Entertaining Kids at a Wedding
One of the biggest fears I hear from couples when talking about the day of their wedding is the potential meltdown of any kids that are attending. Back in 2017, if you followed the story of Pippa Moyle’s wedding, one such event happened when Prince George started crying outside of the church.
As a result of events like this, a lot of weddings avoid the risk by simply not allowing kids to come. This can be difficult for family and friends who aren’t able to arrange or afford a full day of childcare whilst they attend.
But the truth is that kids can have a great time at a wedding, bringing lots of joy and putting less stress on the attendees. Using the benefit of our experience, here are seven ideas for keeping kids entertained at weddings.
Ideas for keepings kids entertained at weddings
1. Give them uncoloured treats
Weddings are exciting for children. They’re seeing family that they may not have been around for a long time. There’s throwing with the flowers and confetti and that long trail at the back of a wedding dress is probably unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.
We can tell you now that the biggest reason as to why they might act up at a wedding is either overstimulation, usually during the arrivals and reception; or boredom during the ceremony itself.
Sweets are often a good way to bribe (as one mother put it to us) your child into staying on their best behaviour. It’s a simple and easy trick, but please do try and give them something that has no colour, or very little colour. The last thing you need to do is try to remove red food colouring from a skittle off a white shirt. In fact, marshmallows are a good idea, because they are mostly made from gelatine and water, meaning they can easily be cleaned off clothes with a bit of water and don’t stain.
We want to note here that sugary sweets cause sugar rushes and crashes. Both of which can lead to tantrums and meltdowns. However, there are a vast array of sweets that are low in both sugar and additives. They are very difficult to tell from the traditional sugary treat, so we strongly recommend you go for the healthier alternatives. Often, these low-sugar sweets are free from colouring as well.
It should also be worth remembering that kids are often competitive. So if there are multiple kids at your wedding, you could hold a competition where the best behaved child will get a sweet surprise at the reception later.
If you do choose to do this, make sure you clear it with all the parents first. We don’t imagine parents objecting to this, but it’s better to be safe than unable to keep your promise.
2. Let them colour in the dining table
Don’t worry, we don’t mean paying a huge repair bill to get an expensive table cleaned after the kids ruin it. This has always been a huge surprise for parents as it’s an idea we rarely see and not many think of doing this.
If the kids have their own dedicated table, cover it in a few layers of wallpaper. Wallpaper is thick and hard for children to rip, whilst the back of it is white. Supply a few cups of drawing tools that don’t stain (we recommend crayons) and let them loose.
You can get a large roll of wallpaper cheaply from B&Q, such as this grey concrete effect one that is white on the back.
Between each course of the wedding breakfast, the children are able to easily entertain themselves by drawing on this excellent canvas. At the end of the day, you’ll have a memento from your wedding breakfast filled with joy and creativity.
You could even create an element of competition with this idea, which can help give the kids some direction for their artistic vision. Set up a colouring contest by having some outlines already prepared on the back of the wallpaper, or ask them to draw their best picture of the happy couple.
Photo source: B&Q
3. Hire an entertainer
If you have enough budget, you can hire a professional entertainer. They can keep the kids entertained at your wedding ceremony and reception if you’re able to provide a dedicated space for this.
During the ceremony, if there is a little side-room available, the kids can stay in there whilst you say “I do”. At the reception, you can set aside a dedicated room or section off a little corner. This is our personal favourite way of entertaining kids at a wedding.
As for the entertainment itself, you can hire a professional clown, storyteller, magician, walkabout artist or even an impersonator that fits into the theme of your wedding. We’ve seen Marvel-themed weddings becoming more frequent, so having Spiderman appear for the kids would go down a treat without looking out-of-place.
It is also worth noting that a lot of entertainers will provide their own activities and entertainment ideas for the kids at your wedding, meaning you don’t have to deal with the stress of arranging games or activities aside from the entertainer themselves.
We ourselves source entertainers and have a great list of trusted suppliers that we use for our events.
4. Set up a room for games
If the children attending your wedding are active, you can always set up a selection of games in a separate room or area. If your wedding is indoors, we recommend having an entire room dedicated to games, to allow the kids to have the space to run around without the fear of knocking over adults.
The ideal games to set up depends on the ages of the kids. Young toddlers will be happy with sensory activities and a small stairs and ramp set, but the latter may require supervision. Older kids can be given air hockey, a nerf ball, hula hoops and, if you have enough room, a mini basketball and hoop set.
Some hotels and country clubs will have the equipment available for you to use, but you’ll often have to supply it yourself.
If your wedding has an outdoor setting, you can set up giant lawn games and funfair activities. We have a preferred supplier in Rent Event when it comes to party games hire.
5. Stagger their meals
Mealtime is often the most difficult time for keeping kids from meltdown, as they get hungry quickly and struggle to withstand the waiting times
We recommend you try to divide the timings for meals into two. The kids should go first, then the adults can eat. An adult can easily enjoy spreading their time out over a five-course meal, but children want to get back to their fun activities after a matter of minutes.
Get the kids sat down and the food in front of them as quickly as possible. If it’s a buffet, let them help themselves first whilst the adults chat with an hors d’oeuvre in hand. Once the kids have finished eating, they can get back to their entertainment whilst the adults sit down to eat in their own time. We can also supply event aunties who are able to help with mealtimes, whether it’s simple supervision or outright catering.
6. Prepare a kids playlist
If you have a separate room set up for the kids, give them the ideal soundtrack to dance along to. Instead of Pachelbel’s Canon in D, let them sing along to the chorus of Let it Go from the Frozen soundtrack, or their favourite nursery rhymes if they’re very young.
If you are interested in hiring an entertainer for the kids, a dance instructor could help them to learn some new moves to try out with their favourite songs. This really helps the kids to feel properly involved in the reception party.
Alternatively, if your little guests are very young you can hire an entertainer that specialises in interactive nursery rhymes and activities, rather than dancing to Let it Go.
7. Consider the need for nap times
If the children at your wedding are very young, it is likely that they will need a chance to sleep before the end of the event. When kids are tired, they get grumpy and the likelihood of a meltdown increases dramatically.
Even if the kids attending are no longer napping during the day, the sheer amount of stimulation along with the finishing time of the celebrations will no doubt exhaust them. Taking these two facts into consideration is possibly the most important thing to do when planning for the kids who will be at your wedding.
Set up a quiet room where they can rest after a long day of exhausting travel, new faces play time, and excitement. You can even have a plan to take down the games room at a certain point and convert it into a nap room. However, this can be difficult to time if the kids vary greatly in age as some will get tired quicker than others.
If you’ve enjoyed what you read and have gained some ideas for entertaining kids at your wedding, that’s great! Please do bear in mind that we offer a wedding creche service for kids at weddings, meaning we can help set up these activities, from entertainment to napping stations.