Deciding whether or not to have kids at your wedding can put you in a real pickle. There are a lot of advantages to including kids on the guest list: you get some great photo opps, your guests don’t have to worry about tracking down childcare, and it allows your wedding to be a real family affair.
Even if you’re planning an all inclusive celebration, the last thing you want to worry about is keeping children entertained at your wedding. (After all, it’s hard to celebrate when one has to to tend to their hysterical, bored children the entire time.) Good thing we’ve got the perfect collection of tips for a kid-friendly wedding that will keep the youngsters at bay and bring out the inner child in the grown-ups.
Food and Beverage
- Finger Foods* — Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of assuming the kids will eat what the adults are being served, because you’ll be wasting you time, money, and energy on that idea. The easiest way to fill the bellies of the little one is to have kid-friendly food that is as easy to serve as it is to eat: chicken nuggets, grilled cheese/pb&j sandwiches, french fries, and fresh fruit (cut). No, these are not the healthiest of dishes to serve up to kids, but, let’s be honest, you’re not trying to combat childhood obesity or fight some crazy agenda about the foods we serve our children — you’ve got enough to worry about, honey. Therefore, let’s just fill those tiny bellies with foods they will probably devour, and let’s all move on with our lives. You’ve done your part.
- Packaged Snacks — Consider providing pre-packaged/bagged snacks for the youngsters to grab and go. It gets a little hairy (literally) when tiny, dirty fingers are digging in a bowl of chips throughout the night, so do everyone a favor and purchase bagged snacks for the evening. Tip: Have your wedding coordinator or a friend be responsible for putting the snacks out after dinner, so the kids fill up on their meal and not a bunch of empty calories.
- Natural Juice Boxes and Kid-Friendly Water Bottles— Instead of opting for cheaper, sugar- and preservative-filled juices boxes, prevent the inevitable sugar high and crash by offering juices that have more natural ingredients, or no sugar at all. Chances are, there will be many more sweets the kids will get their hands on throughout the wedding, so control the amount of sugar kids intake as much as you can.
- Non-Messy, Low Sugar Desserts — Setting up a dessert table for the kids is a wise move, especially considering that they will probably not make it till the cake cutting. Offer desserts that are easy to eat and don’t have frosting all over them (i.e. cupcakes), such as bite-sized cookies, fruit kabobs, pretzels, rice crispy treats, and fruit roll-ups. You can keep it super simple and just as appropriate by serving the kids milk boxes and cookies, because what kids doesn’t like that special treat?
*Food allergies are common in children nowadays, so it’s wise to list the ingredients on all items served to kids so that you’re not bombarded with guests asking you whether the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have peanut butter in them. Better safe than sorry.
- Activity Book: You may want to have someone hand activity books out at your ceremony to keep the kids occupied while you and the love of your life recite your vows. Here is a free printable for an incredibly adorable wedding day activity book to keep the kids at bay and the budget low. Hooray!
- “I Spy With My Little Eye” Games: After the ceremony ends and cocktail hour begin, have a friend hand out these fun-filled “I Spy” activity books to all the kid and keep them entertained as they search for each item listed. If you want to really knock their socks off, have a couple of small prizes for the kids who complete the game first.
- Balloon Characters: Hire a couple of balloon twister to come in for a few hours during dinner to keep the kids entertained during one of the most boring times at a wedding for them. The excitement of having a balloon sword or balloon crown will not only have them glued to their seats, but mom and dad can use the balloon as an incentive to get kids to eat all their dinner. It’s a win-win situation!
- Face Painting: If the budget permits, then definitely hire a couple of face painters to come in and turn your tiniest guests into animals, superheroes, and princesses. The parents will be in awe of your thoughtfulness, and the kids will be so excited, they’ll forget they are at a wedding at all.
- Bubble Station (outside): If your reception has an outside grassy area, then set up a bubble station for kids to have the time of their lives. The adults will surely join in and watch the little ones running around trying to pop bubbles. The best part is that the bubbles will add a nice whimsical touch to your reception, so you get something out of it, too.
- Toy Bar (wedding favors): Instead of loading kids up with sugar on top of sugar with a candy bar station, opt for an affordable and fun make-your-own toy goodie bag. There are plenty of online toy wholesalers, like Oriental Trading Company, that sell various toys in bulk for pennies on the dollar. Stock up a toy bar and watch the kids go crazy like it’s Christmas all over again.
- Coloring Station: What kid doesn’t like coloring? (It’s even cool for adults now.) You can set up a table that has white butcher paper as a tablecloth and baskets full of crayons so kids can color directly on the table. You can also add some coloring books to the table, too.
- Pasta Jewelry Station: An inexpensive activity to provide at your wedding is a pasta jewelry making station. Kids can construct their own bracelets and necklaces with different shaped pasta and string. Pre-cut string so you don’t have to worry about scissors or parents needing to help out too much. The kids will have a keepsake to take with them that won’t cost you an arm and a leg.
- Board + Card Games: Kids love playing board games and cards when they get bored, so keep them occupied with Monopoly, Game of Life, Chutes and Ladders, Candy Land, and the like. For card games, you can provide Uno, matching game sets, and decks of cards with directions on how to play common kid games like Go Fish. Give the kids a bit of direction on what games to play and watch them laugh the night away with each other and have the time of their lives. Throw in some casino chips for an added touch — the kids will love it.
- Giant Lawn Games: Lawn games are a big hit for kids young and old. There are plenty of DIY lawn games — like corn hole, Twister, bowling, checkers, ring toss, horseshoes, and tic tac toe — that are extremely easy and affordable to make yourself. For more wedding day entertainment inspiration, check out these fun-filled ideas that will surely keep your guests (and their kids) partying the whole night through.
- Movie Area: Go big or go home — right? If you really want to wow your guests and keep the kids out of sight, out of mind, then set up a simple outdoor movie theatre and serve up some popcorn to keep them occupied. It doesn’t take much, just take a look at this step-by-step tutorial to see how to bring this amazing idea to fruition at your wedding.
Weddings should be entertaining for all parties involved, even the youngsters. If they’re not having a good time, then you definitely won’t be either. So, ensure that you’re covering all bases if you decide to include kids on the guest list, or else you’ll find yourself in wedding hell on your special day.