How do you entertain kids at a wedding?

While some couples choose to have a child-free wedding, other brides and grooms embrace the kids that will be attending their celebration by thinking of them throughout the wedding planning process. Keep the ages of children attendees in mind when choosing activities and toys and treats – some may be dangerous for kids under three and consider hiring a babysitter or professional entertainer in certain cases.

In many cases, choosing just a few activities, foods, and games that are appealing to children will help them have just as much fun at your wedding as the adults. From pre-wedding goodie bags curated specifically for kids to child-friendly fare and desserts throughout the reception to special favours and games, there are countless ways to make sure kids enjoy every part of your wedding day. 

Entertaining children at weddings is up there with one of our most asked about bridal dilemmas. Many couples planning weddings with little guests on the list panic that the kiddies will be bored silly drive their parents insane, or worse, run riot. Not long ago we talked about how to manage kids at weddings The secret to having a stress-free reception for both the parents and the couple when having children at weddings is to be prepared and provide lots of kid-friendly fun. With that in mind, we’ve come up with a list of Ways to Entertain Children at Weddings, because a happy crew of kids will make life so much easier on your one fab day…

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Here are ideas for keeping children entertained at your wedding:

High Tea

A wonderful idea at a wedding can be catering just for the children. While food vans are increasingly popular for the adults, why not arrange someone to come in and cater for a high tea party for the children? The style and occasion of this fit in perfectly for a wedding day and can make for some gorgeous photos. Check out some options here. 

Glamping

There are super cute slumber party companies that bring a touch of glamping to children’s birthday parties, why not arrange for this for your wedding? They could set up at outdoors under the stars if it’s fine or in an adjoining indoor space if not, and the kids from your wedding can have their slumber party with tents, fairy lights, popcorn, movies, games and more. Check out Sweet Dreams and Goodnight in Sydney.

Babysitting

You could arrange for some babysitting in the room as well to give adult supervision and constantly keep the kids interested. Offer storytime, crafts, and simple board games like Connect Four or Trouble. If you have older children, consider offering a video games console as well.

Entertainers

Kids entertainers are guaranteed to liven up the day for everyone. Consider a magician or balloon animal specialist, or a face painter, or even a not-scary clown. Reach out to wedding entertainment suppliers and see what they can do for you. 

Jumping Castle

As this list continues, I am finding it harder and harder not to imagine all of the adults at your wedding just wanting to join in the child-friendly activities!

Hire a jumping castle for one corner of the grounds on your big day, and everyone will rediscover the child within. Talk to your wedding planner at the venue; they may have ideas for suppliers they have worked with before. While you are thinking of sideshow style activities, why not look into a vintage look carousel, an awesome land train ride or a clown machine.

Make your food

Many weddings will have a lolly buffet that will keep young and old entertained (at least until the sugar crash hits!), but you could extend the buffet to many other ideas. Children can build their sundaes, decorate doughnuts, cupcakes or biscuits. You could also try to build your pizza or tacos.

Crafty ideas

Sometimes it isn’t easy to entertain children, especially when you have boisterous young ones running around while you’re getting ready. To save on stress by creating a craft table. They can decorate some pink and white paper hearts to display in your reception venue. Opt for mess-free stickers rather than paint and pens! If you’re planning a Christmas wedding, why not ask the little ones to decorate baubles as a take-home treat?

Game on!

Children of any age will get restless during the ceremony, so entertain them with a few books and perhaps a handheld computer game, this will act as quiet forms of entertainment to keep the children occupied. You could even set up a games room with an Xbox, Wii or Playstation for the older ones.

That’s entertainment

Before booking a children’s entertainer, check their credentials. Make sure they have enough activities for the time required and think about the space they will work in. They need to be organized and have bags of energy, too!

Treasure hunts

If your reception venue allows it, entertain the children by putting together a pirate-themed treasure hunt during your drinks reception. It will be great for burning off energy before the wedding breakfast – and with a bit of savvy shopping at your local pound shops, it can cost next to nothing to create.

Children’s Goodie Bags

We’ve all heard of welcome bags for guests filled with the bride and groom’s favourite local treats, a wedding itinerary, and more. But how about welcome activity bags for your younger guests? Include everything from custom colouring books that tell your love story, crayons, tons of kid-friendly desserts like freshly baked chocolate chip cookies, and whatever else you and your groom loved as kids.

Water Gun Ceremony Favors

In lieu of a traditional rice, petal, or confetti toss during your reception, provide outdoor wedding guests with miniature water guns instructing them to fire away as the bride and groom are pronounced husband and wife. This unique send-off will be enjoyed by kids and adults, alike, at your vow exchange.

Kid-Friendly Drinks

While your over-21 guests will be looking forward to trying out your signature cocktails and tray-passed Champagne, be sure to have some non-alcoholic beverages available for kids. Fresh-squeezed lemonade is a classic favourite that will never go out of style. 

Add Twirly Straws to Beverages

To make kid-friendly drink stations even more fun, have children attendees choose from a variety of crazy, twisty straws in vibrant colours to add to their beverages. 

Choose Children-Approved Snacks

Throughout the cocktail hour, it’s okay to have some gourmet selections but be sure to include at least one appetizer that kids will love. Mac and cheese bites served in spoons provide a sophisticated twist on the classic favourite in easy-to-eat portions. 

Get an Entertainer

If your budget allows, go all out and hire professional entertainment, like a caricature artist, fortune teller, clown, storyteller, magician or impersonator (think Spiderman, Cinderella or Mickey Mouse)—and if you’re having a themed wedding, definitely play into it. It’s an easy way to keep the kids happy and distracted while the adults mingle and enjoy Champagne. (Search local entertainment vendors and party-planning companies for the right entertainer here.)

Set Up a Game Room

For an active bunch, turn the play space into a game room. Rent or borrow ping-pong or air hockey tables, a Nerf ball, a basketball, Twister, Hula-Hoops, jump ropes and more. If you’re having a hotel or country club wedding, you may find all the equipment you need right on the grounds if yours is a more relaxed outdoor wedding, set up lawn games and activities like a three-legged race, cornhole or a classic game of hide-and-seek.

Create a Craft Room

For younger ones, turn one area into an arts and crafts space. Set up a colouring contest, beading lesson or have them make cute signs for the couple. Let them decorate their picture frames, then ask the photographer to snap photos of them at the party to place inside them.

Check out some of Melbourne’s best Wedding Singers to help you celebrate on your special day.

Stagger the Meals

Whether or not you provide a separate play area, consider dividing dinner into two—first kids, then adults. While you and your guests may enjoy lingering over a five-course meal, most children are ready to leave the table after 15 minutes. If it’s a buffet, let the kids help themselves while the adults chat over hors d ‘oeuvres. When the young ones are finished, they can move on to another activity, so the grown-ups can sit down to eat.

Prepare Kid-Friendly Music

Consider preparing a child-friendly playlist so kids can dance to the Frozen and Moana soundtracks in a separate room. Another fun idea is to ask about getting dance instructors—another kid-friendly method of entertainment that will keep them in good spirits and let them join the party.

Naptime

If you’re expecting very young children, chances are they’ll be asleep before the event’s over, but you may also have some sleepy kids even if they’re far from their napping days. Set up a quiet room where they can rest after a long, exhausting day of chatter, play, new faces and excitement.

Karaoke

Again, the kids might have to wrestle this one away from some of the adults, but who doesn’t love karaoke? Locate it in a nearby room and sprinkle it with child-friendly hits like songs from Disney and former Disney stars who haven’t turned too raunchy yet. Hours and hours of fun.

Lawn games and rides

Lawn games are another very easy one to arrange, and many event specialists or vintage prop companies can rent them to you. Think quoits, croquet, oversized chess or Jenga, lawn bowls and more.

Petting zoo

Or consider fun rides for kids such as a pony or even a unicorn ride or mini haycart. Another so-sweet-you-could-die idea is to get a petting zoo with lots of baby animals to cuddle and feed, like bunnies, lambs or a bunch of puppies! Whose wedding would be complete without a bunch of cuddly fluffy puppies?

Photo Booth

Hire a photo booth and props for your wedding guests of all ages to keep them entertained and have an incredible keepsake of the day as well. There is a wealth of choice of booths and services available, including photo and video options, lots of fun props and even green screen backgrounds. Keep a copy for you and your guests can take them home too.

Disposable Camera Scavenger Hunt

If your wedding is more on a budget, consider some options that you can plan yourself.

A fabulous idea is a scavenger hunt using disposable cameras; give children a camera each and a checklist of items they must get photos of. Include things like the wedding cake, the wedding car, someone laughing, the mother of the bride, someone dancing, your dinner, your favourite thing from the wedding, something purple and more.

Activity box

Something else you can easily put together yourself is a gorgeous activity box for each child guest. Include colouring sheets and pencils, word searches, stickers, finger puppets, bubbles, small LEGO sets or easy craft activities. Add glowsticks or sparklers for fun once the sun goes down.

Hire Professional Childcare

Many couples opt to hire a babysitter responsible for keeping an eye on the munchkins, so no one gets hurt—or puts their fingers in the cake. The babysitter can be in charge of whatever other designated kids-only activities you have set up too, like arts and crafts, a movie, a nature walk or a game room.

Provide Coloring and Writing Tools

Offer tabletop entertainment during a long dinner by covering the kids’ table(s) with white butcher paper and cups of crayons (or any other drawing tool that doesn’t stain). They’ll be so busy, they’ll forget they’re still actually sitting at a table.

Fair Weather Fun – Outdoor Games

If you are having your reception in a venue which has a garden or decent outside area, why not provide old school outdoor games in good weather? Fun lawn games such as hopscotch, lawn bowling, Twister, outdoor Jenga and Connect4 will keep them occupied for hours. Simple kites, skipping ropes, and hula hoops are also great options.

Rainy Day Drinks Reception Entertainment

If the weather is not on your side, why not set up an area full of boardgames or jigsaws? Retro favourites such as Guess Who, Monopoly, Operation or Hungry Hippos will keep them busy and encourage kids to mingle. This is also a great option for older kids on the guest list.

Arty Crafty Occupation

Kids love to make and do, so a mini area with pots of crayons and craft supplies like stickers, pipe cleaners, playdough to get creative with will go down a treat. Wedding themed crafts like decorating a cake, designing a wedding dress, making cards for the bride and groom or even making DIY masks for a photobooth would create hours of fun for little hands.

A Movie Room

Keep kids happy by setting up a quiet area set up for a movie. Add comfy pillows and cushions, beanbags or kiddie chairs and pop on a movie. You could even provide mini bags of popcorn! This is also a great idea for a wind-down time later in the evening before putting the kiddies to bed.

Professional Minders 

Babysitters or a service like Last Minute Minders or Irish Wedding Sitters to look after the children during the wedding. They both entertain & supervise the children in a designated area in or near the wedding reception before and after your wedding meal. It will help you, and your guests relax and enjoy the wedding reception knowing the kids are staying out of trouble but most of all, having fun!

Lots of Treats – Personalized Goody Bags

 Fill up little goody bags for each of your little guests with age-appropriate treats. Pop them at each child’s place setting at the reception to keep little people happy. These don’t have to cost a bomb; you can find lots of great bits and pieces in the two euro shop or stores like Tiger or Ikea. Wedding in a Teacup has a super selection of retro goodies for kiddies, and Yo-Yo Ma have great ready-made goody bags, boxes and activity packs. Here’s a sample list of some of the things you could include:

  • snacks and juice cartons
  • mini-puzzles and toys
  • bubbles
  • glow sticks
  • crayons or colouring pencils (markers and paints are a big no-no!)
  • colouring and activity books

Beside the seaside

What about getting married at a beautiful beach-side venue, where you can have hampers full of colourful buckets, spades and nets? The younger children will love making sandcastles while the older ones can go rock pooling. Just remember to ask adults to supervise before they have one drink too many!

Gourmet guests

Confessed foodie? Keep your noisiest guests quiet by inviting them to make their puddings! We love the Splat workshops where budding gourmets get to work with glitter and sprinkles to decorate their wedding-themed cupcakes and biscuits. Much more enticing than yet another speech!

Check out our post on What are the wedding DJ packages and specials?

Lawn games

Giant lawn games are wonderful for entertaining children during spring and summer weddings – plump for retro fairground attractions like hoopla and coconut shy, or family favourites like Jenga and Connect 4. Little tikes won’t be able to resist

Alternative options include wedding games for kids, a mouthwatering kids’ menu, and play stations. We’ve got the inspiration for those, too. It comes down to catering to your specific crew—consider their age(s) and interests. You’ll also need to plan around your overall event design—some options might integrate better than others.

Whether you’re hosting your flower girl and ring bearer, your younger relatives, your friends’ kids, or even your own, there are genius ideas for you ahead. Take a peek and decide what’ll best delight your young celebrants. Then, see if your vendors can help you execute something similar. Of course, no matter what you choose, parental permission and child supervision is very important!

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