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Children and Weddings: What Everyone Needs to Know
by: Michael Kabel

You know what's a real distraction in the middle of a wedding ceremony? A crying or otherwise misbehaving child.

There's no way around it: children disturbed or acting up during the ceremony, when a solemn and happy event is taking place, rate just about a 7.0 on the rudeness Richter scale. And unfortunately for everyone, it's sometimes the parents who fell down on the job.

Especially for larger weddings, planners need to anticipate the presence of children. Parents, despite their best intentions, are sometimes unable to find a sitter for the entirety of the wedding celebration. This means the kids will be coming along, to a ceremony they might not understand or have the patience to sit through. And as every parent knows, a confused or bored child is a restless, noisy child.

Parents should be honest with themselves before bringing kids to the ceremony.

If a child has had recent trouble focusing their attention or getting restless after sitting still for long periods of time, they're not a good fit for the wedding audience. Better to let them sit outside with a parent, or skip the ceremony and go straight to the reception.

When a child does begin to act out (noise everyone can hear, breaking out into the aisle, sliding out of their seat) it's time to immediately take them into the venue lobby or outside. Unless the bride and groom are in the middle of their vows (or the priest is doing the "speak now or forever hold your peace" speech so popular in movies) you need to remove the child from disturbing the dignity of the ceremony. Make no mistake: it's not cute, and it's a time to let them get it out of their system. It's a disruption.

Wedding planners need to be prepared for children's presence.

The wedding doesn't have to become hijacked by children attending the event, but they can also enjoy themselves while letting the adults have a good time, too.

Wedding planners can choose to have a separate children's area in the reception hall, where they can play board games, relax, or watch movies under the supervision of a volunteering guest. Several guests might organize to take turns playing "room mother" for the hours of the reception. This separate area keeps the kids contained, yet the parents know they're safe and cared for while they relax and enjoy the reception's entertainment.

Children might also get a special meal during the wedding feast.
Children love their own meals (look at all the kids' menus at restaurants), so setting aside a special area of the serving line or menu is a great way to get them fed and happy. The meal can be very simple, just chicken fingers and macaroni and cheese served with fruit punch, but they'll appreciate it – their parents will, too.

Designate special wedding favors for the children, too.

Giving the children a special wedding favor of their own gives them something to play with or enjoy and provides a neat souvenir of the day's events. The favor can be the same as the adults or something smaller hands might better enjoy. Cookies and candies also make great favors to give them.