Children At Weddings – Top Tips From A Bride-to-be | Camilla Hassan
Whether or not to invite children to your wedding can be a huge etiquette dilemma for brides-to-be. Imposing a ‘No Kids’ rule risks offending friends or family with young offspring. I am having children at my wedding in November, however, you just may not wish to say your vows over a loud cacophony of a teething baby screams or your venue may not be ‘child friendly’.
If you choose to omit kids, most parents will understand, but it’s important to tread carefully around this sensitive issue. Since many expat brides opt for a destination wedding with lots of guests coming from overseas, leaving small children at home might not be an option for many. If you are intent on not inviting children, you might have to expect slightly lower numbers, since some families come as a package deal. However, if you do choose to include the little ones, our guide will ensure stress-free times for all concerned, and that everyone’s needs are met, including, most importantly, yours.
Before you enlist the calligrapher to write your stationery and send out your invites to guests, both little and large, consider whether your wedding is child-compatible. It may be an evening event where grumpy and overtired children will not happily sit through the speeches. One BCME member’s has a poolside venue with several steep steps and unfenced ledges – lethal to curious toddlers. The focus of your guests should be on you, the happy couple, not whether their child might accidentally stumble into a swimming pool!
Ideally, you should decide whether your wedding is a child-friendly or child-free zone when compiling your guest list. Factor in the number of guests with children and whether inviting them is a manageable option. Five or six kids is not a huge issue; an entire crèche is more difficult to pull off. It may come down to space or budget, but once you have made the decision let people know immediately and maybe even follow up with a phone call.
It is essential to be clear whether the entire family is welcome or just the parents. Your invite should be addressed to everyone you would like to come, children included, with their full names printed inside. If you just write ‘And family’, it can be confusing. If you are implementing a no-child rule, be polite but firm in your wording.
One rule for all
Imagine RSVPing to a no-child invitation only to arrive at someone’s wedding with other people’s kids roaming around. If you state ‘No Kids’ then apply that to everyone. You might encounter some parents trying to apply pressure to change your mind, but caving in to some and not others is unfair and will inevitably cause friction. You may decide to impose a minimum age, such as 10, since by then children are capable of sitting through the ceremony in silence.
If kids are to be invited, consider offering them various wedding duties. Young ring bearers and flower girls make adorable additions to your ‘grown up’ wedding party, provided they are able to walk the length of the aisle and not throw a tantrum halfway down. Other children can even assist in handing out Orders of Service, confetti cones or favours. As for who to choose for special roles, this can again be a hotbed of discord depending on the various nieces and nephews on both sides of the family. It is tradition that family members take precedence over the offspring of friends.
If you do decide to invite little ones, ensure there are adequate childcare options. This will be a primary concern for nervous parents, especially for a destination wedding, so helping them out, in this respect, will ease their minds. If you’re feeling generous, you can pay for a nanny or two to look after the small children during both the ceremony and reception. Alternatively, you can speak with the parents regarding bringing their own nanny or maid to assist, should they have one. Remember to add any helpers to the headcount for food and drink since they will need to eat too.
Weddings can be a long day for children with lots of waiting around and grown up activities. Providing entertainment for the little ones will keep them distracted and hopefully avoid any boredom-induced meltdowns, whilst also allowing their parents to have some adult conversations and fun. Some hotels even allow child guests to use the onsite Kids Club. Magicians and face painters are great options, too, but even a small table with crayons, colouring books and toys should be enough to keep boredom at bay.
If the children are small, the chances are they will want to sit with their parents, who need to supervise eating and behavior. Consider a separate kids table if they are a bit older so they can all sit together, but any children under around seven or eight stay with their parents. Make sure the venue has high chairs for those who need it, too.
While Chicken Supreme with Truffles might be an elegant option for the adults, younger tastes will probably appreciate more simple snacks. Ask the venue if they have a children’s menu. A lot of hotels even let children under 12 eat for free. Again, young kids will need some help eating and if there are babies present, ensure there are facilities for heating bottles and serving baby food.
A nice touch is to offer special favours for the youngsters who might not appreciate the sugar-coated almonds given to adults. Shops like Candylicious have lots of fun sweets to choose from. This is one area of your wedding that doesn’t necessarily need to fit the theme!
Don’t forget to check back every Monday for more of my ‘Top Tip’s from a bride to-be.