The discussion of whether to invite children to a wedding can become a heated one. In one corner, you have people (oftentimes with children of their own) who think kids add a certain magic to the atmosphere – we all saw the adorable Princes and Princesses at the Royal Wedding didn’t we? In the other corner, you have those who feel a wedding day should avoid the screaming, the messing, the ruining.
This is a personal decision and one that only you can make – it’s important to remember this. It’s your day, so if you want to include a child that’s fine but if you want to make it an adult-only event, that’s also acceptable. Be clear from the start and consistent (no inviting your bestie’s kids but no-one else’s).
Having a grey area can lead to hassles, unless you have defined that grey area with the utmost care and attention. For example, if you have children who are involved in the wedding ceremony, but don’t want any other children there, you can explain that. If you are allowing children over the age of five, you can also explain that – what you can’t say is ‘everyone else’s child can come, except yours!’
Parents tend to make assumptions about their kids making the list. They assume their kids are or aren’t, but either way they often don’t ask. So you need to make it abundantly clear who is included. If you are inviting kids, adding the words “and family” to the invitation envelope indicates as much. If you aren’t including children but someone RSVPs for theirs, you may be put in the uncomfortable position of calling them to let them know you’re sorry but you couldn’t invite everyone’s children. To avoid hurt feelings if you’re having some kids (such as the flower girl and ring bearer) make sure you explain your inviting parameters.
Keeping children entertained on the day can be done in a number of ways, but you need to think about their ages and where your wedding is taking place. On your own, you can set up an activities area for the children with arts and crafts, books, games and puzzles – we know giant versions of things like Connect Four go down well. You’ll need to have someone keeping an eye on this area, whether parents agree to take turns, or you hire a babysitter or an event nanny.
If the children are older, I often suggest planning a large scale activity such as an interactive scavenger hunt. You could also involve them in the ceremony, from helping with decorations to escorting granny to her seat. The more invested they feel in the day the more likely they are to behave.
Should children all sit together on one table, or is that mayhem? This really depends on the size and location of the wedding, as well as how many children there are. First of all, there needs to be an adult close by who is actually paying attention! Having an adult dedicated to the table or one of the event nannies is the best way to keep a little order at the table.
Keep in mind that you are ultimately responsible for the behaviour of your child. While they look cute in their little tux or party dress, they are still children. Take their favourite activities and snacks with you – hungry tummies equal grumpy and impatient children. You don’t have control of the feeding schedule at these kind of events, so be prepared. I don’t condone bribery, but a few rewards just might get you through the day. Whether it’s a new game on your phone of a colouring book and crayons, just save them for key moments!
Be realistic – if your children don’t usually stay up past 8:30pm, don’t expect them to be angels till 11pm! If you want to stay till the end of the event, hire a babysitter and have them take the children before the bedtime routine usually kicks in.
Despite the fear that people will instill in you for inviting kids, children do bring instant surprise to a wedding (not to mention a lot of laughs). Keep a sense of humor about having the little ones there: If Isabel can’t keep her hands off the cake, don’t throw a fit. Instead, laugh and tell the photographer to catch it on film.
To inspire you about how you might feel with cutely dressed little ones running around your wedding, here’s some sweet imagery from Davy Whitener Photography and Martha McIntosh featuring the sweetest flower girls you ever did see…
Photography: Davy Whitener Photography | Film Lab: Richard Photo Lab | Stylist and Florals: Martha McIntosh | Paper Suite and Calligraphy: Lydia Whitener | Models: Ursala Wiedmann Models | Wedding dress: ‘Kristene’ by Claire Pettibone from The Dress Theory | Brides Blusher, Shoes, Earrings: BHLDN | Bowtie: Brackish Bow Ties | Makeup: Kristina Huf | Hair: Marty Salinas | Antique Chairs: Inner Pieces | Flower Girls Dresses and Cape Design: Martha McIntosh | Silver and China: Martha McIntosh | Venue: The Swan House
Read More: Should I have children at my wedding