Invitation Question regarding children/childcare

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kellyheartsjeff Posts : 66 Registered: 2/25/09
Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 11:41 AM

A little background info: Between FH and I there are 30 children (under 10 years old) on both sides of the family, and almost all are out of town family. While I am not against having children at the reception - that is a lot! So we have decided to reserve the "hospitality room" at the hotel where the reception is. We are then hiring babysitters and ordering pizza/chicken fingers/etc for the kids. I will also be buying some toys & games for them and am hoping that there is a TV in the room so that I can bring some movies for them to watch. The kids are welcome to come to the cocktail hour and back to the reception for dancing - just not for the dinner portion of the evening. However, if the kids want to stay in the hospitality room for the entire night, that is fine - we are hiring babysitters for the whole night - so it's at the parents discretion if they want the kids to come back for the dancing portion.

So my two questions are:

1) We have two flower girls and one ring bearer. The two flower girls are younger (3 & 4) so I think they would have no problem going to the hospitality room instead of the formal dinner - although I am nervous that their mothers might not be comfortable leaving their kids with babysitters that they didn't vet out themselves - this is an issue that my mom will be handling. Our ring bearer is 7, however he is a very mature 7 year old - he is an only child and is always around adults. I think he might be more comfortable being with his parents at the formal dinner than the hospitality room with the other kids. Should I give him the option of coming to the formal dinner? I know that's probably poor etiquette to make an exception for one child, but being that he's in the wedding it makes it a little harder. I feel bad about having the kids in the wedding but then saying they aren't invited to dinner.

2) We are trying to figure out how we will communicate the childcare arrangements and details to the guests. As of right now it looks like we will be printing up a card/note/flyer of some sort separate from the invitation. So should we just include the un-matching card with the formal invitation? Or should we mail it separately?


ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 11:57 AM Go to message in response to: kellyheartsjeff

Hmm, I hope AOTB and Myra will chime in on this one. Personally, my first thought is that it's really awkward to invite the kids for cocktails and dancing, but to exclude them from dinner. I think it should be all or nothing, but I understand what you're trying to do.

Is it possible to get a room directly adjacent to the reception, and use that as the hospitality suite? Is the reception at the hotel, and how far will the hospitality suite be from the reception? Say everybody with kids is comfortable leaving them in the hospitality suite with babysitters they don't know and 30 other kids that they don't know. Even if that's the case, think about the logistics. So everybody brings their kids to the ceremony and cocktail hour. Just as you're asking guests to sit down for dinner, a bunch of people have to pick up their kids and head off to find the hospitality suite. Half an hour later, when they've finally found the place, settled their kids in, and returned, their meal is cold or the buffet is out of all the good items. An hour later, instead of joining in on the dancing immediately, the same people (or their spouses) need to head back to the hospitality suite to pick up their kids. If the kids are watching Finding Nemo and don't want to leave immediately, the parents return to the reception, only to have to go back to the hospitality suite an hour later, when Nemo is over, to see if their kids want to join the party. I understand that you're trying to please everyone, but it seems like it would be much easier for everyone if you either allowed the kids to come (and eat off a kids menu) or had them stay in the hospitality suite for the entire wedding.

Alternatively, a room right next door to the reception would be ideal. That way, parents can easily check on their kids if they want to without missing much of the party. If kids miss their parents, they can easily go join them. And nobody is excluded from the dinner - you're simply offering an alternative, kid-friendly meal and entertainment.

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BWFrancie Posts : 70 Registered: 11/11/09
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 12:10 PM Go to message in response to: kellyheartsjeff

The experts on etiquette will be better help than me, but I do think you are making a great decision to have a separate room for the kids and truth be told, the kids will have more fun as long as you have plenty of activities planned. I would definitely hire sitters who are experienced and mature. It would be good if the sitters were CPR trained. If there is not a professional service in your town, check out Mothers should not have a problem with that, and if they are "helicopter moms" they can buzz over to the room and check on their kids whenever they get the urge.

I understand the 7 yr. old is used to being around adults and would probably rather be with the adults... my son was the same way. But if you allow him, it's going to cause problems with other parents. In fact, if a parent sees the 7 year old having dinner in the main room they may just think it's okay and go get their kids. I don't think the 7 yr. old ring bearer will be traumatized by having to stay with the rest of the kids. In fact, he may enjoy it. :)

If it were me I would print a very classy note to include in the invitation. I would not mail it separately. People tend to pay attention to a formal wedding invitation. Another random card may get ignored.

Like I said, the others may have better advice. I'm just shootin' from the hip. Good luck!

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kellyheartsjeff Posts : 66 Registered: 2/25/09
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 12:13 PM Go to message in response to: ArtBride

I see what you mean about the logistics. Honestly, the kids do not have to attend the cocktail hour or the dancing portion - that's really if the parents want them to or not. I think we will plan on the babysitters being set up and ready for the kids a 1/2 hour before cocktail hour even starts, so parents can drop off the kids right away if they would like. Maybe another option would be to have one of the babysitters (we are probably going to need at least 3 sitters total depending on how many kids are there) come to the cocktail hour shortly before dinner is set to begin to "pick-up" the rest of the kids and escort them back to the hospitality suite. Likewise, when the formal dinner is over maybe one of the sitters could take some of the kids back to the reception for the dancing portion if they would like to?

Also - we are planning on having the parents fill out name tags for the kids along with the cell numbers, so if the kids are having a tantrum or want their parents the sitters can call the parents. And now that I'm thinking about it - I would guess that there is a phone in the suite so we could probably give the parents the number if they would like to call to check on their kids.

Unfortunately, we can't get a room adjacent to the reception for the kids. I think the hospitality suite is on the 2nd floor, so it's not super close to the reception room, but it's not terribly far either.
So far the childcare set-up has been very well received by FH's side of the family (we have not discussed with my side yet). I think most of them are planning on leaving their kids in the suite the whole time and having a night out as an adult. As far as my side of the family goes, I think a lot of the out of town family will leave their kids with in-laws and won't travel with them to begin with, but I could be wrong.


kellyheartsjeff Posts : 66 Registered: 2/25/09
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 12:18 PM Go to message in response to: BWFrancie

Francie - I think I am going to agree with you on the 7 year old. I kind of had a feeling that would be the response - that if other parents see a child at dinner they might get upset that their child isn't allowed, etc.

Good point about hiring CPR certified sitters, I hadn't thought of that. We are also having the parents fill out a short information sheet listing allergies/important info - just in case. It seems like most kids these days are allergic to peanuts so I will make sure there aren't any in the room of any kind! My mom has some good leads on sitters - many of them are elementary school teachers that could use some extra cash, so I would think most moms would be comfortable leaving their kids with them.

Another good point about including it in the invitation so it doesn't get lost or ignored. I think that is probably the route we will end up going.


myras Posts : 396 Registered: 2/26/10
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 1:04 PM Go to message in response to: kellyheartsjeff

am hoping that there is a TV in the room so that I can bring some movies for them to watch.

As Art points out, it's not so much a matter of etiquette as it is one of logistics. My first thought is that very often, cocktail hours take place in a space much smaller than the reception area. Is this where you want 30 kids running around? Same is true with dance floors--often too small to accomodate all of your guests, much less 30 children. So, I probably would consider one of two options. Either:

1.The kids go to the hospitality room directly after the ceremony, to be entertained there for the evening. If this is the case, I would provide a "crash" area for the young ones to fall asleep, as well as food and entertainment. And, do not "HOPE" that there is a TV. Make sure that there is one and plenty of films to go along with it. Since the typical reception lasts no more than four hours, by the time you feed them and show one or two movies, they'll be ready to leave, especially if they are young (and parents need their sleep!)

2. Have the kids (including the 7 year old) at dinner, but at their own table(s). Provide a kid-friendly meal, crayons and other quiet entertainments. When/if they grow restless, tired, or rambunctious, have their parents shepherd them off to the hospitality/ crash room. If they behave and are having a good time, they can stay (since you said that they're welcome for dancing, anyhow). You might need an "enforcer," a tactful relative who will remind parents to remove their cranky children, if need be.

Whatever your arrangements, inform the parents ahead of time. You can do this with an insert in your invitations (try to make it look nice), on a wedding website, or with a separate mailing or e-mail. You can do it with a separate save-the-date that includes information on transportation, hotels that you have blocked, local activities, childcare, etc. You also can have a welcome packet in the parents rooms with any information updates that are needed.

By the way, do you have an age cut-off, when someone is no longer considered a "child"? I can see that teens and "tweens" might not appreciate being shuttled off or having the same entertainment as the really young ones.

Hope this helps.


kellyheartsjeff Posts : 66 Registered: 2/25/09
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 1:18 PM Go to message in response to: myras

Myra - I didn't communicate that effectively - I am hoping that they have a DVD player already there, other wise I will be bringing a small one to hook up to the TV. I am definitely making sure that there is a TV there and the ability for movies to be played for them.

That is a very good point about the cocktail area being small. If the weather is nice, the cocktail area we be outside on a huge balcony, so space wouldn't be an issue. But if it's cold/rainy - then the cocktail hour will be in a much smaller area and having kids around would be a problem. As far as the dance floor - I actually think that would be big enough for everyone, but again - I see your point.

I think we will be gently pushing people to leave their kids in the suite for the duration of the reception - and so far, that is what most of the parents have told us they are going to do. And we are definitely making sure there is a "crash" area - complete with blankets/pillows/etc.

Age cut-off is something I have been trying to figure out. We were thinking 10 and under? Maybe 12 and under? I agree, that the "tweens" would be much more comfortable with the parents at the regular dinner. Most of the kids are between 3 and 8 I would say, I think we only have a few that are in the tween stage.


karebeartg Posts : 831 Registered: 6/25/08
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 1:57 PM Go to message in response to: kellyheartsjeff

I'll let the other ladies handle the bigger picture logistics, but I did have a thought on the "we don't mind the kids at cocktail hour/dancing" part.

1) Whatever insert you send, include words to the effect of "a meal will be provided for the children in the Hospitality Suite."
2) If you are hoping that most people will leave their children there for the duration of the wedding, just send all information out as if that were the plan. AKA, don't put specifically on the invitation that children are welcome during the cocktail hour/dancing. If a parent asks you/your mother/etc, say "You're more than welcome to bring Suzy to the cocktail hour and dancing, but our plan is for the children to eat their special children's meal in the Hospitality Suite." Then, for day of wedding issues, give your venue the heads up that you don't mind if children come to the cocktail hour/dancing so they don't "bounce" kids to the Suite.
3) Since you would be having multiple babysitters, have one come down to the cocktail area about 10 minutes or so before dinner. Have the DJ/venue/somebody announce that it's time for the kids to have their special meal/get tons of candy/whatever phrase works. Have them say "Soandso, one of the babysitters, is standing by the door (or somewhere) to show anyone who needs it where the Hospitality Suite is."

That's all I've got for now.



auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 2:23 PM Go to message in response to: kellyheartsjeff

Dear Kelly,

Sounds like a great idea.

My comments:

I don't think it's right to invite one 7-year old to the adult party and not invite the others. They don't know he's "mature and used to being around adults". The only thing the other kids, and their parents, will know is that one kid gets special treatment while the others do not.

I suggest you proceed as follows:

1. Contract with a reputable, licensed, bonded child care agency. Look around for "Home Health Care" agencies.

2. Talk with these people about the number of children you are inviting, and their ages. Ask how many sitters you will need should every child show up. Ask if they are prepared to provide that many sitters, and how far in advance you need a final head count.

3. Make up an info sheet detailing your expectations for children of a certain age and younger being a part of the kids' party. Make sure the parents know the sitters come from a reputable agency.

4. Require the parents to RSVP by a certain date. They will need to include info such as the child's name, age, any special needs, dietary restrictions, medical issues, etc. Tell them what food you are providing, then suggest that any other special food has to be provided by the parent. (Bottles of formula, etc.)

5. Provide all that to the sitter agency so they can line up their people. Note that you will need at least two sitters, so one can be in charge while the other visits the restroom, goes for a parent, deals with any crisis, etc.

The agency should have a means of controlling who takes a child in and out of the kids' room. At our church we use matching paper wristbands; one on the kid and one on the parent. You might also consider kids' name tags with parents' names and cell phone numbers on the children's backs. (Don't put them on the fronts, because the kids will take them off.)


FutureMrsKlein Posts : 164 Registered: 5/2/09
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 3:56 PM Go to message in response to: auntofthebride

I think that this is a great idea. We did this for my grandparents 50th anniversary party. The kids loved it as did the parents. I would put a card in the invitation and a note on your website.

It is great you are providing this service.


NicoleN1101 Posts : 44 Registered: 3/19/10
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Mar 30, 2010 4:18 PM Go to message in response to: FutureMrsKlein

As a parent I would appreciate being able to attend an adult function and know that my child is being well cared for. Almost every parent has hired a babysitter at one point or another so they should be comfortable leaving the child with a capable caregiver for a few hours. If they have never left their child behind then maybe they don't need to attend... just my opinion. I've even considered getting my own sitter for my cousins upcoming wedding, but have been told by many family members that I won't have to worry about my son, he will be kept quite occupied... but he will be one of maybe 4 kids there, and it's mainly family anyhow.

You've got the right idea, just be open with the parents, and definitly ask them to RSVP how many children they will be bringing so you can arrange the Childrens Hospitality room.
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Lemoncakeface Posts : 33 Registered: 11/13/09
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 11:46 AM Go to message in response to: NicoleN1101

I'm thinking about doing a children's area too. How would I word a card to inform guests that there is a place for the children to go to during the ceremony and reception. I don't want to make it sound as if they have to leave the children out of any of the festivities but that its available if they need it.

Our reception and ceremony are in the same venue so parents won't have to do a lot of walking to take children to and from the area.

Should I even make cards or let it spread by word of mouth. We are having a weekend wedding so (most) guests will be at the venue before the ceremony


auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: Invitation Question regarding children/childcare
Posted: Apr 1, 2010 12:40 PM Go to message in response to: Lemoncakeface

Dear LCF,

My suggestion is to make up an info flyer, and insert it only in the invitations that are going to people with small children. There's no need to advertise this to Empty Nesters who are way past the rugrats stage in life.

You need an accurate count of how many children to expect, so you'll have the proper number of sitters. Most sitter agencies suggest a higher ratio of sitters to infants than sitters to older children.

For example, you might have one sitter for ever four infants, then one sitter for every six toddlers.

You will also need to know, in advance, of any special requirements such as dietary restrictions, for each child.

My suggestion is to make up a flyer with a whole different set of child-appropriate graphics so the children know there will be a special party just for them.


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