Kids at the wedding: yes or no (and how to manage either way!)

Whether you want the pitter-patter of little feet or you’d prefer an adults-only affair, solving a kid conundrum can be child’s play.

  • Story by Photo Emma Bass

Whether you want the pitter-patter of little feet or you’d prefer an adults-only affair, solving a kid conundrum can be child’s play.

Involving your children or the other youngsters in your life in your wedding day can make the occasion even more special.‘The typical approach is to have them as ring bearers, flower girls or page boys,’ says Touch of Spice event planner Jacqui Spice. ‘If you want to have a baby present, ask a guest to hold them during the ceremony.’ The role your child plays depends on their age – not to mention their attention span. These factors made Nadine opt not to give her two-year-old daughter Dillyn wedding responsibilities. ‘She probably wouldn’t have cooperated,’ she says. ‘I didn’t worry about her because she was always close by, and Mum was with her the majority of the time. She just pottered around with our family, and everyone looked out for her during the ceremony and reception.’


Auckland’s Jo Page and husband Chris had to tread carefully when they asked guests not to bring children to their wedding reception. 'It was hard to phrase on the invitation,’ Jo admits. ‘But most people were fine about it and looked forward to a night off parenting duties. In a couple of cases one parent stayed home with babies.’

But the rule didn’t stop some mums and dads trying their luck. ‘A friend of Chris’ asked two days beforehand if he and his wife could bring their seven-year-old daughter. Because it would have annoyed other parents who’d made plans, we stood firm,’ says Jo. If you’re happy to have guests’ children at your wedding, Jacqui recommends you advise the caterers.‘And organise a nanny service if there will be a bunch of children, so parents can relax and enjoy the day,’ she says.


How real-life couples kept youngsters happy
'Our family’s pretty big and most of our friends have children, so at the wedding we had about two dozen kids ranging from three to 12 years old. We set up four kids’ tables and seated them according to their age. Each child received an activities bag, and we enlisted the help of a good babysitter to supervise everything from tantrums and squabbles to spilled drinks.’ ANA, CHRISTCHURCH.

‘We gave each of the dozen or so youngsters at our wedding a disposable camera. It was pretty amazing to see what they came up with – they had such great perspectives on the event and took notice of things I’d never have expected.’ KAREN, AUCKLAND.

‘Our summer wedding at my parents’ home started at 6pm. We had a children’s table set up with finger food so they could eat right after the ceremony, and we distributed plastic toys that lit up at night, which provided hours of fun. We also organised a babysitter to keep watch in a back room, which was a quiet space for the kids to chill out, watch a DVD or take a nap.’ DIANA, LOWER HUTT.

‘The day before my wedding, I cut hearts out of pink and white sheets of paper and scattered them over the kids’ tables with some crayons. While dessert was being served, one of the bridesmaids collected the coloured-in hearts and stuck them on a board at the back of the venue. The kids were so proud!’ SANDY, NELSON.

‘After our seaside ceremony we wanted our adult guests to mingle with canapés and bubbles and not have to worry about their little ones, so we had our MC announce a shell-collecting competition for the kids. We then displayed the shells on the head table during the reception, and gave them to the kids to take home as a memento.’ JOYCE, WHANGAREI HEADS.

‘For dessert we set up an ice-cream bar with fun flavours such as hokey pokey and bubble gum, plus rainbow-coloured sprinkles, fudge and caramel. Later in the day, we distributed ice blocks to refresh all of our guests.' KATE, AUCKLAND.

‘My sister created a fancy-dress box to occupy the kids. It made for some fun photos, and even tempted a couple of adults to don a few bits and pieces.’

‘The only kids at our wedding were my daughters, who were eight and 10. We wanted them to feel that they were an important part of the day, so we gave them jobs at the reception. My eldest daughter was in charge of making sure everyone signed the guest book, and my youngest distributed slices of wedding cake.’ SHARRON, WHANGAPARAOA.


◆ Make it clear on your invitation that kids aren’t invited, but it’s also courteous to give family and friends with children prior warning. Ring them to explain your position before they receive the invitation.
◆ Ask your mum, mother-in-law or bridesmaids to help spread the word if you’re uncomfortable dealing with people’s responses by yourself.
◆ Accept that some guests may not be able to attend unless their babies can be brought along for feeding.

◆ Say it’s it okay for some guests to bring kids and not others – it’s likely you’ll put people’s noses out of joint.
◆ Be too upset if some people can’t make it because they are unable to arrange care for their kids.

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