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Is your idea of a romantic or sophisticated wedding being compromised by visions of young children racing one another down the aisle while your vows are taking place? Or are you looking forward to including children in your wedding and seeing them have fun throwing rose petals? There are varying views on whether to include children at weddings and there is no right or wrong answer, it simply comes down to what type of wedding you are planning, as well as your own personal preferences.
For couples who choose to include children at their wedding, there are several things you can do to make the process easier for you, the children and their parents. Even the most well adjusted child can misbehave when expected to sit still for a long period of time in an adult environment. This is especially so at an evening wedding where staying up past bedtime can definitely become an issue.
To help reduce the stress on children (and other guests, including the children’s parents) it is essential to organise some form of children’s entertainment. This can be as simple as a children’s ‘goodie’ bag with pencils, colouring books, some treats and maybe a small toy. A ‘goodie’ bag can be useful at both the ceremony and reception (especially during the exchange of vows and at speech time).
If your ceremony is long (a full length church service for example), there may also be the option of setting up a playroom in a small adjoining area with a teenage relative who may be happy to run a few quiet activities (read a few books or colouring in). Some churches already have these areas to help children through Sunday mass. With a container of bubbles as an incentive for being patient during the service, the children can also let off a bit of energy outside afterwards. A group of kids and bubbles en masse can also make for some fantastic wedding pictures.
For primary-school aged children, giving them small jobs to do can also occupy them and give them a great feeling of importance. Letting them hand out wedding booklets and throw rose petals after the ceremony (if your venue allows it), are great ways of keeping children busy and making them feel a part of the day. If there are a large number of children of a similar age attending your wedding, it may be worthwhile hiring a jumping castle or children’s entertainer, so that you can allow children to let off some steam either during your ceremony or reception, or between times.
At the reception it can be a great idea to have a special table set aside for children with their own activities. It can also include a children’s menu which they (or their parents) can order from early in the night. Having a more basic choice of meal, served early in the evening, definitely helps settle little tummies and tempers. Most reception venues should also offer you a special rate for children’s meals.
These days you can also purchase wedding favours specifically for children which contain toys and craft items for particular age groups and genders. They are designed to provide peaceful, ‘mess-free’ entertainment at the table and can even be purchased to match your wedding’s colour scheme or theme.
Another option is to negotiate the use of another room, or hotel suite (if your reception venue has accommodation) and provide a baby sitter for the children. Remember depending on the age and the number of children concerned, you may need more than one baby sitter. Games such as twister, monopoly, kids scrabble combined with a pizza and DVD in the room can be a great idea if the children are school age and above. If they bring their pyjamas, sleeping bags and pillows, then they can always have a nap until the reception finishes. In the case of interstate guests who are staying overnight the children can be tucked in for the night.