Last time, we talked about the guest list and how it impacts your venue choices. After posting, I was thinking about it all weekend and one thing that we didn’t touch on was kids. Kids are a big part of planning and I want to make sure to give the issue it’s time.
As the great Jim Harper once said, “Kids are great. I used to be one.” However there seems to be disagreement on whether or not they should be invited to weddings. I have found that DIY Brides have been more open to having kids at their wedding than those who may have had a larger budget. I’m not totally sure why that is, but it seems that way.
When considering inviting kids to your wedding, there are a couple things to think about:
Age. When I say, “children” I mean under high school age. Once kids get into high school, they can behave in public for an extended amount of time without issue. Before high school, it can be a little touch and go. You get even smaller, you need to consider that the attention span of a little kid is SO SHORT, you have to have enough to entertain them. If you’re having a 4-hour reception, a couple coloring books and some crayons aren’t going to do it.
Parenting. I don’t like sticking my nose into other people’s parenting styles. I’m a mom of 3 (9, 8, & 3), and I give my kids a little more freedom to explore than I think other moms do. I also have a low tolerance for bullshit when it comes to my kids. If they act in an inappropriate manner, I get up and correct it right away. Their father, on the other hand, is a talker, “Stop it. Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.” The kids know he will never actually intervene, so they ignore him. The real question is: What kind of parenting do your invited guests with children do? Are the parent that’s going to allow their kids to ruin your wedding? It seems like a harsh way to look at it but this is going to be a very important day in your life, it should be something that’s thought about. Though some people would say that it would be rude to invite some children and not other children, I don’t agree. It’s all about YOUR DAY. With a little diplomacy, you can accomplish just that. Most brides I’ve known that are not DIY, choose a blanketed, “No Children” policy. Most DIYers that I’ve known want to include the children. There is always the option to have an age limit, say, no children under 10 or 5 or whatever you decide.
Behavior. Aside from parenting, what is the behaviors of the children themselves. Are they going to cause additional issues? Are you able to plan around those behaviors in advance?
Venue. Is the venue a place that can be a welcoming place for children? Having your wedding in a vintage car museum – the answer would probably be no. Having your wedding at a state beach – the answer could be closer to yes. You would also need to check with the rules of the venue itself. There are some that don’t allow children at all – makes your decision easy!
The key to having a great wedding with children is planning. Plan the shit out of their experience and you will have avoided a huge HUGE headache.
The biggest thing I can suggest is HIRE A SITTER! Someone to stand guard in a designated ‘kids’ area’ of your wedding. Some venues even have this person on staff. You will need someone to manage the kid activities, address needs, and contain the hurricane known as children. It can be a little costly but well worth it for safety alone. For $100, you can get someone who has the ability to make having kids at your wedding much more enjoyable.
Have a segregated area dedicated to kids. A lot of brides do a kids’ table, which is good, but littler kids get bored and FAST. A table with crayons isn’t going to help your cause. I try to recommend to have a kids’ table in a corner that other activities can be set up. I like to have a TV set up with several fun, bouncy movies. Also, a box of toys and games. If outside, set up a play area to get some of that energy out so they don’t run amuck and ruin everyone’s time. I’ve had a wedding at a regional park where there was enough room to hire a bounce house – all white – for the kids in the ‘kids’ area’ to keep them busy and to spend that built-up energy from sitting through the ceremony. For $70, it kept the kids entertained and safe. Also, it was in an area that didn’t impede the photographer and was easy to frame out of any pictures.
Personally, I think bounce houses are the greatest gift that’s been invented and that it’s really for parents.
The important thing to remember that kids get into trouble when they’re bored. Keep them interested, keep them busy, and they will be a complete joy to have at your wedding.
One other issue I would quickly like to address for wedding guests is pets. For a lot of people, their pets are the same to them – emotionally – as a member of the family. If you are set on having your four-legged friend as a guest, make sure you have someone to tend to them, make sure the venue says it’s okay, and make sure – make super sure – there’s a place for them to use the bathroom. I have seen hotels say, ‘No prob’ on the pet issue, but then not have any place for the animals to do their business. It makes for a bad day.
DIY Bride #5 is going to cover caterers, entertainment, and invitations.
*This post was originally published 01/26/17 but updated 11/07/17, and again on 02/16/18*