Children at weddings? Do you invite them or not? It’s always a heated topic when discussing wedding planning and we’re here to help you make a properly informed decision. Read on to find out more…

Do you invite all kids? Just babies? Or just teenagers? What about if you’re having young flowergirls and pageboys? Can you then ban your friends from bringing their offspring (we think not).

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You may have masses of friends with children so you’ve decided on an open door policy for your friends’ kids as you want to have everybody along to enjoy your wedding day and you don’t want anybody to feel excluded.

But if you’re not a parent yourself, it can be hard to understand just how demanding children can be when they’re not happy or find their surroundings dull.

You might think that a long afternoon and evening chatting, drinking Champagne, catching up with friends and dancing is a fabulous way of spending your time but no five year old is going to agree.

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In addition, you may have teenagers at your wedding too. They are easier to entertain (they’ll like chatting to friends and maybe even dancing if they consider the music cool enough) but you’re still going to have to bear their likes and dislikes in mind.

Considering the under fives

First off, let’s think about the young children. Very young babies aren’t such a problem – they’ll hopefully sleep and can be cuddled by everybody (something the grannies usually enjoy!)

However toddlers and under 5s can be quite demanding. Supermodel Kate Moss solved this problem at her wedding by having a marquee dedicated to children, with drama teachers and nannies on call.

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Obviously that’s not something most of us can copy as we don’t all have a supermodel’s budget, but you can have children’s play areas on your wedding day – maybe a corner of the marquee or barn stocked with colouring books, toys and somewhere peaceful to watch a DVD. Overtired children can get tearful so if you can have a quiet chill-out area for them, so much the better.

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If you’re having a Christmas wedding, you could invite ‘Santa’ to visit the young children and bring a gift – this would be good timing just after the wedding speeches when everybody is getting ready to party.

Finally, if you do employ childcare for the event, make sure that the individual is CRB checked beforehand.

Magical powers

Children of all ages – including ‘seen it all before’ teens will enjoy watching a good magician – particularly one who works the tables and does magic close up.

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An experienced conjurer will gauge his tricks according to the age group he’s entertaining – you just have to look at the cult following of Dynamo to see that ‘how did he do that’ magic has never been more popular.

Working off excess energy

If you’re having a summer wedding and you’ve room outside, consider having a bouncy castle for the kids but alternate sessions for different age groups. An energetic 12-year-old boy let loose amongst toddlers will quickly result in tears and of course you’ll need to have a responsible adult to keep an eye on proceedings.

Garden games always go down well (but remember they’re largely weather dependent). You can hire giant games of Jenga, croquet and even old-fashioned fairground swings.

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Table planning for kids

We also think it’s a good idea to have separate children’s tables (which teenagers will particularly appreciate). Have a supervised one for the under 5s (and give the parents some peace), another for the under 12s and put the teens on their own table. (Try not to mix up teens with under 12s – they won’t appreciate being put with ‘babies’.) For the teens, you might like to include some icebreakers – maybe some photographs on the table of them as young children (the parents should be able to help with this one).

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Instead of wedding favours, you could supply a colouring book and pencils at the place setting of each young child and maybe get a balloon artist to visit to keep them amused. Young children aren’t going to sit still for long. Maybe rethink having dessert at the table and instead have a freestanding dessert and/or sweetie table instead so kids can dip in if they feel like something.

For the under 12s – and maybe the teens if you think they’d join in – you could have a photographic scavenger hunt. Put disposable cameras at each place setting along with a list of things that need to be photographed (bride kissing groom, a bouquet of flowers, a granny dancing, a granddad sleeping …)

The trick to making sure kids have a great time at your wedding is to think about them beforehand, maybe consulting the parents as to what they like and have some planned strategies and entertainments.

You may like to see how other brides have handled this issue by visiting the Wedding Ideas Forum, we’re talking about this very subject here.