How to Have a Child-Friendly (or Child-Free) Wedding

by Bridestory Feb 02, 2016 | 09:05 in Wedding Ideas  


The matter about whether or not to include children in your wedding celebration needs careful consideration and shouldn't be decided too quickly. But as it will affect your guest count, catering, and invitations, among other things, we think it's better to think about it as early as you can. No matter which decision you make, you will need to make some preparations to make sure your wedding goes as planned. First things first, you should try to answer this simple question:

Should you invite kids to your wedding?

Before you get too caught up in your never ending to-do lists to sort this matter out, carefully discuss it with your future-spouse. Remember, you should always be honest with yourself while still being mindful of how your decision will affect your guests. To help you make a balanced decision, follow the steps below.

1. Decide early

As we mentioned before, you should try to decide this matter as early as you can. It won't only do you a favor, it will also help your guests. Once you've made a clear decision of not inviting kids, you can inform the months in advance parents so they have time to arrange something for the children while they are attending your wedding.

2. Make a list

If you're unsure of how to even start making a decision, try to make a list of the parents and their kids, complete with the children's ages and your relationship with them. After that, do a head count and start to analyze whether those children are mostly in the category who need babysitting or not. This simple thing will surely help you decide, as having to find a babysitter can sometimes be a burden to parents.

3. Consider your relationship with them

If you found out that most of the children are actually your relatives, it might be better to include them. However, if they are mostly not close to you or you've never even met them before, then, deciding not to invite children might be a good idea.

4. Think about your budget

Anything you decide will affect your wedding budget. Including kids in your wedding will cost more, and less spending is needed if you choose not to invite them. But don't worry, whatever your decision, you still have time to play around with your budget and adjust it to your needs.

How do you tell guests that your wedding is adults only?

If you've decided that you want a child-free wedding party after all, you need to inform your guests carefully. Remember, this can be an unusual decision and a sensitive topic for some people, so you should learn the right etiquette to do it properly and minimize any potential hurt feelings.

1. Notify your guests appropriately

You have to write it clearly on your wedding invitation. But do take a note that instead of writing it crudely as "no children allowed," it's better if you put it as an "adult reception." Or, another way is by including RSVP cards written with the exact number of adults you want to invite.

2. Consider when to announce

Not all your friends have nannies, babysitters, or willing parents at hand to take care of their children while they are away. By telling your friends about your decision a few months in advance, you'll give them enough time to sort out the childcare situation so their hearts will be at ease while they're attending your wedding.

3. Avoid ring bearer problems

Having adorable little tykes as ring bearers during the wedding ceremony is a popular idea that you might want, even if you're planning an adult-only reception. If you have immediate nieces or nephews, consider them as your first choice and talk to your siblings about your decision. That way, they'll help decide on what's best to do with their children after the ceremony is finished.

4. Deal with hurt feelings

You might encounter problems when people start questioning why you won't let their children attend your wedding. Although it might not always be true, gently telling your friends and family that you have budget constraints might be the best option. You can let them know that allowing kids means that you have to prepare children's meals, their entertainment, and so on. Hopefully, your guests and especially your family will understand.

5. Confirm with your guests

After you've sent out your invitations, it's advisable to call friends that you know will probably bring their kids along. You might end up with some resistance, but you shouldn't back down if this is what both of you really want. Explain your reasons gently and carefully. Although they might not agree with you on this matter, good friends will understand and respect your choice.

6. Prepare some options if possible

If your wedding venue happens to be a family-friendly hotel or resort, there is most probably a children's club or daycare in the premises. These clubs usually have a range of toys and child-friendly food along with friendly staff. Especially for destination weddings where your guests won't be able to bring any babysitters, do tell them about this option either directly or through the invitation. Note down the name of the children's club along with the opening hours and services.

How can you involve children in your wedding?

If you've decided to invite children to your wedding in the end, you'll find that they can actually add plenty of lively yet lovely memories to your big day. Their cuteness, also their out-of-the-box and entertaining attitude can add an incomparable feeling of joy to your wedding atmosphere. Since getting married means the blending of two families and whether they are your spouse's nieces, nephews, cousins, questions will arise on how to incorporate the kids in your wedding celebration. But worry not! Just take a look at some exciting ideas on how to involve children in your wedding agenda.

1. The cutest flower girl and ring bearer

This is a classic idea for a reason. Little boys in mini tuxedos and cute girls with dresses and flowers are the ultimate crowd-pleasers and also one of the best ways to open your wedding ceremony in a truly memorable way. But don't be demanding or set your expectations too highly, it should be a fun experience for everyone involved. If the children suddenly become cranky and refuse to cooperate on the big day, just relax and let them enjoy the celebration.

2. Let them walk you down the aisle

This is a good option if you or your fiancé already have children from a previous marriage. Let your beloved child accompany you as you walk down the aisle, instead of asking your parents to do it. Planting a kiss on your cheek at the altar will be a sweet memory for the both of you to remember as your child will feel the honor of the occasion.

3. Don't forget to add them in your vows

This is another way that will work best for brides and grooms who already have kids. When stating your wedding vows, don't forget to include your kids. You could ask them to read them along with you or just ask them to be by your side as your additional witness.

4. Get them to perform solo

If you happen to have a talented younger relative who can play a musical instrument, sing, or even recite poetry, ask them to perform. By doing this, you can entertain the guests and give the child an important role to play at same time. Make sure you give advanced notice to the parents, as some practice and rehearsal time before the day is needed for to give the best performance.

5. Ask them to do creative projects

Ask the kids to do some DIY projects for your wedding trinkets with you. On the big day, when they see their handmade things put up together as decoration, they will feel a sense of pride and belonging, and they will be giving you a helpful hand in the wedding preparation too. For some children who just cannot sit still, simple craft activities during the ceremony will help keep them calm and happy, stay focused, and not bored enough to start wandering off.

6. Let them be your dance partner

After the father-daughter or first couple dance, dance with the children too. For couples with stepchildren, this could be a sentimental and heartfelt moment for you and your guests that will be treasured in years to come.

7. Give them fun activities

This can be done with a scavenger hunt idea in mind. Buy some inexpensive cameras for the kids and assign them to take pictures of the rings, candles, the couple holding hands, or a specific color throughout the event. A simpler version of this is to let the children to take snap shots all day long; they might not all be perfect pictures technique-wise, but you might well be impressed by some pleasantly unexpected results.

Fun wedding entertainment ideas for children

Once you've decided to invite children to your wedding, the first thing you should do is plan a fun and entertaining corner especially for them. Let's take some cues from the fun ideas below, or you can just leave it to the pros like Hineni Party Detail, Magical Blossoms, Voilawish Party Designer, Butterfly Event Styling, and many other vendors specializing in decoration and wedding entertainment, to help you build the concept of the perfect kids corner for your wedding.

(Credit: Picture 1 - via Pinterest; Picture 2 - Lisa Lefkowitz & doc.; Picture 3 - Jon Duenas & doc.

If your guests turned out to bring more tots than expected, fear not, here is some easy way to keep them from getting bored or plucking out your decorations. The key is to add all sorts of fun into the kids' corner you have prepared. Prepare things such as puffy pillows, ribbons, all thing sweets, coloring equipments, or any toys you think will make them busy digging in.

1. Let's play some games

This could be anything, you can provide them with board games, some fun outdoor activities like bubbles, create your own DIY gifts with ribbons and glitters, Lego blocks, or even provide them with equipments or costumes to play a role.

(Credit: Picture 1 - Jon Duenas; Picture 2 - Lisa Lefkowitz)

2. It's drawing time

Put up big blank space, it could be black board, white board, or white-painted plywood and let them draw anything they want. Another way is by using their table as the media. Cover a kids-only table with large drawing paper and let them start to play around with their imagination.

(Credit: Lisa Lefkowitz)

3. Irresistible sweets

Set up a cake decoration corner, or you can use cupcakes instead for an easier option. Prepare the icing, fondant, edible glitters, and any other cake pretty cake decorations.

(Credit: via Pinterest)

4. I spy

Give them a list of things they should find, you can occupy them with inexpensive toy camera to make it more entertaining, and let them get tangled in their own busy time finding all the listed things. Don't forget to reward them with handmade gifts or tasty treats in the end.

(Credit: doc. Martha Stewart Weddings, doc.

Aside from entertainment, you have to provide for kids' meal as well. The most popular wedding menu for children is usually chicken or fish fingers with fries. We understand, it's the safest choice, but why not go the extra mile for the children? Choosing other, more exciting food can brighten up your wedding and also let the kiddos enjoy it to the fullest. Find what you else you can serve them, down here.

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