Some invaluable advice from The Wedding Guy.
Sometimes a contentious issue with families. Somes couples prefer an adult celebration with no children however it is not always avoidable to have children present for the big day, and why not?? They’re fun!!
However there are ways in which to make the day run smoothly for all concerned and that the hosts, parents and the younger guests all enjoy what is in fact a celebration of life and love.
Weren’t we all children once?? I have very fond memories of being invited to my uncles wedding (who is also my godfather) up home in Cavan, in the beautiful Cabra castle in Kingscourt; where a lot of my family members have also since held their celebrations. We had a table with all our younger cousins, but my favourite memory was exploring and running around the corridors of the old castle; probably blissfully unaware that parents and siblings were at the same time looking for us. However I don’t remember us being problematic but then again we were children.
Children do get bored, that’s the reality, they enjoy the excitement of the day but fully don’t understand it as the adults do and don’t have the ability to know when they can be excited and when they need to be quieter.
Hence it is vital to make arrangements for them to ensure they are occupied and having fun so their parents can also enjoy their day, remembering lots of people with children very seldom get a day off/out!
This part of the day can be problematic, it is hard and slightly unfair to expect the younger guests to sit quietly throughout the entire ceremony whether it be a short civil ceremony or a longer church affair. These can be nephews and nieces whose parents presence at the ceremony is vital so what are the options?
1. Bring them, Most children do sit quietly during the ceremony, (especially if they have a tablet these days) However not all do sit still and there can be crying and talking and sometimes fighting, this is disruptive to the ceremony and slightly unfair to the bride and groom who are already nervous about their big day and trying to concentrate on their vows and what’s expected from them.
A friend was telling me recently about a wedding she attended where the children were flower girls and page boys, they walked up the aisle and were brought straight outside and played with by minders until after the ceremony when they were brought back in for the photos.
2. Host a children’s party during the ceremony. There are companies who specialise in wedding babysitting and this will work for some but not all. If you are in a venue where you are having a civil ceremony, ask them to organise a specific room with games or especially a movie, something current or classic that will appeal to both boys & girls.
3. If you are having a religious service parents can supervise their own children during the ceremony but very young babies don’t really care if they cry during the making of the vows. It is not always a good idea to bring children under a certain age to churches and surely there are family members who will be willing to forego the ceremony to mind the wee ones.
The simplest advice is to try and make it as hassle free and fun as possible for all concerned.
This is where all sorts of problems can occur! Inevitably children may have access to sugar and can start really letting loose.
The younger guests will get bored especially during the meal and speeches. As mentioned earlier there are quality wedding babysitting suppliers out there, and your venue will also have reliable babysitters or will recommend companies they normally use if parents are nervous about leaving children with people they don’t know. Trust your venue if they recommend vendors, they will only allow those they know and trust to work with them likewise they will always be happy for you to bring in your own preferred suppliers.
Also I recommend in providing colouring pages and crayons for during dinner time and you could easily organise a competition with a small prize, making sure you have many runner up prizes! (As in one for everyone) You can easily personalise these pages with images available from the internet. And simply print them off yourself. I recently did this for a wedding and had colouring pages for all the little ones, finding out what was their individual favourite toys or characters.. It went down a treat!!!
If parents are not keen on giving their children sugary drinks, ask the caterer or venue to supply sparkling water with flavoured sugar free cordials. There are lots available. Also think hard about their food, fast food meals are not good enough and a lot of venues will try and persuade you to serve these. It’s a long day and chips and nuggets are not substantial enough as well as having no nutritional value.
Half portions of your menu choices or pasta, and lasagne are always lovely options for children.
In the past I have organised with venues a bedroom or a smaller function room with some DVDs and large TV or projector, for during the arrival reception and the speeches. This kept everyone amused and happy!!! Providing sugar free sodas and popcorn and setting it up cinema style always works in my experience. Make it into a cinema and even give them cloakroom tickets for admission, then for the meal you can organise an interval.. Some may return eagerly for the second part and some may not.
Avoid games such as hide n seek. This can lead to hysteria and injuries, save their energy for the early evening dancing, you don’t want them to burn out too early.
Think hard about children’s tables during the meal, sometimes children are best seated with their parents…
I understand that it is nice for both parents and their children to have a break from each other. However for during the meal if there is a children’s table being organised make sure there are older teenagers seated there who are seen as responsible and who might have looked after some of the younger ones before.
After dinner, the music will start and they will have great fun dancing or playing organised (supervised) games until they have tired themselves out, it’s bed time and parents will have made their own arrangements for that part of the day.
What’s important in all of this is to remember that the little ones are part of the family and that a little clever thinking and planning will keep the parents happy, the little ones amused and occupied during what can be a very long day, even for the adults.