Wedding season is right around the corner; the “Save the Date” cards have been sent and love is in the air. It is time to start preparing yourselves for attending these fun events!
There are definitely two types of weddings: kid-friendly and not. I have a fairly large extended family, so most of our family weddings have been kid-friendly, but the adult-only weddings I have attended have been pretty enjoyable I must say.
But there always seems to be that one family that brings their kids despite the “no kids” request.
Between the ages of 2 and 8, my daughter attended no fewer than 11 weddings (she’d been invited to all of them as far as I know). She has also been a flower girl 3 times. She’s got this wedding thing down pat – so much so that she could probably step in to assist the wedding planners at this point. She’ll certainly tell you if the groomsmen aren’t doing what they are supposed to be doing during the rehearsal…
Kids can certainly add stress to the whole wedding experience, so here are some things we have learned along the way:
Attending with your kids (make sure they are invited!)
- Mental Prep. Talk about what the event will be like and what the kids will need to do. Do this multiple times for multiple days in advance.
“We are going to sit in a church and watch Joe and Beth get married! There will be a person talking to Joe and Beth, so we will have to be quiet so everyone else in the church can hear what he is saying to them. After he’s done talking to them, they will be married and they’ll kiss! When they leave the church, we get to go to a party for them!”
- Let them have the aisle seat so they can see. Whisper/talk them through the ceremony as they see the parts you prepped them for ahead of time.
- For the younger crowd, bring something quiet for them to do during the ceremony in case they get bored. I tried to entertain them with the ceremony as long as possible, but one we attended when the oldest was 2 lasted over an hour…
- Books (make sure they don’t have crinkly pages)
- Snacks (make sure they aren’t in crinkly packages and not messy)
- Sippy cups
- The reception expectation needs to be mentally prepped for ahead of time as you nee
d to have behavior expectations for this part, as well. I have sometimes forgotten this step because I was so worried about prepping them for the ceremony
, and then they went wild at the reception.
- Have fun with your friends at the reception! Introduce the older kids to other kids – it’s dance party time! But please make sure they are still adhering to the expectations that you set forth.
When It Is Time For Bed
I know some people are very stringent with their bedtime routines due to sleep schedules and all that jazz. Call us selfish, but we didn’t leave a party early for a strict bedtime. We’ve done all sorts of things at this point in the evening:
- For local weddings, one of us met a babysitter at the house to put the kids to bed so we could return to the party.
- At family weddings, we had a teen cousin take care of the kids in a hotel room.
- When the kids were infants, I nursed the baby and then put him to sleep in the car carrier with a blanket over the carrier and found a quiet corner… and returned to the party.
- As the kids have grown older, we have just let them stay at the weddings – as long as they were still acting like normal humans! We deal with the next-day consequences of missing bedtime. What’s one day? We’d rather have the memory of the fun night at the wedding with our friends and family! (Obviously, if anyone is cranky or tantrumy, especially me, we go home – the day is not about us, after all!)
Accommodating Children at Your Wedding
I will say that this is something I gave ZERO thought to when planning my own wedding at the ripe old age of 23. A few years ago, we were headed to the beach to attend the wedding of my husband’s cousin. It was the second marriage for both he and his bride-to-be, and being that they were an older couple, there were only going to be 7 children at the wedding; all relatives of the groom. There was a lot of discussion about whether or not the children should even attend, but we had all traveled be there, and the bride did want to include these youngest family members! She put some very thoughtful touches to ensure that the children felt included and that they would hopefully not be too much of a distraction on her big day!
Some things you can do for your youngest guests:
- Coloring pages and crayons. It can be boring waiting for the wedding party to arrive if pictures are taken between the ceremony and reception!
- A kid food option: think grilled cheese, fruit, crackers, carrot sticks, french fries, chicken, juice boxes…
- Purposeful seating.
- Special kid favors that are different than the adult favors.
- Find out about babysitting options for out-of-town guests.
Of course, none of these things are necessary. Of the dozen or so weddings we have attended with children in tow, only one had special touches for the kids. The kids make their own party once the music starts, but they were so excited about the special treatment, and really felt like they were a part of their cousin’s special day!
In the end, no matter the event, I have learned the mental preparation of what we expect of the children, and letting them know the order of events is the most important thing we can do. The better prepared the kids are, the less antsy they seem to be about moving on to the next activity.