What about the Kids?

The guest list can be tricky at the best of times and even more of a challenge when children are involved

Do you just invite all the children of friends and family? And what’s the etiquette when blended families and stepchildren are involved?

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To help you decide what is going to work for you and your wedding when it comes to inviting children, Ellie Ryan, mother-of-three and founder of What About the Kids, shares her advice by answering the questions she gets asked most frequently about children at weddings.

Do parents want a break from the kids?
“Am I actually doing the parents a favour, by not inviting their children and giving them a break and excuse for a weekend off to enjoy the day with less stress and worry?”
While this may be the case occasionally, in reality it is often not that simple. It can be hard for parents to secure childcare for a whole day, evening or weekend, especially if they have far to travel and more than one child. Grandparents can be too far away or frail and childcare is hugely expensive in addition to all the usual costs that are involved in attending weddings.

Will parents enjoy my wedding more without their children there?
Everyone loves a wedding and I’m sure they will enjoy yours whatever you decide. However, something to bear in mind is the importance of family time – with the majority of parents today working full or part-time, quality time is enormously valued. If you are therefore able to offer an event that is enjoyed by all, it can become a great family moment for your guests.
Parents love seeing their children socialise with those of friends and family, making friendships and connecting in the same way as they may have done with their friends when they first met.
Having professional photography at your wedding will be a bonus to them too, providing memories for many years to come of their children having fun!

Is it acceptable to just invite the children of my close family?
This is common, however inviting just family children but not those of close friends may seem unfair or unkind to those who don’t have the kiddy invites. If you decide to exclude all children then be prepared with a response to the mother of a breast-feeding baby on what your feelings are on whether the baby can be brought along. Don’t be surprised or take it personally if those with uninvited children can simply not attend.

Will parents expect me to provide toys or entertainment for their children?
Parents will often bring a couple of items to keep their own children amused, but providing activities specifically geared for the children on the day always goes down extremely well.
A colouring in pack at the table may keep the kids amused for 15 minutes, but not a whole three hours. A cornered off area dedicated to the children is ideal and provides hours of amusement for the little ones, allowing their parents to truly relax, enjoy your event as well as enjoy seeing their children having a great time. While this may involve a little extra cost, in your overall wedding budget the cost is minimal.

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Should I offer childcare on the day?
Not necessarily, however doing so would mean you could invite a guest (whether your best friend’s sister or mum or even a neighbour), as your childcare assistant that perhaps you wouldn’t normally have space for. They are usually so delighted to have a reason to be at your wedding ceremony and could keep an eye on the children’s play area. If you make sure the children’s section is in the same area as the adults then you won’t need to have the hassle about getting DBS – Disclosure & Barring checks (replacement of CRB).

Should I provide special meals?
Yes absolutely though there’s no need to include the children in your expensive grown-up food or set menu. Instead simply arrange for a packed party tea to be provided in cake boxes (which can be decorated as another fun activity)! Also consider seating the children together in their own area before the grown-up meal, therefore ensuring they all have content full tummies and are playing nicely when the adults get to enjoy their main meal.

I don’t have the time to research children’s toys and entertainment – what do they like?
Start by finding out the ages of the children attending. Younger ones love bouncy castles, slides, soft play equipment and dressing up. Older children benefit from chill out areas with bean-bags and games. Offering a variety is best, as little people don’t have huge attention spans! Outside play is always a bonus but naturally will be weather dependent. For recommendations on what to offer the children coming to your wedding, speak to What About The Kids for their guidance on the best package for your event.

I want a specific style and look for my wedding. Can the children’s area fit within my theme?
There’s plenty of choice when it comes to hiring bouncy castles or renting soft play equipment, but often these are limited to bright and garish colours. There are a few select companies that What About Kids works with to offer a more stylish look.
What About The Kids also provides retro, vintage and themed kids equipment, wooden toys and themed dressing up that will work to your desired look – from Cowboys and Indians, fairy princesses as well as beautifully simple children’s white tables and chairs, with handmade sashes that will exactly match your chosen colour scheme.

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What About The Kids was founded by Ellie Ryan, mother-of-three, as a result of experiencing the challenges herself when invited to friends’ weddings and being faced with the question of ‘what about the kids?’ Responding to this need, the company offers easy hire of stylish and high quality toys, games and furniture all geared for children to keep them entertained while providing an area which looks stylish, beautiful and consistent with the desired theme and style of the whole event.
What About The Kids provides all those little extras that couples may need in preparation for their big day – from handy inserts for couples to include with the wedding invitation to reassure parents that their children will be catered for, to personalised colouring in cards, posters and placemats with the bride and grooms names.

• What About The Kids are always open to new ideas so call Ellie on 07932 729362 or email her at ellie@whataboutthekids.co.uk. For more information, visit www.whataboutthekids.co.uk, Twitter: @whataboutthekids, or Facebook: What About The Kids

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