After much deliberation, you and your groom have decided to invite your guests’ children to your wedding. Once you’ve chosen to invite children to your wedding, you have a few more steps of planning to tackle. Kids are probably not going to care about the father-daughter dance or quietly listen to the toasts. Adorable wedding pictures of the Flower Girl or Ring Bearer don’t tell the whole tale. What wedding couples typically don’t show you is that three hours later the little princess and prince are throwing handfuls of cake at each other on the dance floor. The kicking and screaming. The ripped down wedding decorations you so painfully picked.
Take the time to figure out how you’re going to keep kids and teens entertained during the reception to avoid disasters. Also, you’ll want their parents to actually enjoy the event instead of running after toddlers or disciplining teenagers the whole night.
Book a Separate Room
Ideally, your reception venue will have a separate, smaller room that can be designated just for the kids. Ask ahead of time if this can be arranged. You don’t need much space – a large hotel room or the cocktail hour area should do just fine. If this isn’t possible, ask if a portion of the reception room can be set up as a kids’ area.
Ask for Help
Hire a trusted babysitter to watch over the kiddies. Just don’t “hire” someone who’s really supposed to be a guest at your wedding. Your babysitter should be someone disconnected enough from your family that they won’t be enticed to hang at the wedding instead of paying attention to the kids. You also don’t want your sitter to feel like they’re missing out on something. Lastly, don’t ask one of the older teens to be a babysitter. They’ll get bored of the role quickly and you’ll have to figure out a backup plan during the reception.
Tucker Them Out
When it comes to little children, a good approach is to get them amped up so that they use their energy and are tuckered out midway through the evening. If the weather’s warm and there’s an area outside that’s safe for play, have your sitter put the kids in their play clothes and bring them outside to run around. Alternatively, have the sitter play high-energy games with the kids inside.
Hire a professional performer to keep your young guests entertained:
- DJ with karaoke
- Face or tattoo painter
- Kids’ comedian
- Mystery theatre
- Story teller
Create a Kids’ Cafe
Designate a hang-out area for teens with tables and chairs, beverages, magazines and board games. Play music or, if possible, have a television and DVD player so the kids can watch movies. Create a sports center with a ping pong table, air hockey or a putt putt machine. Also, fill a basket with soft balls and jump ropes.
- Tell your wedding guests who are bringing their kids to also pack toys and a change of clothes. Explain that they’ll have a room to stash these items in so they don’t have to stuff everything under the table in the reception ballroom.
- Limit sugar or at least designate it to the last hour of the wedding, when your guests are eating dessert.
- Cover the kids’ tables with white butcher paper and give them crayons or markers to draw with.