Should you have a kids table?
Thinking about a kids table at your wedding? Often while in the stress of planning, we spend so much time focusing on how to make the adult guests happy, we kind of forget that weddings can be a little boring for the younger guests. Most wedding ceremonies involve a lot of sitting quietly- something most kids aren’t mature enough to do yet, and even during the reception there are still speeches, first dances, and cake cutting ceremonies that require silence. Plus, let’s face it- anyone who has spent time around bored kids knows that a bored kid usually equals big trouble.
So what can you do to ensure that even the smallest of guests has a good time? Here are a few bride-tested, kid-approved ideas to make sure your big day is meltdown free:
The Kids Table
Ah, the kids table. The stuff of legends, and the source of many a debate. Having a kids table runs the risk of the kids misbehaving because they’re not as closely supervised as they might be if they were sitting beside their parents, but it’s often worth the risk! First of all, just because the kids aren’t seated with a grown up doesn’t mean they’ll misbehave. If the kids are younger (say, under 8) you can strategically place the kids table surrounded by adult tables so there is a 360 degree view of them at all times. This way they’re at their own table but they’re not really by themselves.
Another idea is if they’re a bit more mature (or there’s one or two more mature kids who are willing to keep the younger kids calm) you can move the kids table off to a quieter side of the room where they can get a little louder without distracting everyone. It’s better for them too, because they can actually hear each other talk, which will be more fun for them. Other supervision ideas include having a babysitter seated at each table or even have the venue provide a dedicated waitperson assigned to just the kids table. This way if they run out of chocolate milk or need more ketchup or their roast beef cut, they’re not panicking and causing a scene. It makes the server’s job easier, too- because all the kids meals end up at the same table. This way, if the venue brings the kids meals first the waiters won’t be walking in front of your guests during important speeches- or sneaking across the dance floor with a plate of sliders during your first dance.
There are also a ton of things you can do to make the kids table more fun. Placing games, puzzles, disposable cameras, crayons and coloring books, and even color safe play doh at the tables can help abate boredom. You can use butcher paper over the tablecloth so the kids can color right on the table- and then change it out after each meal. Child-friendly goody bags can be left at the table to greet each child when they sit down instead of when they head home. One bride even had a kid’s table centerpiece made to look like her flower centerpieces, but instead of flowers she used lollipops. This kept the kids busy and saved some money, and it was no big deal that it got ripped apart. Plus it made the kids table easier for the kids and parents to locate prior to seating, because it looked subtly different without screaming “kids table.”
Another option which can be used exclusively or in addition to a kid’s table option is on-site childcare. On-site childcare is a great solution if there are a lot of babies and toddlers in attendance. This creates a safe haven for them to go to after a long day of fancy, itchy dresses and kisses from total strangers. It’s totally up to the bride how much of the celebration will include children- you can have on site care and make your entire wedding completely child free, or just set aside a staffed playroom where the kids can go take a nap, run around, watch a movie, or change back into street clothes. It can also act as a nursing or pumping room for new moms, and a time out room for kids who get a little too wild. It even has the added benefit of providing a place for parents who may not otherwise be able to attend a child-free event to leave their children – especially if they’re traveling a great distance. It also allows for a ‘date night’ for parents who simply don’t want their children to attend because they want the night off, and it frees up the parents to return to the festivities even if their child doesn’t want to go back.
Want a kids room, but not sure how to find a sitter and what to look for? Let your planner do the legwork. They can scout sitters, check references, book the hotel room (or verify that your reception hall has a room- and reserve it!), negotiate a rate, make sure the room is stocked with toys, snacks, and amenities- and make sure that the sitter gets paid and tipped at the end of the night.