Charlotte Balbier
Brides Up North Wedding Fairs

the big debate: little guests

August 14th, 2015 | Julia Braime

Image by Maryanne Scott

Image by Maryanne Scott

Don’t worry we’re not discussing height, but age, in today’s Big Debate as we battle out the tricky question of whether or not to have  children at a wedding?

For some couples this might be cut and dry because either there aren’t any young children in their circles of family or friends that would require an invite, or the chosen venue doesn’t allow guests under a certain age.

For others however this contentious topic can cause rows, fall outs and sleepless nights. Planning a wedding is stressful enough, right? So why pile on more pressure? But then as with all other elements of the wedding, it’s the bride and groom’s big day and they should be able to have things just the way they want it, be that no rowdy children in the congregation.

So let’s get straight into it…

Image by Carly Bevan Photography

Image by Carly Bevan Photography

Image by Johnboy Wilson

Image by Johnboy Wilson

rachel says: call the babysitter

I realise a lot of proud mums reading this are going to hate me, but I’m all for a child-free wedding. There I said it!

I find it a tough challenge for both the child and their parents when they’re required to sit still and silent for 30 minutes or more while the ceremony takes place. Let’s be honest, some adults can find this part of a wedding a drag, let alone an excitable child keen to explore their new surroundings, and look for new friends too.

So once they’re restrained from toddling off the obvious reaction is a tantrum, often interrupting the wedding and causing one parent to leave the room with rightly so unhappy child so things can continue without the unwanted background noise. This not only means the parent misses out on a precious moment of their loved one, but if the wedding couple have forked out for a videographer their vows may well be somewhat overshadowed by grumpy child’s screams and wails.

I know, I know, children look adorable at weddings, cute little flower girls and page boys, but the occasion is also a great time for adult friends and family to get together for a good old catch up whilst letting their hair down, without having to worry about the mini mes.

I can fully understand there may be the odd exception, such as very young babies whose mums wouldn’t feel comfortable parting from them at such an early stage. Also the bride and groom might have children themselves and wouldn’t want them excluding from the big day (though I have known couples in this situation to call in the babysitter so they can party hard).

As for the guests it’s a bit like the plus one issue – like it or lump it.

Photography by Laurie Bailey

Photography by Laurie Bailey

julia says: bring a bottle

I used to be firmly of the opinion that weddings and kiddies didn’t mix. Then, something changed.  And it’s not what you think.

Yes, I now have a little one of my own, but believe it or otherwise, it’s not the joy of motherhood that has me urging you to add a children’s table to your seating plan.  To be honest, whilst (generally) I relish every moment that I spend with my daughter, I also don’t mind an adults only invitation once in a while.  A chance to spend time *really* getting ready – I’m talking a full application of make-up and a DIY blow dry without overtures of Peppa Pig in the background; hold uninterrupted adult conversations; drink my body’s weight in Champagne without a worry in the world and – assuming we’ve shelled out on a hotel, which in this fantasty we have – a chance of an unbroken night’s sleep at the end of it all.  Yes, an adults only invitation is very nice, thank you very much.

But, oops, I appear to have forgotten why I’m here… for of course you must have the tinies at your wedding.  So what changed?

I became a wedding blogger.

Gals, I’ve seen more weddings than I’ve had unbroken nights’ sleep in the last two and a half years of motherhood, and let me tell you – all the best weddings have children in them! Just think of the cute factor.

These aren’t your children we are talking about either (and if they are, well, I’d definitely include them in your day, with strategically stationed grandparent officially “in charge”).  But even if they’re not, bring them in!  Appoint a plethora of small bridesmaids and pageboys, dress them in tulle and tweed, encourage them to gambol around the lawn and make your wedding look the loveliest ever.  All the best weddings have tiny people in them, and if you can dress them as fairies or tiny groomsmen – only slightly cooler than the big boys – you’ll have a Pinterest ready set of photos, no effort required (other than from their parents).

You’re also likely to win brownie points up front from those parents too.  Everyone thinks they want their children at a wedding… until they’re with their children at a wedding.

Joking aside (or, ahem, honesty aside), and cuteness considered, kids are also a lot of fun.  They’ll make sure everyone’s dancing, liken you to a “Princess” and break any awkward silences around a wedding breakfast table. Weddings are for sharing with those we love. If those children are an important part of your everyday life, make them an important part of your wedding day. And did I mention the photo opportunities…?

Image by Pixies in the Cellar

Image by Pixies in the Cellar

what you said on facebook:

Janine: “I can’t imagine my wedding without my nieces and nephews – we’ll be inviting the whole family!”

Lynsey: “Our wedding is adults only.  Not many of our friends have children yet, so it was an easy decision for us.”

Laura: “We’re only having close family’s children and small babies in arms.”

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a wedding alphabet. k is for kids.

February 6th, 2015 | Rachel Parry

Kids 1 - Kristen Rickett Photography

Image via Kirsten Rickert 

It’s always a tricky subject – whether or not to invite children to your big day.

Some couples couldn’t imagine their wedding day without the little people in their lives there to celebrate it with them and will even pick out special roles, such as flower girls and page boys, to make them feel an important part of the day.

On the other hand it may be that couples are planning an adult only ceremony at a swanky bar, restaurant of hotel that doesn’t permit youngsters. Or it could just be that a bride and groom would rather not risk a baby crying through their entire ceremony, particularly if they are planning to hire a videographer to capture the all important vows.

Found via www.facebook.comLacyMaeDesigns

Image via Lacey Mae Designs

If your chosen venue is child friendly, start by looking at the numbers. Draw up your adult guest list and then see how much it would increase if you were to invite children. While for small families this might just add a handful of extra guests, others can rack up numerous additional invites. The question now is can your venue cater for this amount of guests and does your budget stretch far enough to cover the costs? If not more consideration is needed. Can you slim down the guest list by using an age cut off, such as over 12s only? Alternatively you could invite children from the immediate family only.

Another consideration is babies. Parents of newborns in particular may not be able to leave their baby with a sitter due to feeding constraints as well as separation anxiety. Therefore you may need to make allowances in these situations.

Found via countryliving.com, photography Vine & Light Photography

Image by Vine & Light Photography

Once you have made your decision it’s important to address your invitations in a way that will make clear exactly who is and isn’t invited. Unfortunately it’s not unusual for guests to assume children are invited or to challenge your decision when they discover their child has been excluded. If you do come up against this explain that your choice is down to practical not personal reasons and try not to be bullied into changing your mind to suit others.

If you aren’t inviting any children it may be worth pointing this out on the invite with a line stating it is an ‘adult only ceremony/ reception’. Meanwhile if you are inviting children you can address the invitation to the parent(s) and family.

Foundvia www.mydarlingflowers.com

Image via My Darling Flowers

If youngsters do make it onto your guest list you will want to think about how to keep them entertained during the day so parents and little ones alike can enjoy the celebrations.

For the meal decide if you want to seat parents with their children or alternatively have a fun and vibrant ‘kids table’. Also be sure to serve the young ones their meals first to keep them happy and prevent them from becoming too hungry. You may be able to save money and please your young guests’ palates by choosing a kids menu of homemade party food or pizza, as well as snacks and sweets which they can come back to at different intervals so they’re not made to sit at the table for too long.

Kids 3 via the wedding chicks

Image by Adriane White Photography via The Wedding Chicks

When it comes to kids’ entertainment, the options are pretty much endless. If your chosen venue has the space, you could have a kids’ room with toys, games and activities overseen by a hired babysitter so parents can let their hair down. You could also give children goody bags with a present, puzzles and colouring pencils to keep them entertained at the table or during the speeches. For outdoor ceremonies garden games and activities can be great fun for both adults and children whether you choose traditional village fete style games, a classic bouncy castle or sports day inspired activities, such as sack races or egg and spoon relays.

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Up For Discussion: The Kids Are Alright! Yes Or No – Children At A Wedding?

February 23rd, 2012 | Julia Braime

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www.danielkrieger.com

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When planning my own wedding, it was a no brainer.  The day would be strictly adults only (with the exception of my very gorgeous 12 going on 25 little friend Lili).  Most of my friends at this stage were still pre-kids, and the ones who had little people were canvassed for their opinion and it was unanimous:  they very much fancied a day off. 

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The style of the wedding also lent itself to a child free day – a black tie style do with fine glassware, oysters and a vodka luge.  Don’t get me wrong – I’m no Cruella De Ville! I love children, and I do love the atmosphere that they can bring to a wedding, but for our wedding it was a no go. 

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The decision can be a difficult one, but make it early (childcare negotiations can seemingly take decades), explain your reasoning to your nearest and dearest and stick to your guns.  Remember that this decision doesn’t make you Cruella De Ville either. 

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If you do decide to invite the brood, my guest blogger Alison has some top tips as a bride who got very familiar with the children’s menu on her own big day. 

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Over to Alison: It’s a very thorny issue – do you allow children at your wedding or not?

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.www.wildflowersphotos.com

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There’s no right or wrong answer. It’s your wedding so you do what you want.

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In our case, we were a bit older when we got married and most of our friends already had children. A childfree wedding would have made it really difficult for many of our friends to share our big day – and as our priority was to have as many of them with us as possible, we took the bull by the horns and made our wedding as child friendly as possible.

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We ended up with over 50 children on the day!

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www.FourT4.com.. .www.FourT4.com

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www.FourT4.com

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Logically, I thought if the children are happy then the parents will be happy – which will make me happy. So this is how we did it:

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We chose the most child friendly venue we could think of – Chester Zoo. It was safe and enclosed with lots to do. There was plenty of space for them to run around and an adventure playground right next to the Manor House where we got married. Then once the zoo had closed to the public our guests were treated to a private safari with one of the keepers which the kids loved.

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We had a Wedding Bus which the kids absolutely revelled in.

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There was a designated children’s room and I hired two child minders. Giving the children their own space was a stroke of genius. There were activities in one room – I photocopied lots of animal related colouring-in sheets, quiz sheets and animal masks which all got used. And there was a quiet room where the littlies in particular could crash out. I asked parents to bring blankets and cushions and we had an ample supply of DVD’s and toys.

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The child minders were probably the best £175 I spent. The two of them were on the go, face painting and entertaining the children from 1pm until 10pm when we physically had to send them home. I provided sticky name labels for the children and their bags and a list of children’s names, who their parents were and their mobile numbers, and in return they face painted as though their lives depended on it.

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I gave instructions in advance about meal times. The last thing you want at your wedding are 50 whinging children, so I sent all parents an e-mail the week before the wedding advising them to feed their children beforehand – what time the meals were, what they would be eating and to bring any snacks they might need.

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Other than the bridesmaids, we didn’t have children in the room with us when we actually got married. There just wasn’t the space. While we didn’t have any screaming babies, one of our bridesmaids did announce very loudly, 30 seconds into the ceremony “(yawn) This is taking ages!” which gave the whole room a good giggle.

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We ordered picnic boxes for the children instead of an adult BBQ, and we saved a fortune by giving them packets of animal biscuits instead of a full cream tea which the grown-ups enjoyed. It was all very informal, there was no seating plan and the children were able to sit with whoever they’d made friends with.

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Finally, instead of traditional favours we had a candy bar full or retro sweets which the kids loved and gave them a big enough sugar high to see them through the rest of the evening – bopping merrily to Nirvana and the Fun Loving Criminals alongside their happy parents.

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As I said at the start, there is no right or wrong answer to the question – but for us I wouldn’t have had it any differently. One of my enduring memories of our wedding is all the children, many of whom had never met before, playing together and having a thoroughly brilliant time.

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Alison writes her own personal blog at http://alison-staples.blogspot.com

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Alison’s latest posts for Brides Up North:

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Naked At A Wedding

Honeymoons – Just The Two Of Us!

Santa Baby- A Bride’s Letter To St Nick

Christmas Weddings In Soap Land – Some Very Un-Real Weddings!

Up For Discussion- Money Can’t Buy You Love – Bringing It In On Budget

Up For Discussion- Don’t Tell The Groom! Man Management

Up For Discussion- How To Do “I Do”- Writing Your Own Vows

Up For Discussion- Empty Chairs

Up For Discussion- Achieving The Perfect Level Of Wedding Morning Zen

Up For Discussion- The Name Game (and meet Alison!)

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Would you like to guest blog for Brides Up North? Email julia@bridesupnorth.co.uk

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Brides Up North UK Wedding Blog – Images © 2012: 1: www.danielkrieger.com, 2: www.wildflowersphotos.com, 3-6:  FourT4 Photography 

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