CHILDREN AT WEDDINGS – THE DO’S, THE DON’TS AND TOP TIPS ALL ROUND!
When it comes to planning your big day you’ll undoubtedly run into the issue of what to do for your guests with children, and for your own if you have them. I’ve photographed lots of weddings and each couple has their own way of including children in their big day and making it work for their guests with kids. This blog post is for you to get some ideas of how to take care of children at weddings. The do’s, the don’ts and plenty of top tips.
Children can bring real joy and fun to a wedding day. They are wonderful and spontaneous and, if you plan well, can easily fit into your wedding day. However, I appreciate that for some, children at weddings can be an issue of concern when planning your big day. You may be wondering how to involve them, how to keep them entertained, or even whether you should have children present at your wedding at all. Whatever you’re considering, it’s definitely worth making a plan of action for your littlest guests. Being prepared is best way to avoid tantrums, boredom and frustrated parents, and allow everyone to have fun and enjoy the day.
Although you could certainly ask someone, or arrange a group of friends to take turns watching the children, it may be a good idea to hire a babysitter service for the day if it’s likely that a good few children will be coming. One-off event sitters are a thing, just have a Google in your area and see what services and rates are available. You can set aside an area in the reception venue where guests can safely leave their children for the day. With a babysitter service they will play games, do arts and crafts, have toys to play with and keep your young children busy and happy. It means that all the kids have fun and the adults will be able to enjoy themselves and have a tipple (or several) without having to worry.
When it comes to the ceremony, it’s often easiest to have guests with young children sit near the back. That way if the little ones become bored, tired or grumpy they can be whisked out the back without much fuss for some fresh air and a snack.
If you have children involved in the ceremony, make sure to have backup plans for their roles. It’s not uncommon for young children to suddenly become shy or scared and not happy to go down the aisle or stand in front of a room full of people. Whatever you do, don’t force them to participate if they start having a wobbly. Have Granny or someone friendly nearby to scoop them up and sit them down away from the attention.
Flower girls and pageboys make for adorable and very fun photographs, but remember that a wedding day can be very long and exhausting for young children. Try to let them wear something comfy but smart, and don’t get too bogged down in photos on the Internet of Instagrammable, picture-perfect children. They are the exception to the rule, trust me! Instead, make the most of the mess and quirky silliness that children can bring to your special day and to your wedding photographs. I love photographing kids at weddings, you can always be guaranteed of some fun times and spontaneous photo moments.
It’s a good idea to have some separate entertainment for young children so mummy and daddy can open a bottle of Prosecco with the bride and groom. Keeping kids entertained until the early evening gives parents enough time to do the rounds and catch up with everyone they haven’t seen in some time and relax for a bit. There are plenty of choices when it comes to children’s entertainers you can hire for the day. There are clowns, magicians, Disney princesses, pirates, puppeteers, the list is endless. You can even hire bouncy castles, ball pits, make arts and crafts tables, organise treasure hunts, give them materials to build forts, host games like ring tossing and tag. You could even organise a specific Kids Only time on the dance floor where you can play some really cheesy tunes.
For older children and teens you might consider a video game station with games like Guitar Hero or something interactive that can involve a group…it’s a great idea, and let’s face it, half of the adults will be wanting a shot of it as well! Failing that, advise parents with teens to buy a portable battery pack so a teenager can happily sit on Snapchat all day and recharge their phone for…yet more Snapchat.
If you’re going the Child Free route for your wedding, make it very clear on your invitation that any little people aged under ‘X’ are not included. Subtlety will not work in your favour here, but it still pays to be courteous and respectful of your guests with children. Language like ‘in order for all of our grown guests to enjoy themselves and let down their hair, this will be an adult only affair’, ‘please respect our wishes’, ‘we politely request that’ will make it clear in the nicest possible way.
It may be that the costs and effort that can be involved in keeping children safe, entertained and happy for the day are more than a couple’s wedding budget allows. Or it might be that the wedding venue is small and in order to invite as many adult guests as possible including the kids just isn’t possible. Whatever the reasons child free weddings aren’t a rare occurrence. Try to give as much notice as possible to close friends and family about your plans, and don’t take it personally if it turns out that some people just won’t be able to make it as a result.
I would love to hear your thoughts about having children at weddings. Are you planning a day with loads of kids or are you going down the route of a child-free wedding?
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