ADULTS ONLY | A PG Guide For Kids At Weddings
“Adults only” on a wedding invite sounds like PG movie rating. “No children allowed“ just sounds mean.
How often do we melt at the sight of angelic ring bearers and flower girls. They photograph so well. The cuteness factor is unbeatable. But what if unbeatable becomes unbearable? Two hours into the ceremony and function, said flower girl has destroyed the floral arrangements, pulled the table cloth from underneath the crystal candelabra and screamed at decibels which will put any Soprano at shame? Not so cute anymore.
Even Pippa Middleton’s Page boy got out of hand. Photo credit: Getty Images
The verdict is out about children at weddings and never before has an opinion poll been so heated and debated.
We have a quick look at who is for, who is against and if you do invite children, how to keep all parties happy.
WHO IS FOR?
“Little girls grow up with the fantasy of a princess in a beautiful dress, and the handsome prince by her side. Nothing embodies this as much as a wedding,” says Wanita Marinovic, owner of Destination Management Company LekkerPlaces. “Children should see this beauty and commitment taking place. It’s every little girl’s dream to one day walk down the isle.”
”Wedding venues have the opportunity to create a unique selling point by providing child minding or babysitting service. Create a special kids area with activities and décor – most parents or bridal couples will only be too happy to pay a little extra to keep kids busy and happy. Be kind to breast-feeding moms and create a private area for feeding times.”
“What I love most about having my kids with me at weddings are those special moments: seeing my daughter’s face when the bride magically floats down the isle in a vision of white; sticky little fingers full of wedding cake icing and those silly little dance moves we make on the dance floor. Or when she stands on her daddy’s shoes “learning” how to dance like the adults do. Nothing builds memories quite like family weddings, according to graphic designer, Alette Riep from Instant Art.
WHO IS AGAINST
From a guest perspective, many have mixed feelings about having children at a wedding. “Although I don’t have my own kids, I do love having children around, says Leilani Kuter from Date Night Ideas for Couples in SA. “Having children crying or being just plain naughty at a crucial romantic moment at the wedding just spoils it for everyone. It’s such a fine line. I am tempted to say that perhaps kids over 12 are welcome, but they may be on their cell phones which poses its own set of problems. It just seems a no-go any way you look at it.
“Inviting kids to your wedding really depends on budget and relationships. If budget allows, a play area for the kids is ideal, but even then parents will still be distracted. I would rather that parents make arrangements for a childminder and treat the evening as a date night out where they get to spend quality time together. Weddings are the ideally opportunity to bring sexy back into the relationship – wear something beautiful and remind each other what first brought you together.”
From the bridal couple’s point of view, budget can be a major stumbling block. Depending on the age category of the couple getting married, there could be loads of kids – and don’t think for one moment a ten year old boy eats any less than a grown man. It’s a hormonal thing, apparently.
Not all weddings venues have discounted rates or child-friendly menus. But some do and it’s a crucial question to ask when booking your venue if you know that you will have ten or more children attending. Mini hot dogs, crumbed chicken drumsticks, mini hamburgers or chicken wraps and French fries for the kids are ideal when the buffet or plated menu price per person is bound to set you back a few hundred bucks.
THOSE TIMES WHEN YOU DON’T HAVE A SAY
While good manners come into play with most weddings, certain traditions and cultures have no mercy for the couple’s budget.
Lindi Kibe, Sales and Marketing Manager of Lindo Management Projects explains:
“There is a difference in weddings in urban areas and rural areas for black people. When it comes to modern urban weddings it’s a personal decision between the bride and groom if they want to invite children or not. The invitation will specify if kids are allowed or not and sometimes it will state that kids under a certain age are not allowed.
When it comes to rural areas, the invitation is for a whole i.e. KIBE FAMILY is invited. The whole family will attend the wedding including children, toddlers and teenagers.
The rural areas still fly a white flag on their property two to three months before the wedding. We all know when we see this white flag that there will be a wedding at that particular house and we are all invited. We will also offer our services, crockery, cutlery, pots, chairs and tables to the family displaying the white flag. It becomes a community wedding since we may also know the bride or groom since birth or childhood.
Riaz Khan, owner of Conference and Event Gurus shares a unique perspective on Indian traditions and weddings:
“Our Rainbow Nation has a variety of cultures, religions and customs. Life has become more expensive and it has now become necessary to rather go smaller and more exclusive if you want to create a memorable wedding.”
When I was a kid I remember weddings with a thousand guests – a simple set up with trestle tables, a little décor on the stage, and paper plates and cups were sufficient. Nowadays, grooms arrive on horseback, guests expect the finest china and stage decor is elaborate. Often ramps are part of the event set up for entertainment. To afford all this, there needs to be cost-cutting, and this is when children are left out of the wedding, as this is seen as an additional expense.
Most often children don’t really understand what the wedding is about. From a cost point of view, catering for children is tricky. As a parent you should really have a babysitter on speed dial for your own sanity. And kids running around at a wedding is a big no-no.
MAKE IT FUN FOR THE KIDS
No doubt, sitting still for 5 hours is not their idea of fun. Some adults I know will barely make it.
Ceremony Activity Sheet
Hand out clipboards to kids as they enter the chapel, with a few printed pages for colouring, with a small box of crayons attached to it. This should keep them occupied during the I-do’s. Download printable wedding activities here.
Just after the ceremony: Bubble station
This is as much fun for the adults as the kids. Instead of confetti, blow bubbles to wish the couple well.
Rent an ice cream truck
Or a candy floss machine, or a giant popcorn maker. Adults, take note, this is a Kids Only Zone
If the weather is great and no rain predicted, create little make-shift Tee-Pee village complete with scatter cushions and fluffy toys. At night time this becomes magical with fairy lights and perhaps even an animation movie showing on a wall or white sheet. Keep it light enough that kids don’t get scared and have a child minder overseeing the camping expedition. Chances are that kids will fall asleep in their cosy tents before the movie is over. This could also be done indoors.
Create a “Kids only “table with a white paper table cloth for drawing and colouring. Stock the table with buckets of crayons, fun eats and drinks and games to keep them occupied. Activity booklets, Busy Bags filled with activities and Party buckets will add to the fun. If you want to go the whole hog, tablescape the table according to the current trending animation movie theme.
Cupcake or Pizza Bar
Even slightly older children need to be entertained: Decorate your own (pre-made) cupcakes with icing and sprinkles. Colour it pretty with food colouring inserted into white icing sugar. Venues with pizza ovens can have pizza bases pre-made and a selection of pizza topping for a do-it-yourself creation.
All children are little Picassos in the making. Ask any mother who has tried to remove permanent marker from the passage wall. Paint a whole wall with chalkboard paint and set out buckets of giant chalks, and watch them go.
An Arts and crafts table is a great idea, but once again supervision and guidance is required. Perhaps also little aprons. Get kids to make wedding cards for the bridal couple. Fill the table with fun stuff like glitter, glue, feathers and other craft supplies.
Think giant jenga, oversized checkers, ring toss, croquet and even Piñata. Add some kiddies prizes and definitely a child minder to oversee games – especially those involving sticks.
Need more inspiration – see our Pinterest board for lawn games.
The honest truth: Leave the Littles
As much fun as the activities seems, it is still an additional cost and the majority of respondents to my opinion poll still voted for no children at a wedding. But let’s be nice about this. First prize is to pick up the phone and make that personal call – sugarcoat it nicely and really do a PR spin on the value of a date night out at someone else’s expense. Trust me it works 9 times out of ten.
Blissfullweddingceremonies.com has some super ideas to lessen the impact of receiving notice that your darling kids are not welcome at the wedding:
- We are sorry, we are unable to accommodate children.
- Regrettably, children are unable to attend.
- With respect, we would like our special day to be an adult only occasion
- We are very sorry, but due to restrictions at our venue, we cannot accommodate children.
- Due to safety reasons/limited space, we are unable to extend this invitation to children.
- Although we do love all of your little cherubs we request that our wedding remain adults only. So, book a sitter and dust off those dancing shoes!
- As much as we would like to invite all the children of our friends, it is only possible to accommodate the children of close family.
Found one that works for you? I personally like the options where you pass the buck to the venue. I know. Shameless
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She knows her Merlot from her Mojito, her hotel from her motel. From craft food to caviar, her innate curiosity about life and wanderlust provide inspiration for her blogs, articles and press releases about the travel, wedding and Spa industry. Over twenty years in the hotel marketing & PR arena with impressive hotel groups, from Dubai to Durbanville, has evolved into the pure enjoyment of freelance projects under the banner of About Branding.
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