This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
One question many couples face when planning their wedding is whether or not they want to have kids at their wedding. Weddings are already pricey, now add the extra cost of little mouths to feed along with more tables and chairs that may need to be rented to account for the pint-sized beings. Kids can also be loud and distracting, and if the couple has a big family or lots of friends with kids it can be overwhelming to have a ton of little ones running around. Thus, many couples opt out of having kids at their wedding.
Considerations When Deciding About Children At Weddings
As a Wedding Planner, I understand the line has to be drawn somewhere, and the easiest way to do so is leave out the kids. As a parent of 2 little ones though, I can sympathize with those parents being told to leave their kids at home. Not taking the kids means having to find childcare, which sometimes is not easy especially if the wedding is a long distance away. Plus, with the cost of childcare averaging to $15/hour and the average full length of a wedding being 6 hours, if you have more than one kid and have to calculate drive time that is a pretty hefty fee to pay in order to attend the wedding.
Two years ago, my husband and I traveled to Philadelphia for my cousin’s wedding. They had a beautiful wedding on the Moshulu ship (www.moshulu.com), which we almost did not attend because of the no kids policy. Initially my husband and I agreed it would be too complicated to go to the wedding given the lack of childcare. We are from California and traveling out of state wherein we didn’t know anyone who could watch my then two-year-old son put a damper on us attending. My cousin recognized this and ended up making an exception for us because of how far we had to travel. So, we were able to go after all with my son and celebrate my cousin’s big day. This experience, however, opened my eyes to how hard it can be for parents.
Options For Dealing With Guests’ Kids
If you are planning a wedding and going the no children route, consider the following to make it easier on your guests and ensure everyone has a good time:
1. Hire A Babysitting Team For A Kid-Free Wedding
There are businesses that specifically specialize in babysitting for special events. One business for instance, Black Tie Kids, which is based in California, will set up a camp with activities and games to entertain the kids. They will either set up in a separate room or area at the venue where the wedding is located, or at a close by hotel or house of your choosing. The best thing is that when it comes to payment, you can either choose to pay them directly, or have each of the parents be responsible for payment for their own kids. I actually prefer this method when it comes to hosting a wedding with no children. As a parent, it is comforting to know your child is within a close distance in case they run into trouble. Plus, it is fun for the kids to have their own little party and play together away from the big crowd of adults.
If you don’t have a babysitting team like Black Tie Kids in your area, another solution would be to put one together and hire a few trusted babysitters to entertain the kids away from the wedding. A word of caution though, do not just hire anyone off the street. Make sure to do background checks, and verify they are proficient in infant and child CPR. Doing your due diligence will help the parents feel confident with who they are leaving their child with, so they can relax and enjoy the wedding.
2. Provide A List Of Recommended Babysitters To The Parents
As an alternative to setting up a little camp for all the kids, you can simply provide a list of recommended babysitters to the parents for them to choose who they want to leave their child with. Again, make sure you have done your research and that the list of babysitters is trustworthy.
If you are not familiar with any babysitters in your area, you can start by talking to friends with kids to find out who they use. Or, you can go to your local community college or university’s Child Development departments and get referrals of students specializing in Child Development. Another solution would be to call around to local day care centers and see if they can refer any day care teachers that are good with kids. There are a lot of options to finding qualified babysitters for your guests.
3. Reconsider Breastfeeding Babies
While this may seem ideal to renege on your no children policy, for tiny breastfed babies it is not as simple as dropping the baby off with a sitter. This is why I suggest making an exception here depending on what the parents are comfortable with. Mothers of breastfed babies on average feed every 2-3 hours, and if the mom is going to be gone for a few feeding sessions then she has to pump well in advance to make sure there is enough milk for the baby. Sometimes it can be stressful on the parents if the baby is not used to taking a bottle, and the parents are worried about the baby’s nourishment while they are away.
In addition, the mother will more than likely have to slip away a couple of times during the wedding to pump to keep her breasts from becoming engorged. Hence, it is easier to make an exception if the parents would rather bring the baby. Most babies sleep every couple of hours anyway and will probably be tucked in a corner asleep half the wedding.
Not all parents of breastfed babies will want to bring the baby. Some may prefer to keep the baby behind with a sitter away from the loud noise of booming DJ music, or the potential spread of germs in a big crowd. Leave it up to the parents. If it is easier for the parents to bring the baby due to breastfeeding needs, I beg you be understanding and make an exception only under these circumstances.
Making Childcare Options Easy For Wedding Guests
Planning a wedding is not easy as there are so many components to it, that helping your friends or family with childcare options surely adds one more component to your plate. Because of this, it is easy to brush it off and let the parents figure out childcare on their own. However, you have to be mindful of your guests, and providing your guests with childcare options is a great way to show how important they are to you and that you care deeply about having them at your wedding.
As always, happy planning!
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BIO: Ashley Gelfound is a Wedding & Event Planner based in Southern California. A true planner at heart, Ashley loves creating memorable affairs and takes the stress away in planning a big event. She is also a mom to two precious little ones that keep her on her toes, and remind her how important it is to celebrate all of life’s occasions big and small. www.ashleygelfound.com