I really love kids and no matter what they do I usually laugh or just listen depending on what fits. I have been known to get the two confused. I am often asked about kids at weddings. My advice is to know the kids or more importantly know their parents. Are the kids fairly well behaved, many at a wedding can be surprising, I think it is the novelty of the whole thing. How will the parents react if they do act up? Age is a big factor and their personality. Smaller kids [under 5] are usually OK in a civil ceremony but don’t expect them to sit still for high mass in the church. Even adults start to squirm there.
Marriage is a rite of passage in most societies. Older children [over 5] need to learn what it is and why we do it, they need to learn there are occasions when you sit still, listen and learn. They learn not only from the words said but by the way others around them are reacting too. Once they are at school, children start to learn the discipline of sitting still and listening so they should be able to manage this. As in all things this can depend on the child.
KIDS IN THE WEDDING PARTY
They can be so cute and just delightful in the wedding party. Scattering petals or carrying rings but consider the stage of brain development they are at and their personality when choosing to have them in your ceremony . Remember the under fives-
- May not understand what is required, no matter how it is explained. Too much information just confuses them.
- May be easily distracted if something looks a little more interesting.
- Will need mum or dad close by because it can be a little scary, with some of the guests probably not being familiar to them.
- Always have a plan B as they might just go off and not want to be there.
YOUR KIDS AT THE WEDDING
If your children are old enough to understand involving them in your wedding is so special. Rituals are perfect for this. The symbolism of a sand ceremony can be just right for representing the joining together of all the individuals in your family into a loving, respectful team.
If you have small children who are not in the wedding party make sure an adult they trust can sit with them. Don’t be surprised if they want to go to you and have a cuddle. Or even stay with you for the whole ceremony.
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BAN THEM?
Lets face it not everyone is as enamoured of children as me. Some brides/grooms do not want them there at all. It does not matter what others say, if this is going to cause you lots of stress just say no! But how to do this and remain a beloved member of your family and tribe.
Some options for wording –
‘Feel free to bring the baby, but we are having a toddler free zone at the wedding’
‘You know I love…………but I just want you to have a peaceful day and be totally in the moment with us. It will do you good. You know you would enjoy a free night.’
‘We are not having any children so all the parents can have a kid free night to party. Does that sound good?’
‘You know your mum loves minding ……………why not have the day off?
‘Sorry we are only having children of close family. It is just too expensive to have them all’
Can you ban some kids and not others?
A difficult one, but most people understand the situation if they have the kid from hell, even I admit they do exist. Maybe you have an example from the last wedding they went to and what happened there. If not, stand firm. Otherwise you are setting yourself up for resentment about this family which might really sour things in the future.
What happens if there is no-one to mind them?
You could consider hiring a nanny service for the day or there are several businesses that will come to the wedding and keep the children entertained eg Fireflykidscorner. Sometimes a distant friend or family member can be encouraged to help out. An older sibling might be called on to help out.
There are some family and friends who are quite adamant that their children must be there as they are part of their family. It is then up to you to weigh up whether you push it all the way and risk a rift with them.
SOME TIPS THAT MAY MAKE THE DAY GO SMOOTHER
1. Try to ensure all children are rested, tired kids get cranky.
2. Bribery never hurt, have some snacks standing by but go savoury, not sweet. No-ones dress is going to look good covered in chocolate. Make sure the child wranglers have some wet ones just in case.
3. Know where the nearest toilet is, they always want to go at the worst times.
4. Advise those with babies/toddlers to take them for a wee walk if they start going off.
5. A device on mute can entertain for a long time
6. If children are kindie or school age have some drawing tools, paper and pencils nearby and ask them to draw your wedding and how it looks. Their pictures can be presented for a unique way to finish the ceremony.
A good celebrant will sail through whatever children do at your wedding. They have seen it all before many times.
Remember that whatever happens with children at your wedding it will give most people a laugh and it can sometimes lighten the mood, if people are a bit tense. These are often the moments that are recalled the longest and most fondly.
If you are afraid of everyones recollection of your big day being the little one running a muck and you really don’t want crying, screaming, tantrums or that one off photograph ruined forever by child running, followed by the frantic dad you must take a stand. Just say No! It is your day and it must be your way. If not there is always elopement.[ See the wedding elopement package on my wedding page]. [I really do love kids and all of the above is fine by me, I really do have the best job]