If inviting kids to your wedding is a no-brainer, (who wouldn’t want copious amounts of flower girls around?) then you are likely thinking up ways to keep those kids happy, without turning your aesthetic into Chuck-E-Cheese’s.
The key to a wedding filled with joyful kids and relaxed parents is to have age-appropriate activities for every stage of the big day. So, from the ceremony through the end of the reception, here are our favorite ways to keep your younger guests delighted.
Ceremonies can be tough for little kids. They get squirrelly on the hard benches. They often struggle to follow along, especially if the ceremony is long and uses traditional, religious language. They may get uncomfortable in their frilly clothes. And nothing detracts from a ceremony as quickly as screaming, crying children. A quiet pastime is a perfect solution to keep kids engaged, and parents happy.
Don’t underestimate the power of a clipboard. Paint a few boards in your wedding’s colors, and supply any number of activities, from a bingo board or "I Spy" list of things they’ll see and hear during the ceremony, to coloring-book-style pictures of the happy couple. (You can even make these coloring pages yourselves using a photo app, or the messenger section of your iPhone.)
Line the outside aisles with easels and watercolors and let older kids live paint your ceremony! (Just be sure to have only one piece of watercolor paper per easel so your vows aren't said to the sound of tearing paper.)
If your wedding has a mingling hour between the ceremony and the dinner, this is a perfect time to let kids run a little free. Afterall, they sat through a ceremony, and are about to sit through dinner. Getting them to burn some energy now is a great plan.
Kids of Any Age:
If you are keeping kids inside, stock a “potion bar” so they can mix their own juicy concoctions Have plenty of fun garnishes on hand to get their creative juices flowing…
Set up a craft table with activities designed for the age of your guests. If you have little kids and teens attending, create two different tables with age-appropriate activities on each.
Have a bowl of Polaroid cameras and an empty album nearby. Ask the kids to chronicle your wedding from their perspective... with this activity, you are all but guaranteed to have a hysterical array of photos documenting your big day.
for the youngest...
(Be sure to avoid crafts that could ruin clothes or cause serious injury--leave the glue guns at home!)
Have them decorate their own seating cards.
Make macaroni necklaces using only your wedding’s special colors.
Have felt flowers and something to attach them to precut so kids can make their own garden-inspired masterpieces.
for the tweens or teens...
Create a "bouquet bar" with real plants and flowers and let them create handheld bouquets, corsages, or planted baskets to take home. If you're worried about the dirt of potted plants, choose succulents and pretty-colored sand instead.
Print up some T-Shirts to commemorate your day, and set up a tie-dye station in your wedding colors.
If the kids are old enough, consider seating them together at a special kids’ table. Some couples opt to hire an entertainer or a fun sitter to keep them captivated. No matter where kids sit, activity placemats with word searches and wedding-themed connect-the-dots are a must. A special kid friendly menu (pizza, macaroni and cheese, hotdogs), will not only save you money, but ensure your youngest guests never succumb to hanger.
Kids often eat more quickly than adults, so consider having mini cupcakes, sugar cookies, or little donuts brought to their table when their plates are cleared. Not only are sweets a welcome surprise, but turning their table into a little Sunday-station or novelty sweet shop with decorate-able goodies will keep them occupied through the rest of dinner.
Congratulations! You’ve made it through all the trickiest parts… now the party starts, and keeping it fun for kids just got a whole lot easier.
Some kids will dance right alongside adults. For shyer, quieter or more tired children, how about a table stacked with board games or a quiet movie room with popcorns, pillows, and blankets?
A photo booth is always popular with kids. Why not take yours up a notch by having a costume chest (think hats, boas, stick-on mustaches, sunglasses, old dresses, etc.) that kids can tear through before taking their pictures? This will keep them entertained for hours!
Similarly, a "karaoke room" is sure to be a hit with older kids who may not appreciate the music being played on the main dance floor.
At a reception, anything goes, so think about where you’d like to encourage kids to congregate, and what kind of experience you’d like them--and their parents--to have.
Your extra efforts will be adored by parents and will make kids feel like special guests, ensuring they, too, find your wedding unforgetable!