How to Keep Kids Entertained—and Well Behaved—at Your Wedding
If you’ve stayed up to date on coverage of Pippa Middleton’s storybook wedding, you may have seen 3-year-old Prince George’s mini meltdown outside St. Mark’s Church after her ceremony. The little prince’s tears and pouty face following a scolding from his mother, Duchess Kate, prove weddings can be long and overwhelming for all kids—even royal ones. If you’re inviting children to your celebration, here are a few fun ways to make sure they’re entertained and well behaved for the whole day.
1. Give Them Treats (or Treats to Look Forward to)
If your little wedding party attendants are acting up before, during or after the ceremony, they’re probably wound up from all the excitement, upset they’re not getting attention or, honestly, just hungry. Keep them cheerful with something sweet—under the condition they stay on their best behavior. One tip: Choose something white or clear that won’t stain their attire like marshmallows or clear gummy bears. Also, kids love a little competition. Tell them whoever is the best behaved in the group will be rewarded with a sweet surprise at the reception—just don’t forget to deliver on your promise.
2. Hire Professional Childcare
Many couples opt to hire a babysitter responsible for keeping an eye on the munchkins so no one gets hurt—or puts their fingers in the cake. The babysitter can be in charge of whatever other designated kids-only activities you have set up too, like arts and crafts, a movie, a nature walk or a game room.
3. Provide Coloring and Writing Tools
Offer tabletop entertainment during a long dinner by covering the kids' table(s) with white butcher paper and cups of crayons (or any other drawing tool that doesn’t stain). They'll be so busy, they'll forget they're still actually sitting at a table.
4. Get an Entertainer
If your budget allows, go all out and hire professional entertainment, like a caricature artist, fortune teller, clown, storyteller, magician or impersonator (think Spiderman, Cinderella or Mickey Mouse)—and if you’re having a themed wedding, definitely play into it. It's an easy way to keep the kids happy and distracted while the adults mingle and enjoy champagne. (Search local entertainment vendors and party-planning companies for the right entertainer here.)
5. Set Up a Game Room
For an active bunch, turn the play space into a game room. Rent or borrow ping-pong or air hockey tables, a Nerf ball, a basketball, Twister, Hula-Hoops, jump ropes and more. If you’re having a hotel or country club wedding, you may find all the equipment you need right on the grounds. If yours is a more relaxed outdoor wedding, set up lawn games and activities like a three-legged race, cornhole or a classic game of hide-and-seek.
6. Create a Craft Room
For younger ones, turn one area into an arts and crafts space. Set up a coloring contest, beading lesson or have them make cute signs for the couple. Let them decorate their own picture frames, then ask the photographer to snap photos of them at the party to place inside them.
7. Stagger the Meals
Whether or not you provide a separate play area, consider dividing dinner in two—first kids, then adults. While you and your guests may enjoy lingering over a five-course meal, most children are ready to leave the table after 15 minutes. If it's a buffet, let the kids help themselves while the adults chat over hors d'oeuvres. When the young ones are finished, they can move on to another activity so the grown-ups can sit down to eat.
8. Prepare Kid-Friendly Music
Consider preparing a child-friendly playlist so kids can dance to the Frozen and Moana soundtracks in a separate room. Another fun idea is to ask about getting dance instructors—another kid-friendly method of entertainment that will keep them in good spirits and let them join the party.
If you're expecting very young children, chances are they'll be asleep before the event’s over, but you may also have some sleepy kids even if they’re far from their napping days. Set up a quiet room where they can rest after a long, exhausting day of chatter, play, new faces and excitement.