Ask any married couple the most difficult thing about planning their wedding, and they'll likely say it was the guest list. Cutting your guest list is the primary way to cut your costs, but it is incredibly difficult to do. Hard and fast rules like "no coworkers" or "no dates" get murky quickly when you go out to lunch with your work BFF every day and talk about the wedding, or when your cousin has been living with her boyfriend for three years. The easiest way in my opinion? No kids.
Hear me out before you make your decision to invite the little ones or not. If you want your guests to have a good time (and this should be a main priority for you!), then consider requesting that children stay at home. Mom and Dad can then let loose and stay out late if they want. This is practically required if you're having a late ceremony and reception (anything with a start time of after 6 p.m.). Lots of children go to bed at 8, and the last thing you need is people ducking out before the cake cutting because little Susie is sleepy.
With that being said, there are a few good tips on inviting kids to the wedding (or not). Oh, and most importantly: Good luck! You'll need it.
1. Decide early and stick with it.
Opinions vary on whether or not you can invite some children and not others. Unless you have a niece who you're incredibly close to, I would advise not picking and choosing which kids can come. If you do make a rule as to who is invited (children in the extended family are a yes, friends' kids are a no), then stick to your guns!
4. Talk to families.
No matter how clear you are on the invitation (tips on that here), tons of people will just assume that their bundles of joy are invited. Before you even send the invitation, do the polite thing and call the families with kids. No drawn-out explanation needed: "Jen, I wanted to let you know in advance that we aren't going to have any kids at the wedding. As you know, the ceremony is so late in the evening, and we're trying to cut some costs, too. I hope you and Mark will still be able to make it!" But if you do invite the kiddies...
3. Keep them busy.
If you're going to invite kids of any age (particularly under 12 or 13), you've got to have child-appropriate activities for them. Coloring books and crayons or a crafts table (or even a craft/play room) are great ideas that won't cost much. If you're going to have a lot of young attendees, I would absolutely advise hiring a teen or college student who's responsible and who can look after them.
2. Keep them together.
You may think it's wise to divide up the kids and their families when making the seat chart. No! Let me repeat that again: Do not divide the children! Keep the children with their parents, and keep all the families with kids together. While some planners may advise you to have a "children's table," I would say that's a recipe for disaster. Why is it a good idea to have a bunch of kids under 12 sitting together without adults? Seriously, think about that for a minute.
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