Dial up the fun
Just as you want to create an exciting party atmosphere for your adult guests, don’t forget a fun (and safe) environment for the younger ones too. Organise goodie bags filled with activities that are as mess-free as possible, suggests Elizabeth Wallace from The Event Childcare Company (eventchildcare.nz) – consider colouring books, bubble mixture, stickers and books. Having an outdoor reception? Lawn games are fun for kids and adults alike, while for an event with lots of kids, a bouncy castle provides hours of fun and, later in the night after a few vinos, adults are sure to enjoy your investment too.
Whether your own children, a family member or a close friend's littlies, kids can be a cute and meaningful addition to a ceremony –
so consider giving them a special role for the day.
“Age-appropriate jobs make children feel important,” says marriage celebrant Melanie Kerr (melaniekerr.co.nz). The sense of responsibility (no matter how big or small) could ready them to be on their best behaviour. But be prepared for the unexpected, especially if you’re including your own young children in proceedings – have an adult they know on-hand, just in case of a tantrum.
While younger children will no doubt be stoked to be a flower girl or ring bearer, older children and teenagers may appreciate more responsibility. They could help sign the marriage license, or if they’re a talented musician, organise a performance.
Consider the menu
While your adult guests will be able to appreciate the intricate presentation of your sashimi canapés and the chorus of flavours in your blue cheese salad, kids will likely be happier with easy eats such as pasta, fish and chips or sliders. It pays to talk to your caterer to see if they provide a kids' menu, as these can be at least half the price of adult meals – extra bonus! Also ensure there are plenty of healthy snacks such as fruit, nuts, crackers and bottles of juice and water on-hand throughout the day to keep the youngest guests stable and satisfied.
Ask for help
When in doubt, bring in the pros: specialist event childcare is becoming increasingly popular for weddings. "Imagine a full kindergarten brought to your venue," says Elizabeth. "We tailor activities to reflect the ages and interests of the children attending, so they’re occupied for the whole event." This takes the pressure off the parents in attendance.
There are many reasons for wanting a child-free wedding. But how to broach your decision with guests who have children? “Be direct,” advises Melanie. “State in your invites you plan to have a kid-free day so everyone can relax and enjoy themselves.” Informing guests from the start avoids confusion down the track and gives people ample time to organise childcare. If you’re aware of guests who could be offended, talk to them directly to eliminate any misunderstanding.