Kids at weddings are a nightmare. Kids at weddings are a dream. To what extent you agree with either of those statements may depend on a few things.
First question - are the kids yours? If it’s your child raising hell during the marriage ceremony you may be struggling to see the upsides of parenthood, but the truth is nobody really minds if kids make a bit of noise during a wedding. If you’re a new parent then you might not believe this, but it’s true. If anyone has a problem with your baby then the problem is theirs, not yours.
I’ve been at weddings where heckling from small children was the highlight of an otherwise dull and boring service. The very best outbursts come shortly after the vicar or registrar has done their bit about anyone with ‘just cause or impediment’ blurting it out or forever holding their peas. I’m usually very busy at weddings, so there’s a chance I may have misheard that last part. I should probably remind you that I’m Canadian, so some of the things you Brits tell kids sound a bit freaky to me - if you’re telling kids the face they’re pulling will be a permanent fixture if the wind changes then who knows what weird threats you’ll crowbar into a wedding ceremony.
So when you’re planning a wedding how can you ensure you adequately plan for children?
Make the kids’ food kickass cool
Kids think with their bellies, so provide appropriate food. You may be trying to impress your guests with exotic anti-pasti and ‘amuse bouche’ but kids would far rather have food they recognise. A lot of kids find large weddings daunting and stressful so food they’ll recognise will give them a little bit of security, which means they’ll be more likely to be calm and relaxed at the wedding breakfast.
If your heart is set on having something really special and unusual for the adults at your wedding then there’s no harm in extending that sense of food fun to the kid’s menu. One of the coolest weddings I ever worked at provided perfect miniature food for the younger guests. There were teeny tiny hamburgers, perfectly formed titchy chips and hot dogs that looked like they had been shot at with a shrink ray. The miniaturised was a huge hit with the kids, and because their kids were happy their parents (and all other adults!) were relaxed.
Bribe the teenagers
At some weddings kids are put on their own table for the feast, but without at least a little bit of supervision this ensures total chaos, tears and tantrums (and that’s just from the parents trying to control their hepped up children). It’s a good idea to to ask a teenager or two to ‘chaperone’ the kids table. You may have to bribe them, but a lot of young teens will appreciate being able to play an important role in your big day. Teens can be a bit marginalised because they’re too big to be kids, and too young to hang out with the grown ups. They also have the advantage being able to directly remember what it’s like to be a kid; a level of understanding that unfortunately some adults can lose touch with.
Keep the kids entertained
As adults we love having long, boring conversations about very dull things. After a few jars of ale or bucks fizz conversations get lively in our eyes, but even more boring in the ears of children. Us adults appreciate a break between the end of a meal and the start of speeches, but to young children the gap between eating ending and the disco starting can feel like it is lasting an age. And bored kids are restless kids, and restless kids lead to stressed parents. Not want you want on your happy day.
Depending on your budget you could hire a professional entertainer to occupy the kids. If your budget is a little tighter then goodie bags are a great way of keeping kids happy. Fill the bags with bits and bobs from your local arts and crafts shop and you’ll be keeping the kids happy, productive and most importantly occupied.
Photo booths are another excellent way to keep children amused and entertained at weddings.
Kids at weddings - the most important bit of advice
Most important of all is to ensure your reception venue has a highly-polished dancefloor. If boys can’t slide on their knees during the wedding disco it’s not really a wedding disco at all.
The truth is that kids at weddings are neither a nightmare or a dream. When kids are doing what they do at your wedding they’re doing what kids do best. They’re being kids. Here are our favourite examples…