One question couples invariably have to face when planning their wedding is whether or not to make it kid friendly.
Naturally, the desire is to include all of your family and friends in the celebrations, but children (especially very young ones) are nothing if not unpredictable.
It can be a challenge getting them to sit still during the ceremony, let alone at the reception when they’re bombarded with non-stop distractions. That’s no fault of the kids. They are, after all, only children.
Still, it’s an important point, and sooner or later every couple will have to decide whether or not children will be welcome at their wedding. If you’re currently wrestling with this question, here are some key children wedding etiquette points to consider.
How to Decide if You Want to Include Children in Your Wedding?
There are no hard and fast rules, and the choice ultimately comes down to personal preference. If you want to invite children to your wedding, then have them. If you would prefer an adults only celebration, that’s fine too.
Remember, this is your big day and it’s your preferences that matter. Friends and family will always have their opinions, follow what you prefer.
What if You Want to Invite Some Children but not Others?
Here we get into some treacherous territory. It’s not really good form to invite some children but to tell other parents that their kids are not welcome. It causes unwanted stress, and is frankly impolite.
That being said, there are some ways to better manage the attendance of children. For example, you can allow children over a certain age, who you feel may be better able to enjoy the ceremony and behave themselves throughout the day, and you can make exceptions for children who are active members of the wedding party (ring bearers, flower girls, etc).
Of course, it is important to make these exceptions clear to your guests beforehand, specifying any age restrictions on the wedding invitations.
How do You Avoid Offending Your Guests if You Decide to Plan an Adults Only Wedding?
If you do decide that you want an adults only affair, it is important to make that clear to your invited guests from the outset. Include a note with your invitations that the wedding will be an adults only event.
If you feel that some of your guests may take offense at this, call them personally and discuss your decision with them. Remember, this is your wedding and the final decision is yours, and your alone.
If, however, you decide to allow children to attend your wedding, be sure to include a specific RSVP on the invitations that covers the number of children in the party as well as their ages. This will be useful later when you are planning activities for the younger members of your guest list.
If You Do Invite Children, How Do You Keep them Entertained?
Children get bored easily, particularly if they’re spending the day cooped up with a bunch of grown ups. If you do decide to open up your guest list to allow children, you need to think about ways to keep them entertained while you and the other adults are doing your thing.
Games, puzzles, and other children wedding activities are a good way to keep the kids on your guest list occupied and amused. Of course, the older children may need something a little more engaging, so you might consider setting up an area so they can watch movies or staging a child friendly scavenger hunt.
One thing to keep in mind, however, is that the kids are going to need some supervision throughout the day. Parents can take turns acting as babysitters, or you might consider hiring a wedding nanny.
Should You Seat the Children Together During Dinner and the Reception?
This largely depends on the number of children attending your wedding. If there are only a few youngsters, its probably best to seat them with their families.
However, if the underage guest list is fairly large, it can be helpful to have a separate table for the kids. Again, you’ll want to provide supervision, so a babysitter or nanny should be there to keep an eye on the children.
You might also consider planning a separate kid friendly menu, as it’s unlikely the youngsters are going to be particularly wowed by the elegant meals you’re serving their parents.
Finally, don’t expect the kids to sit through all of the speeches and dedications. They’re going to fidget, and it’s better if they go back to their play room or set out on that scavenger hunt than disturb the proceedings.
Whether or not you include children in your wedding is entirely up to you, and there is really no wrong answer to the question. If, however, you do decide to stage an adults only wedding, be prepared to possibly explain to any parents why you have made that decision.
Some of your guests may be less than thrilled at the prospect of hiring a babysitter for the night, but then again, some of them may look forward to a night where they can let their hair down knowing that their kids are safe at home.