Photo: Jessica Craig-Martin
They sure make for adorable photos—dancing on dad's shoes, digging into a huge slice of wedding cake—but whether or not you invite kids to your wedding is entirely up to you and your vision for the big day. If you do choose to include the pre-cocktail set, here are a few tips for keeping your cutest guests entertained so everyone can enjoy the celebration.
During the Ceremony
Keep them quietly entertained. Go to the dollar store and stock up on quiet distractions like picture books, finger puppets, and sugar-free lollipops. Have your ushers dole out the treats to parents with small kids, and seat families with young children in the back row or on the aisle, so they can make a quick exit if necessary.
During the Reception
Makeover mealtime. Put a kid-accessible lemonade or Shirley Temple stand by the bar for cocktail hour. Prevent mealtime meltdowns by having your caterer prep kid-friendly dishes. "Think finger food like chicken nuggets, burgers, and pizza.) Plus, caterers charge way less (about half) for kiddie meals than for yours.
Photo: Melanie Nashan
Create a kids' VIP room. One of the hottest trends in weddings right now: a reception-within-a-reception just for kids. If you've got the budget for it, it's a total win-win—the tykes will have the time of their lives, while the parents will be free to party sans guilt. "For one winter wedding, I hired Corporate Kids Events to make a separate tent look like an ice cave," says Annette Garcia Kerslake of Simply Natural Events in Los Angeles. "They tricked it out with PlayStations and craft projects—kids were building igloos out of sugar cubes!" (Cost for similar parties: $10 to $30 per child per hour.) Elegant Event Sitters also organizes elaborate kiddie bashes; highlights include superhero cape-making, sand-art stations, and a truck outfitted with Xboxes. (The "Super Sitter" package is $1,500 and covers two to three sitters for up to 10 kids for four hours, including dinner and supplies.)