What do you do with the Little Angels?!
It’s always difficult drawing the line when you’re deciding who to invite to your wedding day. If it’s a big fat wedding, the likelihood is you’ve got a good few kids on the list, and even if it isn’t, there are going to be a few close friends and family with children. Below, I’ve spliced together a few tips on how to keep kids entertained at your wedding.
So, how do you stop these energy packed, mischief making, not-allowed-to-play-games-on-my-phone-until-after-the-wedding-breakfast rascals from getting so bored they organise races up and down the aisle, start swinging off your beautifully arranged fake cherry tree centre pieces, mithering their parents all day/night (who are trying to have a conversation and drink fizzy wine) or just from crying, screaming and fighting for the duration?! It’s no easy task, but over the years I’ve seen some creative ways of keeping the little critters occupied and happy. You’re taking up their precious time too, and kids these days have remarkably busy schedules…
Here’s a few tips and ideas for making your big day fun for the smaller guests on the list!
1.Get them feeling important.
If I’ve learned anything from being a dad, it’s that kids like to feel special! Starting off on the right foot is a good plan, so gather some invites just for the kids and send them out with the rest. Get their names right, give them a dress code and make them feel important!
2. Get them playing and chatting
Goody bags are a must, trust me, they’re expecting one, they’ve gotta have one! In between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast, have a few allocated distributers and make sure these goody bags pre-filled with all manner of sweets, games, over-sized shades, bubbles and those weird squelchy toy things you can throw at walls?! Tub of unicorn poo? You’re onto a winner
If you’ve got the helpers and the time, a nice idea is hiding the goody bags around the hotel grounds (or inside if it’s peeing down, somewhere non-intrusive, so not the kitchen!) Hide them around the garden, tied to the branches of trees, behind pillars, in plant pots. Make them bright and colourful and the kids will get to know one another and start to mix as they run around looking for the bag with their names on and helping each other out. Then they’ll investigate what they’ve got and start messing around with each other, entertaining themselves.
- Make a goody bag item list. Wedding Busy Bags has some cool ideas, plus these mini lego figures on Amazon are a good punt.
- Decide what kind of bags to go for – plastic or cloth etc
3. Hire a kiddie minder/herder/entertainer
This doesn’t have to be a professional entertainer with animal balloons and an act (although that would work! All depends on budget), it could be a person specially invited to the wedding who knows how to deal with kids and keep them entertained and in line. I’ve known people to ask the nursery school teacher or TA to come and sit with the kids at the wedding breakfast, get them talking, and then after them in the day with games and colouring etc.
DVDs in a separate room of the hotel is one way to keep your child guests happy and you know that they’re safe and not causing havoc! If you can organise it, a DVD room with comfy bean bags for kids to sit on and a few DVDs playing throughout the day and evening can be a good source of entertainment.
- Ask around parents and see what they think would be fun and appropriate
- Give the kids little printed film cards to tell them when the DVDs are playing, and what the films are.
4. Craft corner
Another good tip is a craft corner with pens and crayons and loads of colourful paper. Maybe arrange a low bench or a table and have a drawing competition – wedding themed! Kids love glue and glitter and all things messy, so if you throw that into the mix and get them to make party hats or masks, sure, that’s a got to be a winner!
- Confetti creating is a good activity – lots of different kinds of confetti in a big communal box and glittery paper to cut up and shred, multi coloured streamers and tissue paper and cones to put their confetti in, and kids can get creative. Download cone templates for confetti, there’s loads of sites with this sort of thing. Evermine has a decent download
- Get all your supplies together and make sure there’s enough for everyone.
- Have a look for easy to make cardboard masks and hats, although with enough card and shiny stickers they can make their own!
5. Wedding breakfast table
A table just for the kids, with their own kid’s menu, is the best way to get them chunnering away happily with each other, out of their parents hair!. A table cloth that they can scribble on, a few activity books (check out Party Pieces), word searches, push out dolls to dress for the girls and superheroes for the boys, and a fun toy each and this should hold them through the meal and the speeches! A few balloons to blow up and take outside to bat around when they’ve finished seems to be a popular one amongst the children I’ve seen at weddings (and I’ve been to 12 million).
Friendship bracelets are still ‘in’ (according to my daughter), so maybe buy a few sets (I’m told Galt Toys are worth a gander) and let the kids make their own. Rock Paper Scissors for sweets is a fun game to set up. Kids can do that for hours!
- The caterers will help with a kid’s menu.
- Do a head count, gather your child-fun shizzle
6 Get them taking pictures
There was a trend a while back of disposable cameras on wedding tables. This is a brilliant addition to a kids table. Give them all a camera and let them snap away! Selfie central! These children are no strangers to a camera! And I’m man enough not to be scared of a bit of competition…
I have seen polaroid’s given to kids. This is a fantastic ideas as most of them will never have clapped eyes on one, but it’s a bit pricier.
- There are lots of sites for disposable cameras; lots on Amazon (God bless it!). Check your numbers, get your snappers!
7. Booze free toast!
Look into non-alcoholic fizz (there’s all sorts out there that would be a good sub for champagne!), provide plastic champagne flutes, and get the kids toasting with the adults!
8. Games for the table and later in the day
It sounds like a faff, but giving kids a ‘Find someone who’ sheet is a great way of getting them to mix and talk and have a laugh. ESL have some awesome downloadable sheets.
Having an ISpy sheet for the kids maketh for a fun activity; there are loads of wedding-based, ready-made ISpy downloadable’s – Etsy is brilliant – but if you’ve someone creative and up for it, personalised sheets are grand. Things like “I spy the groom crying”, kids love a good Ispy!
9. Outdoor Fun
If the grounds are big enough and the weather is good enough, then games outdoors to keep the kids running around and occupied is perfect. Chuck a load of footballs at them; both boys and girls will spend hours kicking a ball into a couple of mini goals. A Swing Ball is a good piece of summer time fun for kids. There are mini croquet sets, bats and balls, loads that’ll keep the little darlings busy. I’ve seen ping pong tables set up, so it’s something to consider?!
Kit-free games can be instigated by a grown up, such as hide and seek and tag. Put them in teams, set them off! They mostly want to belt around like loons!
A few colouring benches with pens, paper, playdoh and balloons is a good idea, too, after the wedding breakfast.
Set up little tents or wigwams, they make for fun dens for all ages; they’ve got their own base and somewhere to play.
- The hotel might be able to provide benches or picnic tables for children’s activities or you could think about hiring a couple of your own.
- What About The Kids have some truly brilliant outdoor activities and props for hire.
- There are lots of wedding hire kids wigwam or tent sites (try JimJams), indoor and outdoor.
10. Bouncy Castle.
Kids right up to early teens (and adults too, no denying it) love a bouncy castle. They come in all shapes and sizes (as most parents who have kids with birthdays know….!) and the disco ones are a laugh, although you’ll have to decide if you want music playing outside after the wedding breakfast. Either way, bouncy castles go down well with kids.
11. Evening mocktails and snacks
Having a bar set up especially for kids is a great idea. Get them mixing fizzy pop and cordial and creating their own wedding mocktails in plastic cups. Have all kinds of fruit chopped up in bowls plus colourful umbrellas and sparkly mixers to decorate. It’s something kids seem to love doing.
Have a buffet and snack table for the kids, with lots of kid friendly bites. I’ve seen a very cute and cunning idea to keep children engaged and snacking; a load of sandwiches left whole, and lots of different shaped cutters for them to plunge into them. Fruit kebabs, mini sausage rolls, popcorn, cupcakes; all the good stuff!
- Unicorn, star, mickey mouse – gather your cutters!
- Have a table set up ready in the evening with plastic cups, fruit and drinks and delegate a few adults or teens to get them started!
12.Kids Love DANCING!!
The adults are going to enjoy this too, on the sly; make sure the first few songs (after the bride and grooms first dance, of course) are for the kids. Kid friendly tunes, blast ’em ou! Anything from Frozen, a few Justin Bieber and One Direction tunes (?! to be honest, you know better than me!), maybe the Greatest Showman? Anything the kids know and can dance to. If you’re brave, you could go down the Karaoke route…but it’s a dark and scary one and there’s no way back.
13. Keep them comfy.
Kids get knackered, they get wiped out (apparently?!). I’ve seen comfy corners created in the room where everyone’s dancing, so that children can chill and watch the dancefloor fun, and also in one of the reception rooms in the hotel. Loads of bean bags and blankets and a few books even. Give them a break!
14. Teen slaves.
A really good idea for the older kids who might not know what to do with themselves, is to get them helping you out with the children! Starting and arranging games, helping the younger kid find their goody bags, giving out goody bags, helping to make mocktails.If you also ask for help such as giving out the wedding order of service or setting up the kids outdoor equipment and so on, it makes the older kids feel involved and gives them something to do. As everyone knows, the devil makes work for idle thumbs…!
Just a few ideas from weddings I’ve been to, there’s some really creative people out there. I don’t mean do all of the above, you’ve a wedding to be getting on with, but if you mix and match a few it might make your life easier and the kids and the parents at your wedding happier.
Or, make your wedding stamping ground a kid free zone! Sorry, no kids, no babies, none of that here. Adult only wedding, totally goodie bag free. Take a look at my Facebook for more tips on your weddings, your venues and your style. To take a look at my wedding photography check out Instagram, and there are some fabulous weddings already blogged on my site!
with me anytime about wedding photography for 2019 and 2020, engagements or couple shoots.