If you and your future spouse have already had children, or children are present from a previous relationship, they should obviously be included in the festivities. Their involvement will make them feel more included in your big day; involving them in appropriate ways will make them feel comfortable and welcome during the wedding. Here are some great ideas for including kids at wedding events on your big day.

1. Bridal Party

Smaller versions of bridesmaids and groomsmen can lend your wedding an air of fun and frivolity. If you’ve got kids who are pre-teen and ‘tween age, they can fill out roles in your bridal party, giving them ample opportunities to participate in otherwise “grown-up” activities like the bridal shower and the less risque parts of the bachelor/bachelorette parties. They’ll feel like an integral part of your wedding and even get to dress the part, garnering you a few points for being so cool! Younger kids at wedding events can serve as junior bridal party members (sans responsibilities but in full dress) or as ring-bearers or flower girls.

2. Unity Ceremony

There are lots of nontraditional options for ceremonial add-ons for your big day. Kids at wedding ceremonies can have useful roles in various alternative ceremony options, such as in alternative Unity or Unity candle lighting or less-traditional sand ceremonies. You can include additional colors of sand or have them involved in the candle lighting or Unity ceremony, or create your own tradition with handprints or other unique souvenirs of your wedding day that can be proudly displayed in your home.

3. Vow Exchange

If you’re planning on writing your own vows for the wedding, consider allowing your kids to write vows to include, or mention them in your own vows. Other ideas include the adoption of certain familial phrases or another verbiage that includes them. Vows written with your kids can be professionally transcribed using calligraphy and framed as an excellent souvenir from when your family came together as one.

4. Walking Down the Aisle

Kids at wedding ceremonies may feel left out if they don’t have a part. If you’re trying to think of a good way to include them but are having a hard time figuring it out, talk to them about giving you away or walking you down the aisle, especially if your parents aren’t available to fill the role. This works very well for children who are either in their teens or are already grown.

5. Performances

For kids who have some type of talent, consider asking them to perform at some point in the ceremony. Have your young poet write a poem to recite or allow your young singer to serenade you. If your child enjoys performing, having them show off is an awesome way to include them in your big day.

6. Entertaining Kids At Wedding Festivities

One of the biggest problems with having kids at wedding events is that they get bored easily, especially when all the attention is on someone else. This can lead to disruptions at very inopportune times.  Keeping the kiddies happily entertained is your best bet.

1. Kid-Approved Foods

Having a couple of foods especially for the smaller guests at your wedding can be a real lifesaver when it comes to keeping kids at wedding functions happy and occupied. This is not to say that your reception menu should be totally kid-centric, but offering some universally-accepted kid foods can keep your little guests feel like part of the proceedings and head off any food-related temper tantrums at the pass.  Some things kids like that won’t compromise the integrity of your menu include cheese cubes and ham and cheese pinwheels, along with chicken nuggets, mini hamburgers, fries and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. All of these can be offered in very elegant ways that won’t spoil the overall feeling of your reception.

2. Arm Them With Cameras

Kids at wedding events will be much happier with a camera in hand. Most kids don’t get the chance to use a camera very much, so they’ll likely be ecstatic just to have one in their hands to photograph your wedding. The kids will be able to take pictures and you might end up with some really great shots of your wedding, from a kid’s eye view.  Make sure to offer disposable cameras!

3. Encourage Creativity

Many children love to color the pictures in coloring books, so offer them the chance to do so. Placing coloring books and crayons at their tables will give your younger guests something to do during all the “boring parts” like speeches or toasts. It’s rare that kids at wedding tables are really considered during the planning stages, so it’s very noticeable when a couple makes kids part of the event, rather than an afterthought.

4. Sitting Service

Consider hiring sitters to handle the children at your wedding. Make a kid-friendly area available with some activities and have it staffed by the sitters. This will give your guests a chance to participate and mingle without having to constantly worry about their children. Safety first, though! Ensure that the kids won’t be able to leave with anyone except their parents, especially if your wedding or reception is in a shared venue such as a hotel banquet hall.

5. Involving The Parents

If your wedding is a kid-friendly event, make sure parents are aware that there are activities and other plans in place to help relieve bored kids. Do this in the nicest way possible, and not as though you expect any trouble at all out of their little angel. Most parents will be glad to know there’s help available, and your wedding will go more smoothly for a little extra planning regarding kids.

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