decided not to have kids, but today let's talk about what you can do if you're inviting them.

Choosing to invite children is certainly the less controversial decision. But there are some things you can do to make sure that kids--and the guests around them--have a great time at your wedding.

Food
First things first: Ask your caterer if they can offer a kid-friendly meal selection for your pint-sized guests. You'll need to give them a headcount on the number of kids attending, as well as your total guests, and you'll need to decide what age to cut off the kids meals at (kids under 12 may be a good rule of thumb). If you're offering a meal choice on your RSVP card, you can add that selection here. Bonus: caterers will usually charge you a lot less for the chicken strips than for the filet mignon.

If you're comfortable with it, seat all of the kids together at a table. Most of them will enjoy sitting with people their own age instead of the adults. I would suggest making sure their parents' tables are nearby so they still have some adult supervision.

Entertainment
Kids can get unruly when they get bored, so give them something to do! Set up a table at your reception and lay out coloring books and crayons for them to play with. You can purchase inexpensive activity books here, or even download and print wedding versions for free here. You can even lay out blank paper and ask them to draw a picture for you...you'll get a lot of cute pictures at the end of the night!

Also consider a special favor just for the kids--something that they can play with during the reception. If you have room in your budget, you can put together goodie bags for each youngster.

Babysitting
If your budget allows and you're worried about either misbehaving kids or parents leaving early because of their little ones, you can hire a babysitter to entertain them in a separate room on location. This certainly isn't a necessity, but something to consider. Stock the room with toys and kid-friendly treats, and maybe some blankets and pillows in case anyone gets tired.

The Unexpected
Nine times out of ten, children will behave (almost) perfectly at weddings and will add joy and entertainment to your big day. Some of my favorite memories from my own wedding are of our youngest guests on the dance floor--they were adorable and having so much fun.

But kids can increase the chance of something unexpected happening: a temper tantrum during dinner, crying during the ceremony, accidentally walking in front of a photogenic moment. Children certainly aren't the only cause of unexpected moments during weddings, but you need to be aware that things can happen. Remember to stay calm and relaxed if something does happen--even smile and laugh it off if you can. If you stay calm, the parents and guests will too, and the moment will quickly pass by.

Have a good or bad "kids at the wedding" story to share? Comment below!

Click here to read our story on not inviting kids to the wedding.

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