A look at inviting guests with children – Grant Morgan, Kent wedding planner.
To invite or not to invite…that is often the question when it comes to children and weddings.
In the past, inviting children to a wedding meant that one (or both) parents would be distracted from all the merriment, too busy worrying about the safety and whereabouts of their little monsters. We’ve all been there. You’re chatting away to an old acquaintance, they’re smiling and nodding, all the while their eyes are darting over your shoulder or sliding left and right, scanning the area. Not much of a catch-up and not much fun for anyone, except the kids of course!
The simple answer: don’t invite children. This, in turn, meant that guests with children would have to make arrangements for babysitters/child-minders. Anyone with children will know that good childcare does not come cheap and reliability can be a rare commodity.
Help is at hand!
Thankfully there are now a host of options available to brides & grooms that both inject some fun into proceedings for children and provide peace of mind and the chance to relax for parents.
A simple, economic but effective way to distract and engage children is to provide lawn games. Lightweight skittles, a plastic pétanque set, croquet, giant Jenga and giant chess or checkers are among the most popular. As with all the elements of a wedding, planning and organisation is key – without them, a simple idea to entertain children could turn into unadulterated chaos!
Top tip: If you opt for the DIY, lawn games approach, there are several key elements one must implement to ensure they serve the intended purpose:
1. the games should be set-up in a clearly marked and clearly visible, separate area.
2. only use equipment that is safe and will not cause damage to the surroundings or the children themselves.
3. ask your ushers or bridesmaids to do 30 minute stints overseeing the area. This is a good way of keeping order and helping the parents to relax, knowing there is supervision.
If you prefer a more formally organised solution then a crèche is a wise option. The obvious upshot of using a professional crèche service is that the staff will be used to dealing with children on a regular basis, thus reducing the need for interaction with their parents. There are several add-on options available when using a crèche service. For example a children’s entertainer such as a magician or clown or a fun bus to ensure all the children are in one place, all of the time! You could even introduce themed fancy-dress for the children*, so the children get more of an impression of a party than a wedding. Try to keep the fancy-dress theme simple and inexpensive for the parents. Ideally, you want as little fuss as possible regarding the outfits themselves – think pirates or fairies, for example.
*Note: Only consider using themed fancy dress if the children are going to be housed in one place such as a fun bus, so as not to dilute the overall theme of your wedding.
Depending on your location and budget, another option is the mini-funfair. Attractions such as big(ish) wheels, dodgems, bouncy castles and carousels can all be hired and manned for your reception. Another plus of the mini-funfair is once the reception is in full swing, it’s time for the big kids to have a ride!
As you can see, there are a number of options available for accommodating children at your wedding; the style of your wedding, your budget, the location and facilities as well as the number of children expected are all factors when choosing which solutions suits you best.
Above all, security, safety and professionalism should be the three most important concerens when engaging a third party to offer such services. It is essential that you can trust this supplier (perhaps more than any other) so ask for references and, where possible, arrange a face-to-face meeting beforehand with any staff that will be attending your wedding. Looking for affiliations with recognised bodies, such as OFSTED [visit], is a good idea.
Grant Morgan, Kent wedding planner.