In my last post, I talked about why children make the best wedding guests. My opinion, which I made pretty clear, is that it’s wonderful and makes your wedding a really special experience. There are plenty of things you can do to make it go more smoothly and alleviate concerns. Here’s a list of what worked well for us.
I had a daytime wedding.
The difference between day and night can often be the dealbreaker for parents of small children on whether or not they will even attend your wedding, let alone, bring their children. Little kids have to sleep at night and be on a good sleep schedule. Additionally, parents tend to utilize family members as much as possible for babysitting, because babysitting is expensive and you want to leave your kids with someone you love and trust. Because weddings are family events, this means, you are often also inviting the babysitters of your wedding guests, aunties and uncles, grandparents, etc… This probably means that a lot of your wedding guests would need to hire someone to watch their children at night, and along with the other expenses of attending your wedding, this is just one more thing.
Unrelated to children, having a daytime wedding was just great because we weren’t getting up at the crack of dawn to get ready and then waiting around all day to get married, growing nerves or drinking too much. When we got married we were awake, alert, present, happy and had already had lunch.
Our wedding also ended in the evening, so we weren’t asking our helpers to stay up until midnight cleaning up behind us.
The downside to acknowledge is that having a daytime wedding meant some kids missed their nap. You can’t always plan it all perfectly, and you’ll never get everything perfect, but in the big picture, I think this was the appropriate move for a wedding full of children over having a night time wedding.
I hired childcare for my ceremony.
So I should point out that nobody actually used it, but I didn’t care. I was happy to provide it. Our church has a pre-school attached and offered as part of the ceremony services, to accommodate us with 2 hours of childcare for a very small fee. This was a no-brainer for us. For anybody who would need it, or who was anxious about their child’s behavior during the ceremony or who just thought it would be more fun for their child than sitting through our ceremony, we happily paid the small fee, which was one of the least expensive parts of the entire wedding.
I can’t think of a downside to this. I have no regrets.
I provided a calming kid-friendly space at my reception for kids who needed a cool down.
One of the great advantages of our reception venue was that it had a small movie theater for rent. We immediately realized that having a kid’s movie playing in the theater with some snacks for the kids would not only be fun, but would be a great place for kids who needed a break from the overstimulation to cool down and chill out.
The only downside I saw with this was that my daughter was kind of hogging the snacks.
I provided kid-friendly wedding favors.
Along with our wedding favors for adults (mini-hot sauce bottles) we provided a bowl of cheap fidget toys from Amazon. I just ordered a pack of 30 and the kids went nuts for it.
The only downside I see is maybe the adults would’ve wanted some too?
I had a buffet style dinner.
Most people will find that a buffet style dinner is always going to be the least expensive catering option anyway, and most weddings I’ve been to in recent years have chosen this, but this setup is ideal for children, because now they don’t have to sit still through a long formally seated wedding with boring toasts. They also get to choose what they want to (and don’t want to) eat. They can have as much or as little as they like.
Downside: We opted not to do toasts at our reception and we did them at our rehearsal dinner the night before, which I was happy with, but if you choose a buffet, it’s going to be more difficult to wrangle people to sit down and listen to toasts, so have a plan for that if you want toasts at your reception.
I provided kid-friendly snacks and drinks.
I know the drama of a picky eater, and I know that kids get hungry, and that kids get fussy in over stimulating environments like weddings. That’s why I went to Sam’s Club before my wedding and bought juice boxes, a giant tub of cheese balls, and a 40 pack of kid-friendly snacks like crackers and cookies. I had them placed out with the appetizers.
Downside, maybe it wasn’t the most elegant, but it did make it feel like a party!
My photographer knew how to work with children.
My wedding photographer, who had blue hair, got the most amazing photos of the kids at our wedding. They were fascinated by her cool hair and she had a very gentle demeanor that put them at ease.
No downsides! All photographers should have blue hair. But for real, try to find a versatile photographer who has experience photographing kids for school, sports, family photos, etc…