A Family Affair: 3 Ideas To Make Your Reception Kid-Friendly

One of the biggest struggles with planning any wedding is deciding what to do about kids.  Although you might want to make your reception for adults only, you'll be isolating your friends and family with young children.  If you've made the decision to invite children to your wedding reception, there are a few easy ways to help them feel welcomed (and out of the adult guests' hair).  Consider these three tips for making your wedding reception kid-friendly without making it seem like a birthday party. 

Tip #1: Set Up a Candy Bar

Although wedding receptions eventually turn into a lively time for dancing and mingling, the front-halves are usually boring for young children.  First, the receiving line moves slowly.  Then, they have to sit through any prayers, speeches, and first dances.  By the time cake is being served, the little ones will likely be a little squirrelly.  

Reward the kids for sitting through the first half of the reception by treating them to a "candy bar" for dessert.  Your wedding venue can provide the table and possibly the dishes, but you'll likely foot the bill for the candy.  Using a buffet table, set out many different types of miniature candies from gummy bears to caramels.  Know a crunchy mom whose kid can't have red dye?  Offer some yogurt-covered raisins.  The kids can keep coming back throughout the night, picking and choosing little snacks designed just for them.  

Tip #2: Offer Low-Key Activities

A wedding reception is a bustling affair, which can sometimes be overwhelming for young children.  Stave off tantrums from over-stimulation by offering a table dedicated to low-key activities such as coloring books and fill-in-the-blank stories.  The following are ideas for a variety of age groups: 

  • Toddlers: ​Board books with sensory activities on the pages
  • Preschoolers: Coloring books and crayons (if you're worried about them coloring on the linens, provide markers designed to only color on specific paper)
  • Grade Schoolers and Preteens: Celebrity magazines or travel board games

Talk to your wedding venue about establishing one table or area of the reception hall for kids only.  This way, the activities won't bleed out into the rest of the reception, making it feel like a birthday party.  Ask your coordinator if you can put beanbag chairs in a corner with a small table, giving the kids a cool place to hang out away from adult guests.   

Tip #3: Give the Kids a Job

Kids love to feel important and involved.  Odds are you've only got a handful of kids coming to the reception, so come up with a variety of jobs for them to do.  Assign each kid a thing to be in charge of.  Even the simplest job can turn an ornery, bored kid into a well-behaved angel.  The following list is just a small sample of the many jobs kids can do at your wedding:

  • Assign a group of young girls to be Candid Photographers  Give them each a disposable camera or two and have them take pictures of guests.  
  • A detail-oriented child would be great as a Candy Bar Manager.  Empty bowls and stray pieces of bubble gum will be no match for him or her as he refills and cleans up. 
  • An especially hyper or easily bored child will be a great Entertainment Manager who ensures every guest is having a great time on the dance floor.  Running requests to the DJ, teaching new dance moves, or creating dance circles can keep the guests having fun.

You want to pay as much attention as possible to your new spouse on your wedding day and revel in the joy of the occasion at the reception.  Although you might want it to be an adult-only affair, you've probably got friends and family members with children who you don't want to exclude.  Ensure that all guests — even the little ones — have a great time at your wedding by considering these three tips.  Give them yummy treats to eat, set them up with activities, and provide jobs to keep them busy and feel involved.  Keep this information in mind as you contact local wedding venues, and make sure they're willing to work with you to accommodate the kids.