Kids At Your Wedding
TO INVITE THEM... OR NOT INVITE THEM... THAT IS The QUESTION!
& How To Keep Them Entertained At Your Special Day
This blog post covers a topic that is near and dear to my heart as a mom of 4 children myself :) Here is a real picture from my wedding and the kind of shenanigans i'm accustomed to :)
Just a reminder that this is my personal and professional opinion and not necessarily in alignment with what others might think.
Also a reminder that traditionally and historically, weddings are a celebration of FAMILIES uniting and are to be celebrated in the presence of those who love you. There are no age limits on this :)
As with all decision making, remember that....
...this is YOUR special day so you should ultimately do what makes you happy,
but here is some food for thought if you're on the fence about whether or not to have children at your wedding. And if you've already decided that munchkins will attend, here are some helpful tips on how to incorporate them.
For The Bridal Couple
Can You Even realistically Have a Child-FREE EVENT?
Take a good look at your family demographic. Do you have a lot of nieces, nephews? Are you the youngest and one of the last ones to get married in your family? Do you come from a long linage of people who are already married with kids?? If so, the reality is that you may not even be able to get away with a child free event! Before making the decision on whether or not to have kids at your special day, I would speak to your soon-to-be spouse and take a good look at your family situation and see if a kid-free event is even possible. Perhaps reach out to some close relatives with kids i.e. a sibling, cousin etc. and pass the idea by them to gauge their thoughts. You'll be able to tell really quick how your family feels about it.
Keep in mind: if everyone is attending your wedding; people may not have access to their usual trusted family babysitters; making it difficult for them to attend!
Then ask yourself....
>> why do you want a child-free event?
It's important to hone in on the reasoning for a kid-free event. Is it because you want an "adult-vibe"? Is there a space limitation at your venue? Does your venue have some unique restriction? Is it a cost-thing?? Are you concerned about noise? The kids taking away from you event some how?? (ps. these are all REAL reasons I commonly hear :)
Understanding the reasons helps navigate the other advice I have below and also how you approach the subject with your family.
- Children are usually offered HALF PRICE at most venues or at the VENDOR RATE
- Children not requiring a meal are usually FREE OF CHARGE
- A CHILD is usually youth under 12 years old (Check with your venue what age they consider a child)
- Some venues offer children under a certain age FREE
- Always check with your venue on their "child rules and rates".
- If you are including children at your wedding, it may be helpful to collect their age and meal preferences at the time of RSVP. Kids can be picky with what they eat and venues are usually very accommodating with meal choices if you give them notice.
- Clearly note children on your seating chart
- Ask parents what their child prefers as a meal choice. Some common selections include: Plain pasta, nuggets and fries, sliders, smaller portion of the adult meal, etc.
- Ask you venue to serve the kids meals during the appetizer course for the adults. Kids get hungry EARLY!
Regarding Babies Under 1 Year
Many may not like my opinion on this; but as a general rule of thumb my school of thought is that babies under a year should ALWAYS be welcome at a wedding.
Generally speaking; when people prefer "no children" at a wedding, the reasoning is that they don't want older children i.e. toddlers+ running around and making noise. Babies under a year (especially that are being exclusively breast fed) should be welcome in my opinion.
I remember back in August 2010 when I first became a mom I was invited to a close university friends' wedding that September. I *really* could have used a night out and a reason to do my hair and makeup etc.; however my invite said "no children allowed". I reached out to my friend and asked her if that also meant newborns who were exclusively breastfed and she confirmed that no, my baby was not welcomed. I had to respectfully decline my husband and I attending her wedding and I was horribly offended. Maybe I was wrong for feeling this way???? But if my friend wanted me at her wedding and knew I had a breastfed newborn, she should have welcomed me and my baby. Newborns are no fuss at all. All they do is eat and sleep. And no mother I know would even attend a wedding with a fussy crying baby anyhow and most would leave after dinner and likely not even attend the ceremony. I just didn't get it!
So my professional opinion, if you want the couple with a newborn at your wedding and they are important to you; make an exception for their baby! The baby creates no harm and it makes the difference between them coming or not! A special note in their invite or conversation beforehand to let them know their baby is an exception and welcomed makes all the difference. Who knows! they may even choose to treat it as a solo date night out, if they are comfortable and can make alternate arrangements. If you don't care if they attend, well.... then I suppose you can place your restrictions :)
If you've decided to include munchkins in your wedding.... here are some Fun Ways To Incorporate them !!!
If you are all about the family affair for your special day, there are TONS of ways to incorporate children in a fun and inclusive way. The best part....your guests will THANK YOU for you for it :) The reality is that many couples getting married may already come from a big extended family full of munchkins. They have nieces, nephews, god children you name it and they just have to be there! Many of my clients are teachers and even have some students attend!
Here are some unique ways to bring the fun for the kiddos to your special day. Heck - even adults may like some of these !
Table Top Crafts & Busy Items
This is sort of the common basic necessity for little ones at a wedding. Some table top colouring books / activity books, crayons etc. are some nice essentials that show your little guest that they are welcome as they arrive to their table setting.
You can get really fun and include items like shown here i.e. a bubble gun which are not only fun for the kids but also look amazing in pics!
This is fun new tradition! Many weddings are opting to have a bouncy castles for both the kids and even the ADULTS at their special day! The fun addition can be added right into your venue space corner or some put them out into the cocktail hour area. If you venue has adequate lawn space, you can even get creative outdoors. For a few hundred bucks that they cost to rent, they also make for some fun wedding photo opps!
Kids Play areas
You can get as DIY with this space as you like OR you can call in the professionals! All it takes is some foam mats and some fun quiet toys and you have an awesome area for little ones to congregate! Some clients of mine have opted for something as simple as bringing in some lego or board games for the corner of the room. Others have brought in TV with XBox or other video games. You can even hire a company like Little Playscapes to bring in their fleet of fun soft play area equipment.
Who says you need an expensive filet minion for the munchkins! Opt for fun foods children under age 12 at your special event. Oftentimes they come at a MUCH cheaper price tag then your traditional menu for guests. I've even seen some amazing kids buffet tables set up at weddings with all the kiddo favs; including hot dogs, sliders, mac n cheese, pizza, nuggets and fries and more! The adults may even get a little jealous :)
Who doesn't love a wicked candy bar! Not only do they look pretty, but they are a lot of fun and can replace a traditional (boring / useless) party favour! Have fun and set up a nice spread for all to enjoy! You can get as fancy or as classic as you want with your selections and budget. Reminder: stock up on candy AFTER HALLOWEEN for your special day to get some great deals!!! Opt for Chinese Food Take-Out style boxes or cello bags. The kids will have a ball!
Wedding Babysitter / Nanny
Parents will thank you if you can hire a really awesome nanny / babysitter to attend your wedding and mind children. For the nominal price tag that they come with, an awesome nannny / babysitter to mind children in a designated "kids area" is a great way to allow parents to enjoy themselves and keep little ones entertained.
This is a VERY generous offering, but if you can find a local and amazing child entertainer who will wisk kids aside and keep them entertained this is a GREAT way to keep the adults dancing and the kiddos having fun!
Glow Sticks & Pajama Party
When the sun goes down and the adults hit the dance floor, there is nothing cuter IMO then some munchkins in their jammies hitting the dance floor with their parents. Throw in some fun props and glow sticks and EVERYONE will have a great time!
I hope this blog post gave you some insight on this important decision for your special day and some fun ways to incorporate these precious little gems....
If You Have Little Ones Of Your Own
Ways To Incorporate Children In A Wedding Ceremony
If you are a mature couple that already has children or perhaps blending families, I believe its always special to incorporate children into the ceremony itself.
Family Unity Candle
This is a special service within the wedding ceremony, whereby each family member lights a taper candle, representing their individuality and light they bring to the marriage / family. Then together the flames unite into one large pillar / family candle. This family candle can later be kept /displayed in your new home together.
What a beautiful touch with either or both parents say some special words to their children during their wedding vows. These can be special hopes and promises that you make as you unite your children and your families into one. They may not remember them while they are young; however keep those prescious words for as they grow older.
Tip: when you are marrying families together it is ALL OF YOUR WEDDING DAY. My husband and I (shown here with our 4 blended children) always refereed to it as OUR WEDDING DAY as a family.
>>>Photo Shows Our Wedding Day, doing the family unity candle
Connie Butera & My Crazy Bunch on OUR WEDDING DAY