If the thought of having children at your wedding presents a lot of challenges, you may want to consider limiting the number of children you have or exclude them completely.
Either way, this can be a tricky situation to naviage and an even more difficult conversation to have with your friends and family. There are ways to explain your decision without upsetting or offending anyone.
Here are some things to consider when deciding to have kids at your wedding.
Discuss the Pros and Cons with Your Partner
Whatever you decide to do ultimately will be up to you and your partner. You both need to be in agreement so have this conversation early in the planning stage and see how you both feel about it.
When creating 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 yourself 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. Have you ever been to a wedding and heard a baby crying in the background while the bride and groom exchanged vows? Or seen a 2 year old that can't sit still during dinner? I'm sure you have.
While a lot of older children are able to sit quietly, younger children and babies can be disruptive which is not ideal during the most significant moments of the day such as the ceremony or during the reception toasts and speeches.
Think about what you would do in those situations if it were to happen at your wedding.
Tell Your Guests
Once you've made a decision, it is important to let your guests know and share your reasoning. Explain what your ideal wedding vision is and your plan for including children or not. You can have these conversations with each guest individually to address any of their personal concerns right away, send the information in an email or add details on your wedding website.
What if we only want a few children at the wedding.. such as family members?
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 it is important to stick to your decision and have the wedding you want to have. It's not your job to make everyone happy.
When it comes to food, you may want to ask the caterer to create a special 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. But older children, consider offering a few choices such as pizza, hamburgers, chicken nuggets, french fries, fruit and a special dessert that is less formal and smaller in size. Cookies, cake pops, donuts and brownies are fun and easy dessert options for kids that adults will also enjoy.
Keep Children Entertained
The best way to keep children busy and and having fun at the wedding is to provide easy ways to entertain them. A craft table, lawn games, and coloring books are easy cost effective ways to make it fun. Their parents will appreciate the thought and the ability to enjoy themselves a little more knowing their kids are having a good time and not causing any trouble.
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.
Enlist Professional Help
Consider enlisting help through a local babysitting service. There are many babysitting or nanny services available who come to your venue, set up a special area with fun activities and create a safe space for them to gather and play together during times that you agree to.
Babysitting services 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 ask if it is possible to serve their dinner away from where the adults are seated.
This can help ensure the adults have some child-free time to enjoy a meal together before the children resume the party.
Remember, It's Your Day!
Keep in mind this is your day so you get to decide what is best for you!
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 your guests will ultimately understand and respect your honesty.
Grace Tyler Photography by Jamie Fredrickson
Brenda Cali is a professionally trained Wedding Consultant and plans a variety of social and corporate events.