Children at weddings

Joseph Bulmer

A particular group of guests who are always there and seldom specifically catered for are the children. For some reason they are all too often overlooked - unless they are among the bride’s attendants and yet, even the youngest can make or mar the occasion. It is well worth therefore, considering how they should be cared for, looked after and catered for, in order that their parents may enjoy the event, and the rest of the guests not suffer.

First the bride’s young attendants. The little girls will be in their element usually, dressed up in the sort of pretty, frilly dresses little girls really love. The little boys may not be so amused especially if some rather outlandish, ‘Little Lord Fauntleroy’ type of outfit has been chosen. Either way, it is sensible for these youngest participants in the ceremony, to be schooled well in advance so they know their role and get used to the outfits they are to wear.

It is also a good idea to get their agreement to wear the chosen outfits and if possible, allow them some choice. This of course must be within certain parameters since it is hardly in keeping with the event if a young cousin follows the bride to the altar dressed like Superman or whoever else the current TV craze is at the time.

Getting any child’s agreement to attend in a formal capacity is essential before any arrangements are made. Never overlook reluctance. To imagine the youngster can be railroaded into being an attendant on the day is a terrible mistake because he or she seldom will, or will do so in tears.

There are several ways of using children in the ceremonial. They can follow the bride, dotted amongst the other attendants as a sort of pretty variation on the theme. They can carry the train. This duty is usually given to little boys though there is no rule about it. It can be a dodgy idea however, if the children are very small and easily bored. As they can often see no logical reason for lifting this piece of dress that moves without their help anyway, they will frequently drop it and turn their attention to something else. Young children too have an unfortunate sense of humour and there is always the risk they will try to get under the train and play Chinese dragons or whatever! So, choose the ‘carriers’ carefully.

A little girl can be selected to precede the bride to the altar, sprinkling flower petals as she goes. Get the vicar’s agreement first though, and do remember to arrange for a volunteer to sweep the petals up afterwards!

At the reception, great care should be given to the seating of children. Very young ones will of course sit with their parents so remember to have sufficient high chairs organised. Some of these little-ones will also require special food so again, make sure the caterers are geared to heating bottles and tins or jars of food. A pack of wet wipes by the mother’s plate will also help to make life easier and less sticky for all concerned.

It’s no use sweeping reality under the carpet where children are concerned. Babies will need changing and toddlers will require potting. Again make sure there are facilities where all this can be carried out and where, if there are nursing mothers amongst the guests, they can feed their infants and adjust their clothes in privacy. It may be a natural proceeding but not everyone is enlightened by the sight!

It is a strange fact but a true one that the very elderly and the very young often mix remarkably well. If there are some sprightly and willing grannies amongst the guests it may be an idea to seat them amongst the older children. Try to put the children all together however, to give them peers to chat to, and giggle with, and give their parents a rest.

Some wedding organisers have gone a step further and place the children in a room adjacent to the main reception and engaged one or two sensible people to care for, and entertain them. The caterer may be able to offer suggestions for a

professional children’s entertainer or offer video facilities instead.

It is always possible of course that there are those amongst the guests who would relish such a duty, so again, a bit of advance research can bear excellent fruit.

Buffets can be a bit of a problem where children are concerned. Many simply do not like salads. Again, just as you must cater specially for the babies in the group, so too is it sensible to consider a special menu for the youngsters. Bottles of red and white grape juice, served as wine will also make them feel grown up without the risk of any child imbibing alcohol. In the case of a buffet too there is an even stronger case for entertaining the children separately, since it can be a hazardous business having children cannoning about whilst the adults are trying to balance

plates and glasses whilst eating.

Weddings are the ultimate family occasions and as such, there will always be children present. By making sure these youngest guests are happy and contented, you will also ensure the happiness and contentment of all the other guests and so make the whole event a pleasure for all concerned.