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Kids Invited to the Wedding? Help Everyone (Including You) Have a Great Time

Photo by Svetlana Shchemeleva / Stocksy United
Photo by Svetlana Shchemeleva / Stocksy United

Get ready to party! Your loved one is getting hitched this summer and the whole family is on the invite list. Yes, it’s so sweet and generous of the newlyweds-to-be to want your wee one to share in their big day—but you want to ensure he, they, and you all have fun. To help prevent poorly timed tantrums, babbling, messes, and other mini disasters, just say “I do” to these five tips that will keep your tots on the guest list for years to come:

1. Confirm kiddos really are included.

It’s no surprise that many weddings are for adults only—they often last late into the night at venues that aren’t exactly child-proofed. But even if your pal’s celebration is a casual, afternoon affair, don’t assume your children are included. A good rule of thumb: if the kids’ names (or the words “and family”) are on the invite, they are welcome to come. If not, it’s time to find a sitter.

2. Great, kids are welcome! Now bring stuff to keep your crew occupied.

Boredom and hunger can turn any happy Pre-K wedding guest into a tiny terror. Some couples may have kid-friendly games and child-specific menus, but play it safe by toting a boredom survival kit to keep your sweetie entertained (and thus relatively well-behaved). Pack a bag with some of her favorite quiet activities, like sticker books, coloring books and crayons, magnetic puzzles, and little toys. Add a few easy-to-eat snacks like granola bars, fruit leather, and pretzels to stave off crankiness and rumbly tummies during long waits.

3. During the ceremony, sit on the aisle—near the exit.

Couples who happily invited children probably won’t mind if little Henry blurts out something silly in the middle of the “I do’s.” But if he really can’t stop talking—or his talking turns to crying or fussing—quickly and quietly slip out so you can help him calm down without taking away from the couple’s big moment or distracting the other guests.

4. If your child is in the wedding, make sure he or she knows the drill.

We’ve all seen the little flower girl with stage fright who freezes halfway down the aisle, or the ring bearer who gets way, way off track. It’s adorable, yes, but for a smoother performance, a little preparation goes a long way: Be sure you walk your child through the ceremony beforehand so she knows what to do, understands the pacing, and can ask any questions she may have. Explain that there will be an audience, but she can look at you for a thumbs up if she gets scared. If she’s got a serious case of nerves, see if she can walk down the aisle holding hands with another (perhaps slightly older) flower gal, or get in the action yourself by pulling her in a wedding wagon.

5. Join forces to hire an on-site babysitter.

Children can add a lot of magic and warmth to pivotal life celebrations like weddings, but they also require a lot of attention—and even though there may be 200 fellow guests, you can’t assume anyone is watching your kid but you. If you really want to let loose, leave the kids at home with Grandma. But if you’d like to bring your kids, have your wedding cake, and eat it by yourself, too, get in touch with a few fellow parent attendees to see if they’d like to pitch in for a babysitter who can watch over the whole gaggle at the event (teenagers already attending the wedding are a great go-to for this). Check with the bride and groom to see if there might be a room or space away from the main party where the kids can hang out. If you get the green light, consider setting up a kid-friendly movie, bringing in some toys, and having a kids’ table available for meals. Now who wouldn’t toast to that?!

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