Think of the children
Is it ok not to have children at my wedding? How will I keep children entertained if we invite them? Can you provide special meals for children?
We’re often asked these questions, so we thought it was time for one of our handy practical guides!
Is it ok to say “no children?”
Yes, it is – after all, it is your wedding day. Every bride wants their wedding to be perfect – and every bride has had a not-so-good experience with children at a wedding, from too much noise during the ceremony to running about during the wedding breakfast.
That said, there are things to consider – and one of them is your guests. Parents with very young babies may not want to leave their children with a baby-sitter or nanny. You will also need to consider children of immediate family, some of whom you may want to play a role in the wedding as flower-girl or pageboy.
You should also consider the type of wedding you are having. If you are planning on a remote country house location, a wedding abroad, or a full-weekend wedding, it may not be practicable for guests to leave children with relatives or babysitters.
I don’t want to invite children, but it seems like this might be tricky emotionally. How do I broach this with my guests without offending people?
This really can be one of the trickiest elements of wedding planning. A brief word on an invitation may well put backs up. It is well worth phoning any guests with kids and having a proper chat to explain why you won’t be inviting any children. It’s so much more personal and shows consideration for them.
Unlike, say, meal choices, the earlier this is done in the process, the better. Then there’s far less room for misunderstanding, and plenty of time for parents to make childcare arrangements.
If you are only inviting children for close family, make sure those children have a role in your wedding. Otherwise guests may arrive and think “Well, why are THEY allowed to bring children?” The last thing you want on your big day is an atmosphere of resentment.
Don’t forget that children can really add to a wedding’s atmosphere with their innocence and fun – and if you truly consider their needs, you are far more likely to give both them and you a more enjoyable day – and all without breaking your budget.
We are inviting children! We love children! How do we provide for them?
First things first. Again, call any guests with children. Make sure you know the children’s ages, ask if there is any food they won’t be able to eat, or if they would prefer a special children’s menu. (More on this later.) Ask if they would like some activities to do during the meal. Explain any wedding plans you have, if there will be safe outside space for children.
If you find you have a lot of children, you may want to consider hiring a nanny or a children’s entertainer for a portion of the day. If you decide to do this, it’s always worth letting your guests know.
Check if your venue provides high-chairs, if necessary; or if your caterer can provide them for you.
Some of my child guests won’t eat the menu I have planned. What should we do instead?
We find this often comes down to age. Older children, 12 and up, may well prefer to eat what everyone else is having, and to feel they are being treated as “one of the grown-ups”. If you think portions will be too large, your caterer should be able to provide smaller amounts for children.
Young children may prefer a simple tomatoey pasta dish. If children are old enough to manage for themselves, a party picnic box of sandwiches, fruit, cheese, a treat pudding and a boxed drink can work really well for a summer wedding – especially if you’ve planned for children to eat separately with a nanny or entertainer.
Fast food is often a real treat for children, but it can also send a “Party party!” message and contribute to excitement. It can also seem like an after-thought. Once again, though, this depends entirely on your guests. If you’ve talked to guests and they think their children would like this option, then it’s not a bad idea to provide something you know they will like!
Making children’s food special in some way is a great idea. Your caterer should be able to provide three-course menus, for example, with child-friendly food that still feels like a really special treat. Or consider adding an element of fun to a simpler pudding with presentation or sweet decoration.
Providing children’s food will very probably be less expensive per person than the main menu you’ve chosen – so there is a bonus to all the hard work you are putting in making sure they will be happy!
I’m worried that children won’t want to sit through a long wedding meal and speeches.
This can be a problem, especially for young and excited children. Children don’t tend to like waiting, so you could ask your caterer to serve children’s food with the adult starter. It’s also well worth providing an activity bag for your child guests containing colouring books, pens, pencils and some fun toys – it will feel like a party goody bag to kids, and mean they are far less likely to get bored and play up. Your caterer should be able to lay these out for you on the day according to your table plan.
I’m thinking of seating children separately. Is this a good idea?
Like everything, the answer is, it depends.
Older children will most likely want to be with the adults. Younger children will need to be with their parents.
A separate children’s table can work – but excited children all together can get rowdy, and this usually means one parent will end up spending time at the children’s table trying to calm them rather than enjoying their own meal. Children may also not sit still if their parents are nearby. If you do have a children’s table, considering providing craft-type activities for it to keep children interested and keen during the wedding breakfast. If you will be having a toast during speeches, make sure your caterer can deliver soft drinks to the children’s table!
Seating children completely separately from the main wedding breakfast room can also work provided you have hired an entertainer or childcare provider to look after them well and make sure they are having a good time. Remember that your childcare provider will also require a proper meal while they are working. You can even theme these rooms to go with your wedding!
- It’s ok not to invite children, but you do need to consider guests as well
- If you’re not going to invite children, tell guests personally, explain why and say so early so childcare can be arranged
- If you do invite children, consider their needs. A bit of extra work in planning will really pay off on the day itself