The ‘whether or not to invite children’ debate is one that many couples face when it comes to drawing up their guest list. As well as additional cost, one of the main sticking points can be the concern of kids running riot during the vows, screaming throughout the speeches or having a melt-down at the meal.
But for those who couldn’t picture their big day without the important little ones in their lives present, there is an answer: entertainment, entertainment, entertainment! Ensuring that you make your wedding as fun for your child guests as you do for the adults will result in enjoyment and smiles all round, leaving you worry-free to enjoy your day. Furthermore, mums and dads will love you like for-ev-er for easing the parental-pressure on their shoulders of keeping their kids in-line from noon to night.
So, in a bid to help keep children happy all day long, our fabulous Sponsor – and out and out experts when it comes to wedding entertainment for all ages – Bands For Hire, have come up with a list of 20 fail-safe ideas that will see you right.
As a music agency providing bands, musicians and DJs for events throughout the UK, including Liverpool, Yorkshire, Greater Manchester and the North East, the team have attended their fair share of weddings and so we feel they certainly clued-up when it comes to this subject – prepare to take note!
Bands For Hire say: There are few things in life that can spread as much joy at your wedding as the innocent smiles and infectious laughter of children. But this, of course, comes at a price. It’s important to remember that, through the eyes of a child, a wedding is just a group of adults you don’t know, who you have to be on your best behaviour around for hours. And hours. And hours.
To reduce the risk of tears and tantrums, here are a few simple entertainment ideas which will make your wedding a little more child-friendly:
This is an especially good idea for pre-schoolers and toddlers who are still learning how to behave in grown-up social environments. Give them a safe haven where they can play with soft toys, scream and fall asleep without being shushed.
If you’re tying the knot in a rural area, and the weather’s being kind to you, you can’t go wrong with giant lawn games. Traditional games like the ring toss and skittles are always popular with kids, but giant versions of indoor games such as Connect 4 and Jenga might just blow their tiny minds!
Combining two of a child’s favourite things – bright colours and mess – is a great way to keep your future da Vincis and Damien Hirsts occupied for hours on end. Pots full of crayons, felt tips, glitter and glue are all a must – but be wary of paints, especially when everyone’s dressed so smartly.
In a similarly arty vein, save yourself the worry of wayward pen marks being scrawled across your tablecloth, and make it part of the fun. Either blank butcher’s paper or specially printed out colouring book-style patterns will do the trick, at a surprisingly low cost.
Candy Floss Machine
Just one of the many ways you can bring all the fun of the fair to your wedding, treat your kids to some sugar-spun fun in the form of a candy floss machine! Their little eyes will widen with disbelief as a boring old stick goes in and an edible cloud comes out. Just make sure they don’t overdo it before dinner!
If there’s a decent sized paved or tarmacked area at your wedding venue (and you’ve got the ok from those in charge), show the kids that it’s just a box of jumbo chalk away from becoming a masterpiece to rival the Sistine Chapel. You can also introduce them, if they’re not already familiar, with the joys of hopscotch – a game you can chalk yourself!
After sitting through your ceremony next to their neatly turned out aunties and uncles, the kids are going to be pretty tired of being quiet and still, not to mention hungry. So when dinner time finally comes around, it’ll be a huge relief for them to be sat with children their own age – and an even bigger relief to drop the whole ‘being good’ charade. Have a special kids’ menu that’s less ‘coq au vin’ and more ‘chicken nuggets’, print out some personalised placemats with plenty of puzzles and activities, and you’re set till dessert!
At such a young age, the only major events your kids will have attended are most likely their friends’ birthday parties, so they’ll be used to receiving a goody bag at the end of any sort of get together. Sweets and small toys are always a big hit – but you can always put a wedding-y spin on them, like gummy wedding rings or a tiny teddy bear in a tux or bridal veil.
There’s something mysterious and alluring about a pool full of brightly coloured plastic balls. How deep does it go? What else could be buried in there? These are just a few reasons why youngsters love to spend hours in ball pools.
Rain doesn’t necessarily have to stop play at your wedding! While you’re sheltering from the downpour, bust out the board games and the jigsaw puzzles. Monopoly might be a bit beyond them at the moment, but Hungry Hippos and Buckaroo appeal to all ages.
A nanny or babysitter will be your saving grace on your wedding day. While they’re busy making sure no popcorn has been lodged in any little noses or no knees have been grazed due to over-enthusiastic sliding, you’ll be free to schmooze and booze with your adult guests.
A child’s fascination with these reality-warping shapes and colours that appear with the wave of a magic wand is never-ending. It might be worth having a specialist on standby to show them how it’s done, but their imaginations and excitement will soon take over. With bubbles, bigger really is better!
Another genius partnership of two of a kid’s favourite things – sweets and destruction! If this is their first piñata, they won’t believe their luck when you tell them a) they’re allowed to hit this colourful cartoon of a decoration with a big stick and b) if they hit it hard enough, candy falls out. They’ll also love it if the adults join in.
Your kids may be too young to raise a glass of champagne after the Best Man’s speech, but that doesn’t mean they can’t join in the toast with a more age-appropriate tipple. You can get creative with all sorts of juices, cordials and sodas, and have a lot of fun coming up with silly names. How about a Ribena Colada, a Cosmopoli-tango, or even a Sprite Russian?
Kids’ Photo Booth
Photo booths are fun for everyone, but a booth especially for kids is bound to capture their imaginations as well as their images. Not only are you able to get booths in smaller sizes, but you can also get some really fun themed costumes from Shrek, Disney and other popular kids’ franchises.
Nothing quite captivates children like a brightly coloured, shrill voiced entertainer. They could be a clown, a balloon modeller, a magician or a combination of all of the above – as long as they interact with the kids and give them a few surprises, your little ones won’t care about anything else.
Pop Band or DJ
You may well have tried to raise your child on a strict diet of Frank Sinatra and Serge
Gainsbourg, but for the most part young listeners will like their music simple, catchy and in-your-face – so a pop wedding band or disco DJ is the logical choice. If you can put up with a quick spin of Baby Shark before the evening gets properly underway, you’ll soon see that the youngsters will set the standard for the rest of your guests as they flock shamelessly to the dancefloor. They might even teach you a move or two!
Whenever you take a family trip to the zoo, you’re fighting a constant battle with kids too young to read the ‘don’t touch the animals’ signs. So, imagine their delight when a friendly farmer-type leads a fluffy alpaca into the garden and tells them they can pet it to their hearts’ content!
Video Game Station
The bright visuals and wacky sounds are just part of the appeal of a video game station! Old school arcade-style games are probably the best route to go down at a wedding, with simple controls and, unless one of your youngsters is an undercover Pacman or Tetris World Champion, a pretty quick turnover of players.
A timeless classic, the inflatable fortress is a perfect way to wear your hyperactive little ones out – and, later on, can double up as a chance for your more mature guests to relive their childhoods. The hardest part is persuading them to get off – you won’t be able to catch them!