Making the decision to include kids in your wedding day celebration often proves tricky. On one hand, it’s an important day and young children can certainly add kinks, like crying during hushed vows, mischievously dipping their fingers into cake that’s yet to be cut or not allowing their parents to be fully present.
On the other hand, you want to make sure that your invited guests feel welcome and that nobody declines your RSVP simply because leaving the kids behind isn’t an option. Also, including kids in your wedding day celebration can add a lot of joy with those adorable dance moves, big grins and tiny-sized dapper attire.
If you do choose to include children in your wedding day celebration, we highly advise making a few kid-friendly adjustments to ensure they feel like they’re part of the party (or not part of the party at times). We asked wedding planners to share ways you can ensure kids have just as much fun as the adults.
Give Them a Ceremony Activity Sheet
The exchange of vows is moving for adults, but children—bless their hearts—sometimes just can’t keep their attention up that long. A way to curb this and make them feel included is to provide an activity sheet that’ll keep them focused throughout the nuptials.
“Create an activity sheet with games and key words, and offer prizes for completed sheets that are submitted at the end of the ceremony,” suggests Nadia S. Anderson, a certified wedding and event planner at Virginia Grace Events. “Coloring sheets that feature the couple, the venue or local landmarks and heroes along with crayons and colored pencils could be shared with younger children as they arrive to the ceremony.”
Alternatively, for a traditional wedding service, Anderson suggests having nursery staff at the church or venue teach a lesson on love during the ceremony.
Create a Kid’s Table, Station or Room at the Reception
Kids and teens may want to join in on the dance floor fun and a toast or two, but their attention span often only lasts so long. Having an area that’s decked out specifically for them not only keeps them happy, but also alleviates some pressure from parents who do want to enjoy the reception.
“[For younger kids], we typically try to have a kids table stocked with coloring sheets and crayons or colored pencils. Also, providing coloring books, puzzles and Legos are always great and inexpensive options,” says Ciera Pope, the lead wedding coordinator at Hive Wedding Collective. “To give them an actual project, create a craft table with construction paper, glue and markers so they can make cards for the newlyweds.”
For older kids and teens, consider providing gaming systems. “Typically, there’s a ‘Groom’s Suite,’ which likely has a TV. This is perfect for keeping kids entertained with the latest video games,” says Pope.
Offer a Kids-Only Photo Booth
“If someone told you photo booths are trending out, try telling that to a 5-year-old,” says José Rolón, a Brooklyn-based wedding planner and founder of José Rolón Events. “See if the photo booth company you’ve hired will cut you a deal on a second booth with fun props. Outside of the photo booth, have life-sized Jenga, Connect Four and a craft table for the little ones [while they wait for their turn].”
Not only will invited kids feel special having their very own photo booth, but having a second, kids-only booth will ensure that all the adults get their chance at the photo-fun, too, since this is always a popular attraction at any wedding.
Make Sure They Have Something Kid-Friendly to Eat
Good food is one of the best parts of a reception, and you can bet that any child at your wedding is going to be hungry. However, Pope says to plan for them to eat something other than the reception food.
“Children aren’t interested in eating beef tenderloin and horseradish mashed cauliflower, so provide them with things such as pizza, mac and cheese or chicken tenders and they’re satisfied. Plus, this keeps cost down,” she says.
You can even have their seats, or the children’s table, equipped with fun snacks to tide them over while they wait for the main course. Alternatively, Anderson suggests setting up a hands-on snack station for them. “Create a make-your-own trail mix station complete with supplies to create a little sack of popcorn, nuts, dried fruit and candies to mix together and snack on during the reception and after,” she says.
The thing about making sure kids are satisfied, entertained and included throughout your wedding is that their parents—and most importantly, you and your soon-to-be-spouse—will have a great time, too.