Any wedding planner will tell you that a well-hosted wedding is as much about the guests as the couple. If you’re holding a family wedding, chances are there’ll be children in attendance. Our guide to hosting a child-friendly wedding will help keep your youngest guests entertained and avoid any tantrums on the big day.
Wedding Day Itineraries
Families with young children will often have strict schedules that they adhere to at home. If kids are used to eating or napping at a certain time, it can make them tired and grumpy. Help parents plan ahead by giving them a rough itinerary, so they know whether to bring snacks, if they’ll have a gap in the day when their little ones can nap, and what time to expect to be home.
Kids In The Wedding
A great way to make a wedding more exciting for kids is to make them a part of it. Children love to feel important, so giving them some responsibility will make your big day feel extra special. Ask them to usher guests to their seats, or hand out disposable cameras and make them unofficial wedding photographers. Not only will it keep them occupied, you’re guaranteed to get some great snaps!
Photos With Kids
Taking photos with your guests is a lovely way to collect mementos of your big day, but it can be a long process. If you’ve got little ones attending they’re likely to get impatient while waiting, so make sure you take your photos with them first so that they’re free to run off and play.
We usually think of weddings as an opportunity to have a drink and a catch up with old friends – but that’s not an activity that will hold much appeal for your littler guests. To keep them from getting bored, think about entertainment options during the reception – particularly if it’s an evening event.
You could hire a magician to circulate tables. The kids will love it and the adults get in on the entertainment too. You could also consider having a child-friendly act such as a clown making balloon animals or for a sweet, traditional touch, a marionette puppet show.
Snacks At The Reception
Even adults can get a bit peckish during cocktail and canapés, so it’s worth considering a snacks table for your youngest guests to nibble at. Lay out a party food buffet or pop individual treats on the tables, such as boxes of raisins or bowls of crisps, nuts and other nibbles. Don’t forget to include soft drinks too, as well as jugs or bottles of water.
Wedding Activity Packs
Sitting quietly at the dinner table isn’t exactly what kids are known for. If you can find a way to keep them occupied in between courses and during the speeches, they’ll have a better time and the parents won’t have to stress out about keeping them entertained.
Instead of having place cards for the kids, you could pop an activity at their table setting. A colouring sheet and a pack of coloured pencils is an easy solution, or you could go for something like a treasure map or a crossword. Just make sure not to include wax crayons or paints unless you’re prepared to say goodbye to your tablecloths (and possibly your guests’ Sunday best too!).
Making a seating chart can be a big task at the best of times, but if you’re inviting guests with children then you need to take extra consideration. If the kids are old enough, you might want to have a separate kids’ table. They’ll love getting to sit and chat with their friends, and their parents can enjoy some adult conversation. If you’re seating families together, it’s worth considering which guests would be happy to have kids at the table and perhaps seating families with children of similar ages together.
Health & Safety
Keep an eye out for potential hazards that might not be suitable for a child-friendly wedding. For example, tea-lights on the tables might look lovely, but if there are little ones around you need to think about the possibility of them getting knocked over. Consider electric candles instead.
Child-Friendly Wedding Music
Making your music child-friendly doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to include “Wheels On A Bus” in your playlist. It just means making sure that you play the radio edits of songs, rather than the explicit, and also throwing some modern music into the mix rather than sticking to just the old classics.
Give your DJ a heads up if you’ve got kids attending the wedding, and work with them to come up with a suitable selection. Children love to hear the music they recognise, so even if the charts aren’t your thing, see if you can include a few favourites. They’ll also love to jump around and dance, so make sure there’s plenty of upbeat tunes included.
Smoked salmon with a white wine sauce might sound delicious to you and your grown-up guests, but to young children it’s about as appealing as broccoli (read: not very). Try and take your younger guests into account when coming up with your menu – and perhaps even consider a separate children’s menu if you have a lot of little ones coming.
A child-friendly menu doesn’t necessarily have to be chicken nuggets and chips (although you are pretty much guaranteed success with that one). Unfancy food is usually the safest bet, so try to include simple options or perhaps just dishes that can be easily altered. And the number one rule to making a kid-friendly meal is, of course: don’t skip dessert!
If your venue is able to accommodate it, it might be a good idea to have a separate space where the kids can play. It means that you don’t have to worry about drinks being spilled or table pieces getting broken, and the kids can run around together and slip away when they get bored.
If you’re having an outdoor wedding, you might want to consider have a kids’ tent or marquee. Instead of having an entertainer in there, you could keep things simple with a Disney movie and a cushion fort. Add some classic favourites like balloons and party poppers to make sure little ones have a great time.
If you’ve got a lot of kids coming to your wedding, it might be worth hiring a babysitter for the duration of your event. A babysitter can help keep kids entertained as well as watching over them throughout the event. It’ll give you more time to chat to your guests and parents will be able to relax and enjoy the day.
When choosing your wedding venue, take into account the available accommodation nearby. Travelling long distances is particularly difficult for families with young children; you can make yours a more child-friendly wedding by choosing a venue with plenty of hotels around. Even better is hosting your reception in a hotel – parents need only carry their tired-out little ones upstairs at the end of the night.
Any child will tell you that a party isn’t a party without a goody bag! It’s always nice to include a little token gift to send your guests away with at the end of the event, and that’s especially true with your youngest attendees.
You could go with the tried-and-tested ideas of candy or chocolate, or you could choose something they can keep as a memento. Little teddy bears are a great gender-neutral toy. While it can be tempting to personalise your tokens, it’s easier to avoid fights or jealousy if you make sure that everyone gets the same thing.
And of course, the golden rule for kid-friendly weddings…
Chocolate fountains never end well.
There are all sorts of ways to make your wedding more family friendly, and having children in attendance can help add a little magic to your big day. Share your tips for hosting a child-friendly wedding in the comments below.