Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Keeping the little ones happy at your wedding: Some handy tips!

When I was three, I was a bridesmaid for my Auntie Donna & Uncle Stephen. I can remember the day well actually. In the car on the way to the wedding, I saw a huge funfair outside the window, colourful and exciting, and I wanted to go to that....instead I was taken to the wedding. I loved my dress which was flowery and handmade by someone in the family, and I had a fake flowery tiara, very fashionable at the time. I can't really remember the ceremony or the meal, but oh dear lord I can remember the photography. I was bored, i'd been awake for a long time and the last thing I wanted to do is be bossed around by a strange man to smile for an hour. I kicked and screamed my head off, refused to be in any photographs, ran under a table and fell asleep....I don't think my Auntie has quite forgiven me yet.

The thing is, nowadays it's more and more common for children to be at weddings, and also more common for the bride and groom to have their own children there. So how to keep them occupied and happy all day?

A wedding can be a very exciting day for a child, they will look forward to it and it's a chance to dress up nicely, possibly formally for the first time, have their hair done, pose for photographs and meet other children and see a beautiful bride in a stunning dress. It can also be stressful, tiring and boring at times (especially during the speeches or waiting for the wedding breakfast)

I wanted to compile some ideas for entertaining the children and making it a memorable and fun day for everyone regardless of their age:

1)If they are your own children or nieces and nephews, (or other children close to your family) involve them in planning of the day, let them choose their hair style, teach them to tie up their bow tie, or polish their shoes, help them prepare favours if you are making them yourself. Explain to them how special the day is and what it means to your family and to them.

2) Giving children a role in the ceremony can make them understand how special it is, and give them a sense of pride and responsibility. There's no denying, it also looks really cute for the photographs! Obviously this does all depend on the age of the child, and what they are able to do. I photographed a traditional Chinese wedding where the guests gathered outside first and performed a wedding procession with gongs, clapping and dancing. The small children had a role in helping bang the gongs something they really seemed to enjoy!

3) On your big day, have something especially for the children to do, make it fun and just for them.  A great idea is a 'kids corner'. The Fine and Funky Events Company have a perfect solution for this available to hire – large board games such as Connect Four and Jenga, a box of games suitable for 6 months-12 years, and to round it all off, an  'Adults Keep Out' sign.
 Another example could be a bouncy castle, if you want to go all out. It doesn't suit the tastes of all brides & grooms, but i'm speaking from experience,  my mother hired one for her wedding when I was a teenager- it was a huge hit and the adults all had a go later and it made some fantastic photographs.

4) Ensure you discuss with your venue on options for children for the wedding meal(s) Some children do like to have a half sized portion of what everyone else is having, but going with sure firm favourites from a children's menu such as pizza, chicken nuggets, fish fingers etc is what many brides opt for. Discuss with your venue as well ensuring they have cups available for the little ones, it's no use them having a crystal champagne glass!

4)The wedding breakfast can take over two hours and then there's the speeches. It's a great idea to have some small activities for the children to do whilst at the table in between courses. Something simple like a pot of crayons and some colouring sheets is a fantastic idea to keep them occupied. You could also have a small goodie bag including those items for each child, and include some non-messy snacks such as raisins etc to be given at a suitable time.

Usborne Books do some amazing books including a weddings colouring book (with stickers) (£3.99) and 'sticker dolly dressing up' (£5.99) in both Bridesmaid edition and general wedding addition, they can use the stickers to dress the dolls! (You can even see inside the books on that website) Perfect for keeping the little girls occupied, and they definitely won't break the bank.

5)If you have children as part of your main wedding party, discuss with your photographer if they have much experience of photographing children, a good photographer will be able to capture some fantastic candid images of the children, but also keep them interested in any posed shots. They will also appreciate that many young children's attention span is lower and they want to enjoy the wedding not stand posing for so long, perhaps they can take the photographs including the children first and then release them with their parents to go and play with the other children. Having a warm and friendly photographer is crucial in achieving these natural and fun shots of the children.

Overall, including children in your wedding makes it a real family event, and is something they will look forward to and remember forever. Including them in the planning and tailoring some parts of your wedding for the children ensures that they will have a great day and that their parents can relax, making it an enjoyable day for all.

I finish with a snapshot of my brother from my mother's wedding. He was 6 at the time and he'd had a whale of a time! This was taken during the reception, the music was blaring out, and when we found him, he was laid completely fast asleep, with grass stains all over his smart shirt, and a wonky bow tie. Bless!

Wishing you and your children a wonderful wedding day.

All photographs and text by Katie Byram Photography please do not use without permission.

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