Wedding Kid Control
You’ve decided to include children in your wedding, either in the ceremony, or as invited guests. Your heart just melts at the thought of your two year-old niece in her little flowergirl dress, scattering rose petals down the aisle. And your best friend’s three year-old son is sure to be the most adorable ringbearer ever. Children lend a sweet, innocent charm to weddings. But let’s be honest: they can also be miniature landmines if you aren’t properly prepared.
Following are some ideas to make your wedding as child-friendly (and child-proof!) as possible. If your ceremony includes other people’s children, you might pass along some of these suggestions to help those kids be at their best on the big day.
Children and The Ceremony
Give Them A Role. Giving a child a specific responsibility (nothing too intense, of course) focuses their energy and decreases the likelihood of their being bored and fussy. In addition to the traditional roles of flowergirl and ringbearer, there are many other ways to include children in your wedding ceremony.
Children might also:
- Read a poem, bible verse, other scriptural reading or religious blessing.
- Sing a hymn or song, separately or together.
- Serve as an alter boy or acolyte, if you are having a religious ceremony that includes those roles and it is in keeping with the house of worship’s policies.
- Pass out wedding programs as guests enter the church
- Distribute and blow bubbles as the newlyweds exit
Brides who are mothers might have their kids walk them down the aisle and “give her away”; they, and groom dads, might also have their children serve as their wedding attendants. Many couples today involve children from previous relationships by including the presentation of the Family Medallion during the ceremony, which symbolizes the new, blended family’s pledge of love for one another (see sidebar).
Practice. It doesn’t always make perfect, but it helps. Children get nervous performing in front of large groups of people (who doesn’t?), so it’s a good idea to practice until your little tyke feels confident with his or her role. Be sure to include them in your wedding rehearsal.
Make Sure They Are Well Rested. The last thing you want is a meltdown in the middle of your vows, so make sure young children have taken a nap before the wedding, or at least had a good night’s sleep the night before.
Have Wedding Photos Taken Before The Ceremony. You definitely want to do this when children are fresh, preferably right after they’ve taken their naps and before they’ve had a chance to muss their wedding attire.
Comfortable Shoes and Clothes. Even you get cranky if your shoes are too tight. Sure, those patent leathers are cute, but are they worth a temper tantrum?
No Sugar Before The Ceremony. Anyone who has been around children on sugar knows that this is worth repeating. No matter how much you may be tempted… NO SUGAR BEFORE THE CEREMONY.
Keep Them Calm. Just before the ceremony, try to keep the children calm, and resist the urge to “hype” their role.
If All Else Fails, Turn To Bribery. You shouldn’t go to extremes here (i.e., “I promise to buy you a Mercedes when you turn 16″), but a little old fashioned bribery never hurt anyone. By all means, bribe with cookies or candy, as long as you follow the golden rule (not before the ceremony).
A Quiet Distraction. To keep small children from fidgeting while watching the ceremony, you might consider giving them little flap books or small puzzles to keep them busy in their seats.
Junior Shutterbugs. You might consider giving each child a disposable camera and assign your new mini-photographers to get candid shots at the reception. It will keep them busy for hours, and you’ll get so many heartwarming shots from a different perspective, you may not even mind all those pictures of people’s shoes and backs.
Set Up A Play Table. A small, low table in a corner can become a great play table if you provide coloring/activity books, crayons and a few puzzles. Don’t go too crazy, though. Finger paints may sound like fun, but you won’t think so when one of the little darlings decides to give you a biiiiig huuggg!
Hire Help. It isn’t much fun when parents have to constantly run after their children, so if you’re set on inviting them, you might consider hiring a few child care helpers to provide supervision. You might even enlist a few responsible young teens to keep an eye on the kids just for the fun of it.
Play Room. If you’ve got the space, don’t hesitate to set up a separate playroom for kids with age appropriate toys and books (in this instance, you would definitely need to hire help; follow all the precautions you would if hiring someone to watch your own kids). The adults can dance the night away in one room and still check on their little ones in “The Wedding Kids Club” from time to time.
Consider A Kid Menu. It took you months to decide between salmon and chicken for the adults – now you’ve got to plan a menu for kids? Not exactly. You aren’t obliged to serve a separate menu for children, but you should consider their tiny taste buds when planning your menu in order to keep them from getting hungry (and cranky). Children are usually finicky little critters, so if you’re planning on serving chicken or pasta, ask your caterer to serve the sauce on the side for your smaller guests. If you are having a lot of children and want to serve a “child entrée”.
The following are some kid-approved ideas for both day and evening receptions.
- pasta (sauce on the side)
- grilled chicken strips
- heart-shaped finger sandwiches (peanut butter and jelly; or cheese)
- spiral sandwiches (made with lavosh bread or tortillas) of turkey and cheese
- mini pizzas (light on the sauce for minimal mess)
If Not A Menu, Perhaps A Snack? You can also put together “busy food” boxes for the kids, i.e., Chinese takeout boxes personalized with their names, adorned with ribbons, and filled with raisins, saltines, string cheese, goldfish crackers, perhaps a small toy (hey, everybody likes party favors). Have the boxes waiting at their seats at the reception. These mini-snacks will not only keep them busy, they will keep them from getting hungry, especially if they refuse to touch that yucky gourmet cuisine.
Let Them Play Grown Up – And Maybe They’ll Act Grown Up! Since children love to celebrate as much as the next person, you might consider serving sparkling apple cider in plastic champagne flutes. They will love you forever for including them in your wedding toasts.
Don’t forget to show your appreciation for your flowergirl, ringbearer, and the other children who participate in your wedding day by giving them a small gift to commemorate the event. A small gesture goes a long way with kids.
Although there are no guarantees when it comes to kid behavior, the above suggestions should help make your wedding day as wonderful as possible. Try to keep your attitude relaxed and carefree (so what if the flower girl decides to take her clothes off in the middle of your ceremony, you’re still the bride!). They may not be perfect, but then again, who is? Besides, before you grew up and fell in love, you were a kid once, too.