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As you make your way through the wedding planning process, one topic will arise that you may not be prepared for: should you allow children at your wedding? While many brides choose to invite babies and children to their weddings, some may choose not to. Either way, this choice is completely your own. To help answer your burning questions, we spoke to a few seasoned wedding pros: Emily Coyne of Emily Coyne Events, Amy Anaiz of Amy Anaiz Photography, Victoria Dubin of Victoria Dubin Events and Amanda Savory of Amanda Savory Events to get their thoughts. Get the scoop, below.
Weighing out the options: pros
“Part of the beauty of a wedding is that it brings together loved ones from multiple generations,” explains Emily Coyne. “This is one of those rare gatherings in life where it doesn’t matter your age, interests or social circles—people from vastly different places in life are all joining together in support of the couple. Including children makes this a complete joining of two families.” Thinking of including children on your special day? Here are some of the pros:
“Kids are super cute to include in the wedding party,” explains Amanda Savory. “Plus, it’s great for friends and family to meet kids that they haven’t been introduced to before especially if people are coming in from all over the country or world,” she says.
Not only do kids bring energy, excitement and wonder to a wedding, but including children on your special day “is particularly meaningful if the couple has children of their own from a previous relationship,” says Emily Coyne. Doing this brings the new family together in an extra special way. From a guest perspective, Amanda Savory points out a thoughtful tip, “Parents can sometimes be more relaxed because they don’t have to worry about their kids at home or arrange for a caretaker,”
Weighing out the options: cons
For those on the fence, there are definitely cons to consider as well. “Sometimes though, kids’ energy can actually draw attention away from the wedding couple,” explains Emily Coyne. “Children, especially very young ones, have many needs and the added strain of taking care of them can be exhausting to manage,”. When weighing out pros and cons, definitely consider what it might take to keep children (and their parents) entertained and comfortable. Amanda Savory explains that unpredictable behavior and disruptions during the ceremony may make it hard for your friends—they can’t fully concentrate on being in the moment because they are preoccupied with their children and ways to keep them entertained. She also notes that “A lot of your adult friends will have an earlier end time if they have to get their children home,” so this is something else you’ll need to weigh out. It doesn’t mean there aren’t any solutions to these issues though—read on!
Making your wedding kid-friendly: how to
Plan a photography schedule.
Create a photography schedule planned around children to make things easy, explains Emily Coyne. “You’ll want to have children get dressed in their fancy clothes as late as possible,” she explains, so dress clothes stay clean and children don’t have to sit still. “You want them to be on their best behavior for the ceremony itself, so don’t make them focus on anything too serious until that time or they will become tired and frustrated,” she says. Pro tip with infants and toddlers: include them in pictures after the ceremony, rather than before.
Be prepared for the ceremony.
“Kids may get shy or intimidated by the large crowds—especially if they are in the bridal party and have to walk down the aisle alone,” explains Amy Anaiz. When thinking about incorporating children into your bridal party, consider having someone be available to walk them down the aisle, just in case they feel scared. Best case scenario is that they strut down the aisle themselves—making for the best photos and video.
Make kids laugh for the best photos.
“Kids always bring a smile to faces so they can definitely brighten up a wedding especially when caught in candid moments” explains Amy Anaiz. “They can do unexpected funny things that can make you laugh when looking back at the photos,” Work with your photographer to capture a few candid moments of the children at your wedding or in your wedding party.
If it’s in your budget, definitely consider having a playroom or kid’s area or table with babysitters during dinner. “Children will dislike sitting at a formal dinner with toasts for 2 hours, so instead, let them join the cocktail reception and dancing, but allow them to eat a child-friendly meal at an earlier time and play games or watch a movie while all of the toasting is going on. This also gives the parents the opportunity to enjoy dinner,” explains Emily. If young toddlers and infants are attending the wedding and their parents are in the wedding party, it’s especially worth it to have a friend, family member or babysitter available throughout the entire getting ready process. “This will be an additional expense but it is so very worth it and the stress that it will save you from is tremendous. An extra pair of hands to take the children to play, keep them fed, and help dress them while the parents are focused on their wedding party duties is key,” explains Emily. And don’t stress if you’re unsure of where to hire help from—your planner can suggest local companies, says Emily.
Activities make things run smoothly.
Providing fun activities geared towards kids at the designated kids tables will keep children occupied and having fun, explains Victoria Dubin. “For the cocktail hour and reception, we like to have a designated children’s table or area with a few activities to keep them occupied—little games, art supplies, disposable cameras, and some treats or small toys,” she explains. Looking to get even more creative? Create activities that even adults will enjoy, explains Emily Coyne. “Having a casual outdoor wedding? Then have lawn games, or even a scavenger hunt set up for the children. Is it a formal wedding or indoors? Some of my favorite things to include are a candy-making artist, or caricature sketch artist,” Not only will your littlest wedding guests enjoy, but adult guests alike will have so much fun playing along, too.
Feed children earlier.
“For starters, you would have to know that children are ALWAYS hungry and or thirsty,” explains Victoria Dubin. Keep them happy by feeding them earlier in the evening, or provide snacks and kid-approved food during cocktail hour, she suggests. “We always serve the children kid-friendly food which they love and the caterers are always helpful and creative with selections (so much so that many of the adults wish they could eat the kid’s food too!)” If you’re including flower girls and ring bearers in your wedding party, also make sure to include stain-proof snacks for the kids to enjoy.
Adult-only weddings: invitation etiquette
You’ve made the decision to have an adult-only wedding: now how do you tell your guests in a firm but kind way? “Make a note on the save the date, wedding website and invitation, and make it super clear,” explains Amanda Savory. “Also make it very clear to close family, friends and your parents so they can spread the word if anyone asks,” she suggests. Unsure about how to say it in the nicest way? Amanda suggests talking with your stationer. “They’re a great resource when it comes to delicate wording—they’ve seen it all!”
Provide extra information and be specific.
Include nanny companies local to your wedding venue on your wedding website so that people traveling from far away with children have a resource for childcare to make things easier, suggests Emily. And last but not least—make sure that save the dates and invitations have only the adult names on the envelope, not the family name (a.k.a. “Jen and Rob Fisher” not “The Fishers”)
“At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer,” explains Emily Coyne.”It is completely up to the couple and they should make the decision that feels best for them and allows them to have the wedding that they envision,” At the end of the day, your wedding is your special moment with the person you are marrying, so don’t stress about how people will react or what anyone will think. Emily’s top tip: “Your guests love you and are being invited to your wedding because they are important in your lives. They will be just fine either way!”
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