how to include children in your wedding
Children at weddings: The pros and cons
Children are our most precious little people at the heart of family life. But deciding how (or IF) to have children at your wedding is tricky. Read our handy hints and tips, and make planning your wedding ‘child’s play’…
Should children be invited to your wedding?
Having children at your wedding could be non-negotiable. You may have children of your own, or nieces and nephews who play a huge part in your life. You might just love the joy they bring to the party! Or, whilst you adore children, you may feel that children and parents are happier and more relaxed if children are entertained elsewhere. You could be somewhere in the middle, and it’s a dilemma you are struggling with.
How do we make the decision?
Don’t feel guilty about wanting a child-free wedding or including children on your guest list. There is no right or wrong. You may have a budget to stick to and a maximum guest limit set by the venue as a starting point. Guests will understand if including all children is beyond your means financially, or if their invitation is at the expense of friends or family. Inviting only children in your immediate family might be easier, or your venue may set expectations about the number of young children permitted, taking the decision out of your hands. The key is to make the decision early and stick to it. Give polite, clear messages to parents from the start, as this avoids upset later on.
Can we have our (wedding cake) and it?
YES! It is possible to have the best of both worlds and include children for part of your wedding day. Having a trusted family member or registered childminder collect children before they are overtired, can make all the difference. At Cote How, young children only attend until 7 p.m. because whilst we LOVE having them, little ones do struggle to cope past bedtime! Our goal is for everyone to have a wonderful experience, including the children. If guests travel a long way or don’t have someone to collect children, you (or parents) could hire suitably qualified childminders to babysit for the evening. Including a ‘ready for bed’ request with wedding invitations gives parents plenty of notice. Parents can then make plans for the evening or perhaps choose to stay for the day only. It really is down to what works best for you as a couple.
How do we make sure children feel involved in our wedding?
Most importantly, consider their ages. Being in the aisle party is most suitable for children aged three and over. Teeny tots are likely to need support or not want to leave their parents, and it’s best to avoid a scene as the bride is walking down the aisle. If children are doing a reading, think about the size of your audience, as it can lead to stage fright! Children love having special jobs, such as carrying a ‘ring box’ (consider leaving the actual rings with an adult to avoid any expensive mishaps!) If your flower girl has a petal basket, think about the practicalities… scattering dried petals indoors near lit candles is not ideal, and fresh petals can make the floor slippery. Having a role is great for children’s self-esteem, but avoid crucial jobs; they could change their minds at the last minute if they feel overwhelmed. Handing out confetti cones or favours with an older helper is a great way to include children without putting them under too much pressure.
How can we prepare young children for the ‘big day’?
Avoid discussing the wedding too far in advance, as six months is a very long time for little ones! Visit the venue from the outside or show children videos from the venue’s website so the surroundings feel less strange on arrival. Do this close to the date because if you are too many ‘sleeps’ away from the wedding, the long wait is hard!
Be practical and see things through the child’s eyes when choosing their outfit. Try it on at home and make sure clothes and shoes are comfortable. Don’t spend a fortune on outfits they will want to take off before the end of the wedding and consider favourite clothes to change into after the photos. Make a game of practising at home. Have fun pretending to scatter petals in the garden or walking down the hallway to the aisle music. This will build their confidence for their big moment!
What will help the day go smoothly for children and parents?
Agree on a plan beforehand for childcare on the wedding day. Those you give this responsibility to need to be suitable and happy to oblige. Older children are brilliant at playing with younger ones to keep them amused, BUT they need adult supervision too! Enjoying the party will be a distraction for relatives who agree to supervise little ones, so share the load if you can. Avoid one person entertaining children all day without having some ‘grown-up time’ even if they are willing volunteers. Consider hiring a specialist nanny that children will love spending time with. Ask the presiding official to let guests know they can step outside if a child is upset during your ceremony or speeches, so they can leave without feeling uncomfortable or judged! For your own children, let them stay with you whilst you make your vows if this reassures them. Bring a pushchair for babies to rest in, so the family can take turns doing laps around the venue and little ones get their afternoon nap!
What questions should we ask the venue when children are invited to our wedding?
It’s essential to work with your venue and remember their guidelines are based on past experiences. The safety and well-being of your children is their utmost priority. Check they have highchairs and changing mats for guests with little ones arriving on pre-booked transport. Children find it hard to manage if they are hungry, so ask about child-friendly meals they will enjoy. Formal dinners are boring for youngsters, so some venues provide picnic bags with finger foods to keep them busy. Healthy snacks will top-up children throughout the day, and avoid over-excited tots full of sweets and fizzy drinks! Find a small space to create a ‘story nook’. Quiet time with favourite books, a soft toy and a cosy blanket gives children ‘time out’ to rest. Finally, ask if you can bring a bag of carefully chosen toys to occupy them. Something new works a treat, but avoid anything noisy or messy!
How can we create special moments that become treasured memories?
Having your own children or those close to you on your wedding day is a wonderful opportunity to make memories that become part of family history. Here are some lovely tried and tested ideas:
- Capture a ‘first look’ and include your children. Children feel emotional seeing a bride/groom in their wedding outfits and there may be a few tears!
- A sand ritual is beautiful, especially for blended families. Give each person in the ‘new family’ a small jar of coloured sand. Once vows are exchanged, pour all the sand into one jar, mixing all the colours together to represent the new family. Children can decorate and name the jars too.
- Include children in your first dance, choosing a song that everyone loves to dance to, from a favourite holiday for example.
- Give older children an instant camera to capture happy moments throughout the day. Make a scrapbook together once the wedding is over.
- Involve children in crafting things for your celebration. Homemade bunting or place cards can be made by children of all ages, using simple techniques such as potato printing or finger painting.
- Include one of your children’s drawings or a hand-written message from them in wedding invitations.
- Let children pick out a special gift for the bride or groom, e.g. socks or a handkerchief to be used on the day.
- Give a meaningful gift to your child/children. A bracelet symbolises being joined as a family or have ‘new name’ family badges to wear with pride.
Whatever you decide about your guest list, one thing is for sure… with children in your wedding party, love, laughter, and a few tears are practically guaranteed! If you have children with you on your wedding day remember they are doing their best and if you’re relaxed and go with the flow, then they will too.
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A special thank you to our wonderful photographers who have contributed their amazing photos too.
Tiree Dawson, Steve Hillman, Clare Gelderd, Jenna Carpenter, Paula Mottram. You can find out more about our Recommended Wedding Photographers here
Thank you to Lilylou of Ambleside for the beautiful fresh wedding flowers
If you are considering hiring childcare for your wedding why not visit ‘The Wedding Childcare Company”
We very much appreciate the ongoing help and support for our couples from the fantastic team of Registrars at the Westmorland & Furness Registry Office.
If you are a regular wedding supplier here at Cote How and would like to contribute to a wedding blog, please get in touch.