One of the big decisions you have to make when planning a wedding revolves around children. Do you alienate half your friends and tell them that kids aren’t welcome? Or tolerate the potential chaos that children can bring?
If you decide to take the plunge and let littlies attend, you’ll do well to take a few precautions. Because, let’s face it, weddings are pretty boring occasions for the young and it’s a big ask for an under 15 to stay bright, cheerful and well behaved in the face of a roomful of strangers when they’ve absolutely nothing to do. Factoring entertainment for them from the off could save numerous headaches on the day.
6 Tips for keeping kids entertained at weddings
The easiest way to keep children happy and away from things they shouldn’t touch is to hire a professional childminder. They’re there to supervise activities and meals (it’s wise to have separate children’s food) and give attention when its’s needed. Depending on your location, they may even be able to organise sometime outdoors. It doesn’t mean that parents can eschew all responsibility, but it does take the pressure off.
2. Play Room
Having a dedicated room – or part of a room – where younger guests can play during a reception is a real benefit. For the littles, arts and crafts can occupy hours. A couple of ride-on cars and trikes will burn off energy. Puzzles allow for quiet play. Setting up a television and DVD player can also help. For older kids, a couple of Xboxes and some competitive games – Mario Kart – can fill the whole day and keep everyone happy.
If you have the budget, a professional children’s entertainer could help make the day special for younger guests too. Storytellers, face-painters, magicians, or an impersonator who fits into your wedding theme can all work.
For most couples, music will play a part of their day regardless of whether kids are attending. Most children love music, so why not use it to your advantage? Booking a separate room where kids can sing and dance to their own favourite tunes can work well. But it’s also worth asking your live wedding band if they can accommodate a few kid’s requests.
5. Quiet Room
One of the biggest problems with weddings for children is that it can be a very long day. And the more exhausted a child becomes, the more their behaviour will deteriorate. Some kids fall into a weeping mush. Others become manic and run amok. Either way, the result isn’t pretty. Booking a bedroom where naps can be had could make a real difference to behaviour throughout the day.
Finally, all kids love presents and treats. Keeping a few sweet treats and gifts to curb bad behaviour can help. Of course, you don’t want to be rewarding meltdowns with sugar, but most of the time problems are caused by tiredness, hunger, or over-excitement. Having the ability to say, ‘if you can be good while the photos are taken, there’s a special present for you’, or putting up a prize for the best-behaved child at the end of the day (be sure to have small tokens for all littlies there) can be really effective.
Having children at a wedding isn’t all bad. They can bring a real sense of fun and energy to the occasion. And they can bring an unbearable degree of cuteness to your wedding photos. But aside from the boring bits, weddings can be overwhelming for kids. With too many people, too much noise, too little attention, and potentially too little to do to sustain them throughout the day, it’s hard going. It can even be an issue for royalty, as the Duchess of Cambridge discovered at her sister’s wedding. Taking care to make their day as enjoyable as yours will remove a whole layer of stress, and make the occasion happier for everyone.