Is your wedding going to be ‘family-friendly’ or ‘adults-only?’ It’s not exactly an easy question to answer but it’s inevitably something you’ll have to address. While you don’t want to offend any of your guests, the thought of having kids in attendance at your wedding ceremony and reception can present a few challenges.

Here’s what you need to know about how to handle this sometimes sensitive scenario—

Make Your Decision Early On

There are a few factors you have to consider. For one thing, you need to think about how having kids in attendance will affect your wedding budget and the overall headcount.  Will you arrange for dedicated childcare services or entertainment, etc? Is having kids going to affect anything else you’ve got planned for the big day?

Be Clear About Your Expectations

Let your guests know what you’ve decided. You’ll need to be 100% clear about the kid policy but how you deliver this information is up to you. You may want to include it within your wedding invitations or create a separate page about it on your wedding website.

    • Whether or not children are invited
      If you are not inviting any children, be honest but avoid over-explaining your reason. This is your wedding day and you have the final say.
    • Which specific children are invited
      If you’re making a compromise and only inviting specific children, you should tell your guests which ones can come. Be aware that some guests—i.e. the ones who cannot bring children—may not take the news well. Tread carefully. Explain that you have a guest limit.

    Considerations for a Kid-Friendly Wedding

    Of course, if you are ready to welcome kids of all ages to join in your wedding day celebrations, you’ll need to take your youngest guests’ needs into consideration. Here are a few potential additions to plan for in advance:

      • Possibly hiring a children’s entertainer
        You could hire a children’s entertainer for an opening act before your wedding band/DJ kicks off. Doing so will help to wear out the little ones early on.
      • Tabletop activities during the reception
        Small children have notoriously short attention spans, which means that you need to give them something to do during the reception. One quick and easy solution is to give them some activities, such as puzzles or coloring sheets. You could put these out on the children’s place settings ahead of the event.
      • Options for a children’s menu
        Chances are that they’re not going to be fans of fine dining. Work with your catering team to create a plain and simple kid-friendly menu they can choose from.
      • Organized childcare
        One of the best ways to ensure that your youngest wedding guests are kept busy is to hire childcare to watch over the group of children, collectively. While this is an additional out-of-pocket cost, it’s also your best bet to ensure your wedding day is as stress-free as possible.

    The Takeaway

    Whether or not you allow children at your wedding is a huge decision, and it’s not something that you should take lightly. Spend time discussing it with your significant other and determine together what works best for the two of you and your families. So long as you plan ahead and make a unified decision early on, you should have no problem navigating this tricky area of wedding etiquette.