Children at the Wedding

Anne Contreras - May 31, 2011

Having children at your wedding does not have to end with the kids dominating the event or their parents and other guests. A little advance planning on behalf of your youngest attendees will make sure everyone remembers your perfect day as just that...perfect!

Your wedding day will be a glorious event, carefully planned and seamlessly coordinated. The sun will shine, everyone will arrive on time, you will indulge in your beauty sleep the night before and all will be wonderful.

And why not? You have worked carefully and diligently for months, considered all the menu options and have carefully selected flowers, music and favors. You accommodated the whims and fashion sense of your wedding party. The seating plan is perfect. With just days to go you are both relaxed and confident in your choice of venue, decorations, champagne and photographer.

And it was so nice of you to invite the children! So many of your relatives and friends have little ones now and of course you wanted to include your favorite niece (she is so happy to be the flower girl), your little cousins (the offspring of your favorite Uncle), your college roommate's pre-schoolers (gifted musicians at 3 and 4, with their little violins). They are all such good kids! Well mannered, delightful in their innocence, quintessentially photogenic in their dress up clothes they will be wonderful additions to this day of family togetherness.

When little ones are told they are going to a party they know just what that means. Friends, cake, games, yelling, more cake, more running and squealing and then comes the "overly tired" portion of their day. Please do not misunderstand; kids at a wedding are a fabulous idea. Children should be allowed to participate appropriately in a family's enfolding babies, graduations, weddings, holidays.

If you have not considered the preferences of your youngest guests, then consider this: young children might be less than impressed by the romance of your personally written vows and they will not be amused by the string quartet and salmon mousse...

With all good intentions you have invited them.

Alright, perhaps you did not specifically invite them but they are coming and to avoid turning your wedding day into a frenzied kiddie land what are you going to offer the children? Even good kids get bored. They cannot be expected to sit still, speak when spoken to and chatter quietly while using the right fork (or any fork for that matter) during your reception and dinner.

We recommend that couples at the Hacienda consider a "parallel party" for the children. For the most part, you can count on the little ones to hold themselves together during your ceremony. Very little babies may wail but the parents of infants and young toddlers are generally adept at getting up and out when the volume gets too high. The older kids, ages 3 to 10, will probably sit quietly and some may truly enjoy the ceremony.

Here at Hacienda Doña Andrea we usually have the ceremony, reception and dinner on site. After the ceremony, while the adults enjoy hors d’oeuvres and cocktails we get the kids their dinner in an area just slightly apart. The specially chosen menu is more appealing to them, spaghetti or chicken strips with fries. They may be too distracted to eat much but familiar food is always a better bet. This dinner service is hosted by catering staff and the Kid's Party coordinator...OK, a babysitter. Depending on the number of children and their ages you may need more than one.

When the adult guests adjourn from reception to dinner the kids begin to play! They have eaten and are usually quite ready to get up and burn off some steam.

Where do we get our wedding day babysitters?

Here in Santa Fe, we find great, competent and motivated staff by contacting area pre-schools. We are particularly impressed with the Waldorf and Montessori school staff but a quick check of the schools in your area will provide you with your local options. These teachers are often happy to spend a day and evening monitoring the children and supervising games, meals and bedtime. We find that parents are thrilled to know that the kids will be well tended while they enjoy some adult food and fun. The kids are able to check in as they like but they usually prefer to play.

Activities suggestions for Children at Weddings:
(some may require additional professional services)

  • Magicians
  • Professional Storytellers
  • Pony Rides
  • Arts and Crafts (Girls can make paper flower bouquets. Boys can make cans to hang on the bridal couple's bumper. Bring them Polaroids of the wedding and let them make you a scrapbook.)
  • Dance Instruction (Good for grown-ups too! We like Salsa Dancing)
  • Games (Red Light, Simon Says, Hide n Seek, Freeze Tag)
  • Balloon Animals
  • Face Painting
  • Theater, little skits

As the evening rolls along the little ones settle down to watch movies, read books and dose off in a spare guest room. Many times I have checked on the "Nursery" to find cousins, siblings and new friends all snuggled together, lights low, while a story is read to them.

Across the courtyard the dancing and festivities continue. The feeling is one of inclusion and sharing.