Things to consider:
- Does your budget and venue make inviting everyone and their children a possibility?
- Can your caterer provide kid-friendly menu choices?
- Be sure to visit with the children in attendance as well as your other guests. If you are having a kids’ room, spend a few minutes there with them. This will show them that they are still part of your reception.
- Infants will probably spend their time with their parents. Toddlers to about 10 or 12 years old would be more inclined to participate in kids’ activities.
Kids Buffet - Be sure to ask your caterer if they can include kid-friendly food options such as chicken tenders, macaroni and cheese, and fruit juice. Having kid-friendly food available throughout the night can help keep the kids occupied and help avoid crankiness due to hunger. Avoid chocolate--that can create a mess if it gets dropped or melts somewhere other than in your mouth.
Kids Activity Table - Designate a table to be just for kids and have things for them to do, including coloring, simple brain teasers, and other fun activities. You can also make a bag of activities for each child (this can be their wedding favor) to take home. This table can help keep them entertained during the toasts and formal dances. One fun activity is to ask the kids to draw pictures of the wedding couple – they can be lots of fun to look at and make a great addition to a scrapbook.
Kids Room - When you book the reception space, see if there is a separate room that you can use where you can set up games and activities for the children that will be attending. If not, you can designate a corner of the room to be the kid’s area. A separate area or room will probably require someone designated to oversee the activities. A good rule of thumb is if you are going to have a kids’ room it is a good idea to plan on having one sitter for each five toddlers and one sitter for each ten older children. If you have some older children that are babysitting age they might be prime candidates.
Some ideas of things you may want to include:
- Kid’s books for story time, coloring supplies (if you supply markers, only use washable markers and don’t use any paints), stuffed animals, toys, a tea party, construction paper and other supplies for arts and crafts(such as pipe cleaners, glue, and rhinestones), a TV and DVD player and board games.
- Karaoke is another possibility - we have a self-contained rental system that goes for $110 per night including the TV monitor and has a lot of popular kid’s sing-a-long songs.
- http://www.discoveryeducation.com/teachers/ has resources for creating your own puzzles and brain teasers.
Unexpected Guests - If you plan on not having children at your wedding or reception but they are brought along anyway, be sure you are prepared. Bring along coloring books, paper and crayons just in case, and consider having a table that can be used as a kids’ table in your reception hall. Consider having a kids only dance portion at your reception. Parents and Grandparents will love watching their kids jump and dance around to a song or two. Have a couple adults or a few members of the wedding party dance with the kids. This will help them get into the music.
Disposable Cameras – As the Master of Ceremonies, we will ask the children to help make your wedding day even more memorable by capturing all the little moments the professional photographer might miss. Depending on your interest level, we can also designate them as “paparazzi” and have them rush in to take pictures when you enter the reception (we would tell them it would be a surprise) and could also call out paparazzi moments later in the reception to encourage them to participate and help document things.
Interactive Songs –Examples of great interactive songs for everyone include the Chicken Dance, the Hokey Pokey, the Twist, YMCA, Shout, Grease, Stayin' Alive (from Saturday Night Fever), the Cha-Cha Slide, a Conga line, and other easy follow-along songs. We don't normally do a lot of dance teaching at weddings, however if you expect a lot of kids it is certainly something we can prepare. We can also make up some simple dance moves to go with songs from popular Disney movies and other songs kids would know if you let us know ahead of time.
Sing-a-long Songs - We have a 2-CD set with several dozen kids sing-a-long songs (like you learn in elementary music). Another option is doing karaoke in conjunction with the dance or doing a kids-only karaoke in another area, such as a kids’ room. The sing-a-long might work better for kids because then you won't have to worry about fighting over microphones, dropping them on the floor, etc.
Non-Dance Games - We have done a game that is a cross between musical chairs and a scavenger hunt at events in the past to great success. This game works well for both children and adults. Everyone who wants to participate brings a chair out to the dance floor and then we have several items they go out into the room to get. Each time a chair is removed, so the last person back is out of the game. For kids, we come up with a positive spin--like making them cheerleaders or helping those still in the game--to have a less negative connotation.
Outdoor Activities –If your wedding is during the summer, the sun will set late enough for there to be plenty of time for some outside activities. If it is OK with the venue you can buy a bucket of sidewalk chalk and turn the kids loose outside. Or, if you have a babysitter or other supervisor games like red light/green light, duck duck goose, mother may I, etc. are lots of fun. If you are planning on outside games for the kids, advising parents to bring play clothes to change into after the ceremony is over will be a huge help.
Piñata - Kids love piñatas. A piñata can be a great addition to the kids’ room or a break from the dancing in the main area. If you are plannig to have a piñata, make sure that there is a place to hang it at your venue.
Prop Hats / Inflatables - We have all sorts of inflatable instruments (guitar, trumpet, sax, keyboard, bongo, etc.) that are great for kids to play along with the music. The hat side of the equation is primarily YMCA hats (sailor, construction, cowboy, Indian headdress, police) however we also have some other neon and polka-dot selections.