Having kids at your wedding can be both a blessing and a source of massive anxiety. While it's nice to have a youthful ring bearer and flower girl, including young children in the wedding ceremony or having them at the wedding reception can add stress to your big day.
When planning a wedding, it's important to make sure the little ones in attendance will have plenty of external stimulation and activities to take part in. You wouldn't want a bored child running rampant, possibly having a tantrum, or driving their parents wild and ruining their fun and ability to enjoy your event.
Here, some of the best ways to make sure the young children at your event have fun all night long:
There are babysitting services you can hire to watch the children during the wedding events. If your venue has space, designate an area for children and their parents to hang out and relax. The babysitters can take over while the parents enjoy the cocktail hour and reception, and you get an energetic, engaged babysitter to make sure the kids are having as much fun in their room as you are celebrating.
Yes, the day is about you, but it's just as much about your guests' and their enjoyment of the event. If the children won't be enjoying the meal with their parents, making personalized goody bags in the same theme and decor as your place cards can make the kiddos feel seen. Have twisty curly straws for kids' mocktails during cocktail hour, or give them Polaroid Instamax cameras and designate them amateur photographer for the evening.
Whether you're having an indoor or an outdoor wedding, everyone loves games. Guests young and old can bond over a giant game of Connect 4 or Jenga. There are a multitude of games designed to be played one-handed at an outdoor wedding, like cornhole or a ring toss. Or, use those Polaroid cameras to set up an I Spy game during dinner—whoever gets the most gets the first slice of cake.
Arts and crafts are a great way to keep kids entertained, too. Set up a craft table covered in brown paper for kids to draw on with markers and watercolors, or even make a custom printable coloring book from pictures of you and your partner for them to fill in. Older kids can make jewelry out of beads and gems in the same colors as the wedding theme. You can even have unfrosted cupcakes for the kids to create their own personal wedding cakes.
Got room in the budget for extra entertainment? There are loads of ways to keep the kids' room as lively and fun as the reception full of adults, and that can involve a children's entertainer. Some great ideas include:
And if budget is a concern and your venue allows it, set up a TV for a movie night. It'll feel like the best slumber party they've ever attended.
It doesn't need to be fancy—a decorative background in the theme of your wedding day and a tripod set up with someone's cell phone for photos is enough. But having the kids DIY their own masks and photo booth decorations are a cute way for them to feel like they can commemorate the big day and have their own special memories.
The toys you give to preschoolers to entertain themselves will be vastly different from the toys that a nine-year-old would play with. Keep the games varied and exciting, and know that kids have a short attention span—account 20 minutes, max, that any kid will enjoy any activity. If anything, kids love to dance, and they're always a joy to have on the dance floor accompanying the rest of the guests. And, hey, they have to learn the "Cha Cha Slide" at some point.
Having a wedding that goes late into the evening? Kids will get exhausted at some point—make sure they can get cozy and comfy in their own private space, so their parents can continue to enjoy their evening without feeling rushed to get the kids to bed. Set up a "sleeping area" with sleeping bags, decorative pillows, and cots, ideally near the TV. If cost is a concern, suggest guests bring along their own sleeping bags and cots, or if your venue is in a hotel, ask them if they have any to provide.