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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
Date: January 23, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Children & Etiquette & Family & Guests & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas & Venues

This is Part III of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part IV for the full article


Hire A Professional To Entertain The Children During The Wedding Reception

If you are planning on inviting lots of children, and if your wedding budget can stretch to it, you might want to consider hiring a professional entertainer to keep the children amused.

I’ve organized entertainers for a few children’s parties in the past and I have to say that there are a wide variety of options available to suit most budgets and locations. Depending on how much you can afford to spend, the wedding venue location and the age range of children who need entertaining, you could choose from the following performers:


Clowns – Clowns are very popular with children and adults alike. Most clowns will provide you with a bit of energetic clowning, juggling and stilt walking. For further information have a look at Fun Factory Parties For Kids.


Magicians - Typically magicians put on a magic show for the children but they can also mingle at the wedding reception and perform a few tricks for the adults too. Costs are in the region of $180 an hour for a professional magician but you can book them for less than an hour. For more information check out Gigmasters.com.


Face painters – Children love having their face painted, it makes them feel very special. To hire someone to come to your party and paint the children’s faces will cost in the region of $95 an hour. I am not a professional face painter but I have tried my hand at painting children’s faces and it is far easier than you might think to do a few simple designs. I recommend that you ask your child carers if they are willing to have a go and provide them with face paints, crayons, brushes, a book giving some face decorating ideas and some wet wipes (for mistakes!). Face paint kits are inexpensive too. Prices start at $9 such as this kit which is available from Amazon.com.

Top Tip: If you are considering having face painting as an activity at your wedding remember to ask parents if they mind their children getting their face painted beforehand.


Balloon modelers – Children can have hours of fun watching balloon modelers and learning hands-on how to make funny shapes. You could hire one such as BillyBanana.com or think about purchasing a balloon modeling starter kit for $11 and ask your child carers or more mature children at the wedding to get creative with the balloons!

Top Tip: If you are considering leaving the children alone with the entertainers make sure that they have police checks done etc for peace of mind.


Caricature Artist - Caricature Artists could entertain both children and adults alike by doing cartoon portraits which resemble your wedding guests in a humorous fashion. The added bonus for your guests is that they get to take the picture home - a unique reminder of your wedding day! The average cost is approximately $100-$200 per hour per artist. Search on TheKnot.com for artists in the vicinity of your wedding venue.


Impersonator – Impersonators such as Batman, Cinderella, Dora The Explorer, Mickey Mouse, Captain Jack Sparrow, etc could mingle amongst the children and entertain them with jokes, singing, and dancing. Partypop.com have a selection of characters available for hire by the hour. You could even hire seasonal favorites for a winter or Easter wedding by having Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny drop by to say hello to the children and hand out some treats!


Pirates of the Caribbean – If you are planning a wedding with a pirate theme (unlikely I know!) or if you just want to organize some fun entertainment for the children then how about a pirate adventure with games or a real Treasure Hunt. Captain Jack and his crew provide the children with maps, teach them the art of treasure hunting and help them find a real wooden chest filled with pirate’s loot! Prices start at $75 for 30 minutes of entertainment. For more details click here.


A Storyteller - A Storyteller will come to your chosen venue, tell one story (using visual props such as finger-puppets, flannel-board shapes etc) and play games in character for between 30 minutes to 1 hour. They can adapt it to suit the ages of the children in your audience the approximate cost is $50 upwards including travel, costume and materials. For more information search for mobile storytellers on the internet or check out Pepperspollywogs.com or Glutch.co.uk.


Circus Skills Workshop – If you are hosting an outdoor wedding reception you could hire circus entertainers who will teach children some basic circus skills such as juggling, plate spinning and unicycle riding. Companies such as CircusUnlimited.com offer circus skills workshops where hire includes a basic costumed entertainer plus the relevant equipment.


Mime artist – Mime artists perform short acts, acted out without words. Although not a traditional children’s party favorite they can cater to a younger audience. For more details check out WeddingPartyHelp.com.


Ventriloquist – I’ve been to a children’s party before and they loved the ventriloquist (he made animal puppets talk without moving his own mouth). The show I watched lasted 1 hour but you can ask for it to be shortened if you have young children with a short attention span. Ventriloquists cost in the region of $50 - $190 per hour. For more details take a look at Gigmasters.com.


Make a Bear Workshop – This idea is best suited for children at your wedding between 4 to 11 years of age. A costumed character comes along to your venue to host a party for up to 10 children where they each build their own bear to take home. The mobile party entertainment company provide the materials for making the bears, prizes, stickers and balloons too for $150. For more details contact the mobile workshop at CaliforniaClownSchool.com or try Traveling Stuff-N-Fluff Noah's Ark Animal Workshops. Alternatively you can order your own Make-Your-Own Stuffed Animal Kits and ask your child carers to supervise and help the children make their own bears. I think this is a lovely idea and it also provides the children with a unique memento of your wedding day!


For further details and unique ideas search in Google for children’s party entertainers or in your Yellow Pages. Alternatively TheKnot.com have a list of local entertainment vendors and party-planning companies on their website.


Tips For Hiring Children’s Entertainers For Your Wedding

♥ Do bear in mind that if you are already planning on having entertainers at your wedding reception for the adults, such as caricaturists, magicians or (if you are planning a medieval themed wedding) jugglers, jesters or stilt walkers, they can double up as entertainers for younger guests too at no extra cost.

Handy Hint: You might have to pay travel fees on top for entertainers you hire – make sure you ask them about this.

♥ Whether you end up hiring a clown, magician, pirate, face painter or storyteller do make sure that they have had previous experience entertaining large groups of children in a similar environment. Prices given above are just to give you an idea of what you are likely to pay. I recommend shopping around for comparable rates amongst the children’s entertainers.

♥ Remember also that they not only have to be affordable but also professional. I have witnessed a magician at a children’s party whose language deteriorated rapidly during his 30 minute show, shocking both adults and children! Check the entertainer’s previous customer’s testimonials to help you find the right entertainer for your young audience. You want someone who is skilled at entertaining children, reliable when it comes to timekeeping and can be trusted around them. If you are not booking them through a reliable agency I recommend you ask them to provide you with evidence of criminal background checks etc. (especially if they are being left alone with the children at any stage).


Activities For Children If You Have Outdoor Space Available At Your Wedding Venue

I know from first hand experience that if going outside is an option at a wedding reception children want to do it – they love running around, playing games and generally having fun and letting off steam.

Handy Hint: If you are planning a summer wedding look for a venue with outdoor space for the children.

If your wedding venue has outside space you could organize the following:


Outdoor Play Area – Set up outdoor games which are inexpensive to buy (even cheaper if you can arrange to borrow them from friends!), including children’s bowls, boules, croquet, cricket, Swingball and skittles.


Garden Games – Games which work well in small outdoor spaces are extra large outdoor versions of classic party games, such as Giant Connect 4, Horseshoe Toss, Noughts and Crosses, Draughts and Chess, Snakes and Ladders, Twister and Jenga. Companies such as this allow you to book these giant games either individually or as part of a larger package of activities and games - costs start from $15 for 1 day hire. Games can be supplied with hard-wearing mats for the game boards to sit on outdoors. These games are perfect for being played on the grass, decked area or concrete surface, so long as you anticipate good weather. If rain (or worse) is forecast for your wedding day then prepare a back-up plan for where the garden games can be set up. All of these games can also be used indoors.


Traditional Sports Games - If you are planning an outdoor afternoon, barbeque or picnic-style wedding you could organize sports games for the children under the supervision of child carers (as mentioned above). Games which children of all ages (and adults!) find fun to participate in are:

three-legged race

a one-footed hop

a pass-the-egg-on-the-spoon or baton relay race

races (great for encouraging the children to mingle and get to know one another as team-mates)


Chalk Pavement Games - If there are pavements or a concrete outdoor area at your wedding venue the children could do some chalk art work on them or even chalk out a game of hopscotch to play on. You must remember to ask permission from your venue staff first. They might ask that at the end of the children’s play session with the chalk your child carer washes it away (it washes off very easily). All you have to do is supply the children with huge sticks of colored chalk and let them show off their artistic flair. If you are hosting a wedding reception which is taking place largely outdoors this is a lovely idea as the children’s chalk artwork will be on display for your guests to appreciate.


Treasure Hunt - As mentioned previously, organizing a treasure hunt can be really fun for children and for adult spectators too. If you are not hiring a child carer for your wedding reception you could ask one of your attendants or another willing volunteer to take charge of the treasure hunt. You could make up clues or provide the children with a map in advance to lead them to the treasure, which could be a treasure trove filled with candies or toys. How difficult you make the treasure to find is dependent on the age range of children who will be taking part in the treasure hunt. Don’t make it too hard as they will lose interest. See “Treasure Hunt” in Part II for further tips on how to organize this activity.


Mini Crazy Golf - Renting a miniature crazy golf course will provide hours of entertainment for children at your wedding reception. The moveable golf courses are ideal for use both indoors or outdoor, so they are perfect if you are unsure of what sort of weather you can expect on your wedding day. Typically the 9 hole mini golf course is delivered to your wedding venue with a selection of scorecards, pencils, balls and putters for the children's use. For more details click here or search on the internet for a local mini golf hire company close to your wedding venue.


Inflatable Fun - If your wedding venue has space outdoors, if the weather is likely to be good and if it is within your budget, you could consider renting an inflatable - they are fantastic fun for children at weddings. Bouncing for a couple of hours on a bouncy castle is a great way for children on a sugar rush to burn off energy! Inflatables available for hire include bouncy castles, giant Twister, inflatable board games, galleons, inflatable obstacle courses and lots more - the choice is huge. Inflatables can be rented from $120 upwards. The rental company will come to your wedding venue and set up the inflatable for you. They will probably offer you advice on where it should be set up at your specific location. I recommend that you set it up well away from the main reception area and make sure that it’s supervised by a responsible adult at all times (some companies can provide an operator for the inflatable if you prefer). Check out your local inflatable rental company on the internet or click here.


Bubble Machines - Younger children love outdoor bubble machines. These are simple to set up and can mystify little ones for hours trying to catch the bubbles! They cost from $7 upwards to buy or you can rent the machines and jumbo bubble wands for the children to make their own make giant bubbles from companies such as this.


Nature Trail Walk - Whilst children don’t always appreciate the beauty of their natural surroundings if you are having a daytime wedding in beautiful surroundings, they might find it fun to go on a nature trek through the grounds of the venue. Perhaps you could ask the venue staff about hiring a professional child carer with local knowledge who could take the children for a walk and point out native plants and animals. To engage the children you could ask the child carer to supply lists of the flowers, birds, and insects they are likely to see and they can check them off as they spot them on the walk. Alternatively the trek could end with the children drawing a picture of their favorite thing they spotted along the way and offer prizes for their efforts. NB: If your budget can stretch to it you could provide each child with a disposable camera so that they can snap away at the wonders of Mother Nature (or of each other!).


Sandbox – Children love digging, burying, sifting, pouring, shaping and shoveling sand so why not set them up with their very own sandbox. You could fit a sandbox into even the smallest outdoor space at your venue. In good weather the children will get a lot of hours of enjoyment out of a sandbox. Prices start at $20 for a pop-up sandbox which is easy to assemble or you could ask a friend with children to borrow theirs. Remember to ask your wedding venue’s permission to set this up in their grounds and also organize who will empty out and remove the sandbox at the end of the wedding.


Beach Play - If you are planning a beach wedding then the best form of entertainment for children comes courtesy of Mother Nature - playing in the sand! Make sure their play is supervised by an adult though as even the most child-friendly beaches are not without their own dangers.


Kite Flying - If the weather forecast for your wedding day is likely to be warm and windy then that would make perfect kite flying conditions. It would be a nice touch to provide a few ready-made kites or ask the children prior to the wedding to bring their own kites for flying. Alternatively you could provide the materials and instructions and make the kite-making part of the activity. After the wedding, children get to take their kites home. Prices for kite kits start at $5.


Ranch Fun - If you are planning a western themed wedding at a ranch, like Hollywood stars Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O'Connell, set up an area in the ranch grounds with hay bales for the children to have fun on, or organize wagon, hayrides or tractor rides for them. Local horse stables or nearby farms might be able to offer help with organizing this type of entertainment for the children. Along the same theme in the winter, if the weather permits, you could entertain the children with a sleigh ride.

Top Tip: If you are planning outdoor activities for the children in good weather it’s a good idea to make sure that you have some child-friendly sun block available for the child carers to use (frantic parents dressing their child and getting them out of the door to your wedding might well forget this essential).


Fireworks – Fireworks make a spectacular finale to a wedding reception for children and adults alike. I attended a wedding where the bride and groom organized a fireworks display in the evening before the children were packed off either home or up to their hotel bedrooms with sitters. It was a lovely way to round off the evening for the children. We bundled them all up in coats (it was November in Scotland so it was predictably freezing outside!) and took them out to watch the stunning explosions of color above our heads. I loved seeing the looks of pure delight on the children’s faces. The fireworks were definitely the talking point of the wedding.

If you are thinking of having fireworks at your wedding I recommend you purchase a display that is prepared and fired by professionals (otherwise you will have to think about insurance and Health and Safety). It’s definitely recommended to use firework experts as there are a lot of rules and regulations for handling fireworks near children. Speak to your wedding venue staff who are sure to be able to help you locate a reputable local firework display specialist.


Tent - If you are hosting your wedding in a tent or marquee then you could consider giving the children their own tent and setting up the children’s fun zone in there. You could rent a smaller tent for the children and kit it out with fun activities to entertain them, as set out above.


The above are just a selection of ideas to help keep the children occupied during your wedding ceremony and reception. You can choose any of these activities you think will be age appropriate for the children who are likely to attend your wedding and tailor them to meet your own space and budget limitations.


Children’s Activity Equipment Costs

If you are organizing the children’s activity area at your wedding venue yourself, rather than hiring a mobile crèche team, then you needn’t worry that you will have to make a huge financial outlay to get your hands on the activity materials, toys etc. Whilst it will be inexpensive for you to pay out for some crayons, paper and a few small toys, no parent at your wedding would expect you to go to the expense of buying lots of sports equipment, different board games or PS2 games! With all of the equipment which you don’t want to purchase yourself (e.g. large items such as ball pools and expensive items like air hockey tables), your options are to either:

♥ search on the internet for local companies which rent them out on a daily basis

♥ if your wedding reception is being held in a hotel or country-club you might find all of the equipment you need is available within the grounds – it’s worth checking with your venue staff

♥ contact your local kindergarten, pre-school or crèche facility and ask if you can borrow theirs

♥ ask friends and family with children if they, or anyone they know, have the relevant equipment and ask to borrow them

♥ don't overlook the dollar stores and clearance racks for bargains which you can use to amuse the children at your wedding

♥ if all else fails try eBay where your sure to find some good deals.

Handy Hint: Check with child carers, sitters and the staff at your wedding venue as to what will be provided for the children. Sometimes child carers bring toys and games with them, and your venue might be able to provide a TV, DVD player and possibly other furniture, equipment and toys for use by the children. It’s worth asking as it could well save you time and money if they intend on providing entertainment materials – you have other things to organize I’m sure!


Organising Nap Time For Your Younger Wedding Guests

It goes without saying that you should not have to worry about the individual routines of children attending your wedding. However, if you are arranging an all-day wedding event which goes on late into the night then you can be sure that children under the age of 5 will wilt at some stage (even the adults will flag!). Unless parents have rented rooms in the venue where you are holding your wedding reception they are going to have difficulties in keeping to their little one’s routines and be able to put them down for a nap during the day. It would be in their best interests, and your own, for you to provide somewhere for younger children to take a nap – you don’t want bad-tempered sleep-deprived children at your wedding!

♥ Why not set up a quiet room where they can have an afternoon nap or chill-out to keep them going until bedtime. Parents will be sure to appreciate this as it will mean that they will not have to leave your wedding reception early and this will help to prevent cranky children when they miss their nap-time.

♥ You don’t have to do this on a major scale. You can opt for setting up a corner of the reception room with a few toys or some soft cushions for little ones to crash on (if they are able to settle in noisy rooms). Alternatively, if you have a separate room available away from all the noise and excitement of the reception you could set up a quiet nap room with some mats, comfy blankets and a CD player for nursery rhymes or soft music where they can rest comfortably.

♥ You could also ask the venue staff to provide a least one travel cot for any babies and perhaps a few rollaway beds etc. Ask parents in advance if they are intending on using this facility, to get an idea of how many sleepyheads you are catering for.


Important Points To Remember When Organizing Children’s Activities

♥ Whatever activities you decide upon for your reception, choose items that are age appropriate for the children that will be attending your wedding.

♥ I recommend that you avoid encouraging the children to play games such as football or rugby which are going to encourage the little ones to get their party clothes dirty – you won’t endear yourself to their parents when they return from their outdoor play session covered in grass stains and dirt!

♥ Try to give every child their own activities. Whilst we like to think that all children learn from a tender age to share toys, we know that the reality is some children find it very hard to share (especially the 2 year olds!) and some children are used to getting their own way. The last thing you want at your wedding is children fighting over games and activities. The same goes for snacks and treats – make sure there are enough for each child. To a certain extent if you have a child care supervisor they will be able to deal with any clashes between the children over sharing toys or waiting for turns on activities.

♥ Whatever activities you choose for the children make sure you plan them well in advance, e.g. find out which art and craft materials you need to supply for a certain activity, buy them in advance, have them packed and ready to deliver to your wedding venue and then arrange for them to be delivered to and set up at your wedding venue on the day. How smoothly the children’s activities come together on your wedding day depends heavily on the advance preparation by either you or your nominated children’s activity planning helper.


Children's Favors

Children attending your wedding are not going to care about whether the color of your napkins matches your table lines or whether your wedding flowers are silk or fresh. If you provide entertainment and feed and water them they are going to have a good time regardless of all the other efforts you have gone to with your wedding planning. The same can be said of wedding favors for the children. If you give them some candy or a goody bag they will be happy.

The modern trend at weddings is for children to be presented with a goody bag (similar to the type children are given at parties) as they arrive at the wedding reception. Your young guests will be delighted with your thoughtfulness and your effort to make them feel welcome at your wedding (and so will their parents).
In the goody bag is usually a mixture of items including:

a coloring book with a small box of crayons

small inexpensive toys and games

candy (a tube of Love Hearts would be very appropriate!)

If you are putting in items which are gender or age-related make sure you identify which goody bag is for which child by labeling them. You don’t want a 4 year old girl ending up with a DIY airplane modeling kit and your 8 year old nephew opening his bag to find a glitter nail varnish kit! Try to choose items to suit each child's individual tastes (age and gender). If you are unsure of what to put in the bags ask friends and family with children as they will know better than anyone what amuses children.

If you have a look on the internet you will see lots of child-friendly unique products for wedding party gifts. Paperposie.com offer a Wedding Day Kit which is packed with activities including postcards for the children to color, crayons and stickers. For inspiring age-appropriate gifts take a look at Elc.co.uk which has a fantastic website which allows you to select the age and gender of the child you are choosing a gift for. Also check out the selection of children's wedding party bags by Frog in the Field featured at Bridalwave.tv which are sure to keep your younger guests entertained.


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This is Part III of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part IV for the full article

Related Posts :
CLICK HERE & GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS Your 273 Page Book To Planning The Perfect Wedding - No Catch - No Hassle - Simply Click For Your Secret To A Perfect Wedding
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV



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78 Free Wedding Tips And Book

As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore. For example tips on wedding djs, getting guests to mingle, giving a great speech and tipping wedding suppliers to name just a few!

To give you a flavour of what to expect I have copied the types of wedding tips you will receive below:

Sample Tip 1 :

At the reception hall, fill baskets in the bathroom with miniature hand lotions, breath mints, hair sprays, and hair gels for emergency touch-ups. You may also want to put out a basket with a few inexpensive pairs of pantyhose and
some clear nail polish.

"Thanks for all the tips..and for making them genuinely "free".... the tips I found most helpful of your's were about etiquette ... it helps to remind brides of other people's feelings when they are getting caught up in their own! And that idea about giving framed pictures to the parents is one I will definately do! Blessings!" - Suzanne, US

Sample Tip 2 :

Don’t forget grandparents and other relatives who may feel “left out” during the preparations before the wedding. Take a camera along when you are shopping for your dress or looking at flowers.

Send pictures with a quick note that says, “Here’s me rubbing my feet after trying on shoes that were murder!” Or “Aunt Joan, the flowers were beautiful, but I wish you could have been there.”

"Just wanted to thank you for all of the wonderful tips! I enjoy reading them every week!! I will use you're advice throughout the planning of my wedding and on the big day! Thanks again" - Dan

Sample Tip 3 :

For bridesmaids' dresses, consider separates, especially if you have attendants whose sizes and shapes vary widely. Skip the bridal stores and check out department stores for evening skirts and separate tops that are made of luxurious fabrics and trimmed with beading or embroidered details.

"Dear Emily your tips have been very helpful to me in planning for my wedding thank you for all of your help, looking forward to receiving other tips from you. Best Regards" - Cornelia, US


How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV
Date: January 19, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Catering & Ceremonies & Children & Etiquette & Family & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Music & Dance & Pets & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas

This is Part IV of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part III for the full article


Feeding Children During Your Wedding


Snacks

Be aware that whilst adults are able to sustain themselves with the a canape and a glass of champagne until your wedding meal begins, children get cranky and fussy if they are made to wait too long between meals. Not all parents will be organized enough on your wedding day to remember to bring a snack for their little ones. Here are a couple of ideas to help avoid children’s hunger pangs turning them from cute cherubs into raucous rebels whilst they wait for the food to be served at your wedding reception:

♥ Think about organizing individual bags of crackers, lightly sweetened cookies or small boxes of raisins to hand out to the children

♥ Put together a paper bag or box for each child to be handed out before the ceremony containing a toy, juice box and snack to keep them fed and entertained

♥ When choosing snacks to give to the children to keep them going, whilst I would advise you to avoid artificial sugary varieties (which will turn the children into devil worshippers) let’s be honest – the really fun looking great tasting snacks have sugar in them!

Top Tip: Wherever possible with the snacks and other catering for children on your wedding day try to avoid nuts as some children are allergic to them.

♥ The same goes for drinks - children will become agitated if they are dehydrated (especially at an outdoor wedding) so make sure there will be plenty of natural fruit juice and water available for them both prior to and during the reception.

So the children will be fed, watered and refreshed, their parents will be very grateful for your thoughtfulness and you will definitely appreciate the absence of whining children at your wedding!


Wedding Meal

When you start planning the menu for your wedding reception you need to consider what food you will provide for the children who will be attending. When it comes to feeding children at weddings you can’t expect them to be as enthusiastic about your menu choices of filet mignon and rare grilled tuna as the adult guests will be. Of course you can put these dishes in front of the children but are they really likely to eat it?

Whilst some children are more than happy to eat adult food this can:

♥ end up costing a fortune if your price per head for the wedding meal is $100; and

♥ does not cater for the picky eaters amongst the children.


Things To Consider When Choosing Wedding Food For Children

♥ A lot of hotels and other wedding reception sites charge per head for the wedding catering, whether the head is 4 or 40 years old. When you consider that many children prefer familiar child-friendly foods over expensive gourmet ones their meal may even go to waste. With the average price per head being in the region of $100 this can really add to your wedding expenses.

♥ A more sensible, not to mention, affordable option is to ask your caterer or reception venue whether they have a separate children’s menu available for your wedding. You should note that many caterers will not inform you of this unless you specifically ask about it.

♥ Most caterers or reception sites have children's menus which they will serve to children under 12 years of age and usually this is at a lower cost than the adult meals. This is great as the children will be thrilled to fill their tummies with familiar foods and you will be thrilled at the extra dollars left in your wedding budget!

♥ If the children’s meals they offer are extortionately priced and unsuitable discuss this with the catering manager. Whilst some rip-off venues might think that they are justified in charging you $100 per child for chicken nuggets and fries most venues will provide you with an affordable option if you are willing to negotiate. They are not going to want to lose the business you are bringing them, with your 100 wedding guests at $100 a head, over 10 children’s meals.


Child-friendly Meal Options

If the caterers or reception venue do not typically cater for children again discuss this with them. Ask them to provide a separate children’s menu featuring a couple of choices of child-friendly food. You want to ensure that the children are going to enjoy the wedding festivities without rumbling tummies. The best way to guarantee that they will not only eat the food which you put in front of them but also get excited about it is to stimulate them with some fun and tasty choices such as:

Chicken Tenders or Fingers

Mini hamburgers on fresh-baked rolls

Cheese Pizza

Macaroni and Cheese

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

Garnishes such as carrots and zucchini cut into cute smiley faces, cherry tomatoes and cucumber sticks served with a dip

Cheese Quesadillas

Fish goujons

Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwiches or Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwiches cut into fun shapes with cookie cutters

Vegetable Crisps

Potato Wedges and dip

As with your adult guests, you will need to tally up the number of children that are likely to attend your reception and list their ages (as well as any special dietary requirements – e.g. coeliac, vegetarian, lactose intolerant) too so that the catering staff are able to calculate how many mouths they will be feeding with the children’s food.

Top Tip: Remember that unless you are sure that there are no nut allergies amongst your younger guests don’t include nuts in your menu choices.


Further Ideas To Make Life Easier When Catering For The Children At Your Wedding Reception


Buffet

If are planning a buffet style wedding for your guests you could organize children’s meals to be hand-delivered to tables so that parents do not have to navigate the lengthy buffet lines with small ones in tow.


Children’s Food Station

If you have a large number of children on your guest list, another option for a buffet style wedding reception is to set up a children's food station. You could create a design for the food station which compliments the overall look of your wedding reception and also clearly identifies it as a children's food station. Discuss the child-friendly food options with your catering manager. Children won’t expect a huge variety of buffet choices but a few different dishes from the list set out above should suffice. If you opt for this my advice is that you order slightly more food than you anticipate you will need – I guarantee that your older guests will be munching on the children’s food too!

If you have decided to seat the children at a table on their own and if you are deciding on their menu yourself, it might be easier to have their table set up with picnic food and hot items from the list set out above. All children will love this idea and if there are little ones being seated at the table arrange for a child carer to sit with them and supervise.


Picnic

If you having an outdoor BBQ for your wedding then you could arrange for children’s individual picnic boxes to be made up. To add to the picnic theme you could ask for some blankets to be set out on the grass where the children can eat together. Be aware though that the younger children might prefer to eat with their parents.


Sweet Treats

Whilst fruit and yogurt are great ways for children to finish everyday meals sometimes a special dessert is in order. Let’s be honest – how many children do you know who think of Fruit Cocktail Cups as the perfect party dessert?
To make your wedding an unforgettable mouth-watering experience for guests both young and old alike here are some delicious and fun ideas:


Cotton Candy

Consider renting a Cotton Candy or Candy Floss machine. The machines are supplied with all materials including sticks, tables and you even get a choice of candy colors (you could match up the color of the candy to your wedding theme – lilac, blue, yellow, green and the more popular pink!). The machines can be delivered to you, set up and operated on the day by an experienced maker or your can collect the machine, follow the instructions and set it up yourself (alternatively ask your venue staff very nicely if they could do it for you on the day, or ask if a member of the catering staff within your reception venue would operate it for a certain period or ask the babysitters if they would be willing to take on this role!). Rental prices start at $75 but you can actually buy your own machine from stores such as Target for $30 upwards.


Popcorn Machine

Another option is to rent a Popcorn machine. Included in the rental will be a heat lamp and heated cabinet to keep the popcorn hot and fresh, a popcorn scoop, cones for serving and of course the corn for popping. The popcorn can be supplied already popped in tubs or bags but popcorn freshly popped at your wedding reception will definitely taste a lot better. You can even order personalized popcorn cones with your initials or in a color to match your wedding theme etc.


Sno Cone Machine

If you are planning an outdoor wedding in a sunny climate then how about renting a Sno Cone or shaved ice machine. These are actually very easy to operate (I’ve done it myself so I assure you it is not too technical). You simply fill it up with ice and hey presto! The rental company will supply you with various sno cone flavors (again, you can choose syrup colors to incorporate the sno cones into your wedding color scheme!), and the cups/cones and spoons for serving.

Any of these machines would provide your younger guests with a tasty treat to keep them going either during the reception or beforehand when everyone is milling around outside before the reception starts.

Top Tip: Don’t forget to seek permission from your wedding reception venue staff that they are agreeable to you renting these machines and using them on their premises. They might even offer staff to oversee their usage.


Children’s Cocktail Bar

If you are planning on serving cocktails at your wedding reception to the adults make sure that the children don’t miss out on the fun by organizing for children’s cocktails to be served. The cocktails should be non-alcoholic (obviously!) and can be made using the same base drinks that you find in standard cocktails, such as coconut cream, lemon barley, peppermint cordial, grenadine and ginger ale as well as using the healthier option of freshly squeezed juices. The drinks can be served in light-up cocktail glasses (these cost approximately $3 each) or other perspex cocktail glasses (these can be bought very inexpensively if your venue cannot provide them) and jazzed up with pieces of fruit and outlandish decorations such as glowing ice cubes, animal shaped stirrers, foil parasols and glitter sticks. Speak to the bar staff at your wedding venue about whether they are able to create these drinks for the children or, even better, if your budget and venue allow it ask them to set up a glitzy children’s cocktail bar for your wedding reception. What better way to make children feel grown up and welcome at your wedding reception!


Chocolate Fountain

As I mentioned in my previous blog chocolate fountains are an extremely popular fun feature at weddings. They are also a great way of keeping the children (and adults) entertained and get them mingling whilst they wait at the venue for the photos to be taken and/or the festivities to begin.

Top Tip: If you are renting a chocolate fountain make sure that it is placed somewhere sturdy, secure and child-friendly. I recommend if children are being allowed to help themselves to the fountain that you have it attended by an adult (the rental company can provide a professional attendant if your catering staff are unable to take on this role). This is not only to ensure the fountain’s smooth operation and for the children’s safety but most importantly because left to their own devices the children are likely to transform your visually stunning fountain into an unsightly chocolaty mess in a very short period of time.


Dessert Buffet Table

Another way to give children a sweet treat is to set up a wedding dessert buffet table. You could fill it with every imaginable child-friendly dessert from profiteroles to cupcakes and cookies.

Alternatively why not set up a simple cookie table – children love cookies! Cookie tables are a long-standing wedding tradition in the USA originating from Ohio. A large table is covered with different cookies (usually cookies which have been baked using secret family recipes by family members in advance of the reception) and presented to guests at the wedding reception. If you are on a tight budget then, by arranging an assortment of mouthwatering home-made or even shop-bought cookies, you can make your wedding stand out whilst you are still managing to shave money off of your wedding costs.


Ice Cream Stand

It’s a well-known fact that ice-cream is rated as one of children’s favorite sweet treats, so how about setting up an ice cream stand for dessert. You could either rent a soft serve ice cream machine for $180 or ask your caterers to set up a refrigerated stand with tubs of ice cream favorites like vanilla, chocolate, strawberry or butter pecan. For the complete ice-cream extravaganza remember you will also need to set out bowls of toppings such as:

Nuts (whole, chopped or flaked)

Fresh and dried fruit

Chocolate (strands, flakes, buttons and chocolate chips)

Fudge pieces

Shredded coconut

Mini marshmallows

Multi-colored sprinkles

Whipped cream

Chocolate dipped fruit

Sauces including favorites chocolate, maple syrup, caramel, strawberry, hot fudge and butterscotch


Self-Service Candy Bar

We’ve all heard the saying “like a kid in a candy shop” which means to be happy and excited about the things around you and to react to them in a way which is silly and not controlled. That is precisely the reaction you are likely to get if you set up a candy bar at your wedding reception from the children and their older counterparts alike! Self-service candy bars are a sweet and stylish way to celebrate your nuptials.


Tips For Setting Up A Candy Bar

♥ When selecting candies for the candy bar make sure that you choose a few popular children’s and adult’s varieties. Ideally you should include a selection of candies, from inexpensive popular items such as jelly beans and fudge, to the more expensive name brands such as Fannie May Pixies, Dylan’s Vanilla Clodhoppers and Godiva Truffles.

♥ Remember that if it is the children you are looking to enthrall with the candy buffet you don’t have to buy expensive chocolates and stylish candies – they love jelly sweets, lollipops, liquorice wheels and toffees as well as the ubiquitous candy bars such as 3 Musketeers, Baby Ruth etc.

♥ Other choices for the candy bar could include:

milk, white and dark chocolates and truffles

M & Ms

yogurt or chocolate covered pretzels

mints

gummy bears and worms

sugared almonds

liquorice and candy sticks

toffees

bon bons

lovehearts

yogurt or chocolate covered raisins

various Jelly Belly flavors

♥ A cute idea is to incorporate your wedding color theme into the candies you choose for the table, e.g. you could use all white candies or all pink. The children won’t appreciate the trouble you have gone to but the adults will!

♥ Filling jars of candy for the candy buffer takes a lot of candy which can be expensive. You will probably be better off buying candy by the bag in bulk at Costco, other wholesalers or any large grocery store. Also, try Economycandy.com who sell both traditional and vintage candy, as well as high end chocolates. Items can be purchased from their website in bulk or by the pound. This is a great place to get you started - take a look at their website to get an idea of the cost and availability of candies.

♥ How much your candy spread will cost depends greatly on how big a selection you want to offer and also what types of candy you intend on buying. Obviously a jar of Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate candy squares is going to be more expensive than a jar of malt balls or M & M’s.

♥ To give the impression that you have more candy than you really do, use smaller bowls and jars but create platforms and place the bowls and jars at varying heights.

♥ To buy the display jars, candy bowls and scoops check out stores such as Target who sell them inexpensively.

♥ If you wanted to purchase ready-made buckets of candy rather than putting your own selection together Dylan's Candy Bar have them available in varying sizes, but be warned they are a bit pricey, with prices starting at $79.

♥ For inspiration and ideas on how to set up your candy bar take a look at these images of other brides’ candy buffets from TheKnot.com.

♥ Stack cellophane bags, (these can be purchased in florist supply shops) paper bags, clear Chinese take-out boxes, small boxes or paper cones (very inexpensive and easy to make yourself) alongside the candy treats so that the children can help themselves.

Top Tip: Whilst children will not be too bothered about whether or not the candy receptacle bears a custom label or printed tag with your names, wedding date or logo on it perhaps your older guests will appreciate this cute touch.

♥ Don’t forget to place metal or plastic scoops so that the children and other guests can scoop up their favorite candies and not be tempted to stick their hands in the jars (for hygiene reasons obviously!)


Advantages Of Having A Candy Bar

♥ Even if you spend $300 on setting up the candy buffet it will still work out much less expensive than a dessert buffet catered by the venue would have cost you.

♥ Not only is a candy bar fun for the children at your wedding to help themselves to and nibble on but it can also serve as both dessert and party favors so you don’t need to go to any further trouble or expense to organize wedding favors – the children and guests can choose their own tasty favors!


Sweet Treats Which Get The Children Involved

Here are some more tasty and entertaining ideas which are sure to add a fun element for children at your wedding reception:


Toffee Apple Decorating

If you are throwing an autumn wedding ask your caterers to set up a table with freshly made caramel apples. Invite children to decorate them by dipping them into chopped nuts, sprinkles, mini M&M's and other fun toppings.


Cookie or Cupcake Decorating

Another option for an activity is to have your younger wedding guests decorate their own cookies or cupcakes.

How To Set This Up


Remember that the key to making any activity involving children a success is in the advance preparation, so here are some tips on how to set this up at your wedding reception:

♥ Purchase pre-baked sugar cookies, plain biscuits or cupcakes, make them yourself (check out cupcake recipes here) or arrange to have them made in advance of your wedding day.

♥ You could choose traditional round cookies or go for a more wedding-themed shape such as hearts, flower shapes etc.

♥ If you are buying the cookies or cupcakes yourself I suggest you check out your local grocery store, Costco, or other wholesale store where you can buy the items in bulk very inexpensively.

♥ Allow for a couple of cookies or cupcakes per child, plus some extras for mishaps and taste testing by your adult guests!


Decorating Area Set Up

♥ If your venue have no separate children’s room available for your wedding day you could ask them to set up a table in an unobtrusive position in the main function room for the children to decorate their cookies and cupcakes on.

Top Tip: Enlist the help of a child carer or sitters to supervise this activity.

♥ If you do have a children’s room for use during your wedding at your venue, again ask the venue staff to set up a table with chairs suitable for the children.

♥ Ensure that the table is going to be covered with a washable or disposable tablecloth.


Decorating Essentials

♥ Your local grocery store or craft store will have a variety of items that you can purchase for the children to use for decorating. Set out an assortment of items for the children to decorate the cookies or cupcakes with. Encourage their creativity by including items from the selection below:

sprinkles

M&Ms

chopped nuts

chocolate chips

licorice whips

mini-marshmallows

peppermint candies

colored sugar and sanding sugar

jelly beans

chopped or shaved (with a vegetable peeler) light, dark or white chocolate

cookie or graham cracker crumbs

crushed peanut brittle

gumdrops

gummy bears and gummy worms

sifted cocoa powder

fresh fruits

edible fresh flowers

candied flower petals

colored dots

sugar strands

melted chocolate

nonpareils and silver balls

coconut flakes

Plastic stencils with small designs can also be used (sift powdered sugar or cocoa powder over stencil openings and remove stencil carefully).

FooDoodler Food Coloring Markers – These fun pens are filled with non-toxic, edible food inks and are perfect for adding decorative details.

♥ Don’t forget the frosting – this is crucial for cupcakes! Offer the children frosting in bright colors (to match your wedding color theme perhaps) such as hot pink, blue or purple. Children love the outrageousness of bright, boisterous and fanciful colors.

♥ You could offer them bowls of icing (icing sugar and water) with different food coloring added to it.

♥ An alternative way to offer the icing sugar or frosting to the children for decorating their cookies and cupcakes is to use zip-sealed plastic bags with a corner cut out like a pastry bag for piping. You won’t need pastry bag tips as cutting a tiny corner off the bag itself lets just enough icing and frosting flow - simply fill the bag with frosting, seal the top of it and let the children get creative with the frosting!

Handy Hint: Depending on the ages of your junior wedding guests it might be a good idea to have a sample cookie or cupcake already made so that they can see the end product.


Tips For Ensuring Cookie Decorating Activity Goes Smoothly

If you want to organize this entertainment for the children yourself in advance then you could prepare the toppings, put them into separate Tupperware bowls and organize for someone to set them up at the children’s table at your venue on the wedding day. Just remember that for children the fun is in the decorating, not the preparation, so have it all ready for them on the day if you are laying on this activity.

Handy Hint: Don’t expect this to entertain the children at your wedding for the whole event - whilst decorating a cupcake or cookie is sure to be a fun and tasty way to entertain them, the younger children’s attention span will last just long enough to decorate and eat their cookie or cupcake.

Once the children have decorated their cookie or cupcake if they want to wait for it to dry, place it on a napkin and write the child’s name on it so that there are no arguments later over which sweet treat belongs to which child.

You might want to also organize an area for drying the cookies on (if they last that long!). A great idea is to also provide:

napkins (matching your wedding colors)

wet wipes (for inevitable accidents)

waxed paper to sit the cookies on

take home boxes or bags for your guests for leftovers (if there are any left!)

There you go, it’s as easy as that - simply provide cupcakes, cookies, materials for decoration and let the children get creative!

For further tips on setting up a children’s cookie decorating table check out ehow.com.

Handy Hint: As with all ideas for entertaining children don’t forget to mention your plans to your caterer and staff at your venue so that they are aware of the proposed activity.


Give The Children Their Own Party

If you have your heart set on an amazing wedding venue which is totally impractical and unsuitable for children an alternative could be to throw a children’s party at a separate location (as close as possible to your wedding venue). Whilst some couples planning their wedding might think that this is an unnecessary cost and that, if this is the case, the parents should arrange their own child care, you should bear in mind:

♥ Do you really want your guests to attend your wedding? Chances are if they have any problems arranging child care they might not be able to attend.

♥ Decide whether you think it’s worth spending a few hundred dollars on child care and children’s activities to have happy relaxed guests at your wedding.

♥ If you are inviting out-of-town wedding guests is it really fair to ask them to go to the expense and trouble of traveling to your wedding and then have to organize their own child care?

Top Tip: Venues impose a limit on the number of guests you can invite due to fire regulations etc. Therefore your venue will count children as people as far as fire regulations go. If it is the case that your chosen venue has a small capacity limit then for every child you invite this means it is one less adult can be invited to attend your wedding. This is all the more reason to try and organize a separate children’s room or throw them a separate children’s party.

I have personal experience of organizing a children’s wedding party. A few years ago I helped a good friend of mine, who had a 5 year old son at the time that she was making her wedding arrangements, to organize a children’s wedding party hosted by her son.


Timing

The logistics of the day worked out perfectly. He, along with the other young guests, attended the wedding ceremony and posed for photos outside the reception venue. Once the meal was about to begin parents took their children to a function room which was on the next floor up at the hotel.


Entertainment

We equipped the room like a crèche with a bean bag area with some cuddly toys and books, a table and chairs with craft materials and board games, a half-size snooker table, velcro darts board, a plasma TV for DVD watching with cushions laid out in front of it and a smaller TV on one of the tables in the room with a Playstation games console set up on it. We decorated the room simply with some colored balloons and used snazzy plastic tablecloths on the tables which were designated for crafts and for meal time.


Catering

The catering arrangements my friend made were to order pizzas to be delivered to the room, she provided sodas and candies (bought in bulk from Costco) and when the main movie of the evening “Shrek 2” began at 8pm the hotel delivered bowls of fresh popcorn to the room for them to enjoy.


Child Care

My friend used two teenage babysitters (who she had used as sitters for her son on many previous occasions) to supervise the 9 children.


Room

Luckily the function room the hotel provided was actually an empty double bedroom so there were 2 bathrooms which was perfect – it meant that the sitters did not have to leave each other alone in the room with the children whilst the other attended to toilet duties with the children.


Invitations

My friend and her son sent wedding party invites to the children of the people who had been invited to the wedding. She mailed them on the same day as her wedding invitations and addressed them by name to the children of the families. She put a note in with the invitation for the parents with an explanation of the timeline for the day (the “Party Zone” (as her son named it) was available from 2pm (this was 30 minutes before the cocktail hour started so that parents could settle the young children before leaving for their own party) until 11pm.) When the movie ended just after 9.30pm parents with young children had pre-arranged for sitters to arrive and take their children to their rooms and put them down for the night.

Even though all children were invited to the whole day wedding event, a few parents had made arrangements to come to the ceremony on their own and have their children dropped off at the children’s party later on so that they could relax and enjoy the wedding ceremony and reception without having to watch out for their children.

Top Tip: As the hotel where my friend was hosting her wedding had other functions happening on the same day, for added security we made a log sheet so that parents had to sign their children in and out (even the 12 year old!) so that the sitters and parents knew where the children were at all times.


Costs

My friend’s costs for hosting the children’s wedding party were:

Invitations: Free (printed by my friend’s husband using BlueMountain.com

Room hire: (heavily discounted by the hotel because they were already paying a small fortune for their reception room hire and catering) $100

Catering costs: (including pizzas, candy, sodas – the popcorn was thrown in by the hotel for free!) $85

Child care: (two babysitters for 9 hours) $200

Snooker table, board games, Playstation, DVD’s: Free (all borrowed from generous friends)

Craft equipment: $35

Decorations: $20

Furniture: Free (Tables, chairs, televisions and DVD player were all loaned by the hotel free of charge, the bean bags were borrowed from another generous friend)

My friend’s thoughts after her wedding were that it was worth every single penny of the $440 the children’s party cost them, as she, her husband and their friends and family had all enjoyed the wedding day just as much as the children did. Comments from her guests with children were also very complimentary too. One guest said that when her two children received their own special invitation it made their day. At one stage during the wedding reception when my friend’s new husband had gone missing we guessed (correctly) that he was upstairs challenging his son to a ninja fight on the Playstation!!

The children’s party idea my friend came up with was born out of a selfish desire to have the wedding which she and her husband wanted, in the venue they had their hearts set on, whilst still caring that their own child did not miss out on any fun as well as the children of their wedding guests.


Out-Of-Town Guests With Children


Child Care

Whilst I know you are not obligated to cover child care costs for your guests, in my opinion if your out-of-town wedding guests have the expense of traveling to your wedding the least you can do is to provide them with some child care and organize fun activities for their children.

Even if you are not inviting children to your wedding, for out-of-towners whose children will travel with them (like a new baby who can't be left behind) at a minimum do try to arrange babysitting, even if you don't pay for it. They will feel much more comfortable with a child carer you know and trust than a stranger they themselves have chosen from a phone book.

If you are inviting children to your wedding but are planning on organizing an evening ceremony then, for out-of-town guests who want to make a holiday out of your wedding with their children, you should offer babysitter details to them.


Welcome Goody Bags For Out-Of-Town Children

For children traveling to your out-of-town wedding it’s a much appreciated gesture to treat them to a welcome gift bag for their arrival at their hotel room. This can be put together by you at a minimal cost. Ideas for items to fill their welcome goody bag are:

♥ Games (puzzles, magnetic games like battleships, checkers, a deck of UNO cards, game books, Top Trumps or a miniature Etch-a-Sketch)

♥ Stuffed animals (perfect for younger children)

♥ Coloring book, crayons or construction paper

♥ Travel Journal – This is a particularly cute idea if the children have traveled quite a distance to get to your wedding and it’s their first visit to the area. Provide a colorful notebook and pen to encourage older children to create their own travel diary or journal. This activity will not only keep the children busy in the hotel but it will also preserve their memories of your wedding for a lifetime – what a simple and fun idea.

♥ Disposable camera to take pictures to remind them of their trip and your wedding day

♥ Candy and sweet treats (preferably from a local company or something which is a local specialty (I included Scottish fudge in mine) but to be honest young children are not really bothered about the origins of their candy)

♥ Include essential snacks so that your guests don't have to pay the outrageous amounts the hotel charges every time their child wants a soda or snack from the mini bar. Add mini packets of chips, crackers, popcorn, trail mix, granola bars, candy, etc and bottled water, juice cartons and soda.

♥ For destination weddings in a sunny climate or a beach location you could customize the welcome bags for the children with some suntan lotion, inexpensive sunglasses, a bucket or pail and shovel, rake and mold set (you could even use the beach pails instead of bags for the welcome package).

If your out-of-town guests are staying on for a few days with their children then you could also include:

♥ Gift certificates to tasty local restaurants that are child-friendly.

♥ Area maps and entertainment guides – mark on the maps places of interest for children such as local parks, zoos, indoor activity centers (for wet days).

♥ Ask at your favorite local restaurant for some discount vouchers or 2-for-1 entree coupons.

♥ Ask at either your local Tourist Information Office or Chamber of Commerce if they have any brochures and discount coupons for local child-friendly attractions. Staff at the out-of-town guest’s hotel might be able to help you with this also.

♥ Even if you have already provided your guests with the details, it might be an idea to include an itinerary for the wedding day and a run-down of the children’s activities with times so that parents and their children are fully aware of the upcoming schedule for your wedding. Also, ensure they have detailed direction sheets on how to get to each relevant place (and transport details if necessary).


Rehearsal Dinner

Depending on how accommodating you want to be towards your out-of-town guests, and also whether it is within your budget, you could extend an invitation to them to attend your rehearsal dinner. I did this with my out-of-town wedding guests – it’s a really lovely gesture and I know that it was much appreciated by my guests with children. We also hosted a brunch the day after our wedding to catch up with them because we wanted to show our out-of-town guests how much we appreciated them having made the effort to travel hundreds (or in some cases thousands) of miles for our wedding. By including the out-of-town guests amongst other friends and family too at these extra events it meant that my husband and I got to spend a bit of extra time with them as our wedding reception literally flew by.


Organizing An Adult Only Wedding Without Arranging Child Care Yourself

This blog is not only relevant to couples who want to include children in their wedding plans, it is also useful for those of you who are organizing an adults only wedding. The practical ideas which I have presented in this blog can be used by you in assisting your wedding guests in organizing their own child care whilst your wedding takes place.

If you like the idea of hosting a strictly “adults only” evening wedding reception but don’t want the bother or cost of organizing child care or entertainment for the children of your guests then here are a couple of solutions:

♥ The simple solution is to provide your wedding guests with the contact details of a child carer or sitter local to the wedding venue and leave the arrangements up to them. If you are on a really tight budget don’t feel obligated to pay for child care on behalf of your wedding guests.

♥ You could suggest to wedding guests that a few of them group together and arrange for a hotel bedroom to be used as a children’s room for their children (this is assuming that your wedding reception is being held in or near a hotel or venue with accommodation). They could book a couple of qualified babysitters (depending on how many children there are), the hotel could arrange to have a TV and DVD player put in the room (if there is not one there already) and the children could be entertained at their own mini party! If you are aware of guests with children arranging their own sitters at the reception venue be sure to make it clear to them (remind them in the note you put in with the invitation - see How To Keep Parents Informed below) that even if their children are being entertained on the same premises as your reception, the same rules apply – no children during the evening entertainment!

♥ Another option which is sure to be appreciated by guests with children is to ask a friend with children who is local to the wedding venue if they would mind throwing a children’s party at their home. I’ve attended a wedding where the children came to the afternoon ceremony and afterwards those aged under 12 years old were taken by their parents and dropped off at the bride’s sister’s home where the children had a couple of babysitters and a fantastic fun pool party, rounded off with some pizza, games and a movie (the costs of which were shared by the parents of children attending the party). The reports I heard back from friends was that their children had a blast at the party and it meant that they were able to relax and enjoy the wedding reception without worrying about rushing back to check if the children were ok.

♥ Out-of-town wedding guests who are bringing their children with them to the ceremony, or who simply want their children to travel with them, will definitely appreciate any help that you can offer them with their childcare arrangements.


Wedding Invitations For Children

On your wedding invitations, make it quite clear to parents that their children are invited by including their individual names.

If you want to go the extra mile you could address a separate children’s wedding invitation. They, and their parents, will really appreciate your thoughtfulness

If you only want children to attend the wedding reception and not the ceremony then remember to make this clear on the invitation and vice versa for invites to the ceremony only and not the reception.


How To Keep Parents Informed

When you send out the wedding invitations I suggest you pop in an additional note for guests with children about what you are planning for the children at your wedding. In the same way you might provide wedding guests with a sheet with directions to your wedding venue, provide them with an itinerary of events which you have, or are intending to organize for the children. You could also add a note to your wedding website (if you are setting one up). Parents will really appreciate this effort.


Information To Put In The Note

I recommend you put in your note to parents anything which you think they should be made aware of prior to your wedding, such as:

♥ Make it clear in your note to parents that their children will be supervised and entertained in another location and give them details of where this is (e.g. function room at the reception venue, a nearby hotel etc).

♥ Let them know that their children will be cared for by a qualified adult.

Top Tip: Some parents might be hesitant about leaving their beloved child with someone who, to them, is effectively a stranger. Once you have finalized your child care arrangements include this information in the note and if parents want to contact the child carer, to either meet with them personally beforehand or simply check them out for themselves, provide this information.

♥ Let parents know if there are any dangers at, or near to, your wedding venue (such as a lake, trees which are off limits to little climbers or a busy road) so that they are aware of these in advance.

♥ If you are having pets attend your wedding let them know in advance (just in case some children are scared of, or allergic to, animals). This includes having your pet dog in the wedding party (it happens!), or if there will be animals at the wedding venue, or if you have arranged for doves or butterflies to be released at your wedding. I attended a wedding where one of the children (and an adult guest too!) totally freaked out when the butterflies were released and started flying and flapping around the guest's heads. Avoid your guests surprised screams by giving them advance warning of this so they can be prepared!

♥ If you are arranging any special events on your wedding day which require the children to bring something with them be sure to forewarn their parents, such as:

o bring their own teddy bears or cuddly toys for a tea party or picnic

o bring their own kites for flying

o bring casual clothes for bouncy castle play, trampolining etc. (sometimes children’s posh party clothes are not appropriate attire for doing star jumps on a trampoline!)

o bring their own choice of DVD, Xbox game, CD’s, board games etc. (if you are on a tight budget this also saves you having to buy these items)

Handy Hint: Younger children will settle easier in the crèche if they have their favorite toy with them (parents should be well aware of this but it does not hurt to remind them to bring a familiar toy for their little one)

♥ So that you can get the children’s entertainment organized as early as possible add a deadline to the note for parents so that they are aware that you need to know to book the requisite amount of supervisors, a big enough bouncy castle or organize enough craft materials etc.

♥ Just like adults children like to have something to look forward to. Rather than having them possibly dread yet another boring adult party why not keep them in the loop and let them know, via the note in with the invitation, which activities you have planned for them.

♥ Avoid being too specific about the children’s activities until you have made firm decisions and booked it up – simply state party games etc. to save disappointment in case Billy The Clown is unavailable on your choice of date.

♥ If you have arranged outdoor play activities where the children will be exposed to sunshine ask parents if their child is going to need to wear a protective hat or clothing. This would a good opportunity too to remind them to provide sunscreen for their child (some children with sensitive skin require a certain type of sunscreen).

♥ Do the children have any special requirements or anything which the child carers and caterers need to be aware of?

♥ If you are unable (or unwilling) to have a separate children’s menu you might want to mention to parents that the food for their children will be adult cuisine. This gives them the opportunity to make alternative arrangements if their child is a picky eater who might not appreciate fancy wedding food.

♥ Ask parents if they can provide you with any helpful hints for entertaining their little one. They know them best and will probably be able to offer you some great ideas for activities for the children that you might not have thought of yourself.

♥ If you would prefer the dance floor at your reception to be child free after a certain time then let parents know this in advance, rather than just announcing it on your wedding day (some children might be disappointed to be hauled off the dance floor on the night, whereas if they have had prior warning it should soften the blow!). In the same vain, if children are welcome on the dance floor at your wedding reception for the whole evening do let parents know.

♥ Let parents know if you are booking child carers and organizing entertainment for the children at your wedding ceremony and/or reception as this will help them make the decision of whether or not to bring their child to your wedding. Some parents have probably experienced a non-child friendly wedding where their child had a temper tantrum because they were so bored. Whilst I’m not saying you should convince every parent invited to your wedding to bring their child with them, I am saying at least provide them with enough information so that they can make an informed decision.


Timing Of Wedding Day Events

The more information you can provide parents invited to your wedding with, the more they can plan in advance for your wedding day and the more relaxed they will be on the day.

♥ Be sure to make them aware of your wedding day schedule once it is planned. The most important questions any parent at a wedding wants an answer to (apart from will there be a free bar!) are:

o what time will they and their children be fed?

o what are the timings of the wedding day, e.g. what is the ceremony start time, after the ceremony are photos being taken, if so, where?

o if you are having a band or DJ in the evening, what time is the music scheduled to start?

o what time will the children’s activities or entertainment be happening and what is the start and finish time that you anticipate child care will be provided for their child?

♥ By informing them in advance of the wedding day’s timings they will be able to work out if they have free time during the day, a break between festivities, to spend with their child (this is particularly helpful for breastfeeding mothers).

Your guests will really appreciate that even in the midst of planning your wedding you have gone to the effort of organizing activities and care for their children. Also they will take this as a clear indication of your desire to have them attend your wedding (which is what you want after all!).


As I’m sure you can gather from this blog I love it when couples welcome children to their wedding. I think it is one of the biggest family-oriented events, so it seems a shame to dismiss them from such a joyous occasion. Dealing with the unpredictability of children at weddings is simple - provide them with activities to keep them stimulated, entertained and happy.

If you were wavering about whether or not to invite children to your wedding before reading this blog I hope that my suggestions and tips have helped you reach a decision.

How far you take any of the ideas I have given in this blog is completely up to you. You can opt for setting up a corner of the reception room with a couple of cuddly toys and coloring materials or you can set up a whole children’s haven! Remember that planning a fun wedding for all age groups can be accomplished, even on a tight budget.

When planning a child-friendly wedding the same principles apply as those for any party planning - you want to make sure each and every one of your guests has a great time, regardless of their age!

For more information about planning a child-friendly wedding check out this article at TheKnot.com.

Good luck with your child-friendly wedding!


This is Part IV of a 4 part series on How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

Please refer to Part I, Part II and Part III for the full article

Related Posts :
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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III


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50 Money Saving Tips From Martha Stewart
Date: June 06, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Flower & Decorations & Magazines & Planning & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas

If you are looking for some money saving tips when it comes to planning your wedding then you should definitely check out Martha Stewart’s website. Her feature “50 ways to trim your budget” contains fantastic budgeting tips for general wedding planning, flowers, decorations and catering.

Here are a few of my personal favourites:

Pay wedding costs with a credit card to earn frequent-flyer miles toward your honeymoon. Just make sure to avoid incurring interest charges by paying the balance in full each month.
After the event, donate your flowers to a hospital or nursing home; it's a thoughtful thing to do and also a tax deduction.
Eliminate reply cards and have guests handwrite a note instead. You'll save on stationery and postage, and the responses will be great keepsakes.

Take a look for yourself as the tips are sure to give you some inspiring ideas and help to shave money off your all important wedding budget!

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Pre-Wedding Parties - How To Plan A Bridal Brunch
Date: March 20, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Family & Guests & Planning & Pre-Wedding Celebrations & Unique Ideas

If you have wedding guests traveling in from of out-of-town then a Bridal Brunch is a great way for you as a bride to welcome them to your wedding and gives both you and them an opportunity to catch up before the wedding. Those guests who have traveled great distances to see you get married will welcome a chance to visit with you as they will inevitably have returned home by the time you return from your honeymoon.

As well as being able to greet your wedding guests and become reacquainted, the Bridal Brunch also provides brides with an opportunity to treat her guests and make them feel special. Your guests will definitely appreciate the fact that you have taken time out of your wedding day to spend time with them.

Invitations

Invitations for a Bridal Brunch should be made by the bride or her parents. Even though the Bridal Brunch is a relaxed pre-wedding gathering, to eliminate the chances of guests getting the timing wrong do not depend on word of mouth to get the invitations to your guests. Instead send invitees informal invitations, handwritten cards or include the information on the wedding itinerary if you have provided your guests with this.

Catering

The point of a Bridal Brunch is not only to catch up with your wedding guests who have traveled far and wide to attend your wedding, but also to feed and water them! The food served at a typical Bridal Brunch should be simple and easy to make ahead of time. The menu can include egg dishes such as frittata, quiches, omelettes or waffles, French toast and bacon, breakfast pastries and breads and platters of fresh fruit. By keeping the brunch food simple you will allow yourself more time to spend visiting with your guests rather than slaving over a stove. Drinks served at a Bridal Brunch can range from herbal tea and coffee to assorted fruit juices and smoothies to alcoholic beverages such as champagne, Bloody Mary’s, punch or Mimosas.

Budget

You can easily plan and prepare an elegant yet simple brunch on a budget. Try to get a rough idea of how many guests are likely to attend the brunch so that you can calculate how much food and drink will be needed. By bulk buying food and drink items from your local warehouse store in advance you will save money. If you prefer not to cook you could even buy ready-made food, heat it before guests arrive and serve it up on pretty platters and serving dishes buffet style. The time you will have spent on preparing the food is minimal but the effect will be perfect.

Ask for help

If you lack both time and money then consider asking for culinary contributions from family and friends who are attending the Bridal Brunch. They could bring along a prepared dish of food each which will not only save you time, effort and cash but will also ensure that there are a tasty variety of foods available for your guests.

Timings

Bridal Brunches are usually a 2 hour event served between breakfast and lunch, from 10 am to 12 pm on the morning of the wedding. Typically the Bride’s family will host the Bridal Brunch at their home. However if they are either short on space or are from out-of-town themselves then alternative venues for the brunch are either another family member’s home or a local café or restaurant which specializes in brunch meals.

Lastly, a word of warning for you. I held a Bridal Brunch on the morning of my wedding and I was having such a good time catching up with my family that I lost track of time and it set me back slightly with my timings for getting ready for the actual wedding! Take my advice, have a great time at your Bridal Brunch but do make sure you give yourself enough time to relax and get ready for your wedding.

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Top Tips For A Waiter-free Wedding Reception
Date: November 06, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Catering

Hi Everyone,

I received this question from a bride-to-be regarding how best to manage a wedding reception buffet without using any wait staff.

"I plan to have a buffet at the reception. I will not have wait staff, but will be using china and glass. How can I be effective in having guests return dishes to a specific area once the evening meal is over? Also, when we have a toast, I plan to have champagne. How might I get this opened and served without wait staff? I thought about having the beverage in buckets at each table and asking groomsmen and relatives to open and pour at their tables only. What do you think?"

This was my reply:

With good planning there is no reason why you and your guests should not be able to enjoy a perfect and hitch-free wedding buffet. Although some couples might baulk at the idea of having no wait staff at their wedding reception I personally think that it will add an air of intimacy to your wedding buffet. Just you and your guests - how relaxing!

Wedding buffet clean-up

Here are my tips for how to effectively ensure that your guests return their used dishes to a specific area of your reception venue once the buffet is over.

♥ Discuss with the reception venue in advance the layout of the room and decide on where the best place to set up the station for soiled tableware is. They will probably suggest a rolling table with a garbage can nearby for uneaten food. Make sure that it is not going to look too obtrusive at your wedding reception. It is important to agree these details in advance of your wedding day.

♥ Ensure that the area where the soiled plates and cutlery are being returned to is clearly marked with a sign. This will help to avoid confusion of where guests have to leave their dishes - the last thing you want is your guests wandering around with dirty plates not knowing where to leave them! You could put together a sign politely worded asking all guests to return their used dishes and cutlery to the designated area, e.g. “Please place your plates here when finished. Thank you for your help.” and ask the reception venue staff to place it at the station for dirty plates on the day of your wedding reception.

♥ Before the meal begins nominate someone on your top table to include a few words additional to or in their speech reminding guests that there are no wait-staff. They could ask guests to help out by returning their used plates to the designated area. They could say something along the lines of:

“We hope you enjoy the delicious buffet and would ask that when you have finished eating please take your plates and cutlery to the designated clean-up area [and have them point in that direction so that your guests are clear where they should leave their soiled plates]”.

Remember to thank your guests for their co-operation with this. I think you’ll find that most people will be glad to help you out on your wedding day!

♥ As a back-up plan for those guests who forget, refuse or are unable to clear away their own plates politely ask (rather than nominate!) a couple of responsible groomsmen, bridesmaids or even a couple of helpful wedding guests if they would check that the tables have been cleared of dirty plates. Do this in advance of your wedding day so that you know someone has it covered and that you and your partner do not need to get involved in the cleaning up process!

Champagne Toasts

Whilst having wait-staff to serve drinks at a wedding is helpful it is by no means necessary. Your guests are very likely to be able to open a bottle of champagne and pour themselves drinks. I don’t think you will hear any complaints about this!

Here are my tips:

♥ I agree with you that beverage or ice buckets in the center of each table is the perfect way to display your champagne. It will be within easy reach for the guests on each table and will also serve as a sophisticated centerpiece for each table.

♥ There are lots of ice buckets available nowadays either to buy or to rent. Whilst silver ice buckets look elegant, if you prefer to co-ordinate the buckets to match the color theme of your wedding then how about clear plastic or glass buckets which can easily be decorated with beautiful flowers, trailing greenery and surrounded by candles in colors to match your wedding. You could also use silver or colored pails and decorate them to co-ordinate with your wedding style.

♥ Calculate how many bottles of champagne you will need for each table depending on how many adult guests are seated at each table. Remember that the average bottle of champagne will yield 6 flute glasses.

♥ Champagne is best served chilled so organize for the buckets to contain a mixture of ice and water for the bottle to sit in for at least 20 minutes prior to opening. It is not only preferable to serve champagne chilled but it is also essential as champagne that is too warm will foam over and spill when the bottle is uncorked. So ensure the champagne is chilled - you don’t want your guests sucking champagne off their dinner plates with a straw!

♥ Remember that some guests are scared of opening champagne bottles whether this is due to the loud pop sound it makes, the fact that they usually spill most of it and don’t want to embarrass themselves in front of your wedding guests or that they might never have opened a bottle before! Perhaps you should find a fun way to ask a guest at each table to volunteer to open the champagne bottles at their own table and serve the guests seated with them. You could place a card on each table or, even better, hang a little note off of the neck of the champagne bottle. On the card/note you could ask for a guest or guests at each table to open the champagne bottles and keep everyone’s glasses topped up for the toasts.

♥ You could also print up a helpful little note to help guests who are unsure about how best to uncork the bottles and place one on each table. Here is a sample:

1. Use a napkin to dry off the bottle a bit so you can get a good grip.

2. Remove the foil top and loosen the wire cage. Leave the wire cage in place until you are ready to open the bottle(beware as some bottles have enough pressure built up in them (especially if they have been shaken when being handled) that the champagne cork will fly out immediately upon taking the wire cage off).

3. Have glasses ready in front of you and remove the wire cage.

4. With the bottle upright drape the napkin over the cork at the top of the bottle (this will help to catch the cork rather than it flying across the room and hitting another guest!) and get a good grip on the cork.

5. Hold on tight to the cork. With your other hand get a good grip on the fat part of the champagne bottle and slowly and gently TWIST BOTH HANDS IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION. As soon as you feel the cork forcing its way out, apply pressure to push it back in whilst continuing to twist it. This way the cork will be released with a sigh rather than a pop!


6. Take the cork and towel away and start pouring the champagne!

With the help of your guests there is no reason why a waiter-free wedding has to be more complicated than one with waiters buzzing all around your reception venue. By going it alone you and your wedding guests can enjoy an efficiently run yet relaxed and fun wedding reception!

I hope this helps.

Related Posts :
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50 Money Saving Tips From Martha Stewart
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Halloween Wedding Tips


Halloween Wedding Tips
Date: October 31, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Bridal Party & Candles & Catering & Ceremonies & Dresses & Flower & Decorations & Funny & Guests & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas

I was amused to read a story about a couple who chose to say "I Boo" at their Halloween Wedding in Moundsville, West Virginia at the weekend. According to wtov9.com Alvin and Carol Stillwell exchanged their vows in full Halloween costumes and their friends and family followed the Halloween theme with their wedding attire too - there were plenty of ghosts, witches and goblins cheering the couple on!

A lot of couples, like the Stillwell's, choose to get married on Halloween because it is their favorite holiday. It is certainly one way of ensuring your wedding is remembered for years to come as it is a very unique and wacky theme.

For those of you with a fun-loving nature and a penchant for all things Halloween why not consider it as your wedding theme? Think of the abundance of Halloween decorations there are available for you to use for your wedding if you chose this theme. You could host the wedding reception in a spooky mansion or castle and decorate it with pumpkin carvings, jack-o-lanterns, candelabras, plastic spiders, skulls, bats and eerie lighting. A bubbling cauldron (using a dry ice machine) would be sure to add a spooky atmosphere to the wedding reception and you could tie in the catering to match your Halloween theme (click here to read one bride's catering choices for her wedding including a Jell-O brain mould!). You could carry the Halloween theme all the way through your wedding planning from the wedding invitations down to the cake and favors - what fun! A black wedding dress is a popular choice for Halloween brides and their wedding party and you could choose dramatic blood red roses for your bouquet. By using a Halloween theme for your wedding you would also giving your guests an opportunity to let their hair down and dress up in costumes rather than their Sunday best!

Take a look at Wednet.com for more Halloween decorating ideas.

Do bear in mind that Halloween weddings need not be tacky. If you need reassurance read the Knot's story of a couple who exchanged vows dressed in black at a gothic church in Manhattan and then celebrated their reception in a big, spooky dungeon.

Just think, you will never find a better excuse to host a Halloween party every year than it being your wedding anniversary! Use the comments section below to share your opinion - I would love to hear from you!

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Hitched.co.uk Has Chosen Ecclesiastical Insurance To Provide Wedding Insurance Policies Through Its Website

You may remember that back in July I wrote a comprehensive listing of all the best wedding insurance companies in the UK. Namely Confetti.co.uk, Debenhams, Ecclesiastical, Equine and Livestock Insurance Company Ltd, Event Insurance, Marks and Spencer, MRL Insurance Direct, and Wedding Plan Insurance. If you missed it, here is a link to it along with a link to the 11 golden reasons all couples should have wedding insurance. I know I'm biased but I do highly recommend it because instead of having to visit each insurer's website you now only have to visit one page. There are in depth descriptions of all the different types of covers offered and links to the policy documents, how to order online, company details, ownership facts, and links to the underwriters with notes on their regulations. I have tried to make it as easy as possible for every bride and groom in the UK to compare each policy against the next.

Within this article I stated:

"Both Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc and The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited are both wholly independent and are underwritten by themselves. Marks and Spencer Insurance are underwritten by Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc. "

I can now report that the wedding planning website Hitched.co.uk has chosen Ecclesiastical Insurance to provide wedding insurance policies through its website or by calling 0800 336622.

Wedding insurance joins the range of wedding planning services and advice already offered by Hitched.co.uk, which include speech-writing, venue-shopping and gift-buying.

Ecclesiastical will also offer the opportunity to purchase honeymoon insurance at the same time.

Darren Noel, Business Development Director at Hitched, said:

"The Hitched site offers couples everything they need to organise their perfect day. And with so much time, effort and money spent organising a wedding, it makes sense to protect it with insurance."

Ian Henderson, Customer Services Manager at Ecclesiastical said:

"Wedding insurance gives peace of mind during all the preparations leading up to the day itself. Couples shouldn't assume their home insurance covers them – wedding insurance covers damaged dresses, lost rings and suppliers going bust for example. And with so much riding on the day, it's not worth taking the risk of not insuring."

Ecclesiastical's wedding insurance policy provides cover for cancellation or curtailment, re-arrangement, attire, presents, rings, cakes and flowers, photographs and video, failure of suppliers, transport, wedding documents, public liability and marquees (Marquee cover provided for an additional premium, not available with Tier 1 cover). The policy also includes legal expenses cover and a free counselling helpline provided by DAS Legal Expenses Insurance Company Limited (not available with Tier 1).

For full details of Ecclesiastical's wedding policy cover and exclusions please see the policy document.

Further Wedding Insurance Reading:

UK Wedding Insurance Companies -Time Saving Links To Policy Documents
11 Golden Reasons All Couples Should Have Wedding Insurance - Make sure you take out wedding insurance today.
Will Your Wedding Insurance Cover You If You Cancel Before The Event? - A full list of circumstances you need to check are listed in your policy documents.

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A Cautionary Tale Of Why Your Wedding Guests Must Be Fed Well!
Date: September 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Catering & Funny & Guests & Reception

As all couples planning a wedding know, one of the most important aspects of planning your wedding reception catering is to ensure that all guests are fed and watered sufficient amounts. Nobody likes to think that their guests are going to slope off to McDonalds mid-way through the evening to vanquish their hunger pangs after a paltry wedding breakfast or buffet!

According to the Vermont news channel Wcax.com that is exactly what happened with a guest who had attended a wedding in Rangeley, Maine. Abigail Edmund, a 23 year old from New Hampshire, was caught by a member of staff at the Rangeley Inn after she had broken into the inn's kitchen.

"An employee spotted her at about 1:15 Sunday morning with luncheon meats and brownies and heating up some pasta."

Police arrested the hungry wedding guest and charged her with burglary, theft and criminal mischief.

I bet the bride and groom will be embarrassed when they realize they underfed this guest!

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Chicken Wing Wedding For Second Time Bride!
Date: August 31, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Catering & Ceremonies & Civil Weddings & Family & Funny & Guests & Music & Dance & Reception & Second Weddings & Unique Ideas & Venues

Further to my blog yesterday on second weddings I just wanted to illustrate to you how much fun you can have when organizing your second wedding if you've done the big church wedding in the Cinderella dress and want something a little different and unique.

According to Niagara-Gazette.com a couple are planning to say "I do" at this weekend’s National Buffalo Wing Festival! The unnamed couple have traditionally attended the festival every year since it began 5 years ago and it is thought that their first date was at the festival! It is the second marriage for both of them so they wanted something a little different for their special day to surprise their family and friends.

The nuptials are due to take place amidst the chicken wing noshing this Labor Day weekend at 4 p.m. Saturday, while the chicken wing festival itself runs from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday at Dunn Tire Park in Buffalo. Running alongside the wedding will be chicken wing speed-eating contests, a Miss Buffalo Wing pageant and the first ever induction into the Chicken Wing Hall of Fame (it is thought that Buffalo resident Anchor Bar's Buffalo Wing Sauce will win this accolade!). There will be live music courtesy of Buffalo's very own 6 piece band Hit N Run so the newlyweds will not have to worry about organising entertainment for their wedding guests.

Well, this couple have definately chosen a very unique venue for their encore wedding - lets just hope their wedding guests like chicken wings!

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How To Invite Children To The Wedding Ceremony Only

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding inviting children to the wedding ceremony only:

"My daughter is getting married next summer and I am helping her with her arrangements etc. How do you invite some people to the "wedding ceremony only", without hurting feelings? Most of the people in question would be children, ones that really would like to be there. The bride and groom would like the reception to be "adults/or at least legal drinking age" only. The wedding and reception will be held in different locations. Keep in mind that the parents of these children will be invited to both the ceremony and reception. Another reason for this is the tight budget. We are trying to give my daughter the wedding she would love...but on a very tight budget."

This was my reply:

Thanks for your question.

This is a topic which is often the subject of fierce debate amongst couples who are planning their weddings. With today's escalating wedding costs many brides and grooms feel that inviting children to a wedding reception is an unnecessary expense. At an average cost of $60 - 80 a head for catering having children at the reception not only increases your wedding expenses but it also increases your guest list to vast proportions. For most couples if they have to make a choice between asking 4 special friends to their wedding reception or the 4 children of their friends, the adults will win hands down. Sometimes children just cannot be included.

I think that nowadays it is becoming more popular for couples to plan an adults only wedding reception so I don’t think that you and your daughter need to explain your reasons for children not being invited to the reception. What you do need to do is ensure that you make it perfectly clear to your guests that children are welcome to attend the wedding ceremony but not the reception afterwards.

Invitation wording

The best way to do this is to send two separate invitations, one to the wedding which will be sent to the whole family who are invited to attend the wedding ceremony, and a second invitation which will be sent to adults aged 21 and upwards who are invited to the wedding reception. You should insert the wedding ceremony invitation in with the reception invitation for those that are invited to both events. I think that if you try to combine the two events on one invitation you risk causing confusion.

If you decide to send one invitation with the words "Adults Only Reception" or "Adult Reception" printed on it, it is very likely to confuse the wedding guests and you might well find yourself under fire with lots of phone calls asking for explanations as to who is invited to which event and why. Families need specifics of who is invited to the wedding reception and who is not so that they can make appropriate childcare arrangements.

This is a delicate situation as you don’t want to offend any of the guests with children. It is far better to make it clear to your guests with children from the outset that if they intend on attending your daughter’s wedding that they will have to make alternative childcare arrangements for the duration of the wedding reception.

The worst thing you could do is send out the invitations to the wedding reception and simply leave the children’s names off of it. This would definitely be offensive to parents - you need to make it clear that their children are not invited to attend the wedding reception because it is going to be for adults only.

RSVP

You might well find if you send out "Adult Reception" invitations that guests rsvp with their children’s names included on it. In this circumstance you will have no alternative but to make a phone call to the guest concerned and apologise that children cannot be accommodated at the wedding reception due to it being for adults only. Although you are not obligated to give guests a reason as to why you are choosing to have adults only, if necessary explain that financial constraints mean that you have to keep the guest list to a minimum. At the end of the day it is your daughter’s wedding day so they should respect her decision.

In the same way you and your daughter must respect a guest’s decision if they decide not to attend the wedding ceremony or reception. Some people are overly sensitive when it comes to children and weddings and can be easily offended. Some parents believe that their children should be invited everywhere! A lot of parents and even people without children will argue that it is rude and improper to exclude the younger members of a family as weddings are supposed to be all about family. In my experience these guests will be in the minority. Nowadays modern parents realize that couples might prefer an adult only reception. At my own wedding I invited children but over half of the parents I invited decided not to bring their children - a lot of them wanted the chance to let their hair down and enjoy the wedding ceremony and reception without having to look out for their children’s welfare. Sometimes parents like a day off!

Gatecrashers

Do bear in mind that some guests might ignore the invitation and turn up at the reception with their children anyway. All you can do in such circumstances is either make a place for the child at the parent’s table or politely tell them that although you would love for their child to join in it is not appropriate as it is an adults only party. Inevitably the whole family will feel insulted and leave but that is something you will just have to grin and bear - it is rude to bring an uninvited guest to a wedding even if it is your own six month old baby! Some parents believe that their children should be invited everywhere.

A possible solution for guests with children

If you are aware of guests who would like to attend your daughter’s wedding but who will be put off by the “adults only” theme to the wedding reception then perhaps there is a solution. You could suggest to them that a few of them group together and arrange for a hotel bedroom to be used as a sort of crèche for their children (this is assuming that your daughter’s reception is being held in a hotel). They could hire a couple of qualified babysitters (depending on how many children there are), the hotel could arrange to have DVD player put in the room (if there is not one there already) and the children could be entertained at their own mini party! It is important that your guests understand that if the children are being entertained on the premises where the reception is being held, that the same rules apply – children are not invited to join in with the wedding reception! This solution would be perfect for out-of-town wedding guests who want their children to travel with them. You do not have to feel obligated to arrange this or pay for it on behalf of the guests but you could suggest it to them. I’m sure they will appreciate that your are trying to help them sort out their childcare arrangements.

Having an adults only wedding reception puts a different slant on the evening. You can concentrate your planning on making it a real party atmosphere. It does take pressure off you knowing that you just have to cater for adults with your choice of menu, entertainment, timings, venue facilities etc. You can organize a reception which probably would not be suitable for children, such as a cocktail hour and dancing going on to the wee hours.
Be warned though - you might be saving money not having to pay out for children’s meals but those parents let loose without their children for the night will drink your bar dry!!

I hope you enjoy your daughter's wedding - how exciting!

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Wedding Insurance – Compare Wedding Insurance -Time Saving Links To Policy Documents

Without doubt all brides and grooms should take out wedding insurance, in fact here are 11 golden reasons to back this statement up.

To save you the time and trouble we have provided time saving links to eight of the top wedding insurance companies in the UK. You can easily review the levels of cover, explanation of cover for each level, policy documents, cover summaries, contact details, ownership, underwriters, regulators and reviews.

All of the companies can be checked on the Financial Services Authority's register by visiting their website at www.fsa.gov.uk/register or by contacting them on 0845 606 1234.

Of the eight companies Confetti.co.uk Wedding Insurance, Debenhams Insurance, MRL Insurance, and Wedding Plan Insurance are all underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc.

Both Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc and The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited are both wholly independent and are underwritten by themselves. Marks and Spencer Insurance and Hitched.co.uk are underwritten by Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc.

These insurance companies are listed alphabetically and are not in any order of recommendation:


CONFETTI.CO.UK INSURANCE

Cover: 3 levels at £54 (Gold), £104 (Platinum) and £154 (Diamond)
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Gold Cover Application Form
Platinum Cover Application Form
Diamond Cover Application Form

Contact Details:
Confetti Wedding Insurance, TPS Limited, 1 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1AW Reg. No. 2587396
Confetti.co.uk/shopping/insurance/default.asp
Tel: call 0870 774 4065 - No times stated
Email: Not Available

Ownership:
Owned by Confetti Wedding Insurance, TPS Limited

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc

Regulation:
Confetti.co.uk Wedding Insurance 2006 accepted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
Not Available



DEBENHAMS INSURANCE

Cover: 2 levels at £59 (Gold) and £100 (Platinum)
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Travellers Protection Services Limited, 1 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1AW
DebenhamsWeddingInsurance.com
Tel: call 0870 77 44 196 quoting DOL - Lines are open Monday to Friday 8am-8pm and Saturday to Sunday 10am-4pm
Email: Not Available

Ownership:
Debenhams Wedding Insurance is arranged by Travellers Protection Services Ltd

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc

Regulation:
Debenhams Wedding Insurance 2006 accepted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
Not Available



ECCLESIASTICAL INSURANCE

Cover: 4 levels at £48, £60, £110 and £160
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Initial Disclosure Document and Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc, Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester, GL1 1JZ
Ecclesiastical.co.uk
Tel: 0800 336 622 - 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)
Email: insurance@eigmail.com - will respond to your email within two working days.

Ownership:
Ultimately owned by Allchurches Trust Limited (ATL), a registered charity. ATL’s Charity Number is 263960

Underwriters:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Regulation:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc. (EIO) Reg. No. 24869. Ecclesiastical Insurance Group plc. (EIG) Reg. No. 1718196. Ecclesiastical Life Ltd. (ELL) Reg. No. 243111. Ecclesiastical Group Asset Management Ltd. (EGAM) Reg. No. 2170213. Allchurches Investment Management Services Ltd. (AIMS) Reg. No. 2170173. Allchurches Mortgage Company Ltd. (AMC) Reg. No. 1974218. All companies are registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ UK. Tel: 01452 528533. EIO, ELL, EGAM & AIMS are authorised and regulated by the FSA and are members of the Financial Ombudsman Service. EIO & ELL are members of the Association of British Insurers and AIMS is a member of the Investment Management Association.

Online Reviews:
ReviewCentre.co.uk



E & L INSURANCE

Cover: 7 levels at £49, £65, £85, £105, £155, £260 and £360
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited PO Box 100, York, YO26 9SZ
eandl.co.uk/wedding-insurance.htm
Tel: call 08704 022 710 - Mon-Fri 8am to 9pm and Sat-Sun 9am to 6pm
Email: info@eandl.co.uk

Ownership:
Owned by The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited

Underwriters:
All our policies are underwritten by The Equine and Livestock Insurance Co Limited

Regulation:
Equine and Livestock Insurance Company Ltd is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority Registration no: 202748.

Online Reviews:
reviewcentre.com



EVENT INSURANCE

Cover: 6 levels at £55, £85, £120, £175, £225 and £320
Explanation of cover for each level
Policy Document
Summary of Cover

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Event Insurance Services Ltd, Event House, 20A Headlands Business Park, Ringwood, Hants. BH24 3PB.
Events-insurance.co.uk/Wedding_Insurance.html
Tel: 0800 515980 and 01425 470360 Fax: 01425 474905
Email: info@events-insurance.co.uk and an Online Form

Ownership:
Owned by Event Insurance Services Ltd

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc

Regulation:
Arranged by Event Insurance Services Limited accepted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland.

Online Reviews:
Not Available



MARKS AND SPENCER FINANCIAL SERVICES

Cover: 4 levels at £59, £99, £154 and £189
Explanation of cover for each level
Summary of Cover
Questions
Policy Document

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc, Kings Meadow, Chester, CH99 9FB
www6.MarksandSpencer.com/pages/default.asp?PageId=home&Product=WI
Tel: 0800 316 5985 - 9.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays)
Email: Not Available.

Ownership:
Owned by Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc and underwritten by Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Underwriters:
Ecclesiastical Insurance Office plc

Regulation:
Marks and Spencer Money is a trading name of Marks and Spencer Financial Services plc (Kings Meadow, Chester, CH99 9FB) who are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
None available



MRL INSURANCE

Cover: 4 levels at £65 (Standard), £99 (Classic), £135 (Premier) and £165 (Supreme)
Explanation of cover for each level
Summary of Cover
Key Facts
Policy Document

Order Online:
Application Form

Contact Details:
MRL Insurance Direct, Princess Caroline House, 1 High Street, Southend-on-Sea, Essex SS1 1JE
MRLinsurance.co.uk
Tel: 0870 870 4401 - Fax:0870 241 1884
Email: admin@mrlgroup.co.uk

Ownership:
Arranged by MRL Group Ltd with UK Underwriting Ltd by Axa Insurance UK and Primary Insurance Company Ltd

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc and Primary Insurance Company Limited

Regulation:
Arranged by MRL Insurance Group with UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
None available



WEDDING PLAN INSURANCE

Cover: 3 levels at £54 (Gold), £104 (Platinum), and £154 (Diamond)
Explanation of cover for each level
Summary of Cover
Policy Document

Order Online:
Gold Application Form
Platinum Application Form
Diamond Application Form

Contact Details:
Weddingplan, 1 Prince of Wales Road, Norwich NR1 1AW
WeddingPlanInsurance.co.uk
Tel: 08707 744178 - Fax: 08707 744045 - Open 8am to 8pm weekdays, 9am to 5pm Saturdays and 10am to 4pm Sundays
Email: weddingplan@tpsltd.com

Ownership:
Owned by Travellers Protection Services Limited (Registered Company No. 2587396)

Underwriters:
AXA Insurance UK plc and Primary Insurance Company Limited

Regulation:
WeddingPlanInsurance accpeted by UK Underwriting Ltd, underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc, Registered Office: 5 Old Broad Street, London EC2N 1AD, Registered in England No. 78950 and Primary Insurance Company Ltd an insurance company established in Ireland and authorised and licensed by the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority. Registered in The Republic of Ireland, registration number E340407, registered office First Floor, Fitzwilton House, Wilton Place, Dublin 2, Ireland. AXA Insurance UK plc and UK Underwriting Ltd are authorised and regulated by the FSA.

Online Reviews:
ReviewCentre.com



Useful Wedding Insurance Articles:
If misfortune blights your troth, are you protected? Melanie Bien from The Independent reports on how to insure the cost of your wedding against disaster.
Top Ten Wedding Claims by Confetti.co.uk
Wedding insurance - Cover for your big day can save you stress and money, says Sarah Jagger from Channel4.
Yahoo Finance - Wedding insurance: do you take this policy by Sarah Modlock
Get cover for the bid day by the Times Online.

Further Wedding Insurance Reading:

Will Your Wedding Insurance Cover You If You Cancel Before The Event? - A full list of circumstances you need to check are listed in your policy documents.
11 Golden Reasons All Couples Should Have Wedding Insurance - Make sure you take out wedding insurance today.
Hitched.co.uk Has Chosen Ecclesiastical Insurance To Provide Wedding Insurance Policies Through Its Website - Wedding insurance joins the range of wedding planning services and advice already offered by Hitched.co.uk.

DISCLAIMER

1. The information provided on this Wedaholic.com web site has been compiled for your convenience. Wedaholic.com makes no warranties about the accuracy or completeness of any information contained on this web site.
2. Wedaholic.com, including its directors, will not accept any liability for any loss, damage or other injury resulting from its use.
3. Links to other web sites are provided for your convenience and Wedaholic.com is not responsible for the information contained on those web sites. The provision of a link to another web site does not constitute an endorsement or approval of that web site, or any products or services offered on that web site, by Wedaholic.com. Wedaholic.com will not accept any liability for the use of those links to connect to web sites that are not under our control.

Financial Disclaimer

Wedaholic.com does not accept any liability for any investment decisions made on the basis of this information. This web site does not constitute financial advice and should not be taken as such. Wedaholic.com urges you to obtain professional advice before proceeding with any investment.

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Croquembouche - Discover The New Trend In Wedding Cakes
Date: June 14, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Cakes & Catering & Reception & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

If you watched the Discovery Home and Health Weddings Live Show last weekend then you would have seen their feature on the latest trends with wedding cakes. One of the eye-catching cakes they showed, which they claim is becoming an increasingly popular choice with modern brides, is the Croquembouche.

What is a Croquembouche?

The Croquembouche is a tower of profiteroles (choux pastry puffs filled with vanilla pastry cream) which are coated in a thin crust of crispy caramel. The “glue” which holds the puffs together in their stunning pyramid shape is melted toffee or chocolate ganache. The delicious pyramid usually rests on a base or stand made of edible nougatine.

This unique tower of delicacies looks stunning but for extra effect you can choose to have them decorated further. There are plenty of creative ways of decorating the Croquembouche including:

♥ sugarcraft work including sugar flowers scattered around the top and sides of the tower

♥ webs of spun sugar cascading down the sides

♥ sugared almonds sticking out in between the puffs and scattered around the base - you could choose dragees to match the colour scheme of your wedding (have a look at the selection available on Confetti.co.uk)

♥ strings of light-catching crystals threaded around the base

♥ a small cake topper or ornament for the top of the tower

♥ small fresh flowers either studded around the base of the tower and/or sat on the top peak

♥ curls of ribbon matching the colours of your wedding theme

♥ drizzles of melted white, dark or milk chocolate cascading down the tower

♥ fresh strawberries or other fruit placed around the base of the tower

There are lots of variations on the Croquembouche fillings too to suit your own personal taste. Alternatives fillings include coffee, lemon cream, amaretto cream and strawberry mousse.

Who invented the Croquembouche?

The Croquembouche originated in France back in the early 18th century as their traditional wedding cake. Back then guests would bring their own sweet breads to the wedding reception and would use them to create a tower. The newlyweds would attempt to kiss over the top of the sweet bread tower as this was said to bring them prosperity and fertility for their future life together! When French patissiers invented choux filled pastries (profiteroles) these were brought to weddings instead of the simple sweet breads and they were balanced into a pyramid. The Croquembouche has certainly evolved since then, with many different variations of the original version being made by chocolatiers and patissiers all over the Europe and America.

The cutting of the cake

Traditionally the Croquembouche is served by the bride and groom hitting it hard with a sword and the bridesmaids catching the pieces in a tablecloth. Nowadays the more popular and functional option for cutting the Croquembouche are:

♥ The bride and groom pose with a knife against the Croquembouche for the benefit of photos being taken and it is then whisked away by the catering staff for dismantling and serving to the guests

♥ A metal hammer is often provided by the cake-makers for the bride and groom to knock the top of the tower off (perhaps a safer option than using a sword!)

♥ If the bride and groom are feeling very daring they could cut into the top section of the Croquembouche or simply pick one profiterole each off of the top of the pyramid and feed it to each other

How to serve the Croquembouche

The Croquembouche can be used in addition to, or as an alternative to, dessert at your wedding reception. Ideally if you are serving it in place of wedding cake you should allow a portion of 3 profiteroles per guest, or if you are serving it as the main dessert then allow a portion of 5 profiteroles per guest. A delicious idea is to serve the Croquembouche to your guests with a choice of raspberry coulis, chocolate sauce or fresh cream.

If you choose an informal catering package you could leave your Croquembouche for guests to break off pieces themselves.

If it’s good enough for Madonna …….

Madonna and Guy Ritchie chose a Croquembouche for their December 2000 wedding at Skibo Castle. Their bespoke confection featured pomegranates, golden tassles, green ivy and hot chocolate sauce. It was created by master patissier Eric Lanlard of Savoir Design, whose elaborate Croquembouche have garnered him a fantastic reputation and an A-list clientele.

Advantages of choosing a Croquembouche for your wedding

♥ Not only is the Croquembouche absolutely delicious but visually it creates a truly breathtaking centerpiece for your wedding reception – something to capture your guests‘ attention. Standing at a minimum of 18 inches high for the smallest version the Croquembouche definately stands out!

♥ Although they are becoming very popular the Croquembouche is still viewed as a unique style of wedding cake, so dare to be different!

♥ The Croquembouche is fully transportable and does not need refrigeration.

♥ Each profiterole is baked fresh on the morning of your wedding and then stacked up into a tower.

♥ You can have a tower of 700 pieces so there will be plenty to go around at your wedding reception.

♥ If you prefer to stick with tradition and have a tiered wedding cake at your wedding reception, perhaps you could have the Croquembouche solely as your dessert or choose a smaller one simply as an eye-catching centerpiece.

How much does a Croquembouche cost

The cost of the Croquembouche varies depending on what size you are going to require for your wedding reception which depends on how many guests you will be feeding. I had a look on the internet at Wedding-Cakes.co.uk who are a British based company and they have a lovely selection of Croquembouche on their website for you to peruse. Their prices start at £245 for a 120 piece Croquembouche which is comparatively cheaper than the average cost of a traditional tiered and decorated wedding cake, which is £300.

If you wanted to be adventurous and try to make your own Croquembouche then check out the mold available at Amazon.com (cost $124.71) or Widerview.com (cost $109.95). For the recipe I found that this one was easy to follow (and free!) or you could buy the recipe book “A Sweet Quartet“ which contains the recipe for the Croquembouche (available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk).

The Croquembouche is radically changing the shape of wedding cakes for the future by providing a modern twist to the traditional tiered wedding cake. Your cake is really important part of your special day so why not try something unique and memorable!

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To Tip Or Not To Tip - Gratuities For Your Wedding Suppliers

Recently I received the following question on tipping wedding suppliers:

"I would like to know if I need to tip the hired photographer and the piano player at the wedding ceremony? In fact, who do I have to tip according to etiquette?"

Here is my response:

Please note: Although I have referred to the tipping amounts within this article in US dollars for UK-based readers the figures remain the same.

Etiquette

Tipping etiquette at a wedding is a common area of confusion. Although we tip service providers in everyday life when it comes to your wedding day the etiquette of to whom and how much to tip can be bewildering. Tipping is supposed to be voluntary. However service providers do expect tips nowadays. Traditional wedding custom is to tip a wedding supplier if you think that they did a great job or provided you with outstanding service. Tipping should be based on the quality of service provided to you on your wedding day and in the run up to your wedding. By tipping them you are letting them know that you are happy with the service they provided you with prior to and/or on your wedding day. If you appreciate the work that they have done for you then you can show your appreciation by tipping them.

The Oxford dictionary defines a tip as a small sum of money given to someone for performing a service. Whilst most wedding suppliers are not contractually obligated to receive a tip they might expect one.

Budget

Tipping is an additional cost which you should include in to your wedding budget so that you ensure that you have money allocated for this purpose. Wherever possible calculate the tips you intend to give before your actual wedding day, using the guide set out below. Wedding tips are commonly overlooked when couples set up their wedding budget. It is important to calculate as much as possible prior to your wedding how much you can afford to tip your wedding suppliers. This cost and a contingency amount for extra tips which arise prior to and on your wedding day must be added to your overall wedding budget. Use the following information as a guideline but also use your personal judgment. Whilst tipping costs should be factored into your budget you must remember that they are discretionary and if you are on a tight wedding budget you should not feel obligated to tip.

It is not always necessary to provide a monetary tip to suppliers to whom you wish to show your appreciation. If you think your wedding supplier did a great job then an alternative idea is to send them a gift with a thank you note after the wedding. Remember that the most valuable gratuity you can give to any wedding supplier is your recommendation of them to others! You could show your appreciation to the service provider by sending them a personal letter of recommendation.

You should calculate your budget on the basis that, if you can afford to, you will tip most of your wedding service providers and then you can make the final decision on the wedding day as to whether the services provided exceed your expectations. Do bear in mind that your decision on whether or not to tip is entirely at your discretion. If a wedding supplier has gone above and beyond the call of duty for your wedding then tip them to show your appreciation of their extra effort they put into making your wedding day truly perfect. Sometimes in the run up to your wedding day some wedding suppliers work wonders to accommodate you and your hectic schedule. If this is the case for you then it would be nice gesture to give them a tip to show that you appreciate their extra efforts for you.

Contracts - read the small print

I recommend that you thoroughly read your contract with each supplier to see if a tip is included in their price. Some wedding package rates include tips (particularly if you are getting married abroad). You should note that some wedding suppliers, most notably caterers, add a gratuity to the foot of their bill and they usually call it a service fee or service charge. Most wedding suppliers will inform you of their tipping policy when you enter into an agreement with them for their services. If you are at all confused then ask the supplier directly for an explanation of their service charges and tipping policies. You must be clear about what each wedding supplier is being paid so that you can make judgment calls on whether or not additional tipping might or might not be necessary. Another good reason for being clear about the tipping policy for each supplier is to that you do not end up double tipping them!

Tipping Guidelines

There are some wedding suppliers who you will be expected to tip and there are suppliers who whilst not expecting a tip would greatly appreciate it. Below are some tipping guidelines which suggest amounts each service provider should be tipped according to wedding etiquette:

Hairstylist, Makeup Artist, Beautician - You should expect to tip these service providers just as you would on a normal visit to a salon. Tips should be 15% - 20% of your total bill.

Officiant (Clergy, Priest, Minister etc) - Although officiants do not usually ask for financial recompense for their services they do expect you to make a donation to the church or their organization. As to the amount of the donation, traditionally they will suggest an amount when you finalize arrangements with them. The amount varies from a flat fee to an honorarium and can range from $50 up to $500. If you are expecting the officiant to travel outside of their local area then you should also compensate them for their travel costs. Do not directly offer a tip to an officiant. The nominated tip giver should pass the agreed amount to the officiant after the ceremony. If you are using the services of a civil servant, such as a judge, Justice of the Peace or a City Clerk, then you are allowed to tip them (although it should be called a “donation” rather than “tip”) provided you do not exceed $75 and you must ensure that it is paid to them outside of court/office hours.

Transportation (chauffeurs, limousine drivers, horse-drawn carriages, etc) - Do check to see if a gratuity has been included in their bill as this is often the case with transportation fees for weddings. If not or if you want to reward them for their service on your wedding day then the norm is to tip them 15%-20% of the total cost of the bill.

Valets and Parking Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per car.

Coat Check and Restroom Attendants - Tips should range from $1 - $2 per guest.

Waiters and waitresses - It is not necessary to tip the servers if you have already paid a gratuity in your contracted price. Check to ensure whether a service charge is included in the caterer’s contract. If there is no such provision then you should expect to tip 15% - 20% of the total food bill. Although it is not expected for you to tip individual serving staff if you decide that a particular individual has provided you with first-class service then feel free to give that server an additional tip.

Catering/Venue Manager – Traditionally the caterers and venue management will calculate a tip into their cost estimate, in the form of a service charge. Check your paperwork and if in fact a service charge has not been included then you should allow 15% - 20% of the total bill or $1 - $2 per guest.

Bartenders - Usually you will find that the bar manager will add a service charge to the bar bill. If this is not the case then you might want to tip the bartenders 10% of the total amount of the liquor bill. This amount can be shared out between them equally if there is more than one bartender.

Seamstress/dress fitter - Although it is not customary to tip your seamstress or dress fitter if you feel that they have made an extra special effort on your behalf then tip them between $15 - $30.

Wedding Planner - Wedding planners work for a set fee and will not expect a tip. If you want to show them how grateful you are for their hard work in planning your wedding then 10% of their total fee is more than adequate.

Delivery Staff (including Florist, Bakers etc.) - Staff responsible for your flowers and wedding cake do not expect to receive a tip. You will have agreed to pay their set fee and that is sufficient. However if you feel that they have provided you with exceptional service and/or outstanding quality of products then a tip of $15 - $20 per person is adequate.

Church Organist or Church Musician - This fee is usually included in the rental fee for the church. You should check your paperwork and if this is not the case you should tip them between $25 - $40 per person.

Musicians - Live musicians do not expect to receive a tip but if you consider their performance at your reception to be exceptional and worthy of a tip then you should allow $20 - $25 per band member.

DJ - As with the musicians, if you consider the DJ’s performance to have made your wedding reception swing then a tip in the range of 15% - 20% of their fee is appropriate.

Photographers - Whilst most photographers do not expect a tip if you want to reward them for their good work on your wedding day then this should be between $20 - $30. Alternatively you can indicate your satisfaction with the photographer’s work by placing a large order for additional prints – they will always greatly appreciate that.

Additional Tipping Tips!

* Traditionally it is the Best Man's duty to take care of tips on your behalf on your actual wedding day. If they are unwilling or unable to accept this responsibility then nominate one person who you feel comfortable with and who is happy to handle this task. This person should be responsible for distributing the tips amongst your wedding suppliers. To make it easier for the nominated tip distributor you should label envelopes prior to the wedding day and pass them to the nominated person to keep safe and hand out at the relevant times throughout your wedding day. By labeling them you will ensure that the correct amount of tip goes to the correct supplier. Always provide the nominated tipper with a contingency fund envelope containing a bit of extra cash just in case you have forgotten someone important who you feel deserves a tip on your wedding day or you might decide to tip someone a bit extra on the actual day.

* A common question is who should the tip be presented to with regard to groups of wedding suppliers. The answer is to hand it to the head of the group. For example with a band the tip should be given to the band leader and with waiting staff it should be presented to the head waiter or maitre d' who will ensure that it is distributed evenly amongst the team.

* If any of the wedding service providers you are utilizing are friends or family then you should definitely ensure that you tip them generously!

* An important point to note is that if you are tipping the valets, coat check and restroom attendants and particularly the bartenders (who are notorious for putting out their own “tip jars”) agree with them and the venue manager that it is unacceptable for these members of staff to accept tips directly from your guests. A sign placed near each of these services that says “No Tipping Please” should be sufficient to deter your guests from offering tips and deter the staff from accepting them!

* You might want to consider tipping your wedding service providers prior to the wedding day in the hope that they will go the extra mile and ensure that everything is faultless on your wedding day.

* Inevitably during your wedding day your wedding suppliers will need to be fed and watered. You should expect to feed your photographers, videographers, DJ and musicians. They cannot provide you with a good service if they are running on empty! Caterers will usually ask you what provision you want to be made for these service providers during your wedding reception and will make some suggestions as to menus and seating arrangements. It is important prior to the wedding day to agree with the caterers and confirm to the individual service providers where they will eating on your wedding day. This will ensure that on the day there are no slip ups or confusion. You will also be expected to bear the costs of drinks for the abovementioned wedding suppliers on your wedding day.

* If after reading this information you are at still unsure about how much you should budget for tipping those wedding suppliers who will be expecting a tip for good service then it might be better to arrange a flat fee prior to the event.

I hope that this tipping guide helps you. Remember that the most important person on your wedding day is you so relax and enjoy your wedding planning. Whether you tip or not you are sure to have truly memorable day!

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Long Island's First McWedding Reception
Date: February 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Reception

Newlyweds Corey Cutcheon and Doreen Brown might have set a new trend by hosting their wedding reception at their local McDonald's! They chose the Long Island fast-food outlet as the venue for their reception due to budget constraints and lack of availability of other reception venues. For the grand total of $250 the couple fed and watered their 50 guests; that is quite a saving on more traditional wedding reception catering costs! Read more here.

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Timings: Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets
Date: October 17, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Catering & Planning & Reception

This is my third and final part to the question on comparing wedding breakfasts to buffets.

Firstly I compared both in the context of budget, you can read this earlier post here. Secondly I compared both from the view point of catering, what exactly will you and your guests be eating during the day. You can read my comments on this by clicking here.

This third post on the subject focuses on the actual timings of wedding breakfasts and buffets:

♥ You need to consider the time of the day of your reception. General meal times for weddings are:

o Wedding Breakfast or Buffet served sometime between 12.00 p.m. to 6.00 p.m.

o Canapés/ hors d’ouvres/finger foods served sometime between 8.00 p.m. to 10.00 p.m.

o Dessert and coffees served sometime between 9.00 p.m. to 10.30 p.m.

♥ When considering what time to commence your reception you should bear in mind that some wedding guests, and attendants for that matter, really appreciate an early start to the wedding day as opposed to having to wait around for the celebration to commence.

♥ However, if you have a large amount of guests who have decided not to arrive in town the night before your wedding then a later start to the wedding ceremony and reception will allow them more travel time.

♥ The advantage of choosing a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception it that it allows your guests a chance for a break in between the festivities.

o Although the wedding reception can seem to go quickly for the bride and groom, the overall day can be a long one for your guests, particularly those who have traveled a considerable distance to attend your wedding.

o Typically a wedding reception should rarely last longer than 4 hours at a time. Guests usually need a breather after this from all of the celebrating to recharge their batteries. A couple of hours break after the wedding breakfast also gives the catering staff time to clear away and prepare the venue room for the evening reception (allowing the DJ to set up, setting up the evening buffet, re-arranging tables and chairs, re-stocking the bar in the venue room, setting up the dance floor if necessary). A couple of hours break between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception can be beneficial to you and your fiancé too. You could arrange to take some formal photographs, freshen up, mingle with your guests or just chill out and enjoy some downtime before the evening reception.

o It might be an idea to provide a hospitality suite at the reception venue so that your guests can enjoy a drink, freshen up and wait for the evening reception to begin. If your budget allows for it an idea is to provide a tea reception for your guests in the interim period, serving them pastries, cakes, tea and coffee.

o If you do have a break between the wedding breakfast and the evening reception this allows you the option of inviting some guests solely to the evening reception if budget constraints are tight and you can’t afford for them to come to the sit-down wedding breakfast.

o You should consider also that guests will be more prone to dance and party at an evening reception if they have had a chance to re-energize after the wedding breakfast.

♥ Alternatively you might choose to have a buffet reception which continues straight into an evening reception without a break in between.

o An advantage of this is that it gives continuity without breaking up the party atmosphere. Continuity in a wedding reception is a major factor. If you have a large number of out-of-town guests who are not staying the night locally perhaps you would prefer to go for this option to save them having to spend a lot of time waiting for the evening celebration to begin.

o If you choose to have your buffet meal continue straight into the evening reception you will save money with setting up costs for venue staff to move furniture around before dancing can commence.

♥ The common format of a traditional wedding reception after the meal is the toasts, the cake cutting, the first dance, bouquet and garter toss, dancing and then the bride and groom leave in a car decorated by their friends and family for their honeymoon. If you decide to choose a wedding breakfast with a break and then an evening reception then it is usual for you and your new husband to cut the cake at the evening reception rather than during the wedding breakfast. However with a buffet continuing straight into an evening reception it would be more common for you to cut the cake after the toasts and before the first dance.

♥ Whichever option you choose, ensure that you have chosen music as this is a prime tool for setting the mood for your reception. Provide music in different styles and varying moods to complement your reception. You could have background music whilst eating and then more upbeat music such as a DJ or band for the evening dancing. Whether you have an evening reception following a wedding breakfast or a buffet a major part of the reception celebration is the dancing. If your guests are dancing then they are having a good time.

Whether you choose an evening reception after a wedding breakfast or choose to have a buffet which continues into an evening reception remember not to lose sight of the reason for your celebration. Your guests will enjoy all of the food you serve, but they are there first and foremost, to celebrate your wedding.

Good luck and enjoy yourself

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Comparing The Foods You Can Have At A Wedding Breakfast Or A Buffet
Date: October 13, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Planning & Reception

Following on from my post about the financial implications of whether to have a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception or a buffet continuing through to the evening, I would like to discuss the actual catering implications of each scenario.

Here are eight key points to bear in mind before you make your mind up on this important decision.

♥ To help you reach your decision you should determine what type of food you wish to be served at your reception. Will you have a wedding theme which might dictate or suggest specific food types?

♥ Do you favour a particular serving style (e.g. would you prefer to have staff serve your food whilst your guests remain seated or have them stand in line for a buffet?).

♥ A lot of brides feel that if guests are traveling great distances to their weddings that they deserve a sit-down meal. There is no rule which dictates that you must serve your guests a hot meal. The most important thing is that your guests do not go hungry! So long as you are providing them with food every 4 hours of the reception then there should be no complaints from your guests.

♥ Undoubtedly you will be inviting a variety of guests of varied ages to your wedding and with this broad gamut comes a variety of tastes. Choosing a reception style and menu choices which please everyone’s tastes is a daunting prospect. However if you choose to have a buffet the food can be simple yet tasteful and elegant without being costly and you can provide a wider variety of food choices for your guests than you could with a sit-down meal. Buffets can provide a more creative and fun presentation of the food, a larger variety of food options and you can be more relaxed with timing and the amounts which guests eat.

♥ Whether you have a wedding breakfast or an afternoon buffet it is a good idea to consider what type of food you will serve your guests in the evening. Most wedding venues will supply you with evening reception food packages including canapés, passed or stationary hors d'oeuvres or hot or cold finger foods. Light finger foods are a popular choice including chips and dips, fruit and vegetable platters, cheeses, and crackers or more substantial finger foods which are more filling such as meat and cheese trays, shrimp cocktails, sausage pastries, egg rolls or chicken wings.

♥ Ideas for desserts to be served in the evening can range from cheesecakes, tarts, tortes, cookies, pies, cakes, pastries, cobblers, biscotti, ice cream, sundaes and wedding cake.

♥ It is very important to remember if you are inviting guests to an evening reception only that you write “canapés/hors d’ouvres/finger foods served at evening reception” in the invitations so that they know what to expect. There is nothing worse than being a hungry guest at a wedding function!

♥ The time of your reception plays an important role in the type of menu that you are planning. Your guests will expect different types and amounts of food depending on the time of the day of your reception.

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Budgeting Wedding Breakfasts v. Buffets
Date: October 12, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Catering & Planning & Reception

Are you in the process of deciding whether or not to have a wedding breakfast followed by an evening reception or a buffet continuing through to the evening. If so this is totally a matter of what suits both you and your fiancé’s taste, your budget and satisfies whatever romantic visions you have of your wedding day. The choices for wedding reception packages are abundant and sometimes making a decision on them can be overwhelming for you and your fiancé. There are both advantages and disadvantages for both choices.

Let me try to help you compare both options from a budget point of view. I will use my next two posts to compare the two from a "catering" and "timing" point of view.

Budget:

♥ Budget plays a large part in making this decision. If you have a limitless wedding budget (lucky you!) then you don’t have to factor cost into this decision but if you are on a tight budget I assure you that both types of reception can be done on a shoestring.

o Wedding Breakfast - The wedding breakfast is the more traditional option and allows for a more formal celebration. Guests are served hot, elegant dishes by waiting staff at the reception venue. Usually this is the most expensive option. However, if you choose to have a wedding breakfast you can cut back on costs by simply inviting a few select members of your family and close friends to the sit-down meal and then invite your other guests to an evening reception where hot and/or cold finger foods are served. The cost per head of the sit-down meal will be greatly reduced, therefore saving you money.

o Buffet - Many people cannot afford a lavish four-course sit-down dinner so you might prefer to invite all of your guests to an afternoon buffet and then serve hot and/or cold finger foods later in the evening. Buffets usually prove to be more laid back with free and easy seating and less formality than a traditional sit-down meal. There is a widespread belief that buffets are always a less expensive option. This can be the case depending on which menu choices you and your fiancé select but bear in mind that often there can be a lot of food leftover with buffets if the caterers have overestimated the amount of food which your guests will eat. This will mean that you and your fiancé will be paying for the excess if your guests do not feel very hungry! With a sit-down wedding breakfast it is easier for the catering staff to calculate accurately the exact cost per head for your wedding reception meal.

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As you plan your wedding you will receive advice from just about everyone. Friends and family have a million and one tips to pass on, in fact here at Wedaholic I have been offering tips galore.
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