Yes, there will be children at the wedding

Guest post by Tamu
how'd ya like them apples? :)

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!

Long answer:

  • 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.

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Comments on Yes, there will be children at the wedding

  1. Thank you for writing this article, a lot of my fiance’s friends and family have kids while none of mine do. I keep getting pushed out of the kid zone by my bridesmaids and I really want to make the stand to have kids at the wedding. Yet at the same time, I didn’t want to see some of the issues at a kid invited wedding I was at recently where the parents weren’t parenting and there were kids literally running up and down the aisle during the ceremony screaming and hiding under the bride’s dress. You proposed a really nice happy medium and I’m thinking a babysitter would be awesome to have along!

  2. Thank you for the post!! We’re having a semi-kid friendly wedding, kids at the private ceremony and dinner, no kids under 12 at the dessert reception. We have two of our own and our 7 year old son is the best man, so he’ll be at the reception and have a date, and our daughter, whom a lot of guests haven’t actually met, will be at the reception for a short period. The only drama so far is with my sister in law who wouldn’t look for a babysitter herself and expects my step sister to baby sit her son all day (causing her to miss the ceremony and dinner) To make matters worse her wedding was totally kid free and out of town so my son had to spend 24 hrs with a complete stranger (I’m still quite angry about the whole thing!!) I’m finding all the other parents who will be there are quite excited about a kid free evening!

    • Can’t you tell you’re sister in law to find another sitter because your step sister is coming to the ceremony and dinner? Or if you have to, find another sitter for her?

  3. Where did the babysitter and kids go? And if they were tired where did they sleep?
    Since our babysitter’s homes aren’t nearby I’m not sure what will be appropriate: a hotel room, a large conference room…?

    • I’m not sure what they did in the above, but we had a tent outside with a few toys and a table and chairs. We also had a big table inside with coloring books in case of rain. The kids weren’t assigned a special table, they were just drawn in by the toys. The cheapest toys did the best. Hands down most popular toys were large bouncy balls, $1 each at Target. We had no rooms for sleeps, which is hard, but I did have a cab parked outside in case grandma and grandpa wanted to take the car they all came in early and mom and dad want to stay. We did have kids seated with their parents for dinner, because not all the kids knew each other well. But, we had a kid’s buffet 15 minutes before the dinner service, with some choices for all ages. Mom and dad were able to serve kids first and sit down for their own meal. Plus, the chicken fingers, hot dogs, pb&j and fruit and veg choices were cheaper for us than serving more adult meals.

  4. We actually decided to do a separate pizza party for the kids! We struggled with this decision due to space and budget and in the end this was our only solution! The kids will join the dancing portion after the dinner. Our wedding is in September, so I’ll let you know how that works out!

  5. Great advice! We’re having a very kid-friendly wedding (I think the kids might end up equalling the adults). We’re planning plenty of activities and treats to keep them entertained: pinata, craft table, etc.

  6. Great post! We had a few kids at our wedding and it was great. ONe had a dance off against my brother’s friend- it was epic. They all danced and didn’t go home until 11pm!

  7. Our wedding was this past April and it was definitely kid-friendly. We kept the kids seated with their parents if they were under 12 and the older “cousins” were all seated together. We also had a “playroom”, which was just the coat closet with a rug and box of toys, for the kids to play in. We served food buffet style and my caterer didn’t charge us for the kids under the age of 5. Lots of people encouraged us to not have kids at the wedding but since I’ve got a son and there were two other kids who were IN the wedding, I decided to do like the Tamu and invite the kids. We found, like Tamu, that the parents who wished to be kid-free for the night found a sitter and others brought there kids. We even planned for the kids by having “goodie” boxes for them at each table. All in all, the kids didn’t distract from the wedding at all and everyone seemed to have a great time!

  8. I just wanted to say that I went to a billion weddings as a kid (well, not really, but I was a flower girl 8 times!) and the best one I remember as a kid was one where the bride and groom rented out a room next to the reception room and had pizza and chicken fingers, Land Before Time on VHS, and a babysitter, with all sorts of fun party favors – our parents just dropped us off there when they went to the reception. Because it was next door the older(ish) kids could run in and out of the reception to talk to their parents (and parents could check in) but we were out of the way and didn’t have to listen to all the boring speeches.

    Since I will end up having a huge wedding (not engaged or even thinking about marriage yet, just accepting of my fate as the oldest girl which makes my wedding a BFD in my culture — and to me) — probably 400 people or so and there’s no way to avoid kids with a group that size — I definitely plan on doing this.

  9. we handed out little bug magnifying boxes directly after the ceremony so the kids got caught up in running around catching bugs instead of being obnoxious lol. it worked!

  10. I bought a bunch of cheap little stuffed animals from an online party supply store to give as kids favors. We are putting them out at the beginning of the ceremony to help them be less bored

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