7 Easy Steps to Planning a Kid-Friendly Wedding
It’s a question every newly engaged couple will have to deal with sooner or later: will they plan a kid-friendly wedding? Some couples prefer to plan an adults-only event that cuts down on complications and gives their guests the chance to take the night off from parent duty. For couples with special kids in their lives, though, it just makes sense to invite the whole family.
Deciding to include kids in your wedding can be a lot of fun, but it also means a few extra complications. As a professional wedding planner, it’s your job to help your kid-friendly clients plan a tantrum-free wedding!
1. Invite the family
The first step to planning a kid-friendly wedding is to let your guests know that their kids are welcome to help your clients celebrate. The best place to make this clear? The wedding invitation, of course!
An easy way to indicate this is simply by inviting your guests’ families. Inviting “the Johnson family” instead of “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson” to attend suggests that your clients are happy to host the whole family, not just the parents. You can get more specific by including children’s names on the invitation, or politely stating a bottom age limit, such as welcoming children eight and older.
Having your clients call or email guests with kids to let them know about kid-friendly spaces, activities, and menu options at the wedding is always a good idea.
2. All or nothing
Your wedding can either be kid-friendly or adult-only. There’s no middle ground. Some couples (usually those who aren’t yet parents themselves!) might want to have only kids they know attend, or have kids who are special to them take part in the ceremony or photos but head home for the reception. Aside from being kind of rude (even if your clients don’t realize it), this majorly inconveniences parents.
Unless your clients are just having a few special kids join the wedding party, they can’t pick and choose which kids come to their wedding. Guests who’ve had to find a sitter for their own children won’t be too pleased to find out other guests were allowed to bring their kids.
And remember, you want your guests to enjoy the wedding. That’s hard to do if they have to leave after the ceremony or halfway through the reception to take their kids home. Picking a minimum age for younger invitees is fine, but after that your clients should welcome all kids or none at all.
3. Invest in a mobile crèche
Some places already have crèches, nurseries, or quiet rooms on the premises, maybe even with the staff to run them. For venues lacking these facilities, though, encourage your clients to invest in a mobile crèche. Lots of companies specialize in renting out mobile crèche facilities, giving the kids a place to hang out during the “boring” parts of the wedding like the ceremony or speeches and letting the parents take a break. New moms may also appreciate having a less public spot for nursing.
A smaller wedding may not need a full-on crèche, but having a “kids’ corner” where young wedding guests can play games, do crafts, or watch movies will help make the wedding fun for everyone.
4. Kid-friendly menu options
By all means, support your clients’ decision to serve fancy, exotic food at their reception. But do remind them that while drizzling truffle oil on wild-mushroom-topped robiola might sound great to them and their adult friends, the younger crowd probably won’t be so enthused. That doesn’t mean they should ditch the deviled quail eggs with caviar, but having kid-friendly alternatives helps keep picky eaters happy.
Veggies and dip, fresh fruit kebabs, and mini hot dogs or sliders are just a few kid-friendly menu options that can easily be classed up for a presentation that fits with the rest of the wedding. And make sure to check with your caterer to see if they’ll do a kids’ menu—simpler foods and smaller appetites often mean caterers will offer a lower price for feeding little mouths.
5. Know the danger spots
Ceremonies and speeches tend to be the toughest parts of a wedding for kids to make it through. They have to sit still and be quiet, and if they’re young they probably don’t know (or care) what’s going on, turning a half-hour ceremony or series of speeches into an eternity of boredom.
If you’ve got a mobile crèche set up, these might be good times to encourage the kids to get to know each other and take part in games and activities away from the rest of the wedding action. Otherwise, avoid a meltdown ruining an important moment by giving parents a gentle reminder that it’s okay for them to step outside with their kids if they need to. Seat them on the edges of rows or near the doors to make a subtle exit easier for them.
6. Make things fun—for everyone
Trying to make a fun-for-kids wedding has an unexpected side-effect—you make the wedding fun for the grown-ups, too! Adding an activity card to each place setting keeps kids busy, but plenty of adults will find it just as fun. And we’re not talking the kind of boring coloring sheets you get at family restaurants—what about gathering some words of wisdom from your guests with these fun advice cards, or an activity book inspired by the wedding theme?
The decision to include kids in the wedding might also have some (awesome) impacts on the creation of the concept. Funfair-themed weddings are a recent trend that adds to the traditional fun of dancing with bumper cars, bouncy castles, giant slides, and fairground games. Of course, this wild theme won’t work for everyone, but for couples with lots of young (and young-at-heart) guests, this can be the perfect way to keep everyone laughing.
Looking for something a little more toned back? A photo booth works with almost any wedding, and the props and posing are fun for all the guests.
7. Give the kids a job
We talked about working with kids in the wedding party in this post, but you can easily come up with more kid-friendly jobs for other children, like:
- Managing the guestbook
- Handing out wedding programs
- Helping guests find their seats
- Presenting guests with wedding favors
- Handing out confetti, bubbles, or rice
Giving kids a job gets them excited for the wedding, as well as helping to make them feel included and encouraging them to be on their best behavior. Just take a child’s personality into account before assigning him or her a role—a shy child may be much happier hanging onto Mom and Dad than helping out a bunch of strangers.