At some point while you are planning your wedding the question of having a family friendly event that includes young children vs an adult only affair will come up and can be a very tricky topic to navigate.
If the thought of having children at your wedding presents a lot of challenges you may prefer to limit the number of children or exclude them completely. Either way, you will need to find ways to explain your decision to your guests without upsetting or offending them if possible.
Here are some tips to help you make a decision that works for you without ruffling too many feathers.
Discuss and Decide - Early
You and your fiance need to have an honest discussion about this topic and how you feel about having children at your wedding so that you can make a decision early on in the planning stages. When making your guest list, make a note of how many children each family member or friend has as well as their ages. The number of children in attendance can significantly add to your wedding budget and overall headcount. Ask yourselves if you are comfortable including children and the additional costs you may incur by doing so.
Children are Unpredictable
Not only can adding children to your wedding have an impact on your budget, children are are also quite unpredictable in their behavior. Consider the type of venue where your wedding is taking place. Is this venue family friendly? Is there enough space for children to play or run around? Will the parents be responsible enough to monitor them and keep watch on what they're doing so they aren't being disruptive during important moments? These are some questions to consider and to discuss with your partner and possibly your families if you have concerns.
Tell Your Guests
Once you have decided it is important to let your guests know your expectations and make it clear what the plan is for having children at the wedding or not. If you are not inviting children, explain your reasons either in person, over the phone, in an email or on your wedding website.
If you decided to only have a few children present (if they are part of the wedding ceremony for example) explain that to your guests. Tell your guests that are not able to bring their children that you have a limit on your headcount and are unfortunately unable to accommodate every family member. Offer your apologies and a possible solution such as a babysitting service if they need to hire someone for the evening. Some guests may not understand your reasoning, but this is your wedding and you don't have to explain yourself too much. You get the final say.
Having a Family Affair
If you do decide a family friendly affair is what you want, make some arrangements to help entertain the children who will be attending such as a fun craft table with games, coloring books, puzzles and other fun activities to keep them occupied.
Have a children's menu that is different from your "adult" menu. Very small children and infants won't each much or their parents may bring them special meals and snacks to eat. For older children it may be a good idea to offer a few choices such as pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries, fruit and a special dessert that is less formal and smaller portions.
Hire a children's entertainer such as a face painter, balloonist or magician to provide a fun element for a short time during the wedding reception. Adding and interactive and engaging element to the wedding that they don't get to experience often is not only fun but also memorable for everyone.
Consider enlisting help through a local babysitting service. There are many babysitting or nanny services available for just this sort of thing. They arrive at your venue and set up a special area for children such as a separate room and create a safe and fun space for them to gather and play together during times that you agree to. They often bring age appropriate games, activities and toys to entertain children which is included in their fees, giving you one less thing to worry about! If your wedding is quite formal they can also serve dinner away from where the adults are seated. This works well if you plan to have toasts and speeches during dinner and don't want any disruptions.
Remember, It's Your Day!
Remember, this is your day so you get to decide what is best for you. Just know that not everyone will agree with your choices and that's ok. You will never be able to please everyone and it's not your job to do so. As long as you and your partner make the decision together and stick to it you'll be fine in the end.
Grace Tyler Photography by Jamie Fredrickson
Image: Danielle Honea Phototography
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.