In a few days, we’re off to a family wedding. And by we that means kids, too! Thankfully, the wedding is on the beach and kid-friendly. But that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t anticipate challenges.
While our kids are older—preteen and upper elementary—sitting for a romantic ceremony isn’t exactly their idea of a good time. But it’s a close relative, so they need to attend. Since they are both older, we’re not anticipating any big meltdowns in the form of tantrums like parents of little ones might battle. With the boys, though, the odds of them pestering each other are probably pretty high.
Sitting between them will likely be the solution, and, no, we don’t plan on letting them use technology. They’re old enough to watch the ceremony! However, for those of you with younger kiddos, your concerns for happy kids deserve a little more attention. Weddings are long at times, and kids don’t have the most patience…especially small kids.
So what do you do to keep them quiet and happy? When the babysitter isn’t an option, it’s time to plan ahead. And I’m talking a full arsenal of back-up plans and activities!
No one arrives at a wedding at the last minute—at least, I hope not. You’re going to arrive early to be seated and see the processional. And this means you and the kids will be sitting for a lot longer than just the ceremony. Bring snacks. Little ones will get hungry. Just be sure that the snacks you pack aren’t messy or noisy. Fruit snacks, apple slices or cheese sticks make great mess-free snacks. Leave the crackers at home. And don’t forget to pack water.
Pack a Library
While you’re waiting for the ceremony to begin, you can give kids picture books to help them pass the time. You can even find wedding themed books like “Fancy Nancy and the Wedding of the Century” or “Willow and the Wedding.” Coloring books also give little ones something to do during the down time. Just don’t forget to pack crayons (never markers…too messy!).
Kids with a Role
You may be bringing your kids to the wedding because they are part of the wedding party. Or maybe it’s your wedding, and they are a huge part of the special day! For young flower girls or ring bearers, you can sing songs or read quietly together before they head down the aisle. Having kids involved in the wedding is the best way for them to feel like a part of the day…and stay busy! When young children are part of the wedding, you should help them understand their role in advance…and have someone walk with them if they are scared. Prepare them for LOTS of pictures, too!
Young children who are used to a midday nap need downtime, especially if they miss their nap for the wedding. In the bustle of the excitement, little ones might skip a nap…and this may lead to a cranky kiddo! Scope out a quiet are where you can take them if they become cranky or overwhelmed.
Most kids can’t handle the all-night celebrations of wedding receptions. If your kids are getting too tired, it’s ok to leave a little early…or after dinner. Just be sure to find time to chat with the couple before making your exit.
A Change of Clothing
Kids might not feel comfortable in dress clothes for a long reception. Pack a change of play clothes or some pajamas so kids can dance and play comfortably. You may even want to include some comfortable ‘dancing shoes!’
Taking kids to a wedding can be a challenge—at any age! The secret to happy kids at weddings and at the after party is to plan ahead. Pack snacks, activities, extra clothing…and don’t hesitate to quietly retreat if your child gets overwhelmed. You may not even need your back-up plans, because many kids love weddings…and you may find your little one dancing through the night!