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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So are receiving lines an out of date tradition and a waste of time, or are they an integral part of your wedding, enabling you to make each of your guests feel valued and welcome?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.

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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 III



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78 Free Wedding Tips And Book

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

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

Sample Tip 1 :

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

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

Sample Tip 2 :

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

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

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

Sample Tip 3 :

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

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


How To Boost Your Wedding Budget – Invite Your Guests To Pay For Your Wedding!
Date: June 02, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Etiquette & Gifts & Guests & Honeymoon & Industry News & Planning & Reviews & Site News & Site Reviews & TV Shows & Unique Ideas

When you look at the following facts:

♥ the average cost of a wedding in the UK tops £20,000

♥ increasing numbers of couples are marrying after they have already set up home together

♥ most couples plan and fund their own weddings nowadays

it’s no wonder that:

♥ couples are now looking for alternative ways to pay for their weddings (rather than having to depend on family contributions, loans or credit cards)

♥ couples planning their weddings don’t require traditional wedding gifts to furnish their home with such as housewares and fine china

The conclusion which can be drawn for couples planning their weddings nowadays is that what they need more than anything is financial help with their spiraling wedding costs.

As I mentioned in my previous blog in the last couple of years online honeymoon gift registries such as Traveler's Joy, Honeymoon Wishes and Honeymoon.com have become hugely popular. Couples planning their nuptials turn to these websites to save themselves money as their wedding guests contribute funds towards their dream honeymoon.

One step on from the honeymoon gift registry is Youbuymywedding.com, an innovative website which allows couples to pay for their wedding by inviting guests to make financial pledges online towards their wedding costs rather than buying them a traditional wedding gift. I think that this is an ingenious concept.

As featured on Five News, Youbuymywedding.com encourages brides and grooms-to-be to opt for money rather than traditional wedding presents and thus take the financial strain off of their wedding plans. For couples who want a dream wedding but find that it is beyond their restricted wedding budget this website is perfect as rather than having to scrimp and cut corners you can share the wedding costs with your guests.

According to Youbuymywedding.com its aim is to

“help couples finance their weddings by inviting their guests to share the cost of paying for the big day, instead of buying wedding gifts in the conventional way”.

So how does Youbuymywedding.com work? It appears to be quite simple. You set up your own personalized wedding page using the website and choose the pledge items you want to be covered, using up to 20 categories covering every aspect of your wedding, including invitations, flowers, reception, cake, car hire, honeymoon, rings and even the dress. Next, decide how much you want to raise for each category. Your guests can then visit your personal wedding page and browse through your selected pledge items. A great feature is that the website also indicates to your guests which items have received the most support, and which still need contributions. Guests can make a donation towards their choice of wedding expense using the secure online payment service Paypal, and they will receive an email confirmation of their pledge, which can be made anonymously if they prefer. Once they have made their pledge Youbuymywedding.com will also notify you by means of an SMS text alert.

So that you can keep up-to-date with your wedding budget you can check your wedding fund balance on the website any time and make withdrawals at any time (in the form of a bank transfer or cheque) to pay for or book items in advance of your wedding.

I think that this website has advantages too from your wedding guests’ point of view. Rather than them having to find and buy a possibly unwanted or duplicate wedding gift, they can save time and effort by simply logging on to your website and give you the gift you really need – money!

Whilst honeymoon gift registries have proven to be a popular choice with modern couples who want to register for alternative wedding gifts, I think that unique websites such as Youbuymywedding.com will also be popular amongst couples who already have everything they need for their marital home but who could use some financial assistance to bolster their wedding fund.

So, if you don’t want to rein in your wedding plans, restrict your wedding budget or have to finance your wedding using a loan or credit card and start married life in debt then why not take a look at Youbuymywedding.com.

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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.


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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

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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 II
Date: January 23, 2008 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Budgeting & Cameras & Ceremonies & Children & Etiquette & Flower & Decorations & Guests & Music & Dance & Planning & Reception & Unique Ideas & Venues

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

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


How To Entertain Children During Your Wedding

So, now you have hopefully found a perfect venue and qualified child carers for your guests' children. Your next step is how to transform it into a children’s wonderland so that the children can enjoy your wedding every bit as much as the adults do.


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Ceremony

Children are, by nature, unpredictable. There is no guarantee for parents that having been in a joyful mood all morning their little one’s temper will not erupt just as your wedding ceremony is starting. Whilst a few sniffles, coughs or whispers from the amassed guests is acceptable during a wedding ceremony, no bride wants to exchange her vows against a backdrop of screaming children. I’ve experienced many weddings myself where the vows have been drowned out by children crying or whining. I also know first hand that the last thing a bride, groom or wedding guest wants to worry about is dealing with a cranky child.

Have a think about the ages of the children who are invited to your wedding and ask yourself if they are capable of sitting quietly through your ceremony. As an experienced nanny myself I would say that any child under the age of 7 is likely at some stage to become impatient, restless or fidgety - more so if it is a religious service rather than a Disney movie which they are being made to sit through!


Tips For Preventing Meltdown During The Ceremony

♥ If it is within your budget and if a small room is available at your ceremony venue perhaps organizing for a child carer or sitter to be on standby for this part of your wedding would prove invaluable. You have to bear in mind that a church, or other religious service, is not exactly designed as children's entertainment. The child carer could entertain the children in a school room, crèche, vestry or anteroom (in a Church wedding) or a function room (for a wedding at a hotel or similar venue) whilst the parents enjoy the ceremony without interruptions from the children.

♥ Be warned some parents will opt not to place their child with your child carer but instead insist on having them sit with them through your ceremony. This is their choice (and sometimes the child’s choice too – believe it or not some children love wedding ceremonies!) so give them both options, but remember you can’t force them. If you only want children to attend the wedding reception and not the ceremony then remember to make this clear on the invitation.

♥ If you are organizing activities or child care during the ceremony make sure parents are aware of this in advance. Also ensure that the children’s room and toilets are well signposted.

♥ Think about asking the officiant to say a few diplomatic words prior to the ceremony beginning to reassure parents not to feel uncomfortable about leaving during the ceremony to take their fractious children outside.

♥ Ask ushers to seat parents with babies or very small children, where appropriate (e.g. not the groom’s sister), towards the back of the ceremony room or church or at least at the end of aisles, so they can make a swift exit and leave with a minimum of fuss if awkward moments arise during the wedding ceremony (taking their little one with them of course!).

♥ Put together a paper bag or box for each child to be handed out prior to the ceremony beginning containing a toy, juice box and snack (such as individual bags of crackers, lightly sweetened cookies or small boxes of raisins) to keep them fed and entertained. To avoid conflict, make sure there are enough bags to go around!


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Photos

Here are some ideas for entertaining the children whilst the photos are being taken after the ceremony:

♥ If you have children in your wedding party who need to be included in the wedding photos organize with the photographer that these are the first photos they take so that the children can relax and roam free.

♥ Children love to feel included so ask your photographer to take a picture of you both with all of the children.

♥ A great way of entertaining the children is to provide them with:

o Bottles of bubbles - children love blowing and chasing bubbles and the bubbles look great in the photos too! (A word of warning though, beware of unsupervised wobbly toddlers approaching you or your wedding party, bubbles in hand - the last thing you want is a bubble spillage ruining your outfit before you even make it to the reception!).

o A confetti cannon pouch - these are inexpensive palm-sized pouches which inflate via a straw and then pop up to release a shower of colorful tissue paper pieces (remember to check first that your ceremony venue allows this type of confetti before investing in these for the children though).

o Goody bags - As mentioned above, you could put together a bag for each child with a snack and a simple toy to keep them entertained (refer to Children’s Favors in Part III for unique ideas and recommendations for goody bag contents).

o Treasure hunt - If you have outdoor space available to you this would be a great time to organize a treasure hunt. I attended a wedding reception a few years ago where the groom-to-be arrived at the reception venue early and with the aide of a couple of his groomsmen planted small well wrapped toys and candy prizes in and around the venue gardens. During the cocktail hour, whilst us adults enjoyed champagne and nibbles, the children ran themselves ragged trying to find the treasure which was marked on the maps they had been given after the wedding ceremony. It was great fun to watch them and very inexpensive to organize. (NB: At this wedding there was no child care required because the adults were in the same enclosed (safe) gardens watching the children.)

If you intend on organizing a treasure hunt or even an Easter egg hunt remember to discuss this with your reception venue and check:

• that they will allow it (some venues are a bit finicky about children rooting through their shrubs!)

• whether they can help organize the treasure hunt if necessary

• whether you will need child care to supervise the children or are the adults likely to be in the same area and therefore be able to keep an eye on them

• is the outdoor space safe for the children to run around in – are there any danger areas (e.g. water features, ramshackle walls, expensive unstable statues)?


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception

For every sweet, charming, well-behaved child who you invite to your wedding be aware that there is also going to be another who is an uncontrollable monster! Even children who are absolute angels, when hungry, bored and tired, are liable to tantrums. Be prepared for this and minimize the chances of meltdowns during your reception by having plenty of entertaining and fun activities planned in advance for the children to divert their attention away from the fact that during the reception they are not the center of their parent’s attention. You cannot expect young children to sit still and quiet throughout the entire wedding reception.

With just a few tips and ideas you can have the wedding reception you have always dreamt of whilst keeping your pint-sized guests and their parents happy too.


Children’s Seating

Deciding place settings for your wedding reception can be one of the most challenging parts of planning your wedding reception. Keep it simple when it comes to seating children – decide at the outset whether you want a designated children’s table or not.


How To Decide Whether To Have A Separate Children's Table

♥ Firstly, look at your guest list and take note of the invited children’s ages. Children’s tables at weddings only really work with children over the age of 5 upwards. Therefore for under 5’s you might want to seat them on their parent’s table as some of them will need help with their food (e.g. having it cut up and fed to them, being encouraged to eat etc).

♥ Secondly, think about whether the children will be able to mix easily. If you have a lot of children attending the wedding who know each other (i.e. they are cousins/friends/schoolmates) then seating them on their own would be a great idea – they will be really excited to have their own table and will have great fun amusing each other and catching up during the wedding meal.

Handy Tip: Whilst you want the children to have a great time remember that if they are sitting together they are likely to be quiet boisterous. Have someone remind them that they should keep quiet during the speeches – whilst some heckling is expected during wedding speeches, unruly children screaming at one another is not!

♥ For children who don’t know one another I would not recommend seating them on their own table. Young children and teenagers alike can be painfully shy so it is kinder to sit them with their parents rather than force them to mingle with children they have never met before.

♥ Remember to take your child-free guests into consideration when deciding where to seat families with children at your reception – will they be happy sitting next to a boisterous two year old for the duration of the meal?

♥ When making your decision take into consideration that whilst some parents will want to keep their young children nearby, some parents feel that having a separate children’s table frees them up and allows them to relax and enjoy the wedding meal, speeches etc.

♥ Of course if you decide early on in your planning to hire sitters or child carers for the children during the reception then you could sit the smaller children with them at a children’s table - they will be able to supervise and help with feeding, cutting up food etc.

Top Tip: Let the venue know in advance how many children will require booster seats on the chairs or highchairs for little wrigglers (ask parents on the note you put in with the invitation whether they will require either of these on the day).


Organizing A Children’s Table

Whether you intend on seating children at their own table or are seating them alongside their parents at adult tables here are some pointers for how to make them comfortable and keep them entertained during the wedding meal.


Child-Friendly Centerpieces For The Tables At Your Reception

There is no point in putting extravagant centerpieces on children’s tables – they will be totally unappreciative of your carefully chosen potted orchid centerpiece. If you are looking for creative child-friendly centerpieces for the children’s table here are some ideas:


Candy Centerpiece - You could place a small bowl of candy or a couple of jars of candy in the center of the table. If the children are sitting with adults make sure there is enough for everyone. I attended a wedding last year where we had Dolly Mixture candies on each table which the adults pounced on – the children did not get a look in!

Handy Hint: If the children are sitting at a table on their own unsupervised don’t set out bowls of candy, such as jelly beans or M&M’s, which they can easily throw around. A good alternative is to give them an individual candy bar or cookie.


Fruit Centerpiece – For a healthier alternative (and to prevent the children peaking too early with their sugar highs!) you could create a decorative edible centerpiece made up of pieces of fruit.


Balloons – Whilst balloons are a perfect inexpensive and colorful way to decorate the children’s table beware that unsupervised crafty children with cutlery in front of them might make their own entertainment during your speeches!


Goldfish Bowl – I attended a fantastic wedding where the organizers had placed a bowl with a couple of goldfish in it on the children’s table. It made a really unique living centerpiece and completely enthralled the children who were entertained watching the fish swimming back and forth. You can place the bowl on top of a circular mirror in the center of the table, add colored stones (to match your wedding color theme), some rocks and a couple goldfish. These items are all quite inexpensive to buy and the best bit is you can give the bowl and fish to one of your guests at the end of the night (someone that does not to make a plane journey to get home!). Here are some tips to consider if you decide to go down the goldfish bowl route for your table centerpiece:

♥ You should check with your reception venue to make sure that they are agreeable to having goldfish on the tables.

♥ If the bowl is uncovered make sure the children are supervised - the last thing you want is them terrorizing the poor goldfish by poking them with breadsticks or throwing bits of chicken nugget in on top of them!

♥ Goldfish do not typically have a long lifespan so ask a member of the venue staff to check that the fish are still alive and well prior to the reception beginning – children and adults alike do not want to see goldfish floating belly up before they sit down to eat at your wedding!

♥ To prevent arguments breaking out over who claims ownership of the fish and bowls at the end of the night (especially if you are having goldfish bowls on more than one table) you could put a tag on each bowl with the name of who it should go home with. Alternatively you could award it as a prize for the best drawing, best dancing, best cookie decorating etc (see Prizes below).


Candy Topiary - I think Candy Topiary would make a fantastic centerpiece for the tables with children on them. They are mini topiaries made up of mini candy bars which the children (and adults) can pick off the tree during the reception. They were created by Dylan Lauren of Dylan's Candy Bar for the Martha Stewart Show. Take a look at this video clip to see how easy they are to make yourself. You could even use candy bars in colors to match the theme of your wedding.


Themed Wedding Centerpiece – If you are planning a themed wedding or a beach wedding then carry this through to the child-friendly centerpiece which you choose. I love the idea for a seaside reception location of creating a pirate theme at the children’s table. You could have pirate flags, hats and eye patches decorating the table for the children to play with and in the center a pirate ship or a treasure chest filled with candies.


Children’s Tabletop Safety At Your Wedding Reception

♥ The decorations and centerpiece on the children’s table at your wedding reception not only has to look fun and enticing but also has to be child-friendly. To ensure the safety of the children do not place ornate towering candle holders or twinkling tea lights on their table.

♥ Avoid using crystal or glass drinking glasses for the children's table. To keep the children, the table and everyone else seated on it dry ask the venue to provide cups with lids for very small children. They might not add much to your beautiful table decorations but think of the alternative if a child spills their drink.

♥ Remember to tell your venue staff which table children are going to be seated on so that if you are having favors at your reception they do not give children adults favors by accident. This might sound obvious but I’ve attended a wedding before where expensive liqueur truffles and whisky miniatures were put on the children’s table!


Setting Up A Children’s Table

Discuss your preference for a children’s table with the manager at your wedding reception venue. They might be able to make helpful suggestions for creating child-friendly tables at your reception and they could possibly have a few games and toys on hand to keep the children entertained during the reception.

When planning the children’s seating and entertainment do remember to share your plans with your wedding reception venue staff. In particular, if you are intending on providing crayons, pencils and stickers for the children’s tables check that they allow them. Some venues (depending on how pernickety they are) might insist on using alternative table coverings for the children’s tables if there is any chance that they might get crayon or worse on them. Discuss your options with the venue manager and remember that having to switch to less expensive tablecloths for the children’s table is definitely preferable to losing your deposit because of a little one’s artistic efforts on the white damask tablecloth on your wedding day!


Activities To Entertain Children At The Table During The Wedding Meal

Whilst adults enjoy chatting and lingering over their meal at weddings (unless they are seated on the table with the bride’s mad uncle!) children need something fun to do otherwise they could get bored and create mayhem!

You can’t expect children, whether they are 4 months old or 14 years old, to sit quietly and happily at a table during a 4 course wedding meal followed by toasts and speeches. Be warned, bored children leads to screams of frustration during the speeches!

What you want is to plan age appropriate quiet activities to keep the children so busy that they will forget they are sitting at a table listening to boring speeches and waiting for (a) the food to be served and (b) the fun dancing to start!

Here are a few hints and tips for keeping a table full of young children entertained during the wedding meal:

♥ Coloring and Drawing - Washable crayons, pencils and paper are perfect – a lot of children will draw happily for hours. You could even arrange a children’s coloring competition - ask each child to draw a picture of the bride and groom and hand them in to a designated member of the bridal party when they have finished. You can judge the pictures, hand out prizes for the winner and runners up and you get to keep the pictures as a memento of your wedding day!

♥ Budget Option - If you are on a tight budget you could print off some pictures for coloring prior to your wedding and leave them on the table for the children with some washable crayons. Websites such as Free-coloring-pages.com offer a variety of free printable colorable pictures for children – your only cost will be some ink and printer paper!

♥ Tabletop Art - For instant tabletop entertainment cover the children’s table with white butcher paper and put out cartons of crayons. Let the children cover the table with their creative etchings - this should help to keep them occupied during the speeches and still protect the venue’s furniture.

Arts and crafts items are a great idea, but bear in mind that they will not hold the attention of all children for very long. Here are some further tips to help you entertain a table full of child wedding guests during your reception.

♥ Cameras - You could place a couple of disposable cameras on the table for the children to join in with the fun and take some snaps of the action at your wedding reception. If the children are unsupervised on their own table make sure you leave instructions for the older children on how to operate the camera.

♥ Goody Bag - On the table at each children’s place setting put a small box or bag containing toys and goodies appropriate to each child’s age. Alternatively, if you are on a tight budget or run out of time to organize goody bags you could simply place a small, age-appropriate, individual item in each child's place. Here are some ideas:

a puzzle book

sticker sets

small story book

mini activity books and washable crayons

coloring books

crayons, pencils and paper

sticker sets (younger children will definitely need to be supervised with these or you run the risk of having your wedding venue walls being jazzed up with Barbie stickers!)

assorted puzzles and tabletop games

a small box of Lego

stuffed finger puppets

masks and hats (these always provide a great party atmosphere for children)

a jewelry or bead set

Top Tip: For the sake of your other guests during the wedding meal I advise you to stay away from noisy items such as racing cars, books with noises, musical instruments, electronic games etc.

Make sure that the goody bags are clearly labeled with each child’s name and placed at their assigned seat so that there is no confusion (and no fists flying amongst the children) over which bag belongs to which child.

♥ Wedding Table Activity Sets - You could buy ready made wedding table activity sets. Search on the internet as there are lots of different varieties available for all age ranges and for both boys and girls. These sets cost $29.95 and come with enough fun activities to keep up to 6 children entertained.

For further unique gift ideas for the children at your wedding see Children's Favors in Part III.


How To Entertain Children After The Meal If You Have No Separate Room For Them At Your Wedding Venue

If your wedding venue has no separate room available for use by the children for the duration of your wedding reception then don’t panic – there are a couple of options available to you.

Activity Area – Set up a table in the corner of your function room (preferably as far away from the load music and bar area as possible) which is available throughout the evening for children to visit at their leisure. Even if you expect the children to be eating and then dancing all night, it doesn't hurt to have a table in the corner set up with crayons, pencils, paper, fun coloring and activity books and some board games and puzzles. As before, cover it with butcher block paper instead of a tablecloth. You could also set up an easel for the children to work at on their creative masterpieces.


Imaginative Play Area – Set up a children’s table with cuddly toys, mini-stuffed animals, feather boas, princess crowns, pirate hats and other fun costumes and toys for the children to play with. These are the type of items which you could ask to borrow from a local crèche or ask generous parents to lend them to you for your wedding reception.


Venue - Sometimes the actual venue itself can keep children amused (especially if it has a special child-friendly feature like a maze). Has your venue got lots of places to play games (e.g. hide and seek is a firm favorite) and run about? Remember to check whether your venue staff are happy for children to do this. Some venues will ask that children are supervised by an adult at all times during your wedding.

Even if you think children will be happy to sit with the adults during the wedding reception I recommend you have an area set up in a corner of the function room where they can leave the table and do some activities. Rather than sitting and listening to the wedding speeches (which, lets face it, must be boring for young children) they can move on to the activity table and entertain themselves.


Music And Dance For Children At Your Wedding Reception

We all know that children love to dance. I think for me that is the hardest part to understand of why couples don’t want children attending their wedding reception. There is nothing cuter than seeing children and adults dancing. You only have to look at some of the footage on You Tube to see how adorable children getting down on the wedding dance floor can be. This is part of the fun of having little ones at a wedding.


To Dance Or Not To Dance - If you are having musical entertainment at your wedding reception decide early on whether you want the children to join in with the adult guests on the dance floor. If you don’t want children sliding across the dance floor on their knees (I’ve seen adults do this too when they’ve had one too many drinks at weddings!) then there is no harm in making the evening entertainment an adult themed party. Simply make parents aware in advance of your wedding that the dance floor is strictly off-limits for children by putting a note in with their invitation (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV).


Inflatable Fun On The Dance Floor - If you are including children in your evening dance entertainment, to add a bit of fun on the dance floor why not buy some blow up guitars, saxophones and microphones for the children (and the adults if they can get their hands on them!). They cost about $2 and are widely available on the internet from stores such as Noveltiesgalore.com. They are quite big when inflated so be aware that unsupervised children on the dance floor might end up using them as weapons against each other!


Dancing Competition - At my wedding there was no separate room available for the children so one of the things which I arranged was a disco dancing competition for the children which was judged, by my husband and I, and prizes handed out (we had runners up prizes for the less abled dancers too!).


Music For The Children - I recommend you get a good DJ for your wedding reception who is willing to include some fun songs at the beginning of the night for the children to dance to (they can save the schmaltzy stuff for later when the children go to bed!). By providing the children with music targeted at their age group you are allowing them to join in with the wedding fun which they (and their parents) are sure to appreciate.


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception If You Have Only A Bedroom Available

Don’t panic if you only have a bedroom available at the wedding venue for your use. As a nanny I’ve hosted plenty of fantastic children’s parties in some of the smallest hotel rooms known to mankind! I’ve even organized a pitch and putt competition with a plastic golf set and mountains of cushions for the children (both boys and girls) at one wedding party in a hotel room. All you need is to be prepared.

♥ Find out in advance if the room has a TV and DVD/VCR player for the chill-out movie session for the children later in the day. A CD player would be great too so that if you have younger children you can play some nursery rhymes.

♥ Ensure that on the wedding day the room is stocked up with child-friendly snacks, drinks, and games and craft supplies as mentioned previously.

♥ Borrow movies and children’s CD’s from friends for the wedding reception or ask your child carer if they could provide these.

♥ Obviously there would be a bed in the room for children to take naps on, but find out if any of your guests are going to need a travel cot or space for strollers for their small ones to nap in (you could ask them about this in the notes to parents – see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV).


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception If You Have A Separate Room Available

If your wedding venue is able to provide you with a function room at an affordable cost here are some tips for kitting it out and ideas for activities to keep the children entertained and out of mischief.


How To Set Up An Activity Room For Children Of All Ages


Furniture and Decoration

♥ The children’s room should be furnished like a traditional crèche or children’s nursery - table and chairs (small furniture would be better if you have children aged 1-4 attending), some floor cushions, bean bags or inflatable sofas (see details below).

♥ Depending on the ages of the children you are expecting to use the children’s room at your wedding reception, traditionally children prefer an arts and crafts table (or tables if you have a lot of children over the age of 4 years old), a comfy seated area for reading books and story telling, a television for movie time, a table set up for board games, puzzle play etc., and a table with some drinks and snacks set up on it. You can modify the room layout to suit the needs of the activities which you choose for the children on your wedding day.

♥ If your venue are unable to provide you with any furniture, or if you are getting married in an unfurnished venue, you could rent the pieces which you need. To hire or borrow furniture ask at a kindergarten, pre-school or church crèche close to the vicinity of your wedding venue. Alternatively, ask friends with children if they could lend you some of their children’s furniture. If you are unable to locate any furniture by these means hire companies offer children’s tables and chair, picnic tables and activity tables for daily rental.

♥ You could decorate the children’s room with balloons and soft furnishings matching your wedding color scheme.


Health And Safety In The Children’s Activity Room

No matter what the age range of children using the room is you must ensure that it provides them with a hazard-free and safe environment. Speak to your venue manager or person in charge of the children’s room and your child carer about your requirements. It should:

♥ be cleaned to a high standard (the flooring especially so if babies are likely to be crawling on it)

♥ have socket covers on unused electrical sockets

♥ have floor space which is clear of electrical cables (which children might trip on)

♥ have sufficient lighting for the children to carry out their arts activities, read books comfortably etc.

♥ be well ventilated with a source of heat/air conditioning

♥ have enough power sockets for CD players, electronic games etc.

♥ have lockable windows and doors and a well sign-posted fire exit (just in case)

♥ have a range of child-size aprons on hand to protect children’s smart clothes from glue, paint, frosting and any other messy decorative activities they might participate in – packs of 10 disposable children’s aprons are available for $3 from Kidzcraft.co.uk.

If you are employing a professional child carer they will have experience of how to maintain a comfortable environment in the children’s room for the children (e.g. comfortable room temperature, ventilation etc).


Activities For Children During The Wedding Reception

There are a wide range of entertainment choices suitable for every size and style of wedding venue which are sure to create a fun environment for the children.

To decide which activities to arrange, first find out what the age range of children attending your wedding will be. If you are setting up the children’s room yourself you will need to set out age appropriate games, e.g. children ages 5-11 really enjoy activities involving building and creating things and problem solving, whilst younger children prefer arts and crafts (the messier the better!) and imaginative play. Children aged 8 upwards like sports, board games, electronic games and activities based around hobbies (model making, beading, origami, chess etc). For more information on age appropriate activities for the children at your wedding check out Familytlc.net which has some great ideas.


Competitions

Competitions appeal to all children’s competitive streak and the chance of winning a prize, so why not organize one of the following:

♥ An art competition, with prizes for the best efforts, or for younger children have a coloring contest with prizes for the most colorful drawings

♥ A treasure hunt (see Part III for further details on this)

♥ An Easter egg hunt – I have organized this for a wedding before. We helped the children to make and decorate cardboard Easter egg baskets and then went into the grounds of the hotel to hunt for the pre-planted eggs. The winner who found the most plastic eggs was given a prize (no child went away empty handed though!)

♥ A disco dancing competition during the evening entertainment in the main function room or in the children’s room

♥ I’ve even attended a wedding where the child with the highest score on the Bopit toy won a prize.


Prizes For Children

If you are planning on organizing a few competitions to entertain the children at your wedding reception make sure that you buy some prizes to be handed out on the day. Leave them with your child carer (if you have one – otherwise ask venue staff to keep them hidden away from the children’s sight until you ask for them) so that she can hand them out to the children at the appropriate time. You can find small trophies at a party-supply store but more child-friendly prizes are candy and small toys. I supervised the children’s room at a very extravagant wedding once where MP3 players were given out as prizes to winners. This is fine if you have oodles of money in your wedding budget but really children are just as happy to receive a more typical prize of a coloring set, box of candy or sticker set. These are items that you can purchase in advance of your wedding (remember to check dollar stores for small inexpensive items too). For more ideas for prizes ask friends with children for suggestions, search on the internet or check out Smalltoys.com.

Make sure you buy enough to go around and have a few spare items put by just in case.

Top Tip: If you are having a treasure hunt, disco dancing or coloring competition make sure that everyone wins something – all of the children should be winners on your wedding day!


Art and Craft Activities

Children of all ages enjoy crafts so how about setting up an arts-and-crafts table in the children’s room. Provide some simple arts and crafts supplies such as coloring books, crayons, pencils, colored card, collage materials and glue sticks, sticker books with stickers and stencils.

Other craft activities which the children at your wedding might enjoy:

beading - supply beads for the children to make their own bracelets and necklaces which they can take home

pot painting

origami

handbag making and decorating

mask or crown making and decorating

T shirt painting – children could create a work of art which they can take away with them and wear. This is a very popular craft activity for children of all ages and abilities. Every child gets a new good quality T shirt to decorate using a range of fabric paints, marker pens and other decorative effects. You can hire companies such as Partypop.com who will come to your party and provide all the equipment including tables and stools and also supervising staff. Alternatively you could set this activity up yourself easily and ask your child carer to supervise the younger children. You can buy both t-shirts and the fabric paints, marker pens etc very inexpensively – try stores like Target and StencilWarehouse.com or alternatively they are available online at Kidzcraft.co.uk with prices starting at $4.


Other Activity Ideas

Toys such as miniature cars and a mat for them to play on, Bop It, Etch a Sketch, Battleships, card games like snap or Top Trumps

Comics and story books

Activity and puzzle books

Nail varnish painting (little girls love this!)

Jigsaw puzzles and board games – Organize popular games which can be played by children on tabletops or on the floor on their own or as a team, such as Operation, Connect 4, Pictionary, Monopoly, Mousetrap, Twister, Jenga, Snakes and Ladders, Scrabble, Buckaroo, Cludo, Chess, Ludo, jigsaw puzzles etc (you can hire packages of board games Kidsco.co.uk if you are unable to beg steal or borrow them for your wedding). Also, I think this chocolate Jenga game would be a big hit with the children.


Piñata - How about investing in a wedding-themed piñata for the children. For those of you not familiar with this children’s party essential, piñatas are large papier-mâché dolls or shapes which are filled with small toys and sweets, hung from the ceiling and then the children take turns to hit it with a bat in an attempt to get it to release the treats inside. You can buy ready-filled piñatas or you can fill it yourself. They can be bought from party stores or websites such as Partypop.com. The piñatas are available in a variety of designs and themes. I love this one which costs $26 and is shaped like a wedding cake – how perfect is that! If its likely to be predominantly young children at your wedding it might be safer and easier to use a pull-string piñata.


Traditional party games - You must remember fondly what fun you had at parties as a child before Playstation Dance Mats and Ninetendo Wii’s were invented. Party games such as musical statues, pass the parcel, pin the tail on the donkey and musical chairs are a great way of getting all the children at your wedding involved and having fun. For further party game ideas check out Littlekidsgamesonline.com.


Music – Have a CD player in the room so that the supervisor can play a choice of music depending on the age range of the children (ranging from nursery rhymes to disco music). You will also need music if the children are going to play games which require it, such as musical statues.


Cuddly toys, dolls and action figures – The children could bring their own doll or other toy to the wedding and dress them up, have a tea party or you could borrow a dolls house for them all to share.


Dressing-up clothes (especially wedding gowns, tiaras, top hats and kilts!) – Young children really enjoy imaginative role play and a chance to dress up in costume.

Movie making - If you are aware that you have some budding thespians amongst your younger guests you could ask them to put together a short movie. Ask your child carer in advance if they would be willing and able to operate a video camera and help with putting the show together with the children. Alternatively, ask your videographer to bring along an extra camera operator to work with the children in their room. Provide them with a trunk of old clothes, footwear, handbags, jewelry and any other child-friendly props you can lay your hands on. The supervising adult or eldest child within the group can help the children put together a simple story, allocate roles to each child (reluctant children could be given behind the scenes roles such as doing sound effects, background music, in charge of props etc. rather than acting parts), help them dress up, do their hair and make-up (just like real movie stars), rehearse their characters and then its lights, camera and action! The final video could be shown during the reception for the other wedding guests. It would make an excellent memento of your wedding day for the children and you. You could even award the stars of the movie chocolate Oscars!

Handy Hint: Dressing up clothes and accessories are definitely something that you could ask the children to bring in advance of the wedding in the note you put it with their invitation (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV).


Puppets and a puppet theatre – Putting together a DIY puppet theatre is as simple as draping a large tablecloth over a table. Again, you could ask the children to bring their own puppets from home or even organize making puppets such as finger puppets or wooden spoon puppets as one of the craft activities available to them. They could then perform a puppet show together.


Building toys –Although it is predominantly boys who enjoy playing with Lego, Meccano and other construction toys, the girls do like to do some building work too. This is an activity which can be done on the table top or floor in the children’s room.


Ball Pool - How about setting up a ball pool or pit. The children will enjoy hours of fun together at your wedding diving around amongst the brightly colored balls. You can rent inflatable or pop up ball pits from companies such as Partyoutfitters.com for US customers or PJEntertainments.co.uk for UK customers, or you could borrow one from friends or buy a ball pool (with prices starting at $20 they shouldn’t break your wedding budget!).


Pop Up Play equipment - As with the ball pool idea, pop up play equipment is simple to set up in the children’s room (or outdoor space at your wedding venue) and is ideal for filling a large space quickly and cheaply. For venues where space is limited pop up castles and tunnels make a perfect soft play activity area for toddlers. Again, equipment like this is rentable (and reasonably cheap to buy) but I’m sure you know a parent who would be willing to share their pop up equipment with you.


Racing Cars - Whether you have boys or girls in the children’s room both will have fun playing with a 6 lane Scalectrix track. The track is available to rent complete with a choice of cars, grandstands, pitstops, bridges, control towers and experienced race marshals. Up to 6 children can compete against each other racing their Porsches and Formula 1 cars, amongst others. The only trouble I envisage for you with this idea is keeping the grown men away from it all night!


Sports Activities - Depending on how big a space you have to work with at your wedding venue you could transform the children’s room into a mini sports arena for the children - you won’t see them all evening! Rent or borrow ping-pong, air hockey and snooker tables, hula hoops, jump ropes, foam darts board and a mini golf putting machine or chipping net (with plastic golf balls obviously!).


Wii Consoles - Everyone knows how popular Ninetendo Wii’s are with children, so what better way to keep them happy at your wedding than to rent them for the children’s use. As well as Wii consoles companies such as this also have available for rental:

PS2 and Xbox machines, the latest state-of-the-art arcade video games, racing and flight simulators, Formula 1 and Rally Amusement Machines, Pac Man machines (very retro!).

♥ The machines are available with a good variety of age appropriate games, they can come with 2 or 4 controllers and they are all set on unlimited free play so the children do not need any money to play them (unless you want to cash in at your wedding!). You could even rent the dance mat and set up the dance games for the children – they are great fun. Typically the rental companies will bring the machines to your wedding venue, set them up and collect them at the end of the day. Prices start at $90 for one day rental of the Wii machine but you can book up packages of a couple of machines. Search on the internet for your local stockists or alternatively ask a friend with a machine if you can borrow it for your wedding.

Handy Hint: Hire companies do not usually include monitors for the machines which need them (although they are available to hire separately) so find out in advance if you can connect the machines to a TV or projector screen at your wedding venue. I supervised at a children’s party where the PS2 was connected up to the projector screen in the hotel’s conference room and the children had amazing fun competing against each other on such a huge screen with the spectating children cheering them on!


TV/DVD – Most wedding venues will be able to provide you with a TV and DVD player for the children to watch some cartoons or children's TV shows and/or use for connecting to PS2/Xbox machines (as mentioned above).

Handy Hint: Make sure an adult is supervising what the children are watching to ensure that it is age appropriate. I have experienced walking into an unsupervised Kids Club before and found the children (aged from 10 months up to 13 years old) all lined up on bean bags in front of the TV watching a particularly violent episode of South Park. It took me the rest of the day to convince my 3 year old nephew (who I had been collecting) not to repeat some of the inappropriate language and behavior he had seen!


Cinema – Ask your venue staff to have a TV (preferably a large plasma screen) set up with a DVD player in the children’s room and transform it into a movie theatre for them in the evening. Have the child carer ask the children for their movie preference from the selection you have available and go with the most popular choice or choices.

♥ If you want to be really organized let the children and parents know in advance (in the note you send them with the invitation (see How To Keep Parents Informed in Part IV)) the proposed movie start time and movie choices (ask friends with children for their top movie choices and ask to borrow the DVD if possible).

♥ Also, remember your reception venue (particularly if it is a hotel) might be able to provide you with a selection of up-to-date DVD’s for the children’s viewing pleasure.

♥ Organize for drinks, candy, potato chips, pretzels, popcorn or ice cream to be served during the movie or at the break halfway through the movie (for a toilet break). If chairs or sofas are unavailable use bean bags and cushions to make a comfy area for the children to sit. You could even purchase fun inflatable sofas for as little as $8 on eBay.com.

♥ At a local hotel where I used to supervise the children’s crèche they had an in-house movie theater which seated approximately 100 people. At 7.30pm on weekends, and when weddings and other functions were taking place at the hotel, they showed a just released movie (appropriate to the ages of the children attending) which ran with a short break halfway through (for hotdogs, fries, popcorn and a trip to the toilet). This was so popular with the children, the adults and the supervisors who got to sit down and have a breather! The reason I mention this is that you should check with your reception venue whether they themselves have an in-house movie theater or auditorium with large screen which could be used by the children attending your wedding. It really makes the day special for the children, gives them something to look forward to and helps them to wind down towards the latter part of the evening after all the fun and frolics of their day.


Children's Karaoke – The children could host their own karaoke party. Regardless of their age and talent giving them 5 minutes in the spotlight with a microphone will make them feel like superstars. The supervising adult could give each child a slot on the karaoke machine to perform their own rendition of their favorite song! Karaoke machines are inexpensive to hire (if you don’t already have one or know someone who is willing to lend you theirs). For hire in the USA check out Partymachines.com or for UK karaoke machine hire try Rock-box.co.uk.


Music and Dancing - As mentioned previously, children love to join in with the adults on the dance floor. However you might decide that it would be more enjoyable for both the children and adult guests if they had their own dance space.

♥ If you have a lot of space available to you at your wedding venue and a flexible budget you could hire a lively DJ solely for the children in a separate room. This is a fantastic way to entertain them. As mentioned previously you could ask the DJ or supervising adult to organize a disco dancing competition and award prizes for the best (and worst!) efforts.

♥ To add a unique and exciting element to your wedding, and to get the children using up some energy, you could organize dance instructors to teach them some disco dancing routines to the latest pop hits! This is suitable for children aged 7 upwards but I know that younger children would love to have a try and join in too (you try stopping them!). Once the instructors have taught the children some dance routines you could let the children put on a performance for your wedding guests.

♥ Be prepared though, you could go to the trouble and expense of organizing all of the above for the children but some enthusiastic youngsters might still surface on the dance floor in amongst their parents and the other boogying adult guests.


Holiday Themed Activities For The Children

Halloween – How about some pumpkin carving (no sharp knives though for the younger children), bobbing for apples or toffee apple decorating.

Easter – As mentioned, you could organize an Easter egg hunt or, at the art table in your children’s room, set up materials for decorating Easter egg baskets, bonnets or simply have Easter- themed coloring pictures for the children.


How To Set Up A Toddlers Area

If the children attending the wedding are predominantly toddlers you might want to set up an Under 5's Activity Area for them. To do this add a good selection of colorful, appealing soft toys and age appropriate equipment including activity gyms, small slides, rockers, ride on cars, mini bouncers, mini see saws, pop up castles etc.

With play equipment for toddlers it is best that the children are not left unsupervised. For their safety arrange to have this area manned by a qualified child carer or at the very least a parent who is willing to take responsibility for supervising the area.

When hiring children’s play equipment from companies (as mentioned above) check that they comply with health and safety regulations and ask someone (a venue staff member or a friend whose children are attending your wedding) to check that the room looks safe, clean and properly set up for the children.

With all of the suggestions which I have made above simply choose from them a selection of pieces to suit your space and location.


How To Set Up A Baby Play Area

Similarly, if a lot of parents are bringing babies to the wedding you could set up a Baby Play Area for them to enjoy. You will need to make sure that floor coverings are suitable for crawling infants. I suggest that you arrange to put down a baby-friendly soft floor covering and add bean bags (for child carers and parents to lounge on) as well as some colorful, clean and fun baby play equipment. Babies love interactive toys especially those with lights, sound and music.

If your guests include mums with young babies remember to ensure that there is an adequate area at the wedding venue for them to be changed and fed. For Mums who are still breastfeeding they will need somewhere comfortable, quiet and private (not a bathroom) to feed their babies. Although it will be difficult for you to judge how many babies will be present at your wedding, particularly if you are planning your wedding more than 9 months in advance, it is best to be prepared and organize somewhere for them just in case.


How To Set Up A Children’s Chill Out Zone

Whilst some teenagers will be quite happy to join the “grown ups” on the dance floor, the majority of them will not get into the festivities as much as the adults. Teenagers do love being treated like adults though so if you are expecting teenage wedding guests why not set up a separate room for them – their own chill-out room to relax and watch TV, listen to music, watch a show or just hang out with friends. You could create a lounge atmosphere with a few tables, chairs, inflatable furniture, bean bags, comfy cushions and funky furniture (all of which can be rented). Provide them with a stereo system to listen to their own choice of music, supply sodas, magazines and a selection of board games. If your budget extends to it you could even arrange for them to enjoy their own karaoke machine, computer with games or rent a games machines (as mentioned above). I guarantee your teenage guests won't want to leave!


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

Please refer to Part I, Part III 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 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

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


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How To Announce A Belated Destination Wedding Reception
Date: March 26, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Destination Weddings & Etiquette & Gifts & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Reception & Stationery

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding the appropriate wording for a destination wedding announcement:

“My son and his wife had a private destination wedding. I am getting ready to announce it in our hometown newspaper. They do not have a definite date for a reception - do I leave that off - or state that a reception date will be announced later? Please help.”

This was my reply:

Many thanks for your question.

If your son and daughter-in-law have not yet decided on a date, or the finer details of their wedding reception, then it is definitely advisable to leave this information out of the newspaper announcement. Wording for the newspaper announcement of your son’s wedding should be along the lines of:

Mr. and Mrs. Ronald Jones
announce the marriage of their son
Michael Nicholas
to
Amber Frances Franklin
on Saturday, the ninth of April
at
The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua, Hawaii

However, I must point out that I personally have experienced the curiosity of wondering whether friends who have jetted off to get hitched on their own intend on having a reception when they return. Most friends and family of newlyweds want an opportunity to celebrate their newlywed status together! Not only that, but have you or the newlyweds considered the subject of wedding gifts? Most close friends and family will want to celebrate the marriage by giving a gift, regardless of whether there was a wedding ceremony and reception involved.

If you give some indication to friends and family that a late wedding reception will be held in the not-too-distant future then this will ease their concerns over gift-giving and wanting to celebrate with the newlyweds. Whilst there is nothing wrong with adding additional wording to the newspaper announcement I think that a more personal way to let important people know that your son has been married and that they intend on hosting a wedding reception in the future is for you (or your son and daughter-in-law) to send personal announcements to their friends and family. You could include in it wording along the lines of:

“A wedding reception to honor the newlyweds will be held at a date and venue to be confirmed.”

If you at least know the venue of where the wedding reception is going to take place (e.g. your home or the newlyweds’ home) then you could add:

“A wedding reception to honor the newlyweds will be held at 52 Lawson Court, Newtown. Details of the date and time will follow soon.”

Announcements such as these are best mailed out to close friends and family within a few days of the wedding ceremony or as soon as possible after the event.

I hope that this helps. If you need any assistance with ideas for organizing a formal or informal wedding reception check out wedding forums such as forums.weddingsolutions.com and hitched.co.uk which have unique tips and advice from other destination bride and grooms. Also, the knot.com have fantastic ideas for organizing your own wedding reception after a destination wedding.

Good luck and congratulations to the newlyweds!

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Solving The Double Wedding Invitation And Gift Dilemma
Date: March 25, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Ceremonies & Etiquette & Gifts & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Stationery & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

Hi Everyone,

I received this question regarding the protocol for double weddings:

“How do you word invitations for a double wedding? Do you have more than one invitation? One for the guests that are only coming for one party and one for both? Also, will guests feel that the have to bring a gift for both couples? How do we go about this so our guests do not feel that they have to bring a gift for the other couple?

This was my reply:

Many thanks for your question. In response to the first part of your question about whether you should share a wedding invitation with the other couple, the answer is definitely yes. If you are choosing to share your wedding day with another couple then sharing wording on a wedding invitation is inconsequential in comparison. By sharing a joint wedding invitation you will be ensuring that your wedding guests understand that they are being invited to a double wedding. As your wedding ceremony is taking place hand in hand with the other couple’s wedding ceremony your guests will understand why both couples’ names are on the wedding invitation.

Due to the fact that double weddings are not as popular as single ceremony weddings you are unlikely to find pre-printed standard wedding stationery conveying the double wedding invitation. However, you can choose a custom-made invitation to match your color theme and wedding style. These are easy to source on the internet or alternatively you might want to visit a wedding studio or local stationery store. The only limitation you will have when choosing your invitation is that it must have enough space to accommodate your additional wording for the double wedding.

With regard to wording for double wedding invitations please take a look at the sample wordings I have given in my previous post where I have listed a variety of contemporary wording options to cover most double wedding situations. However, as double weddings are not as traditional as single weddings, you should definitely feel free to create your own wording for the invitations, so long as the other bride and groom sharing your double wedding are in agreement with you and your fiancé! When choosing wording do remember to emphasize the ‘double’ nature of the wedding so that your guests are fully aware of the type of wedding they are being invited to. You don’t want to surprise them and have them thinking they are seeing double when they catch sight of two brides and grooms on your wedding day! This applies even more so if you do decide that you want to send separate wedding invitations to your own family and friends.

With regard to wedding gifts, it goes without saying that, unless your wedding guest is a friend or family member of both couples participating in the double wedding, that they need only buy a wedding gift for the couple that has invited them to the wedding. I know that the wedding invitation might well bear the names of both couples but your wedding guests will know that the invitation is coming from you (or your parents) to them.

As double weddings are not everyday occurrences the majority of your wedding guests will not necessarily know whether or not they are expected to bring a gift for the other couple. One way of getting the word out is to let your parents, wedding party, close relatives and friends spread the news for you. Even though this is certainly the easiest way to inform your guests that they need only buy a wedding gift for one couple, I don’t know if it is the safest way to ensure that all guests receive the same message. If you would prefer to make the matter of gift giving entirely unambiguous then the best way to do this is to deliver the message to your guests yourself and have the other couple sharing your wedding celebration do the same with their own wedding guests. Whilst it is wholly against wedding etiquette to mention gift-giving in the wedding invitation, you could add the information to your wedding website or communicate it by letter, email or over the phone. You could word it along the lines of:

“We are delighted that you will be joining Mike and I on our special day. If you were thinking of giving us a gift we wanted to let you know that we are registered at Macy’s and Crate and Barrel. Whilst Mike and I are excited to be sharing our double wedding day with Carol and Bob we wanted to let you know that you are not expected to bring them a wedding gift.”

Your guests will appreciate being given the heads up on this gift-giving dilemma and appreciate your honesty.

I hope that this helps with your double wedding planning. Check out my other post too for even more double wedding planning tips.

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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Marks & Spencer's New Bridalwear Range
Date: November 20, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attendants & Attire & Bridal Party & Budgeting & Cakes & Dresses & Flower & Decorations & Groom & Guests & Insurance & Invitations & Announcements & Jewelry & Lingerie & Shoes & Shopping & Stationery

Marks & Spencer’s are already an easily affordable one-stop shop for couples planning their weddings with their range of wedding products and services available, including stationary, insurance, lingerie and accessories, flowers and cakes. Now they have taken a bigger bite out of the wedding pie by launching a range of wedding dresses ranging in price from £59-£150 - perfect for the bride-to-be on a budget!

The new collection of bridal and occasionwear will be available at M&S stores and online in March 2007. The collection consists of wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, grooms' suits, page boys’ outfits and occasionwear for guests and other attendants. According to a review at Fashionunited.co.uk brides-to-be can choose from a range of five wedding dresses which include full length and knee length skirts and strappy and bustier style dresses in classic white or cream. Take a look at one of the dresses yourself at Bridalwave.tv. I personally think that M&S’s dresses will sell very well. It’s great that modern brides are being offered the option of choosing a more affordable wedding dress. It’s about time that the wedding dress market realized that they need to make wedding dresses available to suit every pocket and every style of bride.

According to lse.co.uk the average bride spends £826 on her wedding dress. This is a huge amount of money to spend on a dress which will only be worn once, even if the wedding dress is one of the main focal points at a wedding. Every bride wants her chance to play dress-up and shine like a fairytale princess or a Hollywood star on her wedding day, but nowadays there is no need for you to spend such a huge proportion of your wedding budget just to get yourself a beautiful dress. With the advent of the new ranges of off-the-peg wedding dresses being produced by stores such as Asda, H&M and M&S you can grab yourself an elegant wedding dress without having to compromise on style and fashion and most importantly without having to pay designer prices!

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Wedaholic.com Recommends Bellenza For Elegant And Affordable Wedding Favors
Date: October 31, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Candles & Favors & Flower & Decorations & Gifts & Guests & Planning & Reviews & Shopping & Themes & Unique Ideas

Choosing wedding favors might be one of the smaller details of your wedding planning but it is certainly requires some thought and effort. You want to choose favors which add a stylish finishing touch to your wedding and which show your guests your appreciation for them being there to celebrate your special day.

For unique wedding favors, gifts and accessories take a look at Bellenza.com

What Bellenza has to offer?

Bellenza offer a vast selection of beautiful favors ranging from favor bags to porcelain keepsakes at prices starting from $0.50. Bellenza also have items which are more expensive, but of course, you don’t mind spending that bit extra for favors which your wedding guests are guaranteed to truly cherish. Remember too that depending on which favors you choose they can save you money as they might be able to double up as table decorations at your wedding reception!

I liked the huge selection of useful wedding favor bags which are available on Bellenza’s website. They come in a broad spectrum of colors and in many different styles, shapes and sizes. Another unique aspect of Bellenza’s website is that they provide you with great ideas of what to put inside your favor bags, including cookies, candies and other small wedding favors for your wedding guests.

There is more to Bellenza than simply wedding favors. They also offer elegant bridal accessories and a wide rage of attendant gifts. Handsewn stunning ring pillows and chic purses to exquisite silk bridal shawl.

Finding your way around

I found the Bellenza website really easy to navigate. They have created an attractive layout for the favors and use extensive product pictures alongside informative details specific to each favor. I thought that it was extremely helpful that Bellenza’s website had categories for customers to select from including Party Themes, Gift Ideas, Styles and Duo+ables.

The “Duo+ables” section is very innovative as it contains clever pairings of favors available for you to choose. This simplifies the process for you of choosing matching combinations of favors. I really like the pairings which they have put together. Bellenza obviously have an eye for design and have chosen colors and styles of favors which complement each other. I particularly like the Marikei Porcelain Hatbox which is wrapped in a matching Zaarni Organza Wrap Circle with Ribbon. I think it would make a beautiful wedding favor and it also makes an eye-catching table decoration too!

Bellenza also have an “Advice” section which contains lots of top tips and suggestions for wedding themes, ranging from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” to “Beach Weddings”. With each theme suggested Bellenza give their ideas on which wedding favors are appropriate. I like the fact that Bellenza put emphasis on the usage and theme which applies to each of their favors and that they are giving you free advice on how to use their products to create a unique style for your wedding. Bellenza’s website gives you fantastic ideas for accessorizing your wedding and complimenting your chosen wedding theme with some stylish matching items.

Design details

“We are meticulous about selecting the right combination of materials and fabrics, while paying close attention to both texture and color in order to give our products an elegant look, as opposed to a mass-produced one.”

It is the quality of their workmanship combined with the distinctive materials and fabrics which they use is their designs which makes Bellenza’s favors stand apart from some of its contemporaries. Through their ongoing commitment to originality and artistry Bellenza are creating unique and timeless handmade wedding favors and couture-inspired bridal accessories. Sometimes when you look at wedding favor websites you see the same style and quality of products but Bellenza’s use of unique textures and materials such as seashell, rhinestone, and silver help to catch your eye!

Amongst Bellenza's line of elegant favor bags, pouches, and wraps is the Sofearélla Rose Pomander Favor Bag. This is a perfect example of Bellenza’s ability to use delicate fabrics in imaginative ways. They have carefully sewn pieces of satin and organza individually into flowers, rendering them to follow the form of a pretty Victorian pomander. To make the bags even more functional a decorative pearl handle was added allowing the bag to be used both as a favor container and a place card holder – Bellenza really do think of everything!

Their design team must have a great eye for aesthetics as they manage to combine a perfect combination of materials in a vast range of colors and embellishments to create masterpieces!

“At Bellenza, our philosophy embraces this ideal with a passion for designing products that are both creatively useful and unique.”

I think that Bellenza definitely simplify the task of choosing elegant yet affordable wedding favors, accessories and gifts. So go on, have a browse – you won’t regret it!

For more ideas about favors take a look at my blog "26 Wedding Favors Your Guests are Guaranteed to Love".

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Modern Alternative To A Wedding Guest Book
Date: October 29, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Funny & Guests & Photography & Reviews & Shows & Speeches & Unique Ideas & Videography

i-vox, the leading brand of video diary rooms, were at Earls Court a few weeks ago collecting feedback from visitors to the National Wedding Show. It got a great response and visitors and exhibitors thought it was an innovative and fun way of capturing opinion.

The format of having a room to film yourself in rather than a feedback form is one that appealed to the show organisors so they can analyze what visitors really thought of the show, and not be confined to the boundaries of written questions.

Watch some samples here. If you like what you see you can pop around to the next two shows in the Spring, they are Birmingham 16-18 Feb 2007 and London 23 - 25 Feb 2007.

How does this relate to weddings?

Well i-vox also offer a service where by they will set up your very own video diary room at your wedding. So instead of the usual guest book, guests can visit the room anytime they want (as it is constantly recording) to say a few words about how much they are enjoying the wedding!

A great alternative to the traditional wedding guest book. Let me know what you think of this unique idea by leaving a comment below.

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Announcing The New Confetti Wish List Service - Receive The Gifts You Really Want!
Date: October 17, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Gifts & Guests & Honeymoon & Industry News & Shopping & Site Reviews & Unique Ideas

Confetti.co.uk now offer a superb wedding list service where by you can receive the gifts you really want, from honeymoons to house deposits. As a couple you simply ask for money to be placed on a Confetti Wishlist prepaid Maestro® card in place of gifts. Guests do this simply by visiting your very own customised web page and making a contribution online. The web page link can even be changed to include your own names and wedding date. You can then share this link with your guests by sending an email from the wish list service, or by using the template online to create a gift list card that can be slipped into your invitations.

These cards are perfect for all couples whatever their financial situation. For couples getting married later in life who have all the basics, this is a unique opportunity to ask for gifts and experiences which aren’t normally available on the high street. Imagine you can add gifts such as donations to your favourite charity, a piece of art, a trip round around the world or plants for the garden. Equally if a couple are on a tight budget the Wishlist Card would be ideal for helping with wedding expenses, honeymoon costs or car and house deposits. Basically you can use the Confetti Wishlist Card wherever you see the Maestro® acceptance mark, including shops, restaurants, online or on the telephone.

Research has shown that over 50% of couples would prefer to receive money but are too embarrassed to ask for it directly. In fact guests are happier to give money if they know what it will be spent on. They have the ease of buying online 24 hours a day with no need to put cash or cheques in the post or ask for the couple’s bank details. The Wishlist Card ensures your guests no longer have the age old problem of finding a wedding gift in a specific price range, as they can now easily group together with other guests to contribute towards any gift they like.

As always don't forget to read the small print, Confetti provide a comprehensive FAQ and the terms and conditions, including what happens if your card is lost or stolen and how long it remains valid. I urge you to read all these pages in their entirety, like you would with any other financial product.

Sign up for your Confetti Wish List card at ConfettiCard.co.uk today

Further Confetti.co.uk Reading:

Confetti.co.uk Coupon - Free Delivery On Orders Of £75 Or More
Confetti.co.uk Launch Their New Site - New Improved Layout!
Review Of Confetti's Glasgow Store by Brown.
Compare Confetti's Wedding Insurance to other UK products.
Confetti's New Must-Read Magazine - Confetti Receptions
How To Use Confetti.co.uk For A Stylish Christmas - a one stop shop for wedding and party advice.

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Financial Disclaimer

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

Trademarks

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A Unique Concept In Wedding Table Planning - TheTablePlanner.com
Date: October 04, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Flower & Decorations & Funny & Groom & Guests & Planning & Reception & Reviews & Shopping & Site Reviews & Stationery & Themes & Unique Ideas

A seating plan is an essential piece of stationery for your wedding reception. By having a seating plan on display for wedding guests to refer to you avoid any unnecessary confusion about where they are expected to sit. Seating plans also prevent the usual chaos which can prevail if you have an open seating arrangement at your wedding reception, which traditionally begins with a mass free for all as guests seat themselves and ends with a few lonely people ambling around the reception room looking for a spare seat or a friendly face!

You can tell I am a real advocate of seating plans at weddings, so I was fascinated to come across the TheTablePlanner.com stand at the National Wedding Show last weekend. They are a table planner design company who produce stylish and distinctive table plans. I was impressed with the quality of their beautifully framed and mounted table plans and by the diverse and quirky design assortment they offer. I hardly had a chance to speak to Creative Director Mike Daniels at the show as he was surrounded by a throng of prospective bride and grooms asking questions about his funky table planners, which has to be a sign of their popularity!

“Ideal for events, functions and weddings. Thetableplanner.com offers you a fresh and exciting new idea to compliment your special occasion. We have a team of designers who will work with you to create a unique table plan for you and your guests. The table plan will then become a picture that records your cherished day as a memento of you with your family and friends.”

Take a look for yourself at the website to see the unique and distinctive array of table plans you could choose from, the themes range from “Reservoir Dogs” to “Greek Gods". The table plan designs are all created by the design team who are more than happy to custom design your table plan depending on your wedding theme, hobbies or interests. How about personalising your table plan by basing it on your favourite sport (Formula 1), your chosen honeymoon destination (Hawaii) or one of your interests (Cocktails)! I particularly liked the James Bond themed table plan which is not shown on the website but was on display at the Wedding Show - this is surely a design which prove to be popular with every groom for their own 007 wedding reception! I think that these table plans would be particularly great if you are hosting a themed wedding - you could use the design of the table plan to convey your wedding theme. I wish I had known about them when I planned my wedding as it was loosely based on a golf theme but unfortunately we did not think of carrying this through to the seating plan and table names.

Once you have chosen a table plan design all you have to do is provide the design team with the table layouts and wedding guests’ names typed in word or excel format and they create the table planner for you.

Prices for the table plans start at £395. Whilst this might seem like quite a princely sum for a table plan, do bear in mind that these table plans look like pieces of artwork and would definitely look fantastic adorning a wall in your house after your wedding as a lasting keepsake of your special day. Thetableplanner.com are also able to provide table number or name cards for each table utilising the same design theme, as well as holders for these and place cards. If your reception venue is unable to provide you with an easel or suitable wall fixture to display the table planner on then Thetableplanner.com are able to provide this too.

These table plans could bring the fun and colourful element to your wedding reception which will have your guests talking about it for years to come! This is a very original concept and I imagine it will be popular with couples who want their weddings to be unique. You will not find these anywhere else and I imagine even the most adept wedding DIY expert would not want to attempt one of these masterpieces themselves.

Take a look and see for yourself. Happy planning!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon

Wedding planning is not the exclusive domain of the bride - that is Doug Gordon's point in his new book "The Engaged Groom". He takes the stance that no groom need be left out in the cold when it comes to the decision making. In fact there is plenty of scope for the groom to take charge of certain tasks and responsibilities. Indeed this book is a revelation, grooms now have the chance to get active with their very own wedding planning guide. It can be bought from Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk.

"The Engaged Groom" all started with Doug's blog called PlanetGordon.com with the first entry on the 2nd September 2003 at 6:17pm.

It read:

A Decent Proposal

I got engaged on Wednesday. Actually, that statement is a little too passive. Makes it seem like I picked up something on the way home from work or dropped a subscription card in the mailbox or developed some sort of temporary condition for which medication or a topical ointment is available from my doctor.

Let's start over.

I proposed to my girlfriend on Wednesday night.

To continue reading this blog entry please take a look at this page and scroll to the bottom.

I divulge, having read all 279 pages I can confidently hold my hand up and say that "The Engaged Groom" is a must read for all grooms that want to get involved in their wedding. Doug's funny style of writing makes it a real joy to read. Grooms will quickly learn a whole array of tips and practical information. In fact if they take all of his advice on board they will be heading to their local beauty salon for a manicure - it makes sense really when you think of how many people will want to see the groom's ring on the big day!

Whether they have just a few questions or many this is definitely the book for all grooms. As a bride, if your groom is worried about how to minimize the risk of his best man forgetting the rings (page 237) or how he can ensure he won't say the wrong thing during the speeches (page 251) - this is the book for him.

I practicularly liked the following sections, for their excellent overviews and useful tips :

Paying for the Wedding - Doug gives a good review of the various costs associated with planning a wedding. Interestingly he picks up on the how often couples forget to budget for gratuities, something I have extensively written about here.

Picking a Date and Venue - I quickly learnt the pros and cons of having your wedding on a holiday three day weekend and in addition the advantages and disadvantages of choosing a destination wedding.

The Guest List - Planning a guest list is never easy, as Lesley Anne recently wrote about here, but Doug gives some great insights. This is your chance to learn who definitely does need to be invited. You can also get the lowdown on inviting the President of the United States or The Pope!

Food and Music - This is your chance to have your cake and eat it! Doug recounts the day he ate no fewer than ten pieces of cake at three different bakeries. If you have a sweet tooth you definitely want to be involved with choosing the wedding cake - especially when prices at soar to as high as $10 or $15 a slice.

Turn to page 65 for an entertaining list of inappropriate songs. It is highly advisable that you always listen to the lyrics first, especially for the all important first dance. The list doesn't just stop at slow dances, some well known disco classics should be placed on your DJ's "Do Not Play List".

Photography - Here I agree with Doug, disposable cameras definitely belong to the "Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time" file. Today most guests have digital cameras and are more than happy to share their photographs with you.

On the subject of videographers, page 75 neatly sums up why this isn't an area to get too stressed about. Also check out the tips on how to make signifcant savings on this aspect of the wedding.

Best man Duties - Doug answers your questions on whether you can have two best men, or even have a female one! More importantly he gives his opinion on what groomsmens and bridesmaids should wear - it's a refreshingly honest approach that many more couples should adopt (Page 92).

What to Wear and How to Look Your Best - Expert advice on which tuxedo to wear, along with helpful hints on whether your build is best suited to a single-breasted jacket, double-breasted jacket, tailcoat or morning coat. You can also take advantage of the "How to Tie a Bow Tie" page which has been deliberately reversed so as you can tie your bow tie looking in the mirror!

Save-the-Date, Announcements, Invitations, and Getting the Word Out - "The Engaged Groom" is full of valuable tips, such as the one called "The Separation of Church and Crate (& Barrel) on page 122. Doug makes it clear that in no circumstances should you send the invitation and the registry information together. This is a massive faux pas, but unfortunately it has to be said many couples still do it. Reading other tips on getting the assembly of invitations right (page 126), the value of using wedding planning software (page 130) and why B-list wedding guest lists are more trouble than they are worth (page 133) is highly recommended.

Registries, Wedding Showers, and Thank You Notes - I really enjoyed reading the section on what things you want to register for, but shouldn't on page 150. It is both humorous and informative - a great reminder that you aren't bound to the traditional registry list of kitchen and dinnerware! Doug dicusses the whole art of getting your Thank You notes written with thought and appreciation, with particular reference to what you should and shouldn't say.

Planning the Honeymoon - Traditionally this is the groom's responsibility and though he is expected to pay for it, it really should be a joint decision as to where you go. Discover the benefits of delaying your honeymoon and why a "minimoon" might be just right for you!

The Bachelor Party - This is one of the most entertaining sections of the book. I love Doug's humour, neatly summed up in this quote:

You'll have plenty of chances to party with your friends in the future, and if you're worried that your marriage will mean a loss of your freedom. I suggest you talk to a therapist and not a stripper.

The book is full of practical advice and some common sense reminders, for example:

Never, never, never be hungover on your wedding day.

Doug leaves the debate on whether strip clubs on a bachelor party are a good idea to others, by including a random sampling of quotes from eight different women. Definitely worth reading.

A Groom's Checklist - Emergency Provisions - Turn to page 230 for a list of things that every groom should have packed in a small bag on their wedding list. Items range from personal care prodcuts, spare clothing to miscellanous essentials that are all to easy to forget.

You might not catch your groom browsing through all your wedding magazines, but I can guarantee he will find "The Engaged Groom" of real interest. Buy it today.

Doug has been interviewed and featured on TV and radio stations across the country, including this appearance on the "Today Show". You can check out the book's official website at EngagedGroom.com and the MySpace site at MySpace.com/engagedgroom

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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


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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Chicken Wing Wedding For Second Time Bride!


Wedding Crashers: The Movie, TV Show, Celebrities and How To Stop Them Ruining Your Day!
Date: August 30, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Celebrity Gossip & Ceremonies & Church Weddings & Civil Weddings & Funny & Guests & Miscellaneous & Planners & Planning & Reception & Stress & TV Shows & Unique Ideas & Venues

It seems celebrities think they have the right to crash weddings and get away with it. In fact Ashton Kutcher and his production company Katalyst Films, Inc have decided to create a reality show that crashes the weddings of unsuspecting couples. The new TV series based on the hit movie Wedding Crashers (see the trailer) will be shown in 2007 on the US network NBC. It will feature a whole host of actors, who will deliberately set out to confuse and amuse wedding guests on the most important day of their lives in each of the planned six hour long programs. Sadly Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, the stars of the movie Wedding Crashers will not feature in the show.

It might well become compulsive viewing, much like Kutcher’s celebrity practical joke show Punk’d on MTV, but really how funny is it to potentially ruin a bride’s wedding day just for the sake of a cheap joke! Reading the twenty or so comments at WeddingBee.com, I’m not surprised to learn that the majority of brides would be horrified if Kutcher turned up at their wedding. As TVSquad.com quite rightly points out, emotions are already high on a wedding day and the sight of a TV crew descending on your wedding could really set the fireworks off! The only saving grace is that the program doesn’t set out to embarrass the bride and groom, but instead has the actors entertaining the wedding guests with funny stunts and pranks at the ceremonies and receptions. It still sounds like a recipe for disaster to me but I admit I had to laugh when reading Cinematical’s take on this new program, speculating that Kutcher’s next reality TV show would be based on the movie Snakes on a Plane.

A little research shows that Ashton Kutcher won’t be the first celebrity to crash a wedding, others include:

Oprah Winfrey

Oprah has surprised a number of brides in Tulsa, Oklahoma (or should I say Oprahoma, as reported in the press!) by crashing their weddings back in June for footage that can be seen in a September episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show. Oprah and her best friend Gayle King unexpectedly attended the weddings of Morgan and Bethany Francis and Ben and Heather Klein, one after the other.

Oprah may only spend 10 minutes at your wedding but she certainly makes them memorable by posing for pictures with the wedding party and mingling with your guests. Though, if there has been no tip off you are likely to spend all of this time in shock!

The new Mrs. Francis was reported to have said:

"I tried to compose myself, but there's no way you can do it when there's someone that famous in the room"

If Oprah does crash your wedding though, don’t expect an expensive gift, and certainly not something that is going to stretch her purse strings - disappointingly Morgan and Bethany were just given dishes from Dillards department store. I ask you, you would expect something a little better than that from Oprah wouldn’t you!

Finally, catch this exclusive video taken of a bride shortly after she had had her wedding crashed by Oprah!

Madonna

A few weeks ago Madonna and her husband Guy Ritchie surprised British couple Imogen and Neil McCarthy and their 70 guests as they were enjoying their wedding reception at the 5 star Hotel De Russie in Rome. Madonna, in Rome as part of her Confessions Tour, was keen to congratulate the happy couple and wish them well.

The BBC state that the DJ Luca Lacovello, on noticing her, immediately played Madonna’s hit “Hung Up”. This went down like a lead balloon with the Queen of Pop as she didn’t want to draw attention away from the bride.

Bill Clinton

Back in 2001 US President Bill Clinton crashed a wedding in the grounds of Rudding Park, Harrogate, North Yorkshire. Following a round of golf at the reception venue he noticed a newlywed couple and took the time out to wish them well and appear in a family photograph. The bride and groom were delighted to welcome this unannounced visitor to their wedding.

Which celebrity would you like to crash your wedding?

Check out the other celebrities that people would like to see attend their own wedding on this BBC survey The miscellaneous list includes celebrities such as Nelson Mandela, Lady Margaret Thatcher, James Brown, Imran Khan, Freddie Mercury, Sir Sean Connery, William Shatner, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino to name just a few.


How to recognize the 8 different types of Wedding Crasher

1. The uninvited stranger

The movie Wedding Crashers is based on two young womanizers, Jeremy played by Vince Vaughn and John played by Owen Wilson, who use weddings to date women. This is the most popular type of uninvited stranger you can get at a wedding. Their motto is “Life's a party - Now go out there and crash it!”. They like to take advantage of the free food and booze and use the romance in the air as a cunning way of chatting up women. Experienced wedding crashers such as these will have all the tricks up their sleeve, and from an entertainment point of view this is where a lot of the laughs in the film come from. You can even visit the movie site to get instant access to the ultimate Crasher Kit. This includes how to make culturally sensitive name tags, the book “How To Crash Weddings” by the master and original crasher Chazz Reingold, lessons on how to impress the kids and melt the moms by creating a balloon poodle and how to print your own hero photo of yourself as a adventurer, soldier or sport hero.

In fact if you really want to beat the wedding crasher at his own game you need to read “The Rules of Wedding Crashing” as an education and for amusement. Of the 115 rules, I have a few favorites that make me laugh - these include:

Rule 7: Blend in by standing out.
Rule 15: Fight the urge to tell the truth.
Rule 39: The way to a woman's bed is through the dance floor.
Rule 41: Never hit on the bride -- it's a one way ticket to the pavement
Rule 88: You're from out of town. ALWAYS.
Rule 92: Tell the bride's friends and family that you are family of the groom and vice-versa.

2. The invited guest that drinks heavily

This wedding crasher can easily be managed if you do your homework first. If you are using a wedding planner they can be responsible for keeping their eyes on any likely suspects. I recommend you give the planner a list of names that might fall into this category. If you don’t have a planner you should pass this task to a responsible guest, preferably a non-drinker who can act as the "drunk person supervisor". I have written more about this topic in an article called "Tips For Dealing With Drunk Driving Guests At Your Wedding".

3. The larger than life guest

This guest gets all the attention for all the wrong reasons. Again the planner, or a chosen guest, should be notified of any guests that are likely to cause havoc if they aren't controlled. Often the groom is hesitant to name any friends that may cause a disturbance, but this can be easily solved by reminding him of the trouble he will be in if his future wife is upset by a scene on the most important day of her life. Remember, the advice given is straightforward and simple but at the same time crucial if you want to ensure an uneventful wedding!

4. The extra guest an invited guest brings to the wedding

Why do some wedding guests bring a friend or date if their invitation clearly just says their own name? This can create so much stress on the day and is a very selfish thing to do. The bride and groom will have spent a long time planning the seating chart, and the addition of one extra seat can ruin the whole set up. Lets also not forget that no provision has been made for the extra cover and thus ultimately the married couple will have to pay more than they had planned.

5. An ex-lover

This is one of the worst kinds of wedding crasher. Their sole purpose is to disrupt the wedding in any way they can. They are looking for maximum attention and will stop at nothing to ruin the day. Quite simply you have to remove this type of crasher as quickly and as quietly as possible. In most circumstances brides and grooms will be aware of the likelihood of this happening and should advise the guests that they feel will be able to diffuse the situation. Sometimes ex lovers arrive at the ceremony unannounced and even though may quietly sit at the back, their presence is enough to cause considerable stress. A softly softly approach would be recommended in the first instance, so as to avoid a major outburst, especially if you are in a church. Obviously less diplomacy can be used during the reception and afterwards when matters aren’t so delicate.

6. The crasher from next door's wedding

Beware of wedding crashers from reception venues that are hosting more than one wedding at a time - this is often the case with large hotels. Your wedding may seem a lot more fun than the one next door but this doesn’t mean you want everyone to join in!

7. The curious crasher

This crasher is naturally curious and tends to appear at weddings taking place in hotel resorts close to public traffic. They simply see the fun going on and slip right up to the free bar! Often they will have been attending another formal function in the hotel and thus are dressed smartly and blend in with your guests.

8. The criminal crasher

This crasher has no interest in taking part in your wedding, they will be looking to take advantage of you and your guests. Many married couples like to display their wedding gifts in an open and public manner. This tradition is ok as long as it is only accessible to guests and can be easily monitored. Ideally you only want to allow your guests to place the gifts in one designated area in a secure place.


Tips for spotting a Wedding Crasher

Even if a wedding crasher isn’t causing any harm, there is no forgetting that they are eating and drinking food and drink laid on by you for your invited wedding guests. Therefore, if you cast your mind back to when you were budgeting for the wedding, you will remember wrestling over the numbers fully ware of the expense of inviting just one more guest. One extra guest can cost as much as $150 / £80 more - this is when it really brings home the fact that uninvited guests are definitely unwanted!

If you spot a crasher you should quietly ask them to leave, so that you don’t cause a scene. On most occasions this will work and you can quickly get on with the rest of your wedding. If you try to catch a wedding crasher out be prepared for the old chestnut, "don’t you remember me I’m the second cousin removed"!

In order to write these tips and help you spot a crasher before they cause trouble at your wedding I read the article which was called "How To: Crash A Wedding" at AskMen.com, written for the sole purpose of giving advice to potential weding crashers!

1. Crashers like to arrive late

The most popular time for a person to crash your wedding is after the reception. They like to arrive late so that no one notices their entrance. Typically everyone is looking forward to the first dance and less attention is given to whether any uninvited guests have sneaked into the venue. Everyone has had a drink, the lights are low and this offers the perfect opportunity for the crasher to subtly emerge from the washroom and hit the dance floor or bar.

2. Crashers like to blend in by standing out

They often take a bullish approach to crashing a wedding by standing out in the open. They will slip into the reception line and generally offer a warm handshake to everyone. No one will recognize them and all will be too polite to ask who they are. The crasher will offer such pleasantries as "It's a great day, isn't it?" , revealing absolutely nothing about themselves. My recommendation is to call their bluff and start to ask some personal questions. This way you can reveal their true identify.

3. Crashers like to look the part

Crashers will typically make the effort to look smart, wearing something like a classic black suit to blend in with the rest of the wedding guests. The last thing they want to do is look over the top, after all their aim is to impress the ladies present.

4. Crashers like to do exactly what an invited wedding guest would do

The ultimate way to blend in is by dancing with the oldest women at the wedding, something only a real guest would do!

5. Crashers like to pretend to be a long lost relative

Understandably it can difficult to keep track of all the relatives at a wedding. A wedding crasher will pretend to be a long lost relative. They know the that brides and grooms can’t possibly keep track of all the distant relatives invited to the wedding. You have to laugh when AskMen.com suggest that pretending to be Great Uncle Terrence from Kalamazoo will do the trick or that phrases like "I'm the second cousin thrice removed on your uncle's side" will pull the wool over everyone's eyes!

6. Crashers like to carry gifts

An experienced crasher will carry a beautiful wedding present, often one they have picked up from the gift table! They rely on the fact that no one suspects someone who has been kind enough to bring a gift.

7. Crashers like to pretend to be working at your wedding

Are they pretending to be a member of staff? Remember, hired hotel staff often don’t know each other that well so it is very easy for the crasher to blend in. They will be quick to pick up a tray and pass themselves off as one of the caterers. The more daring will even try to pose as the reception manager, walking in with a clipboard and tie. You simply trying to call their bluff by asking their name may not be enough as they often turn the tables and ask for your name. It doesn’t just stop with the kitchen staff - the more adventurous crashers pretend to be part of the weddings band!

8. Crashers like to pretend they are Bob's friend!

Often crashers find it difficult pretending to be on the groom or brides side. The oldest trick in town is thus to say you’re a friend of Bob’s! With so many people at a wedding the numbers work in a crashers favor. Variations of this are Muhammad or Viji for an ethnic wedding.

9. Crashers never speak about themselves

Wedding crashers will comment on anything but themselves, so expect remarks about the food and service but nothing that gives away their real identity. They will never volunteer more information than they have to. If forced they will say they are an old friend of the groom’s or used to date the bride’s best friend. You may find them excusing themselves or changing the topic of conversation if you ask too many awkward questions.

Remember, as long as there are parties there will be party crashers – and this is exactly the same with weddings!

Watch out!

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How To Invite Children To The Wedding Ceremony Only

Hi Everyone,

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

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

This was my reply:

Thanks for your question.

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

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

Invitation wording

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

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

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

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

RSVP

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

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

Gatecrashers

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

A possible solution for guests with children

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

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

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

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Discover The Top Ten Wedding Day Gripes, Gaffes And Mistakes!
Date: July 06, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Etiquette & Funny & Guests & Planning & Traditions & Customs


I attended an evening wedding reception last weekend and whilst the ceiligh band was fantastic fun, when the DJ arrived and his first song choice was “My Heart Will Go On” by Celine Dion, myself and most of the other wedding guests inwardly cringed and slunk off the dance floor! Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at the wedding reception but as the Oscar-winning Titanic theme tune about a couple separated by death was droning on it got me thinking about how easy it is for simple wedding gaffes to affect guests’ enjoyment of the wedding day!

Every couple want their guests to enjoy their wedding day as much as they themselves do, but no matter how much consideration is put into making those pre-wedding planning decisions there is always going to be something which ticks off some of your guests. Usually the newlyweds are unaware of these glitches in their wedding planning which affect the guests' enjoyment of the day until after the event. I know that I was completely unaware of the fact that a large proportion of guests at my own wedding missed out on the evening buffet because the hotel had mistakenly set it up in the wrong room, so other (uninvited) hotel guests were helping themselves to the food that we had bought and paid for! Latterly the hotel apologized for this gaffe on their part but nothing can assuage my guilt at the thought that some of my friends and family had to dance away the rest of my wedding reception with rumbling tummies!

Just take a look at theknot.com’s article “The Great Gripefest Where Guests Tell All” where honest guests reveal the best and worst about weddings they have attended. It makes interesting (and amusing) reading for anyone planning their own wedding as it gives an invaluable insight into what can potentially ruin the fun for wedding guests.

Here are a couple of my favorite excerpts from the article:

"I dread those receiving lines with about ten people in them, including the entire wedding party. I suppose it's great for the very few guests who know the bride and groom's families and all of their wedding party pals. But most of us just want to congratulate the couple and their parents. Unfortunately, you always get stuck making chitchat with a stranger in a bridesmaid dress who doesn't particularly care who you are, either, while the people in front of you hug the bride." --Margaret, 42, Sarasota, FL
"I hate that dorky Chicken Dance. It's not a nice thing to put your guests through. I have never heard someone say that they liked everything about a wedding but missed doing the Chicken Dance; but I have heard people speak with dread about the impending possibility of being subjected to this 'tradition' at some point in the night." --Elizabeth, 25, Frederick, MD
"I hate cash bars. It's like sending your wedding present COD." --Susan, 28, New Fairfield, CT

I researched what the most frequent wedding gripes given by wedding guests are. Here are the top 10 most popular:

1. Cheesy wedding music choices (I definitely agree with this one!)

2. Wedding speeches that go on for longer than 5 minutes – it is a proven fact that wedding guests’ attention spans starts to waver after anything more than 5 minutes

3. Seating Arrangements at the reception - sitting guests on their own on a “misfits” table where they do not know anyone just shows a lack of thought on the couples part during planning

4. Guests having to drive long distances between the ceremony and reception - transportation should be provided by the bride and groom if the two venues are located far apart

5. Traffic jams in the receiving line so you end up having to make small talk with a random bridesmaid!

6. Large time gaps in between the ceremony and food being served – you should always provide drinks, snacks and sometimes even entertainment if there is going to be a long wait before your wedding meal commences

7. Obtrusive centerpieces on the tables at the reception venue which obstruct guests’ views – try to limit the height and width of these as although they are talking points in themselves you don’t want to prevent your guests from actually being able to comfortably talk to each other!

8. Cash bars are definitely the biggest wedding gaffe - guests feel that they should not have to pay for their own drinks at a wedding

9. Newlyweds who forget to greet their guests personally – although you can’t have full-blown conversations with each and every guest during your wedding day it is crucial that you at least acknowledge them

10. The tradition of cake smashing – guests are all agreed that they definitely do not consider it fun to watch couples smash cakes into one another’s faces – it makes them very uncomfortable so try to avoid this gaffe!

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Wedding Fridge Magnets – What A Great Way To Save The Date!
Date: June 26, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Funny & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Unique Ideas

What better way to let your guests know the date of your wedding than a personalized save the date fridge magnet! Save the date cards are quite a new concept in the UK although they have been a trend in the USA for a long time. They are a fun and unique way of announcing your wedding date to your guests in advance of sending them out a formal invitation, so that they can be sure to keep the date free. You can choose fridge magnets to send to your wedding guests as engagement announcements and save the date reminders. All of your family and friends will enjoy receiving such a useful and stylish wedding date announcement.

Here are some of the advantages of sending a save the date fridge magnet to your wedding guests:

♥ As mentioned above, these are quite a new concept in the UK so your guests will be very excited to receive this novel wedding date notification.

♥ Unlike traditional paper wedding date announcements, fridge magnets will never get thrown out! The recipients will undoubtedly find them useful - your unique fridge magnet will be sure to get pride of place on their refrigerators, filing cabinets and desktops as a reminder of your fantastic news.

♥ Traditionally save the date fridge magnets are sent out between 3 to 6 months prior to your wedding date but you could send them out as early as 12 months before the wedding date. This is particularly relevant if you are planning a destination wedding where accommodation and flights might need to be booked well in advance.

♥ Save the date cards are a particularly good idea if your wedding date falls during the summer months when your guests might be planning their vacations or during a public holiday, such as Easter or Christmas, and for out-of-town and overseas guests who will need to make travel arrangements in advance for your wedding. Out-of-town and overseas guests might even want to plan their vacations around your wedding, so the earlier you can let them know your wedding date the better. This will help to ensure that your guests can get the best deals on flights and other travel and accommodation arrangements they have to make.

♥ If you need to let your guests know about your wedding well in advance yet do not want to rush your decision when choosing your wedding stationary, then why not send out save the date fridge magnets. Once you have sent them off to your guests you can relax and enjoy the rest of your wedding planning, safe in the knowledge that your guests are all aware of that special date which they must keep free!

♥ I think the main advantage of sending out save the date fridge magnets is that you get to enjoy designing a unique fridge magnet – this might be one of the most fun parts of your wedding planning! If the theme for your wedding is going to be quite elegant and thus your wedding invitations are likely to be sophisticated then this is where you can show your guests you and your partner’s fun personalities - choose a wacky fridge magnet design which get your guests talking!

♥ The advantage of a fridge magnet over a save the date card is that they are durable, long-lasting and it is highly likely they will be displayed in one of the most prominent parts of your guest’s home – their fridge! They are very unlikely to forget your wedding date when they are visiting their fridge at least a couple of times a day!

Top tips for choosing your fridge magnet

♥ There is no need for your save the date fridge magnet to match the wedding invitations which you intend to send at a later date. This is your chance to have some fun. Choose a design which offers a true reflection of you and your partner’s personalities, your relationship and your style

♥ Let your imagination go wild – save the date announcements are not meant to be formal! Having fun is very important at this early stage of your wedding planning!

♥ You should definitely consider adding a photograph of you and your fiancé as this really adds a personal touch.

♥ However, this is the first impression your guests will have of your wedding so perhaps you would prefer to stick with the theme and style of your wedding whilst still selecting a creative and unique fridge magnet. You may want to choose fridge magnets which exactly match your wedding invitations.

♥ Some fridge magnet design companies give you the option to print anything you like on your fridge magnet (within reason!).

♥ There are so many creative and unique designs out there to choose from. There are new trends in save the date fridge magnets emerging every day as they become more popular worldwide. I have highlighted below some websites which have a great selection and which seem to accommodate most individual tastes ranging from the beautifully elegant to the totally wacky! Have a look around the various websites to see which magnet design suits your personal taste.

♥ It really is simple - just choose a size or style, a design or image and decide if you want to add any personal text.

Choose a shape and size

♥ The norm for fridge magnets is to choose a rectangular one.
♥ Also available are square and oval fridge magnets
♥ Slightly more expensive (but they do look great) are heart shaped magnets
♥ You can choose from various sizes ranging from 3" x 2" up to 7 1/2" x 8 3/4"
♥ The fridge magnets are available in both horizontal and vertical layouts

Choose a style and image

♥ Do you want your fridge magnet to be highly personalized or simply to bear your name and wedding date? If you prefer you can choose from a stock catalog of images ranging from sunsets to seasonal images such as snowflakes or falling leaves to animals such as dolphins.

♥ If you are not feeling very creative you can select a pre-designed fridge magnet from one of the wedding categories on the fridge magnet websites. They will create a colorful fridge magnet for you and add your basic wording. You don’t have to add lots of embellishments to your fridge magnet – it is your choice!

♥ If you are feeling creative and choose to design your own fridge magnet you will find plenty of ideas and eye-catching designs at the websites I have listed below. There are many design options available. You can choose from a sophisticated design style of magnet to a fun magnet.

♥ You have the option with most of the fridge magnet companies to choose a black and white image, sepia or the full spectrum of colors. You should try to use bright, bold colors that will make an impact so that your wedding date will stay in the thoughts of even the most absentminded guests! Most websites provide you with a choice of background colors and patterns and lettering styles.

♥ If you have already chosen the color theme for your wedding then why not use this to guide you in your fridge magnet design. Include graphics or colors that make sense to the location and time of year your wedding will be set in. For example use shades of blue for an oceanside or beach wedding or choose yellow roses, white and yellow daisies and tulips in pastel colors for a spring wedding.

♥ If your wedding has a theme (e.g. beach wedding, medieval wedding, Las Vegas or other destination wedding) then why not reflect this in your choice of design for your fridge magnet. For example if you are having a beach wedding choose a fridge magnet design with palm trees, a tropical beach, seashells etc.

♥ The best way to personalize your fridge magnet is to use an image of your own. You can use many formats but jpeg, bmp, gif or pdf formats seem to be the most acceptable amongst the fridge magnet manufacturers. Note that if you are submitting your own artwork, please do follow the artwork specifications given on the fridge magnet website you decide to use so that delays in proofing time can be avoided.

♥ If you decide to go with the popular option of using your own photo then you can either choose a pre-designed layout for the photo and wording or have one tailor made to your requirements. There are lots of options with photos on fridge magnets and the great thing is that as your photo is unique, no one else will have designed a fridge magnet quite like yours!

♥ How about using your engagement photo to announce your wedding date?

♥ One of the hot trends at the moment is a strip photo like a photo booth. You and your fiancé can pull funny faces and hold up cards with writing on them. For example:

• We're getting married
• Save the date
• 20th April 2007
• Be there!

or simply

• Save
• The
• Date
• 20th April 2007

All you have to do is submit the sequence of photos to the fridge magnet company and they will take care of the rest. This is a popular choice so you will find most fridge magnet companies can provide this design.

♥ Alternatively you could have a photo taken of you and your fiancé holding up cards with numbers on them in each hand to signify the wedding date and have a title along the top of the magnet saying “Save the date”.

♥ Other photo options are:

• Using a photo of you both taken at the wedding venue
• Using photos of you both as children mocked up

♥ For something a bit different you could choose a glow in the dark fridge magnet.

♥ Photo calendar magnets are one of the most popular types of save the date fridge magnet. The magnet is designed to look like a mini calendar month with the date you have chosen for your wedding circled or decorated so that is stands out.

♥ What better way to ensure that people add your important date to their calendar than to send them an actual calendar! These fridge magnets have a 15 month calendar beneath a photo or image of your choice with tear-off calendar pages. You can choose for the months to run from January, April, July or October.

Wording

♥ The basic wording on a save the date fridge magnet should include:
o Your names (first names are fine unless some of the recipients do not know you very well)
o The date of your wedding
o The city or town where the wedding is due to take place (unless you have not yet finalized this)

♥ If you have set up a wedding website remember to include this address also so that guests can keep up-to-date with your wedding news.

♥ Because save-the-date cards magnets are a recent trend in the UK some guests may not have received one before and might misinterpret this as the actual wedding invitation. To avoid any confusion include wording on the fridge magnet along the lines of “Invitation to follow” or “Wedding invitation and details to follow” so that guests know that (a) they do not have to respond to the save-the-date magnet as they would a formal invitation and (b) they can expect more details in the future to assist them with arranging travel, accommodation, childcare arrangements and gift list details.

♥ Just as there are many design options for fridge magnets, so too are their innumerous options for narrative that you print on your magnet. You can have choose up to 6 lines of narrative to be printed on the horizontal magnets and up to 8 lines on the vertical magnets. If you would like to include a poem or some optional romantic sentiments but are lacking ideas have a look at this website PhotoMagnets.com which has some lovely choices of wording.

Other points to note

♥ Save the date fridge magnets range in cost from $0.50 each for very basic small ones. There is something for every budget, you just have to do a bit of research by looking at the websites I have listed below. My best advice to you is to shop around as some of the fridge magnet companies have special offers if you order certain amounts and some even offer free shipping.

♥ The smallest order is usually 20 fridge magnets but obviously the more magnets you order the cheaper each they are.

♥ Do make sure that you order them well in advance as they can take up to 5 business days to be produced and shipped.

♥ You can mail out the fridge magnets in exactly the same way you would a wedding invite, with a normal postage stamp – they are very thin and light. Most of the fridge magnet companies provide you with a card for you to slide the magnet onto and an envelope.

♥ Remember that you should only mail out your save the date fridge magnets to people who you definitely intend on inviting to your wedding – so make sure that your guest list is finalized before you start to send them out. Once you have asked your guests to keep the date free you cannot then un-invite them!

Fridge magnets are not just for announcing your wedding date. You can also choose fridge magnets as the perfect way to send your guests personalized thank you messages after your wedding or wedding shower invites.

Fridge Magnets as wedding favors or thank you cards

♥ A novel idea for a wedding favor is to give each guest (or each couple) a fridge magnet. If you prefer not to design it yourself then check out the beautiful collection at BridalPeople.com. If you choose to personalize your fridge magnet and present it as a favor or thank you gift to your guests then this truly is a creative and unique way of thanking them for sharing your wedding day which will last forever. There are plenty of options for wording and designs to put on the fridge magnet:

♥ You could simply thank them for sharing your special day and include the date on it as a reminder (they’ll never forget your anniversary then!).

♥ You could have a photo of the two of you with a special message from you both to your guests.

♥ You could have a short love poem or some words which are meaningful to both you and your partner with an appropriate graphic.

♥ Why not include your new address on the fridge magnet – this will save you having to send out change of address cards when you get back from your honeymoon!

♥ If you prefer you could personalize each fridge magnet by having each guest’s name put on it. These could double up as place-cards for the tables during the wedding banquet.

♥ You could personalize the fridge magnets further by having specific magnets made for each of your bridal party (e.g. one for your bridesmaid with a special message of thanks, one for your best man etc).

♥ Alternatively you could have a photo of you both on your wedding day made into a fridge magnet and send them out to guests after your wedding in place of thank you cards. This would be a lovely reminder for your guests of your wedding day, as well as being useful. You could use an official wedding photo or a photo of you both looking more relaxed on your wedding day which might be more informal.

♥ You could also send these fridge magnets out to guests who were unable to attend your wedding but who you want to say thank you too (e.g. people who were too ill or too old to make the journey).

♥ Something a bit different from a normal photo fridge magnet as a thank you gift is the mini-word magnet. This consists of a large photo magnet personalized with your own choice of wording and it is attached to a magnetic sheet which holds 55 die cut mini words. These are a mixture of romantic and fun words which are easily pulled apart to create words, phrases and poems on your guest’s fridge door. They are available in vertical or horizontal forms and cost approximately $2.95 each when you order 100. They are available at PhotoMagnets.com.

Car Door Magnets

♥ A novel new concept is the car door magnet. As the name suggests, they are magnets which you put on the car doors which bear the wording “Just Married” with your names or “Newlyweds”. They cost $29.50 for 2. These are bound to raise a few laughs on your wedding day as you drive off into the sunset!

Invite to bridal shower

♥ Rather than sending out a traditional bridal shower, bachelorette party or hen night invitation, how about sending a fridge magnet instead – what a unique idea! There are lots of fashionable and stylish designs for you to choose from this website.



Make your own fridge magnets

♥ If you are constrained by your tight wedding budget and cannot afford to splash out on designer fridge magnets then why not try making your own. With a little effort and for a very small cost you could have beautiful personalized fridge magnets.

♥ You can buy the peel-and-stick magnets in bulk at most office supply stores (approx $8.95 for 50 individual business card sized adhesive backed magnets) and then decorate your own stickers for the front by using your pc and printer in conjunction with your own photos or clipart. Here are the exact instructions of how to make your own peel-and-stick fridge magnets.

♥ I totally recommend BrilliantWeddingPages.com which explains with easy-to-follow instructions on how to make fridge magnet wedding favors. Take a look – you have nothing to lose!

The fridge magnet websites I recommend are as follows:

i4image.co.uk
CritterZone.com
MagnetQueen.com
MagnetStreet.com
PhotoMagnets.com
TheAmberCat.co.uk

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 IV
How To Announce A Belated Destination Wedding Reception
Solving The Double Wedding Invitation And Gift Dilemma
How To Customize Your Wedding With Beads


A Mischievous Tip For Entertaining Wedding Guests
Date: June 22, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Funny & Guests & Reception & Shopping & Unique Ideas

Further to my blog I posted last week with my top tips for encouraging guests to mingle at your wedding I have just discovered a novel idea which is sure to get your guests mingling - MissChief's Original Forfeit Cookies!

These cookies offer a modern alternative to fortune cookies. When you break them open each one contains an original forfeit (there are over 200 different forfeits in the complete range). The forfeits are a great way of encouraging your guests during the wedding reception to have a laugh amongst themselves and get them interacting and talking. I imagine even the shyest guests will feel compelled to participate in the forfeits as they are so much fun! The forfeits range from performing a short belly or pole dance, to re-enacting the scene from When Harry Met Sally, to telling an embarrassing story about somebody sat at the same table. They are designed to encourage the guests at each table to get up to mischief at your wedding!

However, unlike typical fortune cookies, these cookies are delicious as well as fun. They are not your usual crescent shaped cookie, they are Italian golden sugar wafers with each end dipped in 73% single origin dark chocolate. The cookies are contained inside a beautifully designed cigarette-style box which contains 11 individual dark chocolate dipped cookies, plus one white chocolate dipped group cookie (this contains a forfeit for the whole table to participate in) and a rules card so that your guests understand what they are expected to do. These cookies are ideal for placing on each table at your wedding reception - make sure you place a disposable camera alongside them so that your guests can capture each other's michevious behaviour!

Also available from the same company are Hen Night Forfeit Cookies (which I have seen in action and which are great fun. They contain great forfeits (which are not so racy that they will shock your more faint-hearted guests) which really encourage your friends who may not know each other very well to participate in the forfeits together and most importantly to have a laugh. Intimate Forfeit Cookies (which are quite racy) are perfect for you and your partner to share on a romantic weekend away.

The cookies are available from from Getintomischief.com for £9.50 including postage and packaging or from Confetti.co.uk for £13.99 including postage and packaging.

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
How To Announce A Belated Destination Wedding Reception
Solving The Double Wedding Invitation And Gift Dilemma


When And How To Invite Guests To An Out Of State Wedding
Date: April 26, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Checklists & Guests & Invitations & Announcements & Planning & Traditions & Customs

Hi Everyone,

This morning I had this question relating to sending out wedding invitations:

" I am having an out of state wedding, 9 hours away. When is the best time to send out my save a date cards for my October wedding, I have put inside my cards, hotels that are giving my guest's a discount on their rooms. I want my guests to have enough time to plan in advance. Aso when should i send out my wedding invitations?"

This was my reply:

- Thank you for your question.

I have always thought that the traditional 8 weeks before a wedding to send out invitation cards was a little short. I guess in times gone by people may have had less choice and commitments in their lives, who knows, but it does seem we are all so much more busy nowadays and people can go on holiday all times of the year.

When I got married 6 years ago in Scotland, I was living in England and the majority of people were traveling up from there. I know it isn’t another state but even with 7 hours driving to a place most had never been to I wanted to take as much stress out of the situation as possible. Thus when I sent the invitations I included a map of the town and a list of the different places they could stay. I also included my own descriptions (tried to make it funny!) and my review of places to eat in the town as many were making their stay in Scotland part of a week’s holiday.

I had a lot of good positive feedback on this, because it showed I cared and though I couldn’t make the bookings (nor would I want to get involved) I outlined everything they might need as well as I could. For example many guests were bringing children and thus I had a section on where they might take them for an afternoon. I felt like I was working for the Scottish Tourist Board !

I would imagine if people are traveling to your wedding they will be staying more than the one day and thus the help and advice you can give will be very much welcomed. I never sent save the date cards because I had spoken to everyone I really wanted at the wedding to ensure they had nothing booked on that date – I just sent the invitations and my booklet 4 months before the wedding. I know this isn’t traditional but as they say in the UK – “horses for courses” – maybe you also have that expression in the States.

In your case I would send out the save a date cards with your hotel info during May or June, I always think the earlier the better because this gives guests the opportunity to shop on the internet for cheap flights etc. You can then send your invitations out 8 weeks before the wedding.

I hope this helps.

Ultimately go with what feels best for you, modern weddings vary so much from traditions and customs set hundreds of years ago!

Good Luck

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 IV
How To Announce A Belated Destination Wedding Reception
Solving The Double Wedding Invitation And Gift Dilemma
How To Customize Your Wedding With Beads


Don't Forget Your Guest's Own Budget
Date: November 28, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Guests & Industry News

It can be quite frightening when a wedding guest actually adds up how much they have spent to attend one wedding.

In the UK, credit card company Morgan Stanley have estimated that each guest spends nearly £300 on clothes, gifts, accommodation, travel, food and drink.

Research shows that on average each guest spends about £90 on gifts, £70 on the travel and accommodation, and £60 on the weeding outfit

Though all brides will be interested to know that you can expect close on £100 for your wedding present!

If you want bigger and better presents just invite those friends and relatives over 50, as they on average spend £558 on each ceremony they attend, a whooping 91% above the national average.

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Is Your Dad's Girlfriend A Problem?
Date: October 10, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Extended Family & Guests & Reception & Stress

Sometimes planning a wedding can be one of the most difficult things can ever do in their life, especially when your parents are separated.

This was a recent question I was asked about this subject:

"My parents are separated but they still get on reasonably well. My dad has got a girlfriend but my mum has remained single. Neither my fiance or myself particulary want the girlfriend to sit at the top table as this would make the numbers uneven and I don't really get on with her. Where would be the best place to sit my dads girlfriend instead of the top table?"

This is the reply I sent with my suggestions for resolving this dilemma:

Do you have any brothers or sisters who will not be seated on the top table with you? If so, and if they enjoy a good relationship with your Dad’s girlfriend, perhaps they could sit on the same table as her.

Alternatively, does your Dad have any siblings himself who will be attending the wedding (e.g. your Aunts and Uncles from his side of the family)? Perhaps your Dad’s girlfriend could be seated with them as they have your Dad in common and I imagine your Dad’s family will make an effort to include his girlfriend in the celebrations.

I realize that this is a tricky situation. I would suggest that you explain to your Dad (and his girlfriend if you feel comfortable doing so) that with your Mum on the top table too it would be too awkward for her to have your Dad’s girlfriend seated nearby and, more importantly, that you yourself would feel uncomfortable with the situation. I am sure that with it being your special day your Dad and his girlfriend will be sensitive to your feelings.

I attended a wedding of a close friend recently with a similar situation and the outcome was that the new girlfriend was seated on the table with the family of her boyfriend (my friend’s Dad) and she actually had a great time.

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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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