The Kids are All Right
So, you’ve decided to include children in your Big Day bash. It’s a sweet and generous choice, but there are a few things you’ll want to plan for to help prevent tantrums, boredom-induced chattering and other disasters from distracting from your I Do’s.
First and foremost should be the wee ones’ safety, of course. Some wedding sites are situated near cliffs, while others might have anything from ponds, fountains and rock walls, to unprotected electrical outlets that can spell danger to little ones, says Sharon Naylor, author of “Your Wedding, Your Way” (Adams Media, 2009). It’s a good idea to take a walk through the site and look for potential hazards, then chat with the site manager about what they – or you – can do to safety-up the site. “You’ll likely be allowed to bring in your own socket-guards or place a ‘No Climbing’ sign on a fountain,” Naylor says.
While you’re at it, you should also check in with your caterer to see if they can provide a simple kid-friendly plated dinner option or a low-set kids’ buffet table featuring favorites like chicken fingers, mini-pizzas, mac and cheese, fruit cubes and other finger-foods, says Naylor. Remember that hungry kids get cranky, so it may be worth asking if the kids’ food can be served early or consider bringing your own baskets with a variety of snacks, such as granola bars, trail mix and crackers.
Up the Fun Factor
Another great way to avoid pint-sized meltdowns is to provide some extra entertainment, says Elise Mac Adam, author of “Something New: Wedding Etiquette for Rule Breakers, Traditionalists, and Everyone In Between” (Simon Spotlight Entertainment, 2008). For example, kids will appreciate coloring books, picture books, puzzles or simple games if they are required to sit for a long time during toasts. If your site and budget allows, Mac Adam also recommends setting aside a specific room where children can frolic while the parents enjoy dinner and dancing. Just make sure you have enough reliable adults to watch over the kids, whether it’s caregivers you’ve hired or volunteers who wouldn’t have otherwise been on your guest list. “Friends of your siblings are ideal choices to attend and play with the kids,” says Naylor. “But be sure they get invited to the after-party as a thank-you.”
You also can find fun ways to include the kids in the actual festivities, such as adding a few silly group dance songs (Cha Cha Slide, Hokey-Pokey, Chicken Dance) in your play list, says Naylor.
Watching them – or joining them! – will be a blast.
But no matter how many precautionary measures you’ve taken, if you’ve opted to invite children to your wedding, it’s important to be a bit flexible and understanding. “Prepare yourself for a certain amount of unpredictable behavior,” warns Mac Adam, whether it’s toddler commentary during your ceremony or tiny fingerprints in the icing on your cake. Most parents will try hard to keep their children in line, but accepting kids for what they are will prevent you from throwing any wedding-day tantrums of your own.