A few years ago I full heartedly agreed that children should rather stay at home with the nanny and not attend the wedding celebration. I understand your concerns of screaming babies during the ceremony and little monsters creating mayhem during the reception, but hear me out on this one ;) Their sheer excitement and joy is absolutely thrilling to photograph. Full stop.
The one thing I've learned through the years as a photographer, is that life is far from perfect and trying to force a certain idea you have in your head, or have pinned on Pinterest, will only cause a lot of disappointment and heartache. Sure, sometimes the little ones can have a scream fit and run around like they are on a sugar high, but there is definitely a place for them at a wedding celebration.
THIINK LIKE A KID
Weddings are actually rather boring to them. My 4-year old self would also rather be jumping around on a trampoline or fill my colouring book with my Van Gogh renditions. Kids don't have access to what the day is about. To them it's two people who are dressed in weird, impractical outfits and they are requested to be on their best behaviour. The day's formalities feel extremely long and tedious to them.
INCLUDE THEM IN THE FORMALITIES + GAMES
The little flower girls and pageboys take their jobs very seriously and they can get overly excited to be apart of your day. If you are concerned that little ones will disturb your peace, have them wait for your arrival outside the ceremony space. That way they won't run around when we have to leave for the chapel and they will be super excited to see you to walk you down the aisle. For the older kiddos, have them get ready with you. Once they are a little older they enjoy being a part of this portion of the day and are just as excited to twirl in their dresses or strike a pose in their Sunday's best.
Including them in the canapé hour games should not cost a fortune! Have some child friendly games which will keep them occupied during the cocktail hour. Child friendly games to consider are Jenga, Ring-toss, Twister or even pin the tail. It will be something nostalgic for the older guests and keep the young ones entertained.
AN EXTENDED FAMILY AFFAIR
Weddings are the one event (except for Christmas lunch and funerals, no jokes) where the majority of the family will all be gathered in one location. I've found that this is such a special time for the grandparents to at least be able to take a photograph of them surrounded by all their children and grandchildren. The inclusion of kids at your wedding, makes this possible! A wedding day is about two families joining forces, think about the possible memories that we can capture for you. Being sentimental can be a wonderful thing.
BRING ON THE OLD SCHOOL GAMES
Your wedding should be fun! If you want to make a lasting impression and if you have the budget for it, it's possible to take a proper trip down memory lane and have Arcade games at your wedding. Yes, I said it! I'm a huge Mrs Pacman and Street Fighter fan (the ones which operated with coins at the corner shop) if you are quirky like me, this will not only keep the kids amped, but the gents at the wedding will also be occupied until dinner is served ;) Not keen on Arcade games? A foosball table will always keep the masses happy!
KID FRIENDLY GOODIE BAGS
I've seen this a few times at weddings and they work super well if placed at the kiddies table during the reception. It can be something simple like a colouring book and Play-do set. Even a brown paper table cover (like those at a pizza restaurant) with characters drawn in black marker, will have them colouring and happy for a good moment. A Word Search or popular magazine is a great alternative for the teens.
A PHOTO TREASURE HUNT
I have a soft spot for a disposable camera. Why not incorporate these by planning a little photo treasure hunt with a to-do list for the young ones. Not only will you end up with a cool perspective of your day by someone else, the kiddies will love the job they have to complete.
CHILD FRIENDLY MEALS
If you are planning a sit-down, plated dinner of fancy food, you don't have to provide the same meal for the under 13-year olds. They are happy with plate of Bolognese or a Hamburger and fries. Do however ensure that non-soft drinks are available for them to enjoy when they are thirsty. I've been at weddings where only fizzy drinks are available at the bar, and a lot of health conscious moms were not too happy about this.
DANCE FLOOR FUN
I have two left feet, but as a child I was super excited for the dance floor to be opened. It meant that I could 'dance' with all my cousins and we had a little family dance we all did together at weddings. Yup, being a kid on the dance floor is extremely fun!
GET A SITTER
At a certain point during the day, the little ones will get tired and bored. It's a great idea to arrange for a babysitter to take over after dinner time. This will allow for the parents to enjoy the party and the kiddies will have someone who can keep them company and entertained until they go to bed. Yes, it will add as an additional expense, but if you have friends you really want to attend your wedding, chances are if their kids are looked after, they'll gladly RSVP to attend your celebration.
YOUR DAY, YOUR DECISION
The decision to include / exclude kids at your wedding, is a personal choice and we encourage you to plan a celebration which reflects you as a couple. Instead of being head strong on this decision, consider your friends and family who are parents. They will appreciate the gesture of accommodating them within your day. It will get super tricky if you only invite older kids and excluding the ones with babies or toddlers (Yes, you will have that one aunt pulling you aside on the day insisting on an explanation why little John is excluded, but Sarah may attend). The best approach would be to either stand firm on a 'no guests under 21 policy' or to plan an all inclusive (all ages welcome) celebration.
Whichever you decide for your day, be considerate towards your guests. Keep in mind that they are making a huge sacrifice to attend your celebration and if you could make a little gesture to make them feel considered and included, you'll have a day filled with extremely happy people!
Need advice on how to deal with difficult family dynamics or ideas how to include all your loved ones? Drop me an email and Ill gladly assist with tips and tricks. Happy wedding planning!
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