Kids are unpredictable. They can be disruptive. They require constant supervision.But they are part of the family and your wedding wouldn’t be the same without these adorable little munchkins. Some couples will be adamant about not including kids in the wedding and that is a decision that should be respected – it’s their party after all. But if you do choose to welcome the children, wedding Planner Meg Hotchkiss from La Vie En Rose Events shares 8 great tips for including them in your wedding party and reception.

1. Keep in mind that an uncomfortable child is a cranky child. Who doesn’t love little girls in poofy dresses or tutus and little boys in miniature suits or tuxedos?  Whatever your style, try to make sure that the little ones aren’t decked out in something that’s itchy or constricting (perfect and hilarious example: Modern Family), and make sure to choose comfortable shoes for their little feet.  Many grown men don’t like to wear wingtips, so maybe it’s not the best choice for your 5 year old nephew.  Tip: Choose black or brown sneakers for little boys – they blend in and are comfortable. Colorful sneakers are always fun too! But if you do choose dress shoes, make sure the bottoms are scuffed to avoid slippery shoes and an unfortunate spill! 

2. Minimize pressure.  Even the most precocious child can develop stage fright during the walk down the aisle, so take some time beforehand to explain their special job and rehearse with them.  Tip: Have the child remain with someone he/she is comfortable with before it is his/her turn to walk. That person should also be responsible for entertaining the child during the ceremony. 

3. Reward good behavior.  You inevitably run the risk of a child running down the aisle crying or deciding to back out when they see everyone looking at them.  So give them tons of praise for doing such a wonderful job after the rehearsal and the ceremony.  Regardless of how the child comports him/herself on that walk down the aisle, your guests will certainly be charmed. Tip: have a special toy or treat waiting for the child at the end of the aisle.

4. Keep the children’s schedule in mind.  Kids like to stick to their schedules when it comes to napping and eating.  If you plan on a long ceremony followed by a marathon photo shoot, expect that the children will be hungry or tired or both.  Talk to the child’s parents and ask them to try to have the child nap prior to the ceremony and make sure to have snacks on hand at all times – preferably non-messy ones.  At your reception, make sure that your caterer will provide a kids’ meal that is more accessible than the adult menu – there aren’t many 4-year-olds that will eat prime rib.  Tip: If your venue has a bridal suite, ask someone to make sure there is a pillow and a blanket handy, in case any of the children need a nap.

5. Hire a babysitter. It’s always better to have a professional available to watch the little ones, so either ask your local guests who have children to recommend someone or call local nursery schools.Often, nursery schools have staff members who are more than willing to take a babysitting job on the weekend.   In many states, early childhood educators must be certified, background checked and trained in CPR.

6. Provide the little ones with activities to keep them busy. There are a myriad of ways to provide activities and entertainment during your reception:

  • Check to see if your venue has a separate space where you can set up a private movie-screening room or a craft zone.
  • Seat the children with their parents but provide some coloring books and crayons at the table.
  • For older children, Wedding I-Spy is always a hit.  Provide each child with a list of things to be on the hunt for (i.e.  ”guests laughing” or “the bride & groom kissing”) and a disposable camera.   Throughout the party, the kids will be busy hunting for photo-ops.  At the end of the night, collect the cameras and give them all a prize.  This game is fantastic because not only does it keep the youngsters busy, but you’ll have a collection of photos documenting your event from their point of view.
  • Purchase or make your own wedding themed MadLibs.  Simply write a story – perhaps the story of how you met – and then remove a handful of the words, replacing them with blanks asking for a particular part of speech.  Print them out and leave plenty of copies, along with pens at the tables where your young guests will be seated.  You may want to print extra copies, as these games are often a big hit with the adult crowd too!

7. Make them feel special. Remember, most children spend their day doing kid-friendly activities.  A long day of “grown-up stuff” can wear them out.  Try to make them feel like an integral part of the event.  Share a dance with them or arrange for a special kids-only dance.  Ask your photographer to take a group shot of all the kids at the reception with the bride and groom.  Little special moments will mean a lot to your little guests, and you’ll cherish them too.

8. Don’t over think it.  At the end of the day, kids will be kids.  It helps to prepare, but keep in mind that you cannot micromanage every minute of the day for anyone.  Having children be part of your day means there’s only so much you can control. Their personality and cuteness will surely be what everyone (including you) will remember.  As long as they are behaving well, children are no different from your adult guests – let them dance and sing and party too.  Who knows, when that little kid busts out his best Michael Jackson dance moves might end up being one of the best moments of the night.

Special thanks to our contributors: Article by Meg Hotchkiss, Wedding Planner La Vie En Rose Events; Lead image and Sneakered Ring Bearers by Visual Appeal Studios, Professional Photography; Little Girl Hugging Bride by  Richard B. Flores Photography 

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