A Quick Guide to Including Children At Your Wedding

Etiquette, Kids

Many couples choose not to invite kids to their wedding. Others only have a flower girl and a ring bearer, then call it a day. But if you have kids from a previous relationship or want to have a fun, inclusive event, then by all means invite your guests' children! Doing so means you should also plan parts of the day that'll appeal to them. Wondering how that all works? Here are some etiquette expert-approved ideas for planning a kid-friendly wedding!

My daughter is 6 and is very excited about my wedding. My daughter mentioned that she would like to do something for 'her big day' at our nuptials. I believe it's an important event for her, and even there are only going to be three kids at the wedding, I want her to have fun and also give her a spotlight moment. What should I do?
It's a lovely idea to include your daughter in the celebration. If you want her to feel truly special, have a children's room set up with balloons and games for the children so as not to take away from yours and your fiancé's celebration and so that she can have a little fun of her own. Also, definitely consider having a special dance with your fiancé and your daughter or let her cut the cake with the two of you.

If we're letting all of our guests bring their kids to our wedding, how can we entertain them during the ceremony and reception?
For the ceremony, 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. For the reception, 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. Some goodies to keep them happy and occupied: Kraft-paper tablecloth (to draw on), crayons and washable markers, stamps with washable ink, stickers, fruit centerpieces, board games and puzzles, age-appropriate gift bags (with activity or coloring books, plus Play-Doh), and lastly, adult supervision.

How do you deal with people who RSVP that they'll be bringing their kids, when they weren't invited?
Whoever is closer to those people — you or your fiancé — should call and explain that unfortunately, you aren't able to include children. If you have a feeling that the kids will be dragged along anyway, make a seating plan that puts the couple at a corner table that can accommodate extra last-minute guests; if the whole family shows up, your mom or maid of honor should tell the maÎtre d' (caterers generally have extra meals on hand, so that shouldn't be a big problem). The more prepared you are for all scenarios, the more relaxed you'll be.

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