Planning a Family Wedding Reception
by Michael Kabel

As you come to a total head count for the guests who'll take part in your reception, have you included the children?

Many of the couples you invite will want to bring their little ones, either to share your special day as a learning or fun experience, or certainly for more practical reasons (the babysitter cancelled at the last minute, etc.) This can throw a monkey wrench into your reception arrangements, or you can simply plan to include the kids from the get-go. In fact, including the children in your celebrations is a great way to show your guests you've thought of everything, and win their approval and gratitude for years to come.

If you're planning a larger reception, or if you know for sure there's going to be a number of children attending, it's best to create a space and meal that's especially for them. This allows the parents time to enjoy themselves, too, and will help the party run more smoothly for everyone. Some ways to take care of the little ones appear below:

Serve A Kid's Meal:

Children don't often go for adult food, and anyway something as complicated as a steak dinner with new potatoes and steamed vegetables would just go right over the heads of their unsophisticated palettes, anyway. Since you've already engaged the catering company, why not have them prepare a separate meal especially for the kids?

Many larger wedding receptions offer children's buffets in addition to the main meal, with delicious "finger food" such as chicken strips and French fries ready for little hands to dig into. For drinks, simple cups of fruit punch or lemonade will work fine without overdosing the kids on sugar. Don't worry about vegetables - kids will understand they're at a party when they see only "fun food" for them to eat. Finally, you can serve ice cream or cupcakes for dessert, or just give them the same dessert as the grownups.

Set Out Some Games To Play

The kids will only find the music and dancing amusing so long before they're off to run around outside or play hide and seek in the various nooks and crannies of you reception hall. Instead of that kind of commotion, why not provide their entertainment by way of board games and other activities? You might give them coloring books, a small arts and craft project, or any number of simple card games. After the meal, you can have their dining table cleared and let them go to town with their imaginations.

Give them Their Own Favor

Many wedding favors can do double duty for kids, too! Children will love to feel respected enough to get a unique wedding favor of their own. The favor can be relatively simple, like their own fragrant gift sachet, or it could be something a little more elaborate: seed packets and placecard holders will also make not just lovely keepsakes but cute toys, too. Just make sure the favor is appropriate for small hands, with no parts that could break off or present a choking hazard.