Your wedding is a wonderful day of celebration and joy-filled festivities shared with those nearest and dearest to you. Family and friends from all different stages of your life get to gather, celebrate your joyous union and wish you well as you embark on this newest adventure. As you begin planning your guest list, it won't be long before the question arises 'what about the 'little people' in our lives?
To begin your planning process you may start asking important questions like:
Do I want a child-friendly wedding?
Would having a child-free wedding be rude?
What is the etiquette for inviting children to my wedding?
What will it be like having toddlers at a wedding?
How do I avoid having unruly children at my wedding?
What does it look like to host babies at my wedding reception?
I want a kid-friendly wedding, but what does that look like?
So where to start then when making this important decision?
The answer to this will vary for each couple, and factors like holding a destination wedding, budget, size of venue, style of wedding etc. may be deciding influences in your decision making. While logistically and practically having kids attend your wedding will require a little more organisation and forethought, not inviting them, on the other hand, may prevent some guests from coming that would otherwise have been able to attend.
While there is no right or wrong answer, you can rest assure that if you do choose to invite children to your wedding that there are a host of beautiful ways to include, entertain and have them bring that extra element of delight and joy to your special day.
What if our wedding is creating a blended family or is binding our existing family together?
If your marriage is creating a blended family or binding together an existing family than it will be special and significant to have your children included and acknowledged throughout your wedding and play a role in your ceremony and reception. For other couples, the decision will be a little more challenging as they try to navigate whether both guests and their children will be invited.
Early on in your wedding planning process you will need to decide:
Whether you want to
a) invite children to your wedding or
b) include them in any of your proceedings.
Think carefully about the flow of your day, the atmosphere you want to create and whether your venue has space and the capacity to accommodate them well. Choosing early in the planning process will ensure you have a clear road-map for making future decisions.
It will also hopefully help you avoid submitting to pressure from friends or family who may have their heart set on their child being your flower girl or ring bearer.
When composing your invitations be incredibly clear about who is, and who is not invited
Communicate which part of the day children are invited to (ceremony, garden party or reception) and what child-minding options or activities will be provided on the day.
If hosting a destination wedding, consider how many guests will need to travel and how that will impact upon bringing their children to the wedding. Most parents will be understanding and accommodating if communicated with clearly and given lots of preparation.
Insider Tip: Put guests with young children in touch with one another so they can organise and share babysitting costs if they choose.
Get your 'mini-wedding planners' involved nice and early
Before you even set foot down the aisle, there are a host of ways you can include your children in your wedding preparation. Consider delegating them to the role of 'mummy's mini wedding planner' and choose appropriate tasks that they can assist with. Helping with the cake tasting, dress shopping, putting together wedding favours, stamping envelopes and helping to pick photos for your website are all a great place to start. Choosing age and ability-appropriate tasks will make their contribution feel significant and purposeful, helping them to feel like an essential part of the process.
Many hands make light work
One of the best ways to entertain children at your wedding is to get them involved and designate 'special helper roles' or have them play a part in the proceedings. The golden rule is to let their age and comfort level be your guide. Kids can be unpredictable so making sure the role is age-appropriate, well prepared and well practised for, is essential.
So by now your probably wondering what are some of the best ways to include children in my celebrations?
Here are some great kid-friendly wedding activities to help them feel included in your day:
Give them an official duty, such as welcoming guests or introducing a speech If including your dog in your ceremony for serious cuteness have them walk the dog down the aisle (have an adult on hand as a support person)
Have your child read a passage in the ceremony
Have your child walk down the aisle with you
If confident to do so, consider letting them perform at the ceremony. Provide a moment in the evening to present something in honor of you both, sing a song, play an instrument or read a poem. If they'd feel a little more comfortable sharing the limelight, include a separate parent-child dance.
Arm them with disposable cameras and have them be 'junior photographers'
Flower girl or ring-bearer, best suited for children aged 4-10
If your children are teens, have them be a part of the bridal party as a bridesmaid or groomsmen.
Here are our top insider tips for including children in your ceremony
Whether just attending the ceremony or participating in one of the roles previously mentioned, here are some suggestions for helping their involvement run smoothly:
Show the children some videos of wedding ceremonies - for many, this will be their first wedding, and they will have no idea what to expect. Talk them through the different parts of the ceremony and let them ask questions. Point out what role they will be doing and show them the example of this.
Make sure you include them in ALL of your practices. Do full dress rehearsals ensuring they feel comfortable in what they are wearing, checking their shoes don't rub, and they can manage any extra weight on their head if wearing a floral halo.
Assign them a dedicated helper from the wedding party to supervise and take them out if they start crying or need to go to the bathroom.
What if the children get tired of standing during the ceremony?
For a child-friendly outdoor ceremony, have a picnic rug or dedicated space where they can sit once they have finished their role, so they don't have to stand for the entire time.
Safety in numbers!! Having multiple children performing a role together will feel less intimidating for them, have an older sibling assist with younger siblings.
- Be prepared to be patient. Even the most confident, well-prepared child can get camera shy on the day. Remember, this is about having an enjoyable day that they get to participate in, not them performing.
Have a plan B and someone prepared to step into the role if things don't go to plan. The flower girl may wake up sick on the day of your wedding, or the ring-bearer may suddenly decide it's far too scary to walk down the aisle in front of all those people he doesn't recognise.
Yes, it's okay to bribe them!! Let the children know if they are on their best behaviour, they will be rewarded after the ceremony. Remind them of what they will be doing during the ceremony, your expectations, and remember to deliver on your promise. After the ceremony is an excellent time to hand out a small gift or childrens wedding entertainment pack, if treating them with something sweet make sure it won't stain their clothes - white lollies like marshmallows or milk bottles are a great option.
For post ceremony entertainment outdoor games and treasure hunts come to the rescue
If having a garden wedding or your venue has large, expansive outdoor spaces capitalise on the setting by offering a variety of outdoor games. Traditional games like hopscotch, lawn bowls, outdoor Jenga, oversize connect 4, corn hole, hula hoops, swing ball and sack races are always popular choices as they are simple to use and easy to play. Have a designated 'children's games area' setup within sight but far enough away, so a wayward hula hoop or flying lawn bowl doesn't disturb your garden party.
But what about the toddlers? How do I entertain a 2 year old at my wedding?
Bubble blowing stations, nature bingo and DIY kites are all activities which are effortless and inexpensive to set up but will keep littlies engaged and will burn up any excess energy stored while sitting during the ceremony.
If you want the children to get adventurous customise a 'treasure hunt' to suit your venue. Give each child a map with clear, simple instructions and have little prizes stashed along the way for them to discover (have the older children help the younger children. When they get to the final 'treasure', make it something that can be shared like a lolly or bubble station or some other fun activity to keep the good times rolling. Want to offer something more outlandish? Hire a jumping castle, or have a petting zoo set up where guests (old and young) can snuggle bunnies, play with baby lambs and pat ponies.
Food can be a big winner
Just like the success of a long car trip can hinge on what snacks mum or dad have decided to pack, the type and quantity of food you provide at your wedding can be just as impacting. Children tend to eat less, but more often, so ensure that there are lots of 'kid-friendly food options' included throughout the day.
If serving canapes at your garden party ensure there is one option dedicated to the children, or have a grazing station where they can select their choice of food throughout the afternoon.
Why not try this:
During cocktail hour, consider serving an exclusive 'children-only' mocktail or mini milkshake with cream on top. At the reception, children will typically be provided dinner at the same time as the adult guests, but will be served first. If the adults are having an entree, this is a great time to serve children their meal.
What to do with fussy eaters:
Kids can be particular eaters so provide parents with the children's menu in advance and have them select their favourite option to avoid disappointment or menu-based dilemmas on the night. If you've gone for a more exotic combination of flavours for your wedding cake, considering asking your cake-maker for vanilla cupcakes, or another cake alternative to give to the children. Just remember, while a chocolate cake may taste great, it also can end up all down the front of their gorgeous outfits. So be wary of what colourings and flavourings you choose. You can also pick healtheir options for desserts, for example, carrot cake, organic dates or fruit. These ideas not only taste good but will also help control energy levels and ensure outfits remain pristine.
Make sure to get creative with these childrens' wedding activity pack ideas
Nothing is more exciting for a child than something with their name on it. Enter, personalised favours and gift packs!! Choose a customisable wedding favour that will be both a special keepsake from your day, but will also provide entertainment after the ceremony and at the reception.
When do I give the children their acitivity packs?
Choose to either hand the kids wedding actviity packs out after the ceremony (these are a great incentive or 'reward' for children who have had to sit still and be quiet for longer than they would usually want to) or have them placed at the kid's table for their after-dinner entertainment.
If providing a gift pack, try putting all the goodies in a calico drawstring bag with their name on the front so nothing gets lost and everything is kept together. Fill with colouring sheets, crayons, bubble sticks, treats and then a primary activity like a beading and bracelet kit, personalised yo-yo, personalised puzzle or find-a-word book, DIY teddy for decoration or mini lego sets.
Insider tip: Be very selective about any gifts you provide at the reception and ensure that none make substantial noise. As fun as receiving a set of dominoes might be, you don't want the speeches to be competing over the sound of clinking and clunking tile pieces.
Just as important as what the children eat is where they eat
Decide if you are going to have a dedicated 'kids table' at your wedding on your seating chart alongside the other tables or whether the children will all be eating separately with a supervisor in another room. For your 'kids table' make sure the set is visually appealing so the children will be excited to sit together when they arrive at your reception - an interactive centrepiece is a great way to do this.
Ensure there is enough room at the table for children to do any activities you provide, and that they are not seated so close that they are going to be bumping into one another when colouring, or knocking each other's drinks over. Themed placements and crayons (not textas) or a customised tablecloth that they can colour are an excellent option for filling in time between dinner and dessert or during the speeches.
Should I sit the parents directly next to the kids table?
Make sure you prep parents that their children will be sitting at the 'kids table' and make sure the parents are either seated nearby or at least close enough to offer any assistance when needed. For a sweet touch, just before the toasts, serve the table with milk and cookies so they can share along in the celebrations.
Insider Tip: Unless you have a teen who is particularly interested in playing 'babysitter' for the night, do not sit teens at the kid's table. Have them sit with others their age or next to their parents.
Get an entertainer to amuse both the young and old:
With current restrictions preventing dancing at weddings, there has never been a better time to hire a professional entertainer to keep your guests, both young and old, amused. Why not then, consider hiring an entertainer that can work with both crowds?
What are some great ways to entertain the children while the adults are still eating?
While the adults are usually served multiple courses and will enjoy taking their time over dinner, the children will finish much quicker and be ready to move onto the next adventure before too long. Your magician, caricature artist or comedian could tailor their evening to spend time at the reception firstly with the children, before it gets too late (and their audience gets sleepy), and then with the adults, after the formalities of the reception have concluded. Suppose you have decided to have the children attend your ceremony only. In that case, a face-painter, story-teller, balloon modeller or even a temporary tattoo artist are all great fun-filled options.
Insider Tip: Have your entertainer craft/create something for the children as an excellent alternative to providing them with a wedding favor. A hand-drawn caricature, for instance, will be a lasting reminder and a wonderful take-home souvenir.
I'm looking for a DIY entertainment option
Then look no further... the I-Spy Photo Challenge
Providing hours of fun and exploring, an I-Spy photo challenge is a great entertainer for older children. Provide the children with disposable cameras or Instax Polaroids (depending on your budget) and a sheet of 'moments' you want them to catch throughout the day.
This challenge is great as it keeps the children looking forward to the different events as they unfold (like when the cake gets cut, and they need to get the perfect shot) and helps you have a record of these special moments from their perspective. Just be sure to have more film available than photos required and remind them that if they are too 'snap happy' too early, they won't be able to tick all the things off their list. You can customise a unique challenge or download pre-made ones.
I know children love to play with craft, is this a viable option?
Children of all ages love to craft, and the right activities can provide hours of creative entertainment. Wedding-theme inspired craft activities will offer a delightful way to include the children in the reception celebrations and help them feel a part of the event whilst also giving purpose to their creations. Try these popular crowd-pleasers for an uninterrupted evening of artistic endeavours:
1.Provide each of the children with a photo frame and a large variety of adhesive gems, 3D stickers, ribbon, lace, colourful material and other crafting supplies suitable for decorating. Have your photographer set aside some time early in the evening to take each of their portraits, to fill their frames with later.
2.Have the children make and decorate DIY props for use in the photo booth for a fun and customised experience. Provide them with pre-cut wands/crowns, masks, hats, sunglasses etc. that they can colour and embellish.
3.Have the children make a card for the bride and groom and have the older children assist the younger ones in writing a personalised message. Provide lots of colourful blank cards and envelopes and pictures of wedding cakes, balloons, presents and wedding dresses that they can colour and stick on their cards.
4.Crazy cake colouring competition - have the children colour a picture of a wedding cake and name what wild flavours the different layers and icing are. Have a prize for the tastiest and then the weirdest cake combinations.
5.Have your florist supply extra flowers or save any additional flowers for making flower necklaces or halos.
6.If you have large letters on display at your wedding spelling L-O-V-E or maybe monogrammed initials, provide the children with DIY cardboard cutouts of these same letters (or their initials) and colourful wool and charms to cover and to decorate them. If they have the time, they could complete a whole set to take home.
Insider Tip: Be sure to check that all activities are age-appropriate, all items are non-toxic and that none of the craft activities are potential choking hazards.
So after all these fun filled activities you're probably wondering how to offer some much-needed down time?
Weddings are long days, and while the adults may be ready to party well into the night, chances are the little people won't be. Having a 'Quiet and Movie room' can be the perfect note on which to wind down their evenings' celebrations and usher in some quiet time and rest.
For a DIY movie experience, have little fold up couches setup up around a screen and provide blankets and serve popcorn in paper pouches (a perfect late-night snack if they are getting peckish, but you do not want to add any extra sugar before bed).
For an indulgent experience, opt for a 'glamping style' movie night and provide each child with their own gorgeous 'sleepover tent' styled with fairy lights, mini tables for snacks, laterns, bunting or other special touches.
Insider Tip: Choose a G-rated movie well in advance and communicate with any parents what the choice is. This way, parents can prepare their children and if they have young children, make sure it is appropriate for them. By having a movie already prepared and selected, you'll also avoid multiple requests on the night or disagreements over which movie everyone wants to watch.
What if I want someone other than family members or guests to supervise and entertain the children?
The biggest decision outside of 'what' will you choose to include and entertain the children with will be 'who' will you get to do it? The person (or multiple people) allocated to assist will need to be responsible for setup, supervision, explaining and helping with the activities you've provided and the all-important (and often messy) clean-up.
How do I get everyone on the same page?
You will need to communicate to parents what level of care will be provided and if they will be solely responsible for their child on the day or if there will be someone organised to help with supervision, and if so, in what capacity. If the vision for your wedding day is to have parents fully engaged and present in your festivities, then consider hiring professionals to make your wedding day extra special for everyone - little guests included.
A professional service sounds like a great idea, but what does it involve?
The team from Little Wonders knows that every wedding or event is different and that every nanny care package should be completely customised to your nuptials. They've given us their professional advice and pointers on what to look for when selecting a qualified care agency as well the rundown on how they create their well-known wedding care spaces using their ‘5 Rules of Fun’ philosophy.
' The 5 Rules of Fun is a philosophy we use here at 'Little Wonders' to ensure we are creating magical, nurturing and engaging spaces for children. Our care for weddings and functions with always include the following;
1.Something for the creative and crafty – craft activities, flower crowns and/or party hats
2.Something for the busy minded or young – a plethora of toys, puzzles and games for all ages
3.Something for the energetic and active – outdoor games, exploring the outdoors and a treasure hunt
4.Something/somewhere to relax – often a book corner with cushions, blankets, a soft rug with the option to watch a movie to wind down
5.Somewhere to rest or sleep- blankets, fold-out couches, inflatable mattresses and a place where sleepy heads can meet a soft pillow
How do I make sure both my guests and my expectations are catered to?
A wedding can mean little ones out of their routines, anxious parents and an overtired bub who needs a bottle and doesn't sleep so well in a pram. As the bride (or groom) you should have a choice on how involved children are at your wedding – without feeling like you're stepping on toes.
We work closely with all guests to ensure your requests are respected, and parents are at ease and children are having fun! Whether you want children to remain separate for your entire day – or just for the reception, your preferences are easily catered for , ensuring your wedding is just as magical as you anticipate.
Great to know:
Your care for little guests could be onsite at your wedding venue or can remain separate at a hotel or Airbnb: there are always several care options that you can consider.
A customised service for you – means you're getting a lot more than just a babysitter, you're getting the complete experience – your children's wedding space planner, coordinator and nanny team all rolled into one!
Here's five ways your nanny wedding service should customise their care package to you
Putting guests at ease
Nanny care for a wedding (or any event for that matter) should never be about children getting put into a room with some random babysitters who know nothing about you (or your family). As part of your care package, we ensure to contact every single guest with children attending before your special day, answer any questions and ensure your guests are comfortable, at ease and aware of any requests you have as the bride and groom. An example being times children are to remain separate from the main guest party such as the ceremony, reception, key moments such as speeches, cutting the cake or the entire event, the choice is yours.
More than just colouring in
As part of our planning process and connecting with your guests prior, we ensure to customise the activities, games and toys to the interests of each child who will be in attendance. This ensures we are not just 'putting toys in a room in hopes the kids will like them'. Perhaps Billy likes dinosaurs, Alex is car and truck crazy, Molly is going through a massive mermaid phase – and her twin sister Melitta loves to cook! Rest assured there will be dinosaurs, hot wheels, mermaid dress up's and a kitchen set up for a little chef to cook up a storm (plus much more)!
Comfort and colour
Catering to all energy levels and emotions of your little guests is essential- our customised comfort styling allows for this by providing child-friendly spaces that feel like home.Child-friendly furniture, slumber spaces for sleepy heads, teepees, fairy lights and ottomans are just some of the options we include to create magical spaces with a plethora of activities, books, toys and games. As a complimentary service, we also match the colours of your children's area to your chosen theme - whether it be bright and colourful, all white or the colours of your bridal party! Creating magical spaces allows children to feel more part of your event – even when you want your wedding to feel childfree.
That little bit extra
If you're searching for an added pop of fun, our additional services can be added to your care package including face painters, balloon benders, children's character visits (Cinderella, Belle and Moana to name a few!). Perhaps even a jumping castle could be on the cards (the bride and groom can even join in)!
Special needs and allergies
As part of any care package, the care for children with disabilities or conditions with a light-moderate additional care level should be catered for. Your nanny service shoudl work closely with these families and/or their carers before the day to ensure they can provide suitably experienced nannies or support nannies as part of your care team.
With so many great options available to you for including and entertaining children at your wedding you can ensure your special day will be a laughter filled, joyous and memorable affair for young and old.