Adult guests are easy to please; hit them with a killer playlist of noughties tunes and some unusual drink ideas and they’ll have a whale of a time at your wedding, but children are a different kettle of fish.
Short of not inviting children to your wedding, the only way to get around whines of “I’m bored” and “when can we go?” is to cater to the little ones and lay on some entertainment that they will love.
If you can keep mini attendees entertained, everyone’s day will be improved - just organise in advance and we promise everything will go swimmingly.
Think of Age and Space
First of all, consider the range of ages attending. A nine-year-old is never going to take the same pleasure in colouring-in as a five-year-old, so if there’s a wide spread of youngsters, make sure you have a variety of options to suit different ages. If in doubt, check with the parents what their whipper snappers enjoy.
Next, assess your venue to see how much space you have. The ideal would be a dedicated kids’ room, packed with all sorts of entertainment to keep them amused for hours, but of course not everyone has this luxury. See if you can set up a kids’ corner in the main reception area, or perhaps a separate bell tent outside.
There’s a whole host of help you can hire, including dedicated wedding nannies and crèches, which can look after the kids all day as well as bring toys and entertainment with them. Check out artfullsplodgers.com, pitchupandplay.co.uk and mummy-sos.com.
Tell parents what you’re planning before booking – some may not want to leave their child at an on-site crèche, so make it clear this is optional.
You could also hire a clown or balloon modeller for an hour or two, while a face painter is another nice option, and something the adults won’t be able to resist, either. Always choose someone with a good reputation who has been CRB checked.
Aside from real-life entertainers (who doesn’t love a musician?!), consider hiring games and activities.
A bouncy castle is a classic, and could also be incorporated into some fun wedding photos if the colours don’t contrast with your theme – or try the white bouncy castle from every-event-hire.co.uk for some super classy jump-around japes. It’s also possible to hire soft play, if you have enough space.
Do it Yourself
For slightly older children, try setting up an activity table with board games, colouring books and craft materials.
You could easily put together goody bags with pencils, stickers and colouring-in sheets from Poundland, or create a reading corner, stocked with books and children’s magazines.
You could also set up a screen to show age-appropriate films.
A dressing-up box will keep them entertained for hours, especially if you combine it with a photo booth. And see if any friends have a ping-pong table gathering dust in the garage – it’ll go down well with guests of all ages. We can just see old uncle Jimmy battling it out with your young guests.
Keep them Interested
If there are adults happy to help for a couple of hours, then getting the kids out and about around the venue can help them burn off some energy.
A treasure hunt can be fun, as can an “eye-spy” challenge with a disposable camera and a list of things to snap. If you’re at a countryside venue, see if it’s possible to organise a nature walk, or a trip to see the animals if you’re on a farm.
Traditional “sports day” fun and lawn games are also easy to organise with few materials, and some simple bubble solution and wands will captivate little ones and make for cute photographs (just don’t let them bring it inside!).
Get the Timing Right
Kids will peak much earlier than adults and be ready for bed reasonably early.
The period after the ceremony and before the meal, when the adults are happily mingling and sipping some champagne, is probably the dullest for kids, so consider arranging some organised entertainment for around then.
Children will also get hungry earlier, too, so consider serving younger guests first so they can get straight back to play time, or provide activities on the table so they, in theory, stay quiet all the way through the speeches.
Tire Them Out
If you’re having a DJ, see if they can play a “kids only” hour before the adults are ready to hit the dance floor.
We know, boys sliding across the dance floor in their socks isn’t in your wedding vision, but with any luck this will tire them out for the evening, leaving parents free to party on in peace.
If you have a separate kids’ room or tent, this can also double up as a napping area for any sleepyheads who just can’t wait for bed.