How to include children in your wedding plans
10 May 2022
If you're inviting younger guests to your wedding day, here's how to make sure their attendance is valued
Images: Julia and You
Inviting children to your wedding is a decision that must be discussed from the outset. If you plan to involve them in your special day, it is imperative that you think how they can be cared for and entertained throughout the celebrations.
Here, we speak with four experts who explain how to include children in your wedding in a way that makes them feel involved and catered for.
Create roles and consider childcare
Stephanie Wallis, founder of Safe & Sound Event Childcare, says: "Children can bring absolute joy and lots of fun to a wedding if they are ‘managed’ carefully. By giving their involvement some special thought and attention in the planning they will add to the day and help create even more magical memories. After all, you want them to be a part of the day and for everyone to enjoy their company without them overwhelming the celebrations by just being 'children'.
"There are a number of little roles which the children could be asked to carry out, but consider the personalities of each of the children. It is important to manage their expectations and not to ask any child to do something which is not quite right for them; it can all go horribly wrong and become stressful for all concerned right at the wrong moment. Some 'little jobs' could be acting as ring bearer, handing out the order of service or confetti, assisting with the seating of guests for the ceremony or those less able, walking the bride up the aisle, being the best man/girl, or even giving a little speech.
"Think about hiring a professional event childcare company who bring the toys, games and create activities for the individual ages of the children attending. Remember, a two-year-old has completely different needs to that of an eight-year-old and all this is catered for by childcare experts. Activities can range from cupcake decorating to treasure hunts.
"An extra pair of hands is key alongside any activities to create tailor-made moments and ensure that the children are made a greater part of the day. Focused attention works a treat."
Make considerate music choices
Suzanne Aston, owner at Aston Band, says: "Music is a great way to help children feel included in your big day. What a fantastic experience for a child to see a live band in action, maybe for the very first time, and feel the electric atmosphere on the dance floor. Those are memories that stay with you for a lifetime. It's where rock stars are formed.
"If you want to make it extra special for the youngsters, ask your wedding band to include a few kids' favourites in their set list at the start of the evening. This doesn't have to mean Baby Shark! One place to find inspiration for the perfect playlist is children's movies. These days they are packed with massive hits that everyone will recognise. Plus, there are some big floor fillers that both the children and grown-ups will love.
"Here are our top five picks to keep guests of all ages tearing up the dance floor:
- September - Earth Wind & Fire (Trolls)
- Happy - Pharrell (Despicable Me 2)
- One More Time - Daft Punk (Trolls World Tour)
- Shake It Off - Taylor Swift (Sing)
- Can't Stop The Feeling - Justin Timberlake (Trolls)
"Be sure to book an experienced wedding band that really knows how to engage with an audience, whether they are five or 55. Take a look at promo videos, their Instagram account and client reviews to get a sense of what kind of energy they can bring to your wedding.
"Also consider dance floor accessories: hats, wigs, glasses, blow-up instruments and glow sticks. The children and the 'big kids' will love it, and with inhibitions thrown out the window, the photos the next day are always a good giggle.
"We adore seeing kids on the dance floor, not just because they will have lots of fun, but hopefully, we will be helping to spark a lasting love of live music for them. What a priceless gift from you."
Create fun with activities and children-centric entertainment
Melanie Helen at Cranberry Blue Events says: "How you choose to include children in your wedding will of course depend on how old they are and if they are members of your family or friends.
"If you’re already parents or have a close relationship with a godson or goddaughter, then you can involve them in part of the planning process before the big day even arrives. This could be taking them along to your cake tasting appointment, or perhaps assisting you with choosing the bridesmaids' outfits, or helping to put together activity packs for all the children invited.
"Weddings are a long day, even for adults, so arranging specific entertainment and activities for them is vital to keeping them happy. You can easily set up an activity area during the drinks reception with a combination of toys, board games, books and arts and crafts. Try to keep this nearby to where the rest of the guests are so the parents can still be involved, while keeping a watchful eye over their little ones.
"Consider hiring a children's entertainer, face painter or balloon artist as they have an amazing knack of holding children’s attention. For later in the evening, setting up a room with bean bags and cushions that can be a quiet space showing a Disney film or two is perfect for when energy starts to run low.
"Also consider putting together personalised activity packs, which can be used at the wedding breakfast or elsewhere during the day. These can be colourfully presented and would be exciting for most little ones to find waiting for them at their seat. Colouring, games and stickers for example are a lovely way to keep the majority of children entertained and provide a much better alternative to resorting to iPads."
Think about the wedding photos
Wedding photographer Julia West says: "I love children at weddings, they often add unexpected but gorgeous moments to your day that you'll never forget. At my own wedding, my niece who was a flower girl (aged two) walked up to the front of the service to show my sister her flowers while she was in the middle of doing a reading. It made everyone laugh.
"There are so many ways to make sure they are included. At Kelly and Stephen's wedding, their six-year-old son was their ring bearer. However, we also wanted to get him involved in the photographs too; he featured in some and helped stage others. I got him to throw the veil; normally, I edit out the veil throw but in this case it was so cute that I did two versions: one with him and one without.
"At Louise and Marc's wedding when the speeches took place, Marc's young niece and nephew gave their own speeches, which I caught on camera. They got the biggest round of applause.
"If you have a range of ages it's great to get the slightly older ones to look after the younger ones, as that makes them feel grown up and little ones often love the big girls. Or like Jennifer and Greg's flower girls, let them have their own photo moment; we used Blake Hall's beautiful swing to capture their two flower girls and made them really feel part of the day.
"I always suggest capturing the children in the first set of formal group photos. It makes them feel special and doesn’t keep them there too long. If you have set up garden games close by, you can then let them go and enjoy themselves as soon as possible."