It’s hard to disagree that children can be a delight at weddings; they look adorable, they make the best natural photos and bring a lot of joy to the occasion. But no one wants that special moment spoiled by a toddler tantrum, and this leads to a lot of couples leaving them off the invite list.
Only you will know the potential impact on your relationships with parents that have to make childcare arrangements or cannot attend if their children aren’t invited (on the other hand some might be delighted for a night off!). Before you think this one over, think about why it is you might prefer they didn’t attend, and how having a celebrant-led wedding with a carefully crafted ceremony could help alleviate your concerns!
If children were guaranteed to be quiet, well-behaved angels, then the invites would flood in. Fear of disturbance (understandably) is the reason they’re often missed off, and quite honestly if you expect children to sit through a ceremony as an adult would, with none of that history or emotional involvement, then yes they will get twitchy – they are kids!
But before you tell your best friends that you don’t want their pride and joy at the biggest party of the year, here’s some simple things you could do that will ensure the children at your ceremony add to the occasion, rather than take away.
1. VIP seating
Get some cheap Swedish cushions in a funky design in a pile by the entrance to the ceremony with a clear sign for kids to take one. Children love to feel there’s something special just for them, it boosts them up a bit so they can see and they can keep them. It also avoids considerate parents trying to fit little ones on their knees, which just makes both kids and parents uncomfortable.
2. Entertain them
A wedding ceremony is not fun for kids unless you can engage them in the event. I give all my couples a basic ceremony ‘bingo/colouring/spot the’ book so children are listening and looking for specific things during the ceremony. These can be personalised to the exact rituals or elements you decide to include in your wedding. Again have these as they come into the ceremony and they’ll feel like special guests; you could also include sweet treats as long as they are suitably quiet ones!
3. Involve them
If you have very close young-ones such as direct family there are many great ideas on how to include them in your ceremony rituals here.
The ceremony is for you and your celebrant to craft, and there are no rules! You can incorporate as much ‘fun’ as you want to that keeps it light-hearted for everyone, or even include something that involves young guests directly; how about hiding some bells (somewhere they can’t be found early!!!) to ring as you come back down the aisle?
4. Have an escape plan
In the rest of your venue planning make sure you have a room or area directly off the ceremony space for children that do start to misbehave. Ask a parent friend to bring a few toys/puzzles or colouring books to have in there, and if possible keep it as a chill-out-zone throughout the day.
5. Be clear
The beauty of seeing your ceremony script months in advance is that your celebrant can carefully craft wording to make it very clear what you expect from children and parents if the kids do need to let off steam during the ceremony. Giving them a clear instruction on what you’d like, and making it easy, relieves stress for everyone. Parents are often relieved to know that it’s ok to bail if needed, not a pressure to stay.
These things will help little ones be involved in your day. They do take a little bit of effort and planning, but a celebrant-led wedding gives you the flexibility to include whichever elements you’d like to help young guests (and therefore everyone around them) enjoy the event. Discuss how you want to handle children with your celebrant at your first meeting, and they can ensure this that your ceremony is written in a creative, inclusive way.