I love involving children in wedding ceremonies – the couple’s children, whether from previous relationships or their children together. They are an important part of the marriage and including them in the ceremony itself is very meaningful. I have created many special ways to be sure kids know this big day is also about them, and the strengthening of family.
But today I’m not writing about all that. I’m writing about children as guests.
What happens at the wedding when children cry or carry-on, as they sometimes do? It is extremely distracting, especially during a meaningful time in the ceremony. It distracts not only the guests but the couple, and takes them away from the importance of the moment. Of course this happens every day in every way, for example in the supermarket or on an airplane. I always strive to be understanding and my sympathies go out to the frustrated parent. It’s best to be gracious and kind when other’s people’s children are misbehaving. But during the ceremony, it’s especially difficult. This is a once in a lifetime event, and it can be not only embarrassing, but disruptive. So what can you do?
So here are a few tricks, tips and advice I have to offer about children attending weddings.
For the really little ones, if at all humanly possible, work out nap times for those still indulging in them (oh, the lucky babes). Make sure they are well rested. Plan ahead for this, a few days ahead, to get the schedule right.
Have the toys that they will truly be interested in holding in their little hands and or mouth! Lollipops can shut down crying in a heartbeat.
If the couple has really young children attending, they should be sure at least one person the child knows well, who will be responsible for them during the ceremony. Their task is to keep them occupied. I know, I know, you can’t control it all, but you can at least try. Children’s natural instinct will be to want to run to mommy or daddy. More than once I’ve officiated with a child running around or clinging to a parent’s leg. No one knew what to do, and ultimately the bride or groom picked up the child, and held the child throughout the ceremony. This is certainly not an ideal way to tie the knot.
For ceremonies where lots of children will be attending I like to announce something to the effect: ‘I know there are a lot of children with us today, and the couple is so happy they are here – parents, please know if you need to get up and walk around with you child or if you have to leave the area to quiet them down – it is quite alright. We truly understand,’ or, something to that effect. It really helps parents relax and do what needs to be done.
If you are not clear that your children are invited, please ask. Couples, please specify on the invitation. It’s ok to have a kid-free wedding. What age is the cut-off? Who decides? You can make your own rules – remember: just because you want your niece at your wedding doesn’t mean you must have everyone else’s. Don’t get caught up in the drama of “Why wasn’t my child invited?” You can’t win that one! And let families know as soon as possible, so they can make child care arrangements, especially for destination weddings or even those that may take a full day including travel to your venue.
If kids are attending the reception, please have a children’s table. It will enable your guests to enjoy themselves more, as well and the kids! Child-free, a few kids, or lots of children – its up to you – but children are as unpredictable as the weather, best to be prepared for rain or shine.
Thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your gorgeous photos!