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Jennifer Hudson Says "I Do" To Having Her Dogs In Her Wedding Party!
Date: March 31, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Bridal Party & Celebrity Gossip & Celebrity Weddings & Etiquette & Family & Funny & Pets & Planning & Unique Ideas

As if further proof is needed that it's not just wacky dog lovers who are indulging in the trend to include their pets in the most important day of their lives, Jennifer Hudson has jumped on the pet wagon too!

The Oscar- and Grammy-winning star has announced that she is planning on including her 3 dogs, Oscar, Grammy and Dreamgirl, in her upcoming wedding to Harvard Law grad and reality show star David Otunga.

An increasing number of modern couples, like Jennifer and David, are treating their pets as part of their family or their best friends so it is only right that their pet should be given a starring role in their wedding day. From personal experience I have found that some dogs at weddings turn out to be better behaved than the human wedding guests!

According to People.com Jennifer is already thinking of possible roles for her dogs.

"Oscar might be the ring bearer. We’ll send them down the aisle with a little tux or something, a little dress."

If you too are considering including a pet in your wedding check out my blog for unique tips on how to dress them, roles for pets in your wedding, important things to consider beforehand and ideas on how to ensure they don't steal the limelight from you on your wedding day for all the wrong reasons!

Have fun with your wedding planning!

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
A Bit Of Fun From The Knot - How To Create Your Inner Bride!
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV
Pets At Weddings - Tips For Getting Your Dog, Cat or Even Horse Involved!



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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


To Greet or Not To Greet? What You Need to Know About Wedding Receiving Lines
Date: January 24, 2009 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Etiquette & Extended Family & Family & Groom & Guests & Planning & Reception & Site News & Site Reviews & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

The purpose of a traditional receiving line is to allow the newlyweds, their parents and other members of the bridal party to personally welcome the guests to the wedding. With modern family dynamics now including divorced parents, ex-partners, etc it can make the logistics of who stands where in the receiving line complicated. Put this alongside the fact that receiving lines can be quite time-consuming, and some guests balk at having to stand in line waiting to greet the happy couple, and I suspect these are the reasons why many couples nowadays reject the option of having a receiving line at their wedding.

Personally, I had a receiving line at my wedding and I enjoyed greeting every guest, introducing them to our parents and attendants and thanking each of them for joining us (many of them had travelled large distances to attend our wedding). The alternative would have been to spend the whole evening at the wedding reception chasing down guests on the dance-floor or at the bar in a bid to guarantee that my husband and I personally welcomed each and every guest to our wedding! In this case the receiving line definitely seemed like the easier option for us!

So are receiving lines an out of date tradition and a waste of time, or are they an integral part of your wedding, enabling you to make each of your guests feel valued and welcome? To help you decide I recommend you take a look at this brilliant blog, Receiving Line 101, at ManoloForTheBrides.com. It discusses the advantages and etiquette of receiving lines at weddings. Take a look at the comments section too as there are plenty of great tips for alternative versions of receiving lines including ideas for greeting guests immediately after the ceremony and mingling with guests during the reception meal.

Whether you are hosting an intimate wedding where a receiving line with so few guests would seem redundant, or you simply dislike the idea of a receiving line at your wedding day, remember that you do not have to include every time honored tradition in your wedding day - just do whatever you and your fiancé feel comfortable with.

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
Jennifer Hudson Says "I Do" To Having Her Dogs In Her Wedding Party!
How To Boost Your Wedding Budget – Invite Your Guests To Pay For Your 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 III


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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I

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

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


How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

There is plenty of advice available to couples planning their wedding about how to prepare a budget, choose the perfect venue, theme, dress, cake, color of table linens etc. However there is very little information available to couples who are organizing a wedding which deals specifically with arrangements for children throughout the wedding. I realize that this could be due to the growing trend of hosting “adult only” weddings.

This blog is essentially for people planning their wedding who have already made the decision to invite children to their wedding or who want to invite them but are unsure about how to plan the children’s entertainment and catering without creating more work for themselves or breaking their budget!

Through the information contained in this blog I want to show you that inviting children to a wedding is not the potential minefield you might think. I have assisted several couples with making plans for children at weddings and I’ve attended a lot of child-friendly and not so child-friendly weddings. I’ve attended weddings where children are made to feel like a major part of the wedding day and I’ve been to weddings where there were practically bouncers on the door to the evening reception barring children from entering the dance floor.

Hosting a family oriented wedding does not mean that you have to give up on the hope of an adult theme to the reception entertainment without worrying about little ones being squished underfoot on the dance floor! There is nothing wrong with harboring a selfish desire to have a grown up evening reception.

If you are reading this blog as someone in the midst of trying to organize a more adult style wedding I want to show you that there is a way to have children at your wedding that might satisfy all involved. Whilst I am a firm believer in weddings being a family event, I can see how a lot of parents would enjoy the wedding day more if they could sit through a few courses of the meal and the first dance without worrying about the responsibilities of childcare. I have witnessed at weddings how stressful it is for parents when their child decides to throw a screaming fit at an inopportune moment and they then have to deal with it to the best of their ability, all the while knowing that their parenting skills are being assessed by a possibly hostile and frustrated throng of wedding guests. Consider too that your other wedding guests without children might also appreciate a break from the children.

I want to show you that you can have the best of both worlds. You can invite children to your wedding, you can take pleasure in seeing how cute they look in their pretty party dresses, smart trousers and bow ties and you can also enjoy some adult time with your friends and family whilst the children are being entertained and supervised.

Some of the ideas which I give within this blog are suitable for situations where the children share the function room with the adult wedding guests, some are aimed at situations where only a guest bedroom is available, other activities and suggestions I’ve made require a separate room for the children or maybe a large outdoor space or a small tent and some good weather!

You might think that the first decision you need to make after deciding that you want children to be included in your wedding day is whether you can afford it. However, I have helped many friends organize child-friendly weddings both with and without separate rooms for the children, separate parties for the children and child care supervision, and all were on moderate budgets. Even if you are on a really tight budget, with some thought and planning you can organize a child-friendly wedding which your young guests and adults are sure to enjoy.

If you want to make your wedding a fun family affair and ensure that the children are as happy as you are on your wedding day, here are some tips to get you started.


Space For The Children At Your Wedding

The first deciding factor in whether or not you are able to include children at your wedding is whether you are able to accommodate them at your wedding venue.


Initial Things To Consider

♥ Is there a function room or bedroom available for the children’s sole use at your venue?

♥ Does your venue have useable outdoor space?

♥ How much of your wedding budget can you afford to spend on children’s entertainment and catering?

♥ How many children are you actually inviting (so that you can work out on what scale to organize the entertainment – e.g. is it worth hiring a bouncy castle for two 4 year olds and a 6 month old baby)?

Top Tip: If it is really important to you that children invited to your wedding are well catered for then I suggest at the outset of your wedding planning you choose a venue which is able and willing to accommodate your younger guests. For example, a stately home filled with precious antiques might not be the most child-friendly choice of venue.

So, firstly check with your ceremony venue and reception venue whether they have practical areas nearby for use by the children during your wedding. Then assess whether the spaces which are available at the venue are going to be suitable for setting up a children’s zone.

If you are planning your wedding at a Church: Ask your officiant or Church Warden for suggestions as to a suitable space for entertaining restless children during the ceremony. Most religious institutions have school rooms, a crèche, vestry or an anteroom.

If you are planning your wedding at a Hotel: Ask if you can reserve a small function or conference room which is not only very near to the main function room in which your wedding is being held, but also close to the bathroom facilities?

If not, can you reserve a bedroom or a suite that includes a sitting room?

Whenever possible it is best to have the children in a room on the same premises (if you have to transport them by car to a different location this causes extra organization, as well as hassle) but removed from where the main wedding activity is taking place. An adjacent room would be perfect, so that:

♥ the children can come and go from the main function room (whilst they might find the wedding speeches boring they do love to join in with the dancing!); and

♥ anxious parents don’t have far to go to check on their children.

If you are planning your wedding at other wedding venues including Country Clubs, Castles, Town Halls, Recreational Center’s, Museums, Restaurants, Private Homes: Ask the manager or owner of your wedding venue if they have an additional smaller room which you can reserve as a children's zone for the duration of your wedding.

Personally I think that if you are inviting children to your wedding, whether you intend on them joining in with the whole day’s festivities or part of them, a good host and hostess should make arrangements for the children of guests in an adjacent room at your venue or a nearby hotel.


Organizing Child Care Supervision For The Wedding

For a wedding with children attending I totally recommend hiring child carers or babysitters, preferably those with professional child care experience. What better way to ensure your wedding guests are relaxed, happy and enjoy your wedding than to take the pressure off of them to entertain and supervise their own children. I have attended weddings both with and without child care and in my opinion the wedding experience seemed more enjoyable for the children, parents and other wedding guests when the children were provided with professional supervision.

If you have minimal funds to spend on your wedding my advice is to skip the forgettable favors and organize child care so that your guests and their children can each enjoy the fun of your wedding day. After all, which one will your wedding guests remember longer and appreciate the most.


How To Find Suitable Child Care

If you are hiring a wedding planner they will be able to locate local child carers for you and assess their suitability for your wedding needs and requirements too.

Hotel Recommendation - The first thing to do is ask your wedding venue if they have a preferred list of licensed child carers or babysitters they offer to guests/customers.

Top Tip: Don’t depend on the hotel doing background checks on child carers who they recommend. If children under the age of 4 are being left with this person, unless they work for a reputable agency, you should ask to see their references, qualifications, CPR certificates etc.

Nanny or Babysitter Agency - If your venue are unable to recommend anyone perhaps try a local nanny agency who will be able to provide you with costs and availability for child carers on your chosen date.

Most nanny agencies or sitter services ask brides to fill out an application form providing them with a rundown of how many children will need watching, their ages (the children, not you!), where the wedding venue is and what duties you expect to need from them (e.g. supervising meal time, putting children down for naps, organizing games and entertainment).

Usually agencies screen their child care workers to ascertain their suitability for working with children and ensure that they have at least one year of childcare experience, as well a relevant first aid qualification. In the UK child care agencies carry out a CRB (Criminal Records Bureau) check against potential child carers (this is a government run service which investigates whether they hold any criminal convictions). In the USA there are numerous private companies who carry out similar criminal background checks. Remember to check with the agency or child carer you use if they have undergone this check.

Parent's Recommendations - Parents from the locality in which your wedding is taking place can probably help you out too by providing you with the number of their babysitter or child minder.

Mobile Crèche - If money is not an object and you want total peace of mind that the children are being fully supervised, if you are hosting a more grown up reception, hire a mobile crèche service such as that offered by The Wedding Crèche Service. Experienced staff will come to your venue, set up a children’s activity zone and keep the children entertained leaving your adult guests free to enjoy your wedding.

DIY Child Care - If you decide to go it alone and book independent child carers or sitters yourself be sure to ask to interview this person and ask to see their references and evidence of their qualifications. When calling their references be sure to ask:

♥ How many times has he/she babysat for them?

♥ What are the ages of their children?

♥ Were there any problems while their children were in her/his care?

♥ Would they recommend you hiring her/him for your wedding day?

When you interview potential child carers ask them how they plan to give the children a fun time while their parents are at your wedding. If you feel uncomfortable with them trust your instincts and move on to another candidate.

The onus is on you to make sure that their previous child care experience is satisfactory. This might seem like an extra bit of work for you, when you already have a lot of wedding organization on your plate, but if you are expecting your wedding guests to entrust their children to this person it really is your responsibility. If you are unable to commit to being thorough when choosing child carers for your wedding, pass on the responsibility to someone who is able to.

If you are getting married out-of-town, or if you simply have enough on your plate with the rest of your wedding planning, enlist the help of a friend who has children and who lives in the locality of your wedding venue. They are sure to be happy to help interview potential child carers and will certainly be more knowledgeable about questions to ask as a parent themselves. Also bear in mind that they know it is in the interests of their own children for them to hire a fun friendly and efficient child carer for your wedding reception!

Handy Hint: If it is essential to your own enjoyment of your wedding day that your own child attends the wedding, I suggest at the outset of your planning you look for a wedding venue which is able to provide an insured and bonded babysitting service.


How Many Child Carers Do You Need

You will be able to decide how many child carers you need once you have confirmation of how many children will be attending the wedding. Build in some leeway by adding a couple of extra spaces just in case some unexpected children make on appearance on the day.

Key factors when deciding how many child carers you will need are as follows:

♥ Age of children

♥ How many children

♥ Additional supervision/support needs of some participants (e.g. due to disability)

♥ Nature of activity (for example bouncy castle or trampolining sessions may require higher levels of supervision than cookie decorating)

♥ Nature of venue (whether it is closed and exclusive, or open and accessible to non-wedding party members)

Of course it would be impossible for the child carers to maintain the same one-to-one watchfulness that most parents attempt, but by maintaining specific staff to children ratios you will increase the likelihood of safe play and attentive care for the children at your wedding. The appropriate child care staff to child ratio should be:

1:3 for children under the age of 2 years;

1:5 for children aged 2 to 3 years;

1:8 for children aged 3 to 8 years;

1:10 for children aged over 8 years.

Therefore you can calculate that if you have 3 babies under the age of 14 months, 2 toddlers aged between 3-4, 2 children aged 7 and a couple of 11 year olds, you should arrange a minimum of 2 child carers.


At What Age Do Children Need Supervision?

Having spoken to several crèche supervisors I know that there is a large amount of debate (usually amongst parents) as to the age where a minor is considered to be in need of supervision. Whilst there is no law that states the minimum age that a child can be left alone, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk. I recommend that if you have wedding guests attending with children of ages 11 upwards, discuss with them whether their child will need supervision by the child carers you are arranging for the younger children.


Alternatives To Professional Child Carers

Other Adult - If it is not within your budget to hire a professional child carer then a suitable alternative is to find a very capable and caring adult (or adults, depending on how many children are expected to attend the wedding) who are willing and able to supervise and entertain the children during the wedding. Your best choice would be someone who is a parent themselves (possibly an acquaintance or friend of a friend who is not invited to your wedding!), a teacher or a children’s playgroup or girl scout troop leader.

Teenage Sitters - As a qualified nanny myself (and having a lot of supervisory experience at hotel crèches) I would not recommend asking a couple of teenagers to take care of the children at your wedding. If you know of a teenage babysitter who comes highly recommended then by all means use them. I’m afraid my experience of unsupervised teenagers who are minding children is that they simply plunk the young ones in front of a DVD and leave them to it.

I think that you need to be able to assure your guests that their children will not just be babysat but will be entertained and will have a good time at the wedding too. The childcare facilities you are offering could influence whether a parent will or will not bring their child to your wedding. Therefore it is important that you provide them with as much information as possible prior to the wedding (the sooner the better) about what will be on offer for their children (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part 4 for further details on this). By giving the parents some upfront information you will help them make an informed decision about their child care plans - remember it could affect whether they:

♥ attend your wedding at all,

♥ bring their children to your wedding, or

♥ arrange their own childcare so that they can attend your wedding on their own.

If the majority of parents invited to your wedding respond by saying that sitters are an unnecessary expense (even though you are paying!) and that they will supervise their children themselves, I recommend that you hire at least one sitter to supervise the play room (if you are having one). Even if parents say they will supervise their own children there are always going to be situations where the children are left alone or when a parent is distracted by some relative they have not seen for years and wander off to catch up, leaving their little one playing on her own unsupervised.


Cost Of Child Care

With regard to how much to pay the child carers the best thing to do is ask them what they usually charge and see if you are comfortable paying that. It is likely to be based on how many children they are expected to be caring for on your wedding day – their hourly rate should be something in the region of:

• 0-2 children $10/hr.

• 2-5 children $12/hr.

• 5-8 children $15/hr.

• 8 or more children $20/hr.


Things To Discuss With Your Child Carer

♥ Once you have a note of the names, ages and special requirements of all children, provide this information to the child carers so that they can prepare accordingly.

♥ Discuss activities for the children with your child carer. As mentioned, they might well have their own suggestions to make and they could have equipment of their own too, which they can supply for use during your wedding.

♥ Once you have decided on activities discuss a schedule of events and proposed timeline with the child carer so that you are both aware of the key times when child care is being provided for the guests’ children.

♥ Remember to leave parent’s phone numbers for the child carers in case they need to contact the parents and can’t leave the room to come and find them at the wedding party.

♥ Give your sitters a couple of worst-case scenarios and some contingency plans, (e.g. if they run out of soda for the children give them permission to order more from room service at your venue, if a child who has not eaten their dinner is hungry at 7pm allow them to order him a sandwich from room service) – you don’t want the child carers having to run to the children’s parents or you with every small problem which occurs. Of course experienced child carers will know not to bother you and the children’s parents with the minutiae of what goes on in the children’s room but on the other hand you want them to know how to handle certain situations which might arise. If you are setting up a children’s room yourself remember to kit it out with a first aid kit for minor injuries, wet wipes and hankies for clean ups and runny noses.

♥ Tell the child carer in advance if you don’t want children leaving the children’s room to run in and out of the reception and dance floor all evening. The more information you can provide the child carers with in advance of your wedding the better.

♥ Remind the child carer (because you won’t be by their side on the day of the wedding) to have some questions for parents to answer prior to leaving their children with them (e.g. contact phone numbers, is their child on any medication, does their child have any specific requirements, can their child eat the candy/popcorn which will be provided, is their child allowed to watch any TV/movies etc.).

♥ Remember that if the child carers are working a long shift looking after the children you will need to provide a meal for them. You could have a plate from your reception catering sent for them to the children’s room or up to the bedroom they are in. A better idea is to either allow them to order a meal on room service or give them some money and the number of a local pizzeria so they can order pizza for themselves (and perhaps for the children too depending on your catering arrangements for them during the wedding reception).


Questions To Ask Parents Before You Book Child Carers Or Start Planning Specific Wedding Activities For The Children

♥ The most important thing to ask parents is if they plan to bring their children to your wedding (don't assume all parents will want to bring their children with them to your wedding - some might enjoy a night off whether you intend on providing child care or not) and if so how many, what ages and what gender (hopefully you know the children’s gender from addressing the invites but if you are in any doubt ask!).

♥ Would they make use of child carers if you hired them?

Handy Hint: Even if parents say that they will supervise their children themselves beware as their definition of supervising might be to let them stick their fingers in the wedding cake, interrupt adult conversations and generally run amok. Use your own judgment to decide whether their little one should be included, for the sake of numbers, in the list of children you will provide child care for.

♥ Do their children have any specific dietary requirements? (This is so that you can choose suitable catering for them, in the same way you would ask your other guests if they are vegetarians etc.).

♥ Will they need their children to eat prior to the 3pm service of the wedding meal? (This will give the parents, and you, advance warning if you are going to need to buy a snack for their child to keep them going until your wedding meal is served).

♥ Ask them if they require booster seats on the chairs or highchairs for their children so that you can let the reception venue know in advance. (This is especially important if you are inviting lots of children under 2 years old as the reception venue might only have a couple of booster seats available – its best to give them some advance notice on this).

♥ Ask if they have any specific instructions for their child’s care or any rules so that you can give the child carer advance notice and you can provide activities taking the children’s needs into account (e.g. can they have sugar, are they allowed to watch TV, can they have their face painted etc.)

♥ Are their children likely to require a nap during the day? If so, do they require a travel cot to be set up?

♥ If you are block booking hotel rooms for your wedding guests in advance ay your venue (so that you can guarantee discounted room rates for them) find out how many rooms/beds in rooms they will require.

♥ Are they likely to require additional evening sitters at the wedding venue (e.g. are they planning to party all night once their children are tucked up in bed)?

♥ If they require you to help book evening sitters for them, are the children staying the night at the wedding venue (e.g. if it is being held in a hotel or other venue with accommodation)? If not, then where will the children be staying?


Booking Child Care

Preferably you should book your child carers as soon as you have decided on a venue and wedding date.


Timing Of Your Wedding

Here are some helpful tips and things for you to consider with regard to planning the timing of your wedding:

♥ Evening ceremonies are unsuitable for small children - they will tire easily, won’t enjoy the ceremony, won’t make it through the reception party afterwards and their hysterics will spoil their parents enjoyment of it too. You definitely run a far greater risk of having screaming children during your ceremony if it begins at 7pm, which is bedtime for most young children. If you know you intend on inviting lots of young children to your wedding, it’s best to plan a morning or early afternoon ceremony.

♥ Some parties are not appropriate for young children and this includes a wedding party which is planned to go on until after 10pm. If children are cranky and fussy it will spoil their parent’s enjoyment of the evening reception and also other wedding guests. You don’t want the party to be ended prematurely by a bawling 4 year old lying horizontal in the center of the dance floor do you!

♥ My experience of wedding receptions has been that as adult wedding guests get into the swing of the reception party in the evening the music is generally too loud, and the dance floor too crowded, for young children’s safety. If you want the children to be able to share in the dancing at your wedding then organize the wedding ceremony for late morning so that you can enjoy the wedding meal at a leisurely pace and still have time for the music entertainment to kick off before the children’s bedtimes.

♥ There is a huge trend towards having children attend the wedding ceremony and meal but making the evening reception adults only. See below for details on how to strike a compromise between having the children join in with the wedding fun and enjoying an adult zone at your evening reception.

♥ If you are arranging child care for your wedding reception you should point out to parents that their children are not being sequestered in another room under lock and key to keep them from joining in with the wedding fun. If parents want their children to join in with dancing early on in the evening then tell them there is no problem with this but make them aware that adult time starts at 8pm when the child carers are putting the movie on in the children’s room, giving the children a chance to wind down for the night. When presented with the choice of hanging out with the grown ups or watching a movie and munching popcorn I think I know which one most flagging children would prefer!


Timing Of Child Care At Your Wedding

Once you have made the decision to organize child care for your wedding you should then decide whether it is going to be available all day (can you afford this?) or just for the evening reception.

If there are key times during the day when it would be beneficial for the children to be supervised then factor these into your plans (e.g. for the cocktail hour when parents and other guests enjoy mingling and chatting, during the toasts and speeches etc).

Your options when organizing child care are:

♥ During the evening reception provide supervised activities in a separate children’s room at the wedding venue - this would allow parents to strike a compromise as they will be able to enjoy the first part of the wedding with their children (i.e. the ceremony and first part of the reception) whilst being able to enjoy the latter part of the reception child-free!

♥ Provide all day child care from the moment your ceremony begins to late at night when the children are ready for bed.

♥ Arrange babysitters in the evening - once your evening reception gets into full swing you could assist guests with children (in advance of your wedding) in organizing babysitters to come to the reception venue (if it is a hotel) and take the children staying there up to their bedrooms. Once the children are happily settled in bed with their sitters watching them, their parents can return to the wedding party. At my wedding I asked for one bedroom to be put aside for us with a couple of travel cots for flagging children (see Organising Nap Time For Your Younger Wedding Guests in Part III for further details on this).

♥ Organize a supervised children’s party in another location (see Give The Children Their Own Party in Part IV for more details on this).

♥ Provide parents with local child carer contact details and leave them to it.
Remember that even if your guests are local to the wedding venue they are sure to appreciate your gracious and thoughtful efforts in including their children in your wedding plans.


Rehearsal Dinner

If you are hosting a Rehearsal dinner, many rehearsal dinners can go on as late as 10pm which is totally inappropriate for young children to attend. Think about whether you should help your rehearsal dinner guests with children (particularly out-of-town guests) to organize child care in advance.


CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE


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

Please refer to Part II, Part III 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 II
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


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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

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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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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 :
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 III


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Unique Tips For Choosing The Perfect Wedding Gift For Your Parents
Date: May 25, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Extended Family & Family & Gifts & Second Weddings & Unique Ideas

Hi Everyone,

I received this question:

First and foremost I wanted to thank you for your site being so helpful and the best wedding advice ever! I will definitely be using your site to help me arrange my own wedding!

The question that I have for you is not for my wedding, however, but for my mother's. She is getting remarried in the VERY near future and my 2 brothers and I are completely stumped with the question of what to get them as a wedding gift. Our situation is that my brothers and I are all in our early 20's and don't have a lot to spend on a wedding gift. Our budget would be around $500.

In addition to that, they are moving to Greece right after, which makes it much harder to think of a good wedding gift. I've searched online for hours, but no website has any tips for good wedding gift ideas for your parent(s). So, I was wondering if you had any good ideas up your sleeve and could help me out.

This was my reply:

Many thanks for your kind comments about my website. I’m really pleased that you enjoy reading my wedding blogs.

I have a couple of suggestions to make with regard to solving your wedding gift dilemma for your Mother and future Step-father at their upcoming wedding. I think that $500 is a perfectly reasonable budget for a gift from you and your brothers so don’t worry about that - the most perfect wedding gift can sometimes be the least expensive option on offer. Have a think about what sentiment you want to convey with your wedding gift. Do you want it to be something fun and unique or do you want it to be a sentimental reminder of their special day? Here are some ideas:

Gift Certificate

♥ Two of the most stressful things couples experience in life are getting married and moving home. If your Mother and her fiancé are doing both in the upcoming months then it sounds like they could definitely use a bit of pampering once the wedding and house move are completed. How about a gift certificate for a luxurious 5 star resort in Greece. I imagine that not only will this be appreciated by the newlyweds as a welcome chance to de-stress and relax but it will also allow them to experience another area of Greece which they might not otherwise have chosen to visit. Most of the luxury hotels in Greece offer gift certificates. Be sure to ask when booking whether the certificates can be used for spa treatments and dining as well as for overnight stays at the hotel. Gift certificates are usually valid for up to 2 years so the newlyweds don’t have to feel pressurized into booking their pampering treatment/overnight break straight away. Check out Greek hotels resorts and spa information at websites such as Relaischateaux.com or Myconiancollection.gr.

Ship It

♥ Traditionally second time brides and grooms have already have set up their own households so I assume that your Mother and her fiancé will not need traditional wedding registry items such as toasters, kettles and towels. However, if there are any practical home goods or other items which your Mother or her fiancé have expressed an interest in then do not feel put off. You could buy the gift and follow either of the options below:

♥ Arrange to have the gift shipped to the newlyweds’ new home in Greece. This is perfect if the newlyweds are emigrating shortly after the wedding but if their move is not for a few months you might prefer to present them with the wedding gift on their wedding day.

♥ Alternatively you could buy the gift, give it to them on their wedding day and additionally provide them with a shipping gift certificate to cover the cost of shipping the item to Greece as and when they move. Iomoi.stores.yahoo.net offers shipping gift certificates in denominations of $5 (they have a handy facility for calculating how much your chosen item will cost to ship to Greece).

Picture It

♥ If you want to give the newlyweds something a bit more heartfelt and sentimental then why not arrange to have a formal photo session with you and your brothers. I’m sure that your Mother and her new husband would love to receive a beautifully framed photo. You could choose an elegant silver frame and have it engraved with a special wedding message from the three of you. Do bear in mind that not all formal photo sessions result in cheesy “posed” photos. Choose a photographer who is willing to let you all relax and be yourselves, strike some fun poses and allow the photographer to capture your true personalities that your Mother knows and loves. If you are considering this option then remember that image proofs are usually available three weeks after the photo session - so make sure you organize this well in advance of the wedding.

♥ Alternatively, if you like the idea of presenting the newlyweds with a photo frame but are not keen on a framed portrait of yourself and your brothers then how about giving an engraved elegant photo frame on its own or insert into it a photo of the happy couple pre-wedding.

♥ Another low-cost variation on the photo idea is to use family photos and photos of your Mother and her partner during their early years together and produce a custom-made photo book. Websites such as www.shutterfly.com allow you to upload your digital photos onto their site and then create your own hard-cover photo album. This would not only make a lovely keepsake for the newlyweds but would be easy for them to transport to Greece.

Expat Gift Hamper

♥ As your Mother and her new husband are planning on emigrating to Greece then how about a gift certificate from a company which will provide them with a taste of home. If they get homesick for their favorite US treats they can simply log on to the internet in Greece and order them to be shipped to their new home. American shopping services for expats such as Americanfoodworldwide.com allow them to shop online for all of their favorite foods from a regular American supermarket.

Gift Basket

♥ To keep within your budget you could consider putting together a basket or hamper filled with appropriate gifts for the newlyweds. Think about their personalities, hobbies and things they like when choosing gifts for the package. You could include:

♥ A Greek or American cookbook (one to give her some tips and advice on how to prepare and cook the classic local cuisine of her new home and one to remind her of the traditional recipes of her former home)

♥ Personalized stationery (and air mail stamps!)

♥ Personalized luggage tags

♥ You could even include practical and fun items for their new lifestyle in Greece such as sunglasses, sun-hats, a guidebook for Greece, an electronic multi-language translator, beach towels or even some “Just Married” sandals for your Mother and her partner to get some wear from whilst strolling on Greece’s beautiful beaches. Remember to include plenty of lightweight items which will not be too heavy for them to transport to Greece.

♥ If all else fails you could give the newlyweds some American Express Gift Cheques. They are useable to buy virtually anything so they could use them to pay for whatever they wanted once they have moved (e.g. furniture for their new home in Greece, money towards their return flights back to visit you and your brothers, an island hopping trip in Greece).

A lot of people attending their parent's encore weddings get caught up in what constitutes an appropriate gift for the newlyweds. The essential thing to remember is that a gift, no matter how much it costs, will always be appreciated if some thought has been put into it. Remember that the wedding gift you and your brothers choose to give to your Mother and her new husband is a token of your celebration of their wedding day and their new life together.

I hope that this helps and that you and your brothers manage to find the perfect wedding gift for your Mother and her husband-to-be.

Good luck!

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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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Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Date: September 21, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Extended Family & Family & Music & Dance & Planning & Wedding Blogs

I receive many questions regarding divorced and separated parents, without doubt it can make planning a wedding very stressful (check out my tips on handling stress here). I recently wrote this reply titled: "Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding".

If you are a bride that feels you need some further advice on this issue I thoroughly recommend you read a 5 part series written by The Wedding Fairy at her fantastic wedding blog "Don't Be That Bride". You may remember I reviewed it in this post: "Don't Be That Bride - A Wedding Blog Not To Be Missed!".

Here are the links to all 5 Parts:

Part l

Read how the insensitivity of the band can embarass certain family members if they are introduced incorrectly. The Wedding Fairy recounts an upsetting story told to her by a work colleague, whereby the stepmother and groom's father are announced as the groom's parents!

Her advice to all couples is:

"THINK about the introductions in advance, and TALK/COMMUNICATE with your band about how to approach each."


Part ll

This post and the next deals with how to handle the first and last dances. Often the band can cause distress by forcing divorced or separated parents without partners to dance with other people.

"This type of behavior is not acceptable, and certainly not fair to the mother of the groom (or anyone in this situation that applies in other scenarios)- whether or not you believe that a divorced parent should "suck it up" (a sentiment which I thoroughly disagree with), you should definitely understand that the band member trying to "help" in this way is degrading, demoralizing, and definitely a NO."


Part lll

This is a detailed account of how a lovely relaxed wedding can quickly change into one of pure humiliation when a mother is forced to dance with a stranger! It really brings home the fact that communication is absoultely key. Every bride and groom should advise the professionals they employ at their wedding beforehand, to ensure there are no hiccups on the day.


Part lV

If your parents are divorced it can often be diffcult coming up with a table arrangement that suits everyone. You may want to see your parents seated together or on adjacent table (or even the same!), but trust me they will be much more relaxed if you put some distance between their tables. The Wedding Fairy describes a situation that happened at a wedding her college friend Liz went to, there were no dramas or dish-throwing but it makes you think that the mother and father could have been seated further apart.

"I can tell you right now - you will not please everyone. Finding the "perfect" table arrangement is not necessarily an option - however, creating a WORKABLE table arrangement-- when it comes to divorced/separated parents -- is the name of the game."


Part V

In conclusion we learn that wedding planning is complicated and stressful enough without keeling over from the pressure of divorced parents and their partners. It just isn't worth it, take a stance and stick to it. As the Wedding Fairy says:

"Planning doesn't involve the same discomfort issues that a wedding does (i.e. loud announcements by DJs, or very obvious seating situations). Therefore, keeping everyone happy during this stage isn't really the goal - the goal is to get the job done, and to enjoy doing it."

You only have to watch "My Fair Brady: We're Getting Married!" to see that there has to be a better way!

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Top Tips For Using Parks Or Areas Of Outstanding Beauty As Backdrops For Your Wedding Photos
Date: September 05, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Cameras & Ceremonies & Civil Weddings & Etiquette & Family & Funny & Guests & Legal Matters & Photography & Planning & Unique Ideas & Venues & Videography

If you are thinking of having your wedding photos taken in a public park please remember that it is essential to obtain permission before photography, or videography for that matter, will be allowed. Remember to bear in mind that any land, such as a park, which is privately owned requires prior permission before you can take photographs within the grounds. Nowadays most parks in the UK are stationing park wardens to ensure that all commercial photographers in the park are in possession of a valid permit.

In the USA a new policy, which came into effect on 15th May, means that permits need to be obtained and fees need to be paid by those wanting to take commercial (i.e. wedding) photographs at the most popular landmarks on National Park Service land such as the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Monument, the Statue of Liberty, Yellowstone National Park or Grand Canyon. USAToday.com reports that:

“Officials said the fees are in response to a 2000 federal law that requires various agencies to come up with ways to recoup the costs of maintenance, security and other expenses stemming from commercial filming and photography on federal land.”

The payment charged to couples varies from $50 to $250 - the actual cost depends on the size of the wedding group. The National Park Service are hoping to standardize the fees in the near future.

According to WashingtonPost.com Lee Dickinson, the Park Service official who oversees the program, has already seen an improvement in the smooth running of the service provided to couples. He says that by charging fees and requiring visitors to obtain prior permission it has helped Park Service workers to avoid scheduling conflicts amongst visitors and wedding parties at the most popular of the 390 monuments, parks and historic sites.

A lot of couples feel that they should not have to pay to use public land which their tax dollars pay for. Jolie Bouton is one of them - she is due to get married this month on land controlled by the National Forest Service in Sedona, Arizona. She told WashingtonPost.com,

"I'm just having a half hour ceremony on land we all own, and it shouldn't cost me 150 bucks!”

You might wonder why you have to pay a fee to hold an event or simply have photos taken in a public park. The reason is most parks do not receive much (if any) funding from the government or local authority to maintain the public space. They are therefore dependent on donations or revenue created by charging those who wish to use the park space for their own profitable, promotional or exclusive use. You will find nowadays that with parks requiring more and more financial outlay for maintenance and upkeep of the grounds and facilities on it, local authorities who maintain the parks and public areas are charging a site or permit fee for shooting photographs or filming. The revenue garnered from such sources is used to maintain and improve the park’s beauty and functionality. How else do you think stunning parks such as the Botanic Gardens in Edinburgh, Central Park in New York or Jardins du Luxembourg in Paris can afford to maintain such amazing quality of flowers, plants, ornate features, public facilities and seating areas for the public to use.

Top tips

Here are my recommendations if you are planning on having your wedding photographs taken in a public park or outdoor area:

♥ Do your research in advance of your wedding date to see whether you require a wedding photography permit. If you do make sure that your application is submitted early enough and that permission is granted - simply posting or faxing off an application to the Mayor’s office or Parks and Gardens Department of your local council is not sufficient. Assign this task to your wedding planner or even photographer if you prefer.

♥ If you are in doubt as to whether you will need a wedding photography permit visit the park you intend to use for your photos and ask an official or park warden there. They will be able to tell you where you can obtain an application form.

♥ You will find that most parks and gardens prefer to be advised (and paid) in advance but some do have a “walk up” facility where you can turn up and pay on the day. Of course with this choice you run the risk of another couple using the park on the same day, at the same time as you want to take your photos. If you want to prevent hanging around waiting to have your photos taken then it is advisable to arrange this is advance.

♥ If you are being married in a castle, stately home, mansion house etc. which has its own extensive grounds check whether wedding photography is permitted in the grounds and also check whether it is included in the price of your wedding package.

♥ If you are on a tight budget or if you baulk at the thought of paying to use public land for your wedding photos, your other option is to try to do it on the fly! However you can that you do run a risk of being caught and ejected from the park! If you think it is worth the risk then just make sure that the bride is wearing flat shoes in case she is required to run!

♥ Another way to avoid having to pay the wedding photography permit fee is to go without a tripod for the camera being used for the photos. If you don't use a tripod then you don't need a permit! So you could either ask your wedding photographer to skip using a tripod or you could simply nominate a friend who is a keen photographer to take some informal snaps of you at your chosen location.

♥ If you do ask a friend or relative to take your wedding photos then these are seen as non-commercial photos so this way you avoid having to pay the permit fee too.

♥ You will find that the park photography permit usually stipulates some rules. Whilst most will be common sense (e.g. do not throw litter, wedding guests must stay out of flowerbeds, flowers in the park must not be picked, etc) some rules will be unique to each park or open space (e.g. no rice or confetti may be tossed, some sculptures cannot be photographed, certain areas may be off-limits, etc).

♥ As well as the permit fee, some parks might charge you a deposit which will be refundable if the park or garden is not littered or damaged in any way by your wedding party.

Please don't let any of the above tips put you off using a beautiful park or area of outstanding beauty as a backdrop for your wedding photos. I had my wedding photos taken in a local park which held a lot of special memories for me, so I think it is totally worth that tiny bit of extra planning (and it was free as my local park had not photography permit regulations in place at that time!). There are so many stunning parks and gardens which you could use for your photos and is really not a great hardship to obtain permission in advance. Remember, it could well ruin your day and your photos but for a little advance planning!

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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 Plan A Second Wedding

My sister announced at the weekend that she is getting remarried. This will be her second marriage. My family and I are so excited for her that she has found love again and that she is brave enough to put her faith in the institution of marriage after an acrimonious divorce.

All the wedding talk at her engagement announcement party got me thinking about planning a wedding second time around. It is a totally different scenario to organizing your first wedding - you are older (usually this is the case - I think Britney Spears’ two weddings within nine months of each other is quite unique), wiser and will have more experience of your expectations not just for your second wedding day but also your second marriage!

Whether it is due to divorce or death of a spouse increasing numbers of people are making a trip of the aisle for a second time. According to WeddingGazette.com 4 out of every 10 weddings nowadays are second marriages for one or both partners. According to the US Census Bureau one-third of couples getting married in the USA have been married before and every year nearly one million American women marry for the second time. You are in good company if you are planning on saying “I do” for the second time - Madonna, Julia Roberts, Nicole Kidman, Demi Moore, Britney Spears and more recently Pamela Anderson have all enjoyed a second trip down the aisle.

If you too are thinking about taking the plunge again then here are some top tips and advice for making your encore wedding even more unique and memorable than your first.

Announcing Your Engagement

If you have children

♥ Once you are engaged the first people you should tell are your children. You definitely need their approval of your future nuptials before you can start making any plans.

♥ You should inform your children of your engagement as soon as possible so that they have plenty of time to adjust to the idea. We are bombarded by the media, particularly by television shows such as "The Brady Bunch", with images of perfectly blended stepfamilies. Of course there will be tears and turbulence as your family unit changes size with your second wedding but becoming a proper united family is not an unattainable feat - it just needs time and perseverance!

♥ You should definitely let your children decide for themselves if they want to participate in your second wedding.

If you are a widow or widower

♥ If your first spouse died then you will need to be sensitive to your deceased spouse's families' feelings. Out of respect for the family you should let them know in person (if you have children by your deceased spouse and remain in constant contact with the family) or by letter (if you have become distant from them and are not used to telephoning them or seeing them in person) that you are remarrying.

♥ Whether or not you invite your deceased spouse's family to your second wedding is a very delicate etiquette issue. If your children (their grandchildren) are participating in your wedding then consider whether they would enjoy attending so that they could see this. Use your own judgment as to whether you think it would stir up too many sad memories for them (and you). Second weddings do present social and emotional issues such as this - it comes with the territory I'm afraid!

If you are divorced

♥ If you are divorced without children then there is no need for you to mention your second marriage to your ex-spouse unless you are on good terms with them and keep in touch with each others news.

♥ If you are divorced with children then you must let your ex-spouse know about your upcoming nuptials. If your children are old enough then you can ask if they would prefer to tell their parent about your second wedding or if they want you to break the happy news. You should try to let your ex-spouse know as soon as possible after you have told your children about your engagement, so that your children do not have to keep it a secret and will free to discuss your upcoming wedding openly.

♥ If you are not on speaking terms with your ex then you could put your news in a letter to them and mention that you have explained it to your children and that your wish is for your children to be a part of your wedding day. Although as co-parent you don’t need permission for your own children to participate in your wedding ceremony, it would make things easier all round if your ex-spouse was consulted at an early stage so that any objections could be aired and discussed and you could guarantee their full co-operation with your upcoming wedding plans.

Organizing your second wedding

When it comes to organizing a second wedding many couples choose to spend less time planning the wedding event than they did first time round and more time enjoying the run up to their wedding day. Second weddings are usually smaller and more intimate but there are no rules if you want a repeat of your first extravagant wedding. Some brides, (such as my sister) who had only a very small wedding first time round, enjoy the thought of an elaborate second wedding. My sister admits that this time round she knows exactly what she wants for her wedding day as she has attended innumerous weddings since her first wedding 12 years ago.

The advantages of organizing a wedding second time around are:

♥ You know the pitfalls and what could go wrong as you have probably experienced a few with your first wedding.

♥ You have a better idea of what style and theme of wedding you want as you have more experience of weddings you have attended over the years.

♥ You are free to create any kind of wedding you and your partner want - be as creative as you want (so long as your budget allows it!).

♥ You can invite who you want to your wedding this time round without the restrictions of having parents impose their choice of guests on you.

♥ Hopefully you are in a better financial position than you were when you first got married so you might be able to afford all of the luxury extras for your second wedding that were not within your first wedding budget.

According to Vibride.com Dee Merz, a wedding consultant with Everlasting Memories in California, says that she enjoys organizing second weddings.

“The brides know themselves better as women and they rarely break a sweat when making decisions. Grooms play a much bigger role in the planning, and every choice is geared to reflecting the couple’s unique personalities.”

Top tips when organizing your second wedding:

Venue

♥ You can host your wedding anywhere second time around, there is so much choice. I know many bride and grooms who have remarried for the second or third time in a church. Just because you are a divorcee does not automatically mean that you must remarry in a Registry Office or at other licensed premises and have a civil ceremony. If it is important to you, your partner and your family to have a religious ceremony then enquire of your local church about their policy for second marriages - some churches are stricter than others. With second marriages becoming increasingly common most ministers will understand your situation and will help you to reach a solution if you have your heart set on a religious wedding ceremony.

♥ Destination weddings have become increasingly popular for second marriages, particularly those with children as the ceremony can be incorporated into a fun family holiday!

♥ Bear in mind that it would be in bad taste to host your second wedding in the same location as your first wedding!

Legal requirements

♥ It goes without saying that in order to remarry you will need to supply the registrar with either a decree absolute proving that you are legally divorced from your first spouse, or a death certificate if you are widowed. Make sure that your paperwork is in order well in advance of applying for your marriage license.

♥ In a second marriage where children are involved ensure that you seek appropriate legal advice with regard to financial and inheritance aspects of your union and guardianship issues.

Vows

♥ Vows for a second wedding are another emotive issue which need delicate handling. Of course you promised to "love, honor and respect for all eternity" your first spouse so what do the words really mean if "eternity" turned out to be just a couple of years! The important thing with wedding vows is that you say them with confidence and believe them yourself at the time of saying them to the person you have chosen to marry.

♥ If you are looking for alternative ideas for wedding vows for your second wedding Idotaketwo.com has some unique wordings which could help you.

Wedding traditions for a second wedding

♥ The tradition of having a wedding cake is the same for a second wedding. However, according to Vibride.com throwing the bouquet, wearing a garter and throwing confetti are not proper etiquette for a second wedding. I have seen all of these things done at second and third weddings so I think it is just a case of do whatever feels right for you on your wedding day.

♥ You probably already have an album full of photos from your first wedding that you rarely look at nowadays but don't let this put you off having a photographer at your second wedding. Of course you will want a record of your second wedding, especially if it is the first wedding for one of you.

♥ When it comes to the question of walking up the aisle you might think it improper to ask your Father or whomever gave you away at your first wedding but there are no etiquette rules about this for second weddings. You can walk up the aisle alone, on the arm of your Father, Mother, Brother or even child if you want.

♥ The decision of whether to have attendants at your second wedding is, again, entirely up to you. There are no rules about this. Guests usually expect at least a couple of attendants at second weddings. Don't worry if you want to ask your friends or family to repeat the performance they gave as attendants at your first wedding. It is not seen as unlucky to ask the same attendants who stood by you at your first wedding to stand by you at your second wedding. A friend of mine has been Best Man at both of his brother's weddings.

♥ Bridal Showers are still appropriate for second weddings. You probably have new friends since you first married and they will want to help you celebrate your impending nuptials regardless of whether or not you have done it all before. You can choose to have a more moderate bridal shower if you prefer.

Involving Children in a Second Wedding

If you and/or your partner have children from your own relationship or from previous relationships then you will undoubtedly want them to participate in your wedding plans. The best way to make children feel involved in the whole process of organising a second wedding is to include them in the wedding planning. It is not just you who is getting remarried, so too are your children!

Whilst your choice of spouse has been your decision you should allow your children some say in your wedding planning. Discuss with them their thoughts on your second wedding and ask them how they would like to be involved. You should refer to it as "our" wedding day rather than solely yours and your partner's.

According to Jill Curtis, author of "How to Get Married Again: A Guide to Second Weddings" (available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk) she says,

"My research showed that children not included in at least part of the ceremony often find it more difficult to accept the stepparent. One dilemma may be for a child who thinks her "other" parent may well feel left out and not want the child to take part in a second wedding ceremony. Will it be seen as a betrayal? Or acceptance of the new stepparent?"

Make your children feel wanted and needed by giving them a role in your wedding day. Here are some ideas for ways to include them in your second wedding:

♥ Try to include something symbolic within your wedding ceremony which will signify to all present that you, your partner and your children coming together as a unified family.

♥ Some couples present their children with rings during the wedding ceremony.

♥ It is becoming increasingly popular to include a family vow after the bride and groom's vows during the wedding ceremony where children join the bride and groom to recite some words and have their new blended family blessed.

♥ Daughters can act as maids-of-honor or flower girls.

♥ Sons can stand as "best men", ushers or ring bearers.

♥ Ask your/your partner's children to walk you down the aisle and give you away.

♥ As a family stand at the altar and light a unity candle together.

♥ Ask children to be in charge of the guestbook.

♥ If they are confident speakers they could make a special toast during the wedding reception.

♥ Offer them the chance to give a reading during the wedding ceremony.

Some additional points to remember:

♥ Whatever role you or your children choose for your second wedding make sure that they are comfortable with it.

♥ Ask a family member to keep an eye on your children on your wedding day if you anticipate that you will be too distracted to keep a watchful eye on them.

♥ Remember that your wedding day marks a new beginning for your children too and it can be confusing for them, whether they are 3 years old or 15 years old.

Jill Curtis says,

"A wedding is a landmark in any family and those adults and children who have been burned by the fallout of an earlier divorce or death of a parent will be particularly sensitive to the meaning of the occasion. With some planning, a lot of discussion, and a little bit of luck, it will be a day memories are made of."

♥ If you are divorced you might find that your children have always had a secret fantasy that you and your ex would get back together again. Your second wedding will put an end to this hope so treat your child sensitively.

♥ If your split from your ex-spouse was acrimonious your impending second wedding might stir up painful memories for your children. I know that my 10 year old nephew worries that he will see his Mum be hurt again (bless him!). The best thing you can do as a parent about to embark on a second wedding is to reassure your child that this is a different situation, you are different, you are stronger and the person you are marrying is your soulmate who you want to share your life with.

To compare or not to compare?

♥ Try not to compare your second wedding to your first wedding. My sister has already begun to start sentences with “At my first wedding we had this/we did this…”. This is a definite no-go area for anyone planning their encore wedding. Your fiancé, his family and also your own family and friends do not want to be reminded of your first wedding. This wedding which you are planning now is a unique occasion and should be treated as such, not judged against your first trip up the aisle.

♥ It is an undeniable fact that guests who were present at your first wedding will compare it with your second wedding. I hold my own hands up and admit I have done it myself when I have attended first and second weddings. There is no way to prevent your guests from doing this so you should just come to terms with it before your wedding day.

♥ Don't go overboard trying to plan your second wedding to be a polar opposite of your first wedding. At the end of the day so long as you and your partner are happy with your wedding plans and do everything you can to ensure your guests enjoyment then you can't do more than that. Inevitably there will be similarities between the two weddings - besides everything else they will both involve rings, vows and celebrations of some sort!

♥ With your wedding speeches it is usual for the Best Man, Father of the Bride, Groom and even the Bride to make a reference to the lives of the bride and groom before they met and traditionally some reference to exes would be made. Tread very carefully here! It would be seen to be in poor taste if your first stab at marriage is referred to at your second wedding. You don't want to make your guests, your new partner or your children feel uncomfortable on your wedding day.

Footing the bill for a second wedding

With second weddings where the bride has been married before it is normal for the bride and groom to split the costs of the wedding between them. You should definitely not expect either set of parents to pay towards your second wedding. If it is the bride’s first wedding but the groom’s second, then you will probably find that the bride’s parents will want to contribute towards the wedding costs. It is also quite common for one or both sets of parents to offer financial help towards the wedding costs. In this case you should weigh up whether you want to accept their kind offer as financial input being given by parents can sometimes equate to organizational input being expected with your wedding. One of the main advantages of paying for your own wedding of course is that you are free to make your own decisions when planning the wedding without having input from your parents.

If you are paying for the wedding yourselves then you should create an affordable wedding budget and stick to it. As with any wedding it is possible to have your dream wedding at an affordable cost, but I think this is the case more so with second weddings as you do not need to pull out all of the stops. Second weddings for brides are more about starting a new life with your new husband than about having the expensive dress, breathtaking table ceterpieces, stylish wedding favors and other wedding paraphernalia. That being said, if you can afford it then why not go ahead and organize the extravagant wedding you have always dreamt of!

Invitations

♥ As mentioned, it is completely up to you and your partner whether you choose to have a small wedding attended only by immediate family and close friends or a larger wedding inviting everyone who is important to you both.

♥ Inviting an ex-spouse to your second wedding is thought to be bad form. It depends on your personal circumstances whether or not you want to invite your ex to your wedding. Demi Moore invited Bruce Willis to her nuptials with Ashton Kutcher and at her wedding earlier this month Pamela Anderson asked new husband Kid Rock’s ex Tamara Mellon to be her bridesmaid! If your ex-spouse is a co-parent of your children then your children might feel more at ease at the wedding if they too are invited. You should do what you and your fiancé feel comfortable with - it is your wedding day!

If you and your partner are hosting your own second wedding then the invitation should be worded along the lines of:


Hannah Hopkins
and
Muir Mackintosh
Request the pleasure of your company
At their wedding
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

If it is the bride’s first wedding and her parents are contributing financially towards it then you might prefer that they host the wedding, in which case the invitation could read as follows:


Mr. and Mrs. Humphrey Thompson
Request the pleasure of your company
At the wedding of their daughter
Hannah Hopkins
to
Muir Mackintosh
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

If you have children you might like to include their names on the invitations or even have them named as hosts of the wedding (this would make them feel very included and very special!).

Paul and Mark Hopkins
Request the pleasure of your company
At the wedding of their Mother
Hannah Hopkins
to
Muir Mackintosh
On Saturday, the tenth of September
At three o'clock at
St Paul’s Memorial Church
Cupar
Followed by dinner and dancing at
The Old Course Hotel
St Andrews

Check out Weddings.about.com for more ideas and inspiration for wording invitations for your second wedding.

Bridal Attire for Second Weddings

The most important thing for any bride on her wedding day whether it is her first, second or even eighth wedding (à la Elizabeth Taylor!) is that she feels comfortable, confident, relaxed and, most importantly, beautiful. No matter how many times someone has been married they always want to feel and look like a princess on their special day!

As an encore bride you should not feel restricted about your choice of wedding attire. Old traditions used to point second time brides away from full length gowns, veils and the wearing of ivory or white for their subsequent nuptials but this is no longer the case. You can choose any color or style you wish so long as it suits your age and flatters your figure. If you are a mature encore bride then you are unlikely to want to wear a Cinderella ball gown; you might prefer to choose a simple yet elegant sheath dress, suit or a less formal wedding gown and accessorize with a hat, decorative headpiece or tiara rather than a full veil. According to Nina Callaway of About Weddings,

“Most brides getting remarried have already had their "Princess in a white dress" moment the first time around, and so opt for a more mature look such as a brocade suit or a simple cocktail dress. However, if you eloped the first time, or simply want to have that Princess moment again, there's no reason why you can't. In fact, as divorce and remarriage becomes an evermore regular part of our society, the possibilities for what a second wedding dress can be are endless”.

To help you decide what style of wedding attire is appropriate for your second wedding you should first decide what type of wedding ceremony you are having. Are you having a traditional church wedding, outdoors wedding, destination or beach wedding? If, like Pamela Anderson, you choose to have your second wedding aboard a yacht anchored off of St Tropez, then this will dictate your style of wedding attire (in her case a white string bikini - not every encore brides' first choice I’m sure!).

Wedding Gifts for a Second Wedding

One of the main questions which crops up amongst brides, grooms and also wedding guests, is whether it is acceptable to ask for wedding gifts from guests at your second wedding. This is particularly pertinent if you have invited family and friends who already bought you a gift for your first wedding.

Wedding etiquette states that buying a gift for a couple who are getting married for the second time is definitely not mandatory. Wedding gifts are traditionally given to help a couple set up home together. Nowadays most couples live together before they walk down the aisle and so already have an established household with the requisite amount of crockery, toasters and wine glasses.

You should definitely consider registering for wedding gifts as the majority of your guests will want to buy you a gift (especially if it is a first wedding for one of you). Although typical wedding gifts may not be appropriate for a second wedding, you could consider registering for fun gifts such as equipment for a shared hobby (I attended a second wedding where the bride put golf clubs and lessons on her wedding wish list so that she could share her new husband’s love of the game!), artwork, sculptures or ornaments, a selection of fine wines, vouchers for activity days out (perfect if you have children you can share these with), plants for your garden or a donation to be made to a charity of your choice.

Keep in mind that some of your invited guests might well have been generous with their first wedding gifts to you, so if you are planning to register or ask for gifts then don’t feel hard done by if they choose not to buy you a gift or only buy you a small token gift. Surely the most important thing is that they choose to share your special day!

Personally I would have no problem buying a gift for a couple whose wedding I was invited to, even if I had already bought a gift for their previous wedding (though if it was the same two people remarrying then I would probably only buy a token gift). In my sister’s case she and her fiancé are already talking about their honeymoon which will include my two young nephews, so I suggested to her that she register for travel gift vouchers. There is a great article at Honeymoons.about.com which explains how honeymoon registry websites work. By using one of the free websites mentioned in the article you can list all of your honeymoon expenses including airfares, accommodation costs, excursions, meals, spa treatments, spending cash and even luggage on a website which is accessible to your wedding guests. This means that your guests can purchase whatever aspect or make whatever contribution towards your honeymoon they wish. If, like my sister, this idea appeals to you then you might also want to take a look at Weddingmiles.com where you can set up a registry for your guests to buy you frequent flyer miles to put towards your honeymoon or future travel once you are married.

Honeymoon Plans

Whilst many newlyweds enjoy some time to themselves on their honeymoons, it is becoming more common for couples to include their children in their honeymoon plans after a second wedding. The honeymoon presents a perfect opportunity for blended families to spend time together and share bonding experiences.

As mentioned, my sister intends on taking her two children on her honeymoon (it was her fiancé's idea!). My youngest nephew is obsessed with elephants so my sister has already mentioned that they are considering all going on a safari holiday in Africa - what a perfect way to kick-start their new life together as a family. I am sure they will share lots of great memories from the trip and get to know each other even better!

If you are lucky enough to get a second chance at marriage then I think you should ignore the statistics that say that the chances of a second marriage ending in divorce are 60% compared to 50% of first marriages. Inevitably you will be apprehensive about saying "I do" for the second time but let your hope and optimism shine through for your second wedding. Have confidence in the fact that you are a different person from the one who got married the first time - you are older and wiser second time around.

Resources I recommend for planning your encore wedding:

1,001 Ways to have a Dazzling Second Wedding by Sharon Naylor available at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

This guidebook is perfect for women planning their second weddings. It provides the most current and applicable how-to's on such touchy subjects as: gown choice, family participation, guest diplomacy, gifts, bridal party choices, invitation wording, reception planning, religious requirements, and legalities.

Listen to this discussion about the etiquette of getting married again? Questions include what do you wear and do you have a present list? She discusses this topic with Sandra Boler consulting editor of Brides Magazine and journalist Eve Pollard.

Read this New York Times article on on how couples are embracing second weddings as wholeheartedly as first their one. Written by MarcS. Fischler, it offers an excellent insight into the whole subject of encore weddings.

More second wedding websites to check out:

Take2weddings.com - Offers marriage advice and inspirations from how to tell your children you are getting married the second time around to choosing your dress.
Idotaketwo.com - All the second wedding ideas you'll need to plan your remarriage! Leave questions on the second wedding forum and an expert will respond with an answer.
Brideagain.com - Bride Again is designed for the encore bride. It is targeted to women over 30 who have been married at least one before, have children from a previous marriage or are marrying someone with children and are currently planning to be remarried.
Encorebridemagazine.com - Thoughts, suggestions, reflections, and opinions For re-wedding brides.

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Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding

Hi Everyone,

I received this question from a bride-to-be regarding how to handle divorced parents in the run up to and during your wedding:

My parents are divorced and although both of them seem happy that I am engaged to a wonderful man my Mum is hesitant about me getting married; I think because of the way that her marriage ended. I am also very worried about how my parents will behave on our wedding day. We haven't booked anything yet but I don't want to be worrying on the day about my parents hurting each other. It's not as if they can't stand being in the same room together but my Mum often gets hurt and is sensitive to what my Dad says. What can I do?


This was my reply:

It is totally understandable that your Mum is hesitant about your future marriage. With the statistic that in some US states 1 in 2 marriages end in divorce its enough to make anyone pessimistic about a marriage working.

Make it clear to your Mum that you are fully aware that the divorce rate is high but you are optimistic and believe that you are lucky enough to have found your soul mate. Explain to her how much you love your fiancé and how your relationship is different to her and your Dad’s. You should reassure your Mum that every marriage is different and not all marriages end like hers. Remind her that she had good years with your Dad and you were a product of that, which I am sure she would not change for anything!

Whilst the prospect of your marriage should be a happy one for your Mum, try to understand that it is bound to stir up bitter-sweet memories for her of her own wedding day. Your Mum will have been anticipating your wedding day since you were a little girl and I am sure that she wants it to be perfect for you.

Point out to your Mum that as you have lived through and experienced second-hand the demise of her marriage, it has given you the knowledge of pitfalls which can occur in a married relationship and how to deal with them.

Try not to let any of your Mum’s negative feelings towards marriage influence how you view your future nuptials. Remember that your relationship with your fiancé and indeed your wedding day are unique to you. Enjoy the wedding planning process - this should be the most fun part for you and your fiancé.

There are bound to be difficult situations for both you and your parents on your wedding day. It is only natural that you are worried during your pre-wedding planning stage about how your Mum and Dad will behave on your big day. You want your wedding day to be perfect without any embarrassing or awkward confrontations. You say that they are able to be in the same room together - well, that is a start!

I recommend that before you start organizing your wedding and booking venues, setting a date etc. that you sit down and talk with both of your parents. Preferably you should speak to them both together or, if this is not possible, separately. Whilst you should not have to remind them of what is and is not acceptable behavior for your wedding day, you should communicate your concerns about possible clashes between them.

Remind them that they just have to get on together for one day which is important to you. Inevitably your parents’ thoughts will drift to their own wedding day but you should remind them that your impending nuptials are a time for looking forward, not into the past! The best scenario you can hope for is that they put any bad feelings they have for each other aside and come together to support you on your wedding day. At the very least they should be able to be civil to one another and maintain a cool composure in front of your wedding guests. They may be divorced but they do have something major in common, namely you!

Discuss with them your hopes and expectations for your wedding day and what roles you wish them to play in it. The more detail you can give your parents the better, so that they know exactly what to expect on your wedding day. Ensure that your parents both understand the logistics of your wedding day. They should know when and where they will be expected to be during your ceremony and reception. Avoid confusion and let them know this information as far in advance as possible - this is crucial to the smooth running of your wedding day.

I am sure that as child of divorced parents you have had to suffer divided loyalties before, but during your pre-wedding planning just try to take into consideration both of your parents’ feelings. They will both want to feel equally important on your wedding day. Ask them to tell you their apprehensions about your wedding day and try to come up with solutions which accommodate both of their requirements.

From what you say, it sounds like your Mum is quite a sensitive person, perhaps more so when in the presence of your Dad. Let’s face it, her daughter’s wedding is going to be an emotional day for her anyway so do expect some tears from her! However, there are some precautions you can take to preserve her emotions and ensure that there are no full-blown family dramas between your parents on your wedding day. Here are my tips for dealing with possibly difficult aspects of your wedding day.

Seating divorced parents

It is understandable that a common concern for a bride whose parents are divorced is where they will sit during the ceremony and the wedding reception. Remember that there are no rules about divorced parents having to sit together at their daughter’s wedding.

During the wedding ceremony

If your parents are able to be civil to one another then seat them together in the front row. If you think that this might be awkward and that they would be more comfortable sitting apart then either seat them in the front row and separate them by seating other relatives in between them, or alternatively your Mum should sit in the front row and your Dad in the row behind her with his relatives.

Another solution is that you do away with having a groom and bride’s side of the ceremony venue and advise your guests that they can sit on either side. This would allow your parents to choose where they would like to sit and would eliminate any awkwardness about their decision not to sit together.

During the wedding reception

To avoid awkward moments and stilted conversation on your top table perhaps you should consider the following options for seating your parents at your wedding reception:

♥ A simple solution would be to try the following seating arrangement on the top table: you and your husband in the centre, your husband’s parents (I assume that they are still married as you have not mentioned anything to the contrary) on each side of you, your best man and bridesmaid next, and then your Mum and Dad at opposite ends of the table.

♥ Rather than having parents sit on the top table with you, you could have a “sweetheart table” which is a popular alternative to a top table (David and Victoria Beckham had one at their wedding!). You and your new husband sit at a table for two which can be situated anywhere in the reception venue, although traditionally it is placed in the middle of the room with the other tables of guests forming a circle around it. This means that you could be surrounded by your family and friends and would be free to get up and mingle with them without feeling guilty about neglecting those guests on the top table. You could choose who to seat your parents with at separate tables. They would probably enjoy the reception more being seated amongst their friends and family.

♥ If you decide not to have a top table at your reception then you should not bother to have your parents’ entrance into the reception announced by the MC. Your parents certainly won’t want the additional attention such an announcement might bring to their marital situation.

♥ Undoubtedly your parents will want to be seated in a place of honor at your wedding reception but you might prefer to have them seated at separate tables. You could have your wedding party (best man, maid of honor etc) seated with you at the top table and then your husband’s parents jointly and your Mum and Dad separately host their own table of wedding guests. Their allocated table could be made up of their family and close friends - this will make each of them feel special and is sure to encourage them to relax and enjoy your wedding reception.

Always make decisions about the seating for your ceremony and reception well in advance so that there is no confusion on your wedding day.

Receiving line

Wedding etiquette dictates that you can either have a receiving line or not – the choice is yours! The purpose of the receiving line is to allow you and your new husband to greet your guests. Traditionally the bride and groom’s parents, particularly those who have contributed financially towards the wedding, also join the line to welcome guests to the wedding reception. Many couples nowadays skip having a receiving line at their wedding and perhaps in your circumstances you would prefer to do this too.

If you do decide to have a receiving line at your wedding then you should not stand your parents together in the line - have other members of the bridal party in between them. Check out SuperWeddings.com for receiving line order and etiquette.

Photography

It is best to fully brief your photographer before the wedding day so that they are aware that your parents are divorced and they can treat the photo groupings sensitively. You should not try to hide your parent’s situation from the photographer - they will need to know how to arrange family photos.

Are your parents likely to refuse to be photographed together? To avoid embarrassing situations on the actual wedding day, sound them out about this so that you have advance warning if a family or group photo is unacceptable to both or either of them. It is important that decisions are made regarding the photos and notice is given to the photographer in advance.

I would imagine that you would love to have a photo of yourself in your stunning wedding dress flanked on either side by your parents. If this is the case, then speak to your parents in advance to check whether they are willing to smile sweetly for the camera for such a photo. Explain to them how important a photo of the three of you together would mean to you – a bit of emotional blackmail never fails to work!

Toasting

It is traditional for your Dad to make a speech and toast you and your new husband during the reception. The best advice I can give you to avoid any awkwardness is to speak to your Dad beforehand and ask him to choose his words very carefully. As your Mum is sensitive, and will be more so on your wedding day, remind your Dad to focus on the positives if he is mentioning his own marriage or your childhood in his speech. Nobody wants to hear about their divorce or recriminations or regrets about his own marriage. Weddings are upbeat optimistic occasions and everyone wants to celebrate your relationship not dwell on the fact that some marriages don’t work out! Alternatively if your Mum is concerned that she may not be represented in your Dad’s toast or she wants to express her own happiness at your wedding, then you could ask if she wants to make a toast of her own. The new modern trend with weddings is that you do not have to stick to traditional wedding etiquette. Increasing numbers of couples are allowing other members of the wedding party to make a toast – it adds a unique element to your wedding day.

Bridal Dances

Again, to avoid awkward situations during your wedding reception, decide in advance whether you want the MC or DJ to announce a “parents” dance. Make sure that you tell your parents ahead of time what you are planning to do. If you think the “parents” dance is likely to make your parents uncomfortable then eliminate it from your reception. You could ask for it to be announced as simply a “bridal party” dance and ask the best man, Maid of Honor or other attendants to partner each of your parents on the dance floor. Simply explain the situation to the MC or DJ ahead of time so that they can make the necessary adjustments to their usual wedding line up.

For great tips and advice on how to appease both your Mum, Dad and even yourself during your pre-wedding planning, read this article from the Wedding Gazette.

Surviving the pre-wedding stage when you are caught between divorced parents is the most difficult part. I have personally attended many weddings where divorced parents were involved and there have never been any clashes. Remember that your wedding day is a happy optimistic occasion and your parents’ conflicts should not blight your happiness.

Don’t assume that your wedding day will turn into a battle ground that you have to survive! Whilst it will inevitably be a challenge for you and your parents, you have all survived a divorce so planning your wedding day should be a walk in the park!

Remember it is your day, not theirs!

Thanks for your question and good luck!

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Discover Ken York's "Father Of The Bride" Wedding Advice Blog
Date: July 13, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Family & Relationships & Unique Ideas & Wedding Blogs

Have you ever wondered how fathers feel in the run up to their daughter's weddings? Well you need wonder no more as a father of a bride-to-be has come up with an innovative new blog offering advice designed to help other fathers of brides to give away their daughters without taking out a second mortgage!

The concept behind this blog is to chronicle the experiences of its writer Ken York while he helps to plan and pay for his daughter’s wedding due to take place in October 2006.

“I am about to spend more money on my daughter’s wedding than I did buying my first house and first new car combined and 90 percent of the advice I’ve found for fathers of the bride is to be supportive and write checks”.

With 2.3 million couples getting married in the United States in 2006, there are a similarly large number of fathers of the bride who are about to shell out over $20,000 for their daughters’ one-day wedding event. The average wedding today costs $26,800 according to the Wedding Report, yet there is a distinct lack of information oriented towards the father of the bride. From the time the planned wedding is announced, daughters and wives are thinking of how wonderful the day will be and immediately start to mentally review every wedding article, magazine, book, television show and conversation that they have ever had concerning weddings. The father of the bride, on the other hand, probably only has a vague memory of his own wedding day and is a bit lost in the whole planning process.

“As I go through this process people are opening up to me telling about their positive and negative experiences,” said York. “I intend to both post this information along with my research on the blog and in an E-book that I am writing.”

You should definitely point your Dad in the direction of this blog as it offers guy-oriented advice on how to orchestrate/save money on daughter's weddings as well as following Ken's progress as he humorously develops his own strategy for dealing with his daughter’s wedding.

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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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