If you have decided to include young children as your wedding guests a little pre-planning can make the difference between a pleasant experience for you and all your guests or a headache of mammoth proportions for everyone including the tiny tots.
Having children at your event can be a pleasant and memorable experience for all involved if you plan ahead and keep in mind the needs and limitations of your youngest guests.
If your ceremony is going to be longer than half an hour, consider having a sitter for the children until the reception. Make sure you provide age appropriate activities and games to keep them occupied. Children get hungry at the most inconvenient times and there is no way to keep a hungry child happy. Providing a fun, wedding themed snack can also be a big help in keeping the kids from becoming cranky or lonely for mom and dad.
Seat tots with their parents at the reception. They will be more comfortable there.
Don’t expect them to eat the standard reception fare or just snack off their parent’s plates. Grilled asparagus and mustard crusted chicken are not kid friendly foods. See if your caterer can provide small, child friendly meals for your young guests. They wont eat much, but they will need something they can enjoy.
Provide distractions at the tables. Coloring pages and a small box of crayons, small stuffed animals or age appropriate (non-noisy) toys can go a long way to keep them occupied until the cake is served.
You may want to provide a sitter who can take the children for a stroll around the grounds or on a scavenger hunt (if appropriate) or to a separate room for activities during the time set aside for toasts, introductions and the first dance. Think about which parts of the reception would have bored you silly as a child and let that be your guideline.
Letting the children leave the reception for a while will break up the time for them and also give their parents an opportunity to chat with the other adults in a more relaxed fashion.
Keep your expectations realistic. Don’t cringe when a tiny voice peeps up with “I have to go potty…NOW”. Let the parents deal with that, smile, and get on with having a great time.