Bob the Builder and I had many children at our wedding. In fact, we had thirteen children under the age of thirteen, two of whom were in our wedding party. And, we did not lose our minds. Here’s how you can have kids at your wedding without losing your mind. Seriously.
1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and for the children. This is the big one, you guys. The children are, well…CHILDREN. And you cannot expect them to sit like quiet little angels all day long. It’s best to prepare yourself way ahead of time that you might hear some crying or whining or flat out yelling during your ceremony. That’s just reality. Even with the most attentive parents, children are gonna do what they’re gonna do. Even if their parents quickly take them out of the room, you will still hear them. Just be ok with it. Or, don’t invite children to your wedding. These are your choices.
Here’s our totally true story. Our flower girl, Lulu B, is my favorite little girl on the planet, and she also happens to be the daughter of one of my best friends on the planet, who was also a bridesmaid.
At the time of our wedding, Lulu B was two and a half years old. Very early on, I made it clear to her parents that she didn’t have to do anything she didn’t want to do. What did this mean? This meant that on the day of our wedding, if she didn’t want to walk down the aisle, no one was going to force her. If she suddenly got shy or scared, she could just go sit with her dad. No pressure at all on the toddler. Because putting pressure on a toddler to do anything is INSANE and a waste of your time. I just wanted Lulu B to be there, and to be a part of the day.
How did she do? Well, she made it down the aisle! I think she was seriously confused about the rose petals we had practiced throwing because my maid of honor put her fairy wand in her free hand. In the video footage, you can totally see her look down at her own hands, perplexed. But she walked down the aisle, and as soon as she saw her mom, she said, “Mama!” and ran to her, spilling rose petals on the aisle in the process. Perfect!
Once the ceremony got started, however, things took a turn. Lulu B quickly grew tired of the proceedings. She actually turned to her mom, who was sitting just to my right, and said, “Come on, Mama, let’s GO!”, while tugging at the hem of her dress. I stifled a giggle as I looked over at her. I mean, how can you not laugh? It’s hilarious! Her dad quickly took her out of the room, but just as I was starting my vows, LuluB loudly yelled, “NOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!”. So, I said, “Well, despite Lulu’s protests, I will proceed!” Sometimes you just have to acknowledge what’s going on, and roll with the punches. It was, and still is, very funny.
2. Give them a job to do. Our ring bearer, Liam, took his job very seriously. His father, Matt, was our officiant. He was totally prepared and so responsible, we let him carry our actual wedding bands down the aisle. No dummy rings for him! He followed our directions to the letter.
When Liam got to the front of the room, he handed his ring pillow to the Best Man, and then he waited for Bob the Builder to give him a high five, as they arranged at the rehearsal. Well, B the B forgot about the high five, and left poor Liam high and dry! But he bounced back, never fear! Later in the evening, he was announced into the reception and entered into the ballroom on his own (so brave!), because our flower girl had called it a night by that point.
Every single direction given to Liam was executed flawlessly. I think he felt confident having so many tasks, and completing each one was empowering. Also, exhausting. He was asleep at the dinner table by 9pm.
Give the children in your wedding party clear and concise directions. Empower them. Give them a little responsibility, if they are old enough. They will rise to the occasion, you’ll see!
3. Have something to entertain them. I had the kids table pre-set with custom activity books and crayons. The custom activity book was purchased from Sugar Pie Studio on Etsy as a digital file, and printed at Staples. I found the crayons at Target for 99 cents each. The crayons were fun because they were each a little different, with crazy names like “Born to Rock” and “Glitterati”. The activity books had some coloring pages, but also soduku and crossword puzzles for the older kids. I liked having them pre-set at their table as a little surprise. Everyone loves surprises, you guys. Everyone.
Later in the evening, in addition to the packed dance floor, (which the kids were very much a part of), we also had a photo booth. Of course, that was a major hit with the under thirteen set.
4. Manage your seating chart. If most of the children know one another, put them all at the same table. It’s easier on the caterers, and it’s nice for their parents. We had one table of just children, which was set in the farthest corner and bookended by two tables of adults. That way, the kids could entertain each other during dinner, and their parents could still be close enough to watch over them. There were a few kids who I knew would be more comfortable sitting with their parents, so that’s where I put them. No need to make anyone uncomfortable. This will be especially true for pre-teens. Most of the time, they want to sit with their parents and feel grown up. You know your guests and your families, so do what you think is best. But I think a kids table (if you can swing it), is always a good idea.
5. Engage with them, and make them feel welcome. The kids at our wedding were amazing! They were dancing up a storm, running around taking photos with their phones, and engaging with our guests. I loved having them there, as I knew they would be so much fun!
At one point late in the evening, when the dance floor was really hopping, I looked over at Bob the Builder to see that he was dancing with my sweet and spunky little cousin, Hannah. All of a sudden, a dance-off occurred. You guys, it was epic!
Hannah jumped and turned, Bob the Builder jumped and turned. Hannah kicked and punched, B the B did as well. A circle formed around them, cheering them on. Hannah fell to the floor, and, well, Bob the Builder did too!
The video is dark, but hopefully you can see the epic hilarity that was this dance-off.
The point is, don’t just simply invite children to your wedding. Engage the children at your wedding and you will create special memories that will last forever.
Bob the Builder and Hannah have another dance-off scheduled for our cousin Stephanie’s wedding in April. So, stay tuned for a dance off sequel!
I’m sure by now some of you are thinking, “But, Moxie, I don’t WANT children at my wedding!” Ok. Then don’t invite them. I totally understand the appeal of the “adults only” wedding. Just please make sure you communicate your wishes very clearly to your guests. And then stick to your guns! You can’t have a kid-free wedding, but then let one kid attend. It will just lead to a mess of hurt feelings and no one wants that.
So, let me hear from you, peeps? Are you in the kid-free wedding camp? Or are you pro kids-as-wedding-guests?