Keeping children happy at a wedding
17 Things you can plan today to keep children happy at your wedding.
A little forward planning can keep everyone happy. With the right planning, kids can be an absolute joy at weddings and parents love it when you show you care about their little ones. With our top tips it’s easy to ensure all your guests enjoy your big day.
1. Send kids their own invitation
Kids love to get stuff in the post – so invite them! Using your best wedding stationery, send an invite just to them – not their parents. Ask younger children to please bring a favourite teddy as their ‘Plus 1’.
Make it happen!
Add the children to your invite list. Make sure you get their names right – “is it Jamie or Jack”?” – if you’re unsure, check out their parents’ Facebook or Instagram pages for clues, take a look through last year’s Christmas cards or ask a mutual friend.
2. Get them talking
Fill named goodie bags chock-full of games, bubbles, toys and sweet treats. Hide the goodie bags around the garden, behind plant pots and tied to the lower branches of trees with pretty ribbons. The children will quickly form friendships as they seek out the bag with their name on and investigate what’s inside.
To Do Today
– Make a list of what to include in each goody bag and how many you’ll need. If you’ve got little ones of your own, delegate the list-making to them! Always make one or two spares!
3. Set up a colouring corner
Provide an assortment of pens, crayons and multi-coloured paper on a low table or bench and ask the children to do their best drawings of the wedding, the venue and the guests. Add glue and glitter to really stand out.
Consider hiring rough-and-ready picnic benches for colouring and, if you decide to seat the children on their own special table, for eating as well. We like these from Rochesters Hire.
4. Send them confetti crazy
Dedicate a corner of the colouring table to confetti creation! Set out dried flowers, glitter and dyed oats and ask the children to collect tiny leaves from the garden to add to their mixture. Using a template, make a paper cone to fill with confetti and decorate with drawings, sequins and glitter. Now mix up your confetti, and you’re good to go! Get ready to listen to the laughter as they run around the garden and shower each other with sparkles!
Make it Happen!
– Download a cone template here
– Get your glitter in! Cheap and cheerful from your local pound shop, or Baker Ross sell it in large quantities
5. Fancy dress box
Even if you just put out a box of silly hats, oversize glasses, feather boas and scarves you’re providing them with hours of entertainment! Mix it up with the polaroid camera (see 6 below) for extra fun photos.
Make it Happen!
– Plan a charity-shop shopping trip with some kids (your own or other people’s!) to collate a range of dressing up clothes that children will love! It doesn’t have to be Disney Princess outfits – real grown-up clothes and oversize shoes provide hours of fun.
– Don’t forget the box! For a budget option, cover large cardboard boxes with colourful paper or take a look at lightweight storage boxes from somewhere like Ikea.
6. Unofficial photographers
Disposable cameras are great fun but if you wanted to take the idea to the next level, get your hands on a couple of mini-polaroid cameras. The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 Instant Camera is a good choice – brightly coloured and simple to use. Most of the kids won’t even know what a polaroid camera is – just wait until they see how much fun they can be! Add a blank photo album, some kid-friendly glue, sequins and pens for captions and let the kids get creative as they compile your amazing ‘alternative’ wedding album. You get to keep or sell the cameras, too!
7. Set aside a corner of the garden just for kids.
A brightly coloured kid-size gazebo is a great idea for sunny days. Fill it with picnic blankets, cushions, comics and books. Outside the gazebo you can lay out Giant Jenga bricks, ready for building. Always a crowd-pleaser.
To Do Today
8. DIY sandpit
It’s easy to create an instant sand pit that won’t damage the lawn. An inflatable paddling pool will set you back less than a tenner. Add several bags of play sand, buckets, spades and a few plastic shapes and bingo – happy kids for hours and hours!
9. Bouncy castle (kids only!)
Get a bouncy castle – you won’t regret it. Just keep away the groom and bridesmaids if they’ve been on the fizz!
Don’t want to spoil the aesthetics of your traditional wedding? Consider a white bouncy castle!
10. Kids’ menu
Don’t forget the kids at feeding time. It might be worth talking to your venue about seating the children together, at their own special table. If your menu is particularly grown-up then an alternative kids menu would not only be appreciated, but could save you money. After all, why pay for pork loin with a balsamic glaze for little Maisie when she would rather have sausage and mash!
Make the kids’ table fun! Add crayons and pens atop a tablecloth they can colour in while they wait for the food (or wait for the adults to finish) This one is lovingly crafted in Devon.
11. Give them some (alcohol-free) fizz
For that ever-so-grown-up feeling, make sure to include the kids in the toast ceremonies by providing alcohol-free fizz or fizzy apple juice in ‘champagne’ glasses. Clink, clink – Cheers!
To Do Today
Ask your caterer about plastic champagne glasses and research alcohol-free fizz – we like this one!
12. I Spy wedding game
Design and and print out an ‘I Spy’ Wedding check-list, one for each child to fill in. Write personalised and humourous questions about the guests, such as ‘I Spy Auntie Claire crying!’ Check! ‘I Spy Uncle Mark’s nose turning red.’ Check!
Get Some Inspiration
If you’re stuck for I Spy ideas, have a look at some of the options on Etsy.
13. Everyone loves a dance
While kids are not interested in smoochy songs, you can bet the adults will be happy to dance along with Justin Timberlake, or belt out a song from Frozen! Everyone’s happy!
This is often a bit of a tired time for little ones, so make sure to provide comfy seating around the dancefloor. Kids who don’t want to dance can watch the fun while staying close to their parents. Beanbags are fun, inexpensive and colourful!
14. Call in the professionals
If you really have a lot of kids coming, it might be worth the outlay to hire a professional entertainer. A magician or face-painter will appeal across the ages. For riotous fun with a seaside theme, you can’t get better than Punch and Judy (check out Devon’s own Mark Poulton)
Get the children’s entertainment to start as the speeches commence to guarantee two hours of peace and quiet.
15. Give them a job to do!
Kids hate to be bored and love to feel needed. Why not recruit teenaged guests to entertain the younger ones? They could supervise Giant Jenga, help with bubble mix, or judge the colouring competition. Children are also great at handing out party favours.
Make it Happen
Make a list of jobs children may like to do on the big day. Here are some suggestions to get you started:
– giving out party favours
– organising a game of hide-and-seek for the little ones
– handing out flowers or (home-made!) confetti to guests
– giving wedding programmes to guests
– helping guests find their (name-tagged!) seats
For essential tasks, make sure the children are included in the wedding rehearsal so they know what they need to do.
16. Nobody puts baby in a corner (unless it’s a wedding)
If you have children under 2 on the guest list then you might want to consider a pop up play pen. Furnished with cushions and baby blankets it offers a safe place where they can retreat from the excitement for a much-needed snooze. Make sure to site it indoors or in a shady spot, if it’s hot outside. For an inexpensive option, we like this one.
A separate space can work for older children too, especially as the evening arrives. Cushions, blankets and a portable DVD player will give them all they need for some downtime.
17. Appoint babysitters for the day
Promote willing teenage guests to ‘Official Chief of Fun!’ It sounds really grand. Or engage a non-guest or two to come along and guide the kids around all the great activities you’ve put in place! This can be particularly helpful during the speeches, which can seem dull to younger children.
And finally…enjoy your young guests! It’s your wedding, but they will also remember it fondly for years to come.
This is a guest post by Judith Cook, of ‘Kids Wedding Toys’. As a former nanny, with young children of her own, Judith Cook established Kids Wedding Toys to share her expertise with other families and couples. This post was originally published on kidsweddingtoys.com.