Deciding to have kids underfoot or not is really up to you, your personality and the event you are designing. As people criticize an event in which there are no children, I received quite a bit of blowback from people who thought I should not invite children or considered them extraneous.
There is a lot of emphasis on child-free weddings, and I think if you go that route, it opens up a lot of choices. But if you want to have children at your wedding you don't necessarily have to feel constrained either.
We had a total of 150 guests for ceremony and reception, and approximately twenty-five guests were under eighteen.
How did it turned out?
Short answer: Just great!
- The people who wanted to enjoy the day without their kids secured babysitting and came alone.
- We ended up getting a babysitter to watch tired children in the evening. I slept at the venue the night before, and after my bridesmaids and I got ready, we put our items (including reachable bathroom items like medication and vitamins) in the closet, and gave the key to the babysitter so she could get in later. (Only three children used it – I was expecting more, but tons of little kids stayed up to party!)
- We had one child go home. I thought this might happen. My ten-year-old nephew is autistic, and we started eating late, so he ended up being overstimulated by the excitement and hungry to boot. It was unfortunate, but we all knew this was always a possibility.
- Many small children and teens knew each other and the teens are used to having a good time, playing with younger kids, and keeping an eye on them along with the other adults. This in no way meant I was relying on them as babysitters.
- My photographer had a tickle trunk, and my hubby and I bought props for our photo booth, which some children ended up liking.
- The kids had the most fun just playing amongst themselves. Many of the youngest children never met each other before and all got along.
- The teens and a few older children sat together.
- We seated one teen apart. She was family and we had a language split. This girl was unilingual English and the other teens were tight friends and French. It was more of a space issue as well, as there were not enough seats at the teen table, and she was sitting with her cousins at the "cousin table."
- Some children sat with their parents. When possible, if there were multiple children at the same table, I tried to place them together.
- Only one 6-year-old changed her seat and sat in her mom's lap. Mom didn't mind.
What I would have done differently:
Almost nothing! Except that I should have prepared for babysitting that began during the last half of dinner hour, for the youngest, just in case. The evening babysitting began at 8:30. But because schedules can run behind, we had not finished eating and children were already getting sleepy.
Tips and what I want you to take away from this:
- You don't need to seat all children together or all children with their parents. Just like your other guests, take kid's personalities into account and seat accordingly.
- Take into account: children with siblings. If an older child is seated with other children, chances are the younger will not want to sit with parents. Again you know the child's personality better than I do, but you can also ask a parent in advance.
- If you want and can afford kids that matter to you, don't worry too much about other people's desires for what they would do.
- If needed, on a case-by-case basis, ask your parent-guests about their child's habits if you are not sure if they should sit with their parents or other children, sleep habits, etc.
- If you send a wedding update to guests as you near the wedding, remind parents of young children to bring a pair of pyjamas or comfortable clothes if they expect to use babysitting in the evening.
- If you do not have a babysitter during the day, let parents know they will be expected to keep an eye on their child. Many will simply be happy their children are invited.
- You can casually let parents know in advance which other guests know their child already, and which children you have also invited that you think they will get along with.