One of the stickiest of subjects about planning your wedding is how to control unruly, hysterical, or literally ‘sticky’ children that are in or attending your wedding. I clearly remember the screams throughout my brothers’ wedding ceremony, and haven’t forgotten that it was coming from our family’s side of the aisle. On the other hand, children can be a complete delight and make some of the most memorable moments in your ceremony and be captured in the cutest candid photographs for your wedding album. The trick is how do you keep them calm, cool—and corralled. We’ve all heard the horror stories of kids and weddings, from pulling the fire alarm, fingers in the champagne fountain, joining in the couples first dance or playing tag throughout the reception with the cake table as ‘home’. Of course there are ceremony snafus, like crying ring bearers, altar nose pickers, flower girl gum chewers or reception regurgitators. The worse case scenario is always little dirty hands and faces (and punch cups) ruining the brides white gown during the festivities! But unless your wedding is black tie and at an ‘adult’ location, making your wedding ‘adults only’ is a guarantee for hurt feelings and no-shows. Here are a few ideas to keep small idle hands busy and kids in their place.
Provide a Nursery at the Church It is an absolute necessity to have a nursery at your church or wedding location. This can be arranged with the church or hire a couple of babysitters to work a nursery room. If you are expecting several infants, be prepared! The girls keeping your book can be the gatekeepers, directing parents with children toward the nursery. It’s fine to include that a nursery will be provided in your invitation, so parents get the message that you would prefer your ceremony be a scream-free zone.
Hire Reception Babysitters This is a terrific tip that will give parents a break and keep the chaos at a minimum. The baby sitters can help round up kids, lead a kid dancing area or do activities to keep kids from running wild.
Have an Activities Table or Two When in doubt, WWDD (What Would Disney Do!) have a few Kid Stations with simple activities that your reception babysitters can help you with, like coloring pages where little girls can make crowns and magic wands and boys can use building toys. Several fun stations will help introduce children to each other, and give them a home base rather than swinging from the tent poles.
Have a Kid’s Dinner Table Cover one of your reception tables (near their activity area) with butcher paper and let them color away while they eat with other little people. You can even have kid friendly food available on this table in the three main kid-food groups: chicken nuggets, mini burgers and fries, all with cocktail toothpicks in them. Turn food into an appetizer and kids will eat it every time.
Have a Fun Project Your babysitter can lead a game or project, like shooting a movie with the kids as the stars. If you wish you can edit them on your PC and email to the kids later. Another fab idea is a photo scavenger hunt, breaking kids up in small groups with a Babysitter leading the way. Each child gets a disposable camera and they look for and ‘shoot’ a list of things like cutting of the cake, the bride, a rose, people laughing, the couple dancing, etc.
When All Else Fails – Show a Movie Guaranteed to keep little ones happy for a chunk of time, play a DVD in an area set up just for kids, as long as the sound doesn’t interfere with your reception. Providing earphones is a great idea to keep the decibels down and will be cool for the kids. Make sure the movie isn’t too childish so the older children will want to watch.
Don’t Sweat It – You’ve Done Your Best In the end, keep in mind the saying “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and it’s all small stuff.” And when the small stuff is small people, your planning ahead of time may help, but in the end just let the good times roll. It’s a party, after all!