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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

Related Posts :
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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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78 Free Wedding Tips And Book

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

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

Sample Tip 1 :

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

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

Sample Tip 2 :

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

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

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

Sample Tip 3 :

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

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


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

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

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


Feeding Children During Your Wedding


Snacks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wedding Meal

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

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

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

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


Things To Consider When Choosing Wedding Food For Children

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

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

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

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


Child-friendly Meal Options

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

Chicken Tenders or Fingers

Mini hamburgers on fresh-baked rolls

Cheese Pizza

Macaroni and Cheese

Grilled Cheese Sandwich

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

Cheese Quesadillas

Fish goujons

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

Vegetable Crisps

Potato Wedges and dip

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

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


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


Buffet

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


Children’s Food Station

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

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


Picnic

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


Sweet Treats

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


Cotton Candy

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


Popcorn Machine

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


Sno Cone Machine

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

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

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


Children’s Cocktail Bar

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


Chocolate Fountain

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

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


Dessert Buffet Table

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

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


Ice Cream Stand

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

Nuts (whole, chopped or flaked)

Fresh and dried fruit

Chocolate (strands, flakes, buttons and chocolate chips)

Fudge pieces

Shredded coconut

Mini marshmallows

Multi-colored sprinkles

Whipped cream

Chocolate dipped fruit

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


Self-Service Candy Bar

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


Tips For Setting Up A Candy Bar

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

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

♥ Other choices for the candy bar could include:

milk, white and dark chocolates and truffles

M & Ms

yogurt or chocolate covered pretzels

mints

gummy bears and worms

sugared almonds

liquorice and candy sticks

toffees

bon bons

lovehearts

yogurt or chocolate covered raisins

various Jelly Belly flavors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Advantages Of Having A Candy Bar

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

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


Sweet Treats Which Get The Children Involved

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


Toffee Apple Decorating

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


Cookie or Cupcake Decorating

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

How To Set This Up


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

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

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

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

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


Decorating Area Set Up

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

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

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

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


Decorating Essentials

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

sprinkles

M&Ms

chopped nuts

chocolate chips

licorice whips

mini-marshmallows

peppermint candies

colored sugar and sanding sugar

jelly beans

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

cookie or graham cracker crumbs

crushed peanut brittle

gumdrops

gummy bears and gummy worms

sifted cocoa powder

fresh fruits

edible fresh flowers

candied flower petals

colored dots

sugar strands

melted chocolate

nonpareils and silver balls

coconut flakes

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

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

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

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

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

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


Tips For Ensuring Cookie Decorating Activity Goes Smoothly

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

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

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

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

napkins (matching your wedding colors)

wet wipes (for inevitable accidents)

waxed paper to sit the cookies on

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

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

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

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


Give The Children Their Own Party

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

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

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

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

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

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


Timing

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


Entertainment

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


Catering

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


Child Care

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


Room

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


Invitations

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

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

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


Costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

Craft equipment: $35

Decorations: $20

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

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

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


Out-Of-Town Guests With Children


Child Care

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

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

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


Welcome Goody Bags For Out-Of-Town Children

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

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

♥ Stuffed animals (perfect for younger children)

♥ Coloring book, crayons or construction paper

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Rehearsal Dinner

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


Organizing An Adult Only Wedding Without Arranging Child Care Yourself

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

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

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

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

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

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


Wedding Invitations For Children

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

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

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


How To Keep Parents Informed

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


Information To Put In The Note

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

o bring their own kites for flying

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Timing Of Wedding Day Events

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

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

o what time will they and their children be fed?

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Good luck with your child-friendly wedding!


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

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

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


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A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
Date: March 03, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Funny & Music & Dance & Unique Ideas & Videography

It is the norm nowadays for couples to think up different ways of ensuring their guests are entertained at their wedding. Whether they choose to arrange live music, DJ's or other forms of entertainment, one thing is for sure - newlyweds do not want their wedding guests to go home bored or disappointed.

An amazingly unique idea which Oklahoma newlyweds Brian and Sandy Lundmark came up with was to stage an awe-inspiring rendition of Michael Jackson's Thriller dance. After confessing her love of the Thriller dance sequence featured in her favorite movie "13 Going on 30" Sandy asked fiance Brian to put together a dance routine for their wedding to surprise their guests. They asked members of the wedding party to participate in the dance and the whole group practiced several times a week for over a month to learn the dance moves together. The end result was a fantastically entertaining dance sequence at their wedding reception.

What a novel idea and a surefire way to make your wedding reception not only stand out in every one of your wedding guest's minds in the years to come but also capture the interest of a million YouTube viewers! This YouTube video not only featured on Good Morning America but it was also voted YouTube Video Of The Week. Take a look and see it for yourself!

Watch other "Thriller" Wedding dances: Joe and Sheena Roberts (after 48 secs), Jocelyn and Jim, Adam Smith (after 1 min 24 secs) and Jim O'Deanny.

Finally you would go a long way to beat Norm and Renee's first wedding dance. During the first 1 min 8 secs they dance to Jack Johnson's "Better Together" - nothing to write home about there but just wait for the change in tempo as they dance to Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel" - Not to be missed - watch the video below!

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 IV
Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon
Chicken Wing Wedding For Second Time Bride!


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

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

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

Here are the links to all 5 Parts:

Part l

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

Her advice to all couples is:

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


Part ll

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

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


Part lll

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


Part lV

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

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


Part V

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

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

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

Related Posts :
CLICK HERE & GRAB WITH BOTH HANDS Your 273 Page Book To Planning The Perfect Wedding - No Catch - No Hassle - Simply Click For Your Secret To A Perfect Wedding
Jennifer Hudson Says "I Do" To Having Her Dogs In Her Wedding Party!
To Greet or Not To Greet? What You Need to Know About Wedding Receiving Lines
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


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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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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Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas
Date: August 23, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Candles & Ceremonies & Church Weddings & Civil Weddings & Music & Dance & Reception & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas

Choosing specific wedding songs is just as important to the success of your wedding and reception as having the right musicians and singers. Because you have an attentive audience enjoying your special day, be sure to pick wedding songs that are both personally meaningful and a pleasure for your guests.

Here I reveal five tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.

1. Talk to the officiant :

If your wedding is taking place in a church or synagogue, you will want to check with the minister or rabbi to see if there are any restrictions on the choice of wedding music used. In general, it is best to choose a song for the lighting of the Unity Candle that is relatively slow and traditional but has a deep personal meaning for the couple.

2. Receptions mean more freedom :

At the reception, you have full rein to choose what you like, but keep in mind those you would like to honor. For bride/father dance and groom/mother dance, choose wedding music that is from the parents' era as a tribute to them. Some families have songs that are special because of there connection with an annual vacation or family ritual; if so, include this music as well. So what if your wedding is in October and the family song is "Surfin' Safari"? Go ahead and play it, and invite your brothers and sisters onto the dance floor with you. It will be a moment talked about fondly for years to come.

3. Find something special for the parents :

Talk to members of both families and find out what special song the parents danced to at their own weddings, then make sure the DJ has these CDs or get the sheet music to your band a few months in advance so they will know the tunes perfectly at the reception. Nothing will touch your parents more at your wedding than hearing the wedding music from their own.

4. A friend's solo can be special :

If you have a talented friend, ask him or her to sing a wedding song at the ceremony or reception. A serenade by someone special adds a personal touch to the evening and will be a stand-out memory for you and your guests. If you and your new spouse are the ones with musical ability, think about singing for your guests. Beginning your new married life with a shared song will be an unforgettable experience.

5. Bypass trendy for meaningful :

The most important music of the evening at the reception, of course, is the wedding song that you and your groom will dance to for the first time as man and wife. This is the song that is "your song." Don't simply choose the most recent pop song on the charts or the song that everyone is using this year. Decide on a song that you can dance to, a song that is lovely, but above all a song that when you hear it ten years from now you will still remember why the lyrics were so potent on your wedding day and will stand the test of time.

Wedding songs are one of the elements of the wedding day remembered most by guests, so be sure to put your own stamp on the day through your choice of music for both the wedding and the reception.

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
20 Essential Wedding DJ - Choosing the right DJ is crucial and my top tips should help you get it right.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself? - How to save money by opting for an iPod.

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A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon


Tips For Handling Divorced Parents Sensitively At Your Wedding

Hi Everyone,

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

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


This was my reply:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Seating divorced parents

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

During the wedding ceremony

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

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

During the wedding reception

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

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

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

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

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

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

Receiving line

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

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

Photography

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

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

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

Toasting

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

Bridal Dances

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

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

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

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

Remember it is your day, not theirs!

Thanks for your question and good luck!

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20 Essential Wedding DJ Tips
Date: July 07, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Legal Matters & Music & Dance & Planning & Reception & Themes & Traditions & Customs & Venues

Music and entertainment are essential elements of your wedding reception and getting it right can make or break your wedding! It is a difficult decision to make with so many different varieties of bands, entertainers and DJs available. It is no wonder that so many couples have trouble deciding whether to have live music or a DJ for their wedding reception. It can be even more difficult to make the decision if you don’t know what you should expect these service providers to provide for your wedding reception.

Focusing on wedding DJs, we are all familiar with the stereotypical cheesy wedding DJ who embarrasses your guests and whose appearance and performance become a standing joke at your wedding! What should you be looking for when choosing a wedding DJ? Nina Callaway at About.com sums it up nicely when she says:

“Frequently a DJ or band leader will act as the MC of a wedding reception, which means you'll need them to be entertaining but not annoying, polished, friendly, and charismatic.”

For many couples, less time is spent on choosing the DJ than any other aspect of the reception - this can be a costly and disappointing mistake! Overlooking this aspect of your wedding planning is easy to do. However, choosing the right DJ is crucial to the success of your wedding reception and my top tips below should help you accomplish this:

1. Know what you really want in terms of music before you begin looking for a wedding DJ

This is crucial and is the simplest way to eliminate DJs that aren't quite right in the first round. If you and your fiancé are dreaming of classic Big Band sounds, be very up front about this the first time you talk to prospective DJs. A DJ who specializes in rock and pop music may be wonderful, but his play list will be limited when it comes to what you want, and you'll be disappointed.

I recommend you read “How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music” where I describe how wedding songs are one of the elements of the wedding day remembered most by guests and I list four services that allow users to download and review a large selection of wedding songs.

2. Ask for references

Any DJ who consistently pleases his clients should be more than happy to provide you with contact details so that you can obtain recommendations from other satisfied customers. When you do this, be sure and ask the other customers when the reception took place - the references must be recent, not two years old! If the DJ has no recent references be sure to ask why this is. Additionally, if the DJ has a website (which is now the popular trend) you should take a look at it to see whether it contains any testimonials. You want to be sure that your DJ has a good reputation for overall conduct, interaction with guests, use of alcohol, punctuality and ability to work alongside other wedding service providers. I recommend that you check at least four references for your chosen DJ. In a business where any unqualified person can easily enter the DJ profession you need to do research to ensure that you hire someone that will provide you with a top quality service.

Obviously if you do your own research and start asking friends and recent newlyweds for DJ recommendations you have there the best type of reference possible! Do make sure that if a friend recommends a DJ to you that you check that you and your friend’s music tastes and expectations of a wedding DJ are similar!

Another idea is to ask the DJ if they can show you an example of their work by letting you see a video clip taken at another wedding where they have performed. Most DJ's nowadays will be able to provide you with an example of the quality and style of their performance.

You must ask the DJ how much experience they have had in this business. Has the majority of their work been at weddings, or is for the corporate market? These types of questions will enable you to determine whether they are the right person to perform at your wedding reception.

3. Always meet your DJ in person

Once you have whittled down your choice to 3 or 4 prospective wedding DJs it is recommended that you meet each one in person. This way you can check out their personality and general appearance, something you just can’t do properly over the phone. Finding out a DJ’s personality is very important (how many cheesy wedding DJs can you remember - far too many I bet!) as you definitely want your guests enjoying the music at your wedding rather than spending the night commenting on how bad the DJ is! By meeting with them in person you get an indication of whether they are punctual. You might find in some instances that the DJ fails to show up for your meeting - it is better to find out if they are unreliable in the planning stages rather than find this out to your detriment on your wedding day!

During your meeting with the DJ watch them to see whether they are paying attention to your specific requirements for your wedding music. Are they taking notes? Professional wedding DJs always have a pad and pen with them to jot down notes about what style of music is going to suit your wedding. No DJ has that great a memory that they can memorize all of your musical preferences!

4. Discuss your wedding song play list and look for flexibility

Is it your intention to have a DJ that will be proactive in getting the dance floor full right from the beginning of the evening or is a more laid back approach more your style for your wedding reception? Ask the DJ for a consultation several weeks before the reception and go over your song preferences with him in detail. Ask your DJ if he has a list of his music collection and if he would object if you highlight a few tracks that you would like him to play during the evening. A professional will take note of which songs you want to hear as well as which songs you don't want to hear. You will need to tell your DJ the wishes for special dances such as your first dance, the father and bride dance etc. Ensure that your DJ knows the flow of key moments throughout the wedding reception so that he can keep the music in synch.

Usually DJs are willing to take requests from wedding guests on the night but you should ask about this specifically beforehand. Ultimately you want your DJ to be flexible but some DJs use pre-programmed music which might make it difficult for them to accommodate your guests' requests.

If you imagine that your DJ will be working for approximately 4 hours and each song is 4 minutes long - that is a total of 60 songs that will be played. Whilst you will want your special songs played you should rely on the DJ to determine the best musical taste to get people on the dance floor. Your DJ will know songs that have worked at weddings in the past. The family and friends you invite to your wedding probably vary in age from 5 to 85 years old. It is quite a task to cater to all tastes with wedding music but that is exactly what you are expecting of your wedding DJ. An experienced DJ will know when to play which kind of music. They will take note when your guests arrive of what type of music suits the crowd. Ask the DJ what their tricks are for encouraging and motivating people to dance. Can you get a sense from them that they are able to “read” a dance room – can they give you examples of which songs they would use in different circumstances?

Have these open discussions with your DJ and ensure you are on the same wavelength to avoid any confusion on the day. It is important that you discuss the types of artists and styles of music you enjoy - remember your DJ isn’t a mind reader! You want to be able to form a good relationship with your wedding DJ. Does he listen to your suggestions? Does he offer you his professional opinion or simply agree with everything you say?

5. Ensure your DJ’s music is up to date

Make sure that your DJ has a wide range of music including the most recent chart-topping songs. Beware of amateur DJs who claim that they can obtain any song that you want for your wedding by downloading it online. Even though you and I might obtain our music from internet downloads, this is definitely not the approach a professional DJ should take. Nowadays all professional wedding DJs subscribe to paid services such as Promoonly.com and Tophitsusa.com so that they can be sure to have the most up-to-date song releases on a weekly or monthly basis. Your DJ should have a wide range of music including the most recent songs in the charts and you can check this by asking to see their latest CDs and verifying their release dates. Do provide the DJ with a list of specific songs which you want to be played at your wedding so that he can source them out prior to the wedding reception if he does not have them in his current music collection.

6. Ask the DJ about his professional status

Don't be hesitant to ask a DJ if you can check their credentials. Most professional DJs will be a member of the American Disk Jockey Association (ADJA), so ask them for proof of membership to confirm this.

It is also really important that you check that your DJ has public liability insurance. If one of your wedding guests trips over a cable that the DJ has not taped down to the floor or if a speaker falls on top of a guest then it will be the DJ they look to for compensation. Ask to see a copy of their insurance cover.

Make it clear to your DJ that you don’t want any self-promoting signs for his services displayed at your wedding - this is your wedding reception not a school disco! Sometimes a DJ will ask if he can display a sign or have business cards on display. This is totally up to you - you have to ask yourself if you want your wedding to be used as a place to market the DJs services. Some brides and grooms object to this and some agree a reduction in the DJs fee in exchange for the prominent display of their advertising sign.

7. Does the DJ perform emcee duties?

Although this seems obvious, there are some DJs, particularly if you are using a non-professional DJ, who simply play the music at the wedding. If you want the DJ to make announcements, such as the introduction of the newlyweds’ first dance, the cake cutting or the bouquet being tossed, and act as an overall emcee during the evening entertainment be sure to check that they are comfortable doing this. It takes years to build up experience as a DJ of speaking into a microphone. If you are unable to get an opportunity to see the DJ performing live, ask to see a video clip. For a wedding you need to choose someone who has a fun personality and a professional delivery for announcements.

8. What music format does your DJ use?

You should ask your wedding DJ whether they will be playing CDs, MP3s or even vinyl records. This is important as you need to know that they have a back-up plan if their sound system fails - you don’t want to have to wait for your first dance as man and wife whilst the DJ reboots the PC attached to his mixing desk! Most DJs have progressed into the digital era nowadays.

9. Ensure your DJ knows the dress code

Always ask about how they intend to dress on the day of your wedding. Your DJ should always dress in a manner that is appropriate for the occasion. Whilst this does not mean that he must wear a tuxedo you do not want the other extreme of him turning up in shorts and sandals! The DJ is a service provider on your wedding day so should always be neatly dressed. If you are having a themed wedding make sure you have informed your DJ so that they can fit in as best they can with the theme of your wedding.

10. Ask about emergency arrangements

It is any DJs worst nightmare that the sound system fails during a performance. It is really important that you ask your DJ beforehand if he has any backup equipment available for use in case there is a problem during your wedding reception. Although it doesn't happen often, equipment can fail, and if it happens on the night of your reception and it is the only set your DJ has, you may find yourself faced with a night without music!

Also, discuss what alternative arrangements will be made in the event that the DJ you hire is sick or unavailable for your wedding reception. Will he provide a back-up DJ that is suitable for the occasion? It is vitally important that you get the reassurance that you are covered in the event of a problem – this should be fully dealt with in your contract too. If you book an active member of the American Disc Jockey Association they are more likely to know a fellow professional that can take over in the event of an emergency. I can’t emphasis enough how important it is to have a full backup plan!

11. Does your DJ own quality audio equipment?

A professional DJ will generally have spent over $10,000 on their equipment and will be proud to discuss the technical side if asked. I recommend that you ask them which brand of equipment they use – you should look out for names including Crown, Denon, ElectroVoice, JBL and QSC as these demonstrate your DJ is serious about DJing . The mention of names like American DJ, FBT, Gemini, MTX, NEXT, Peavey Sound and Tech should make you a little more cautious because they are poorer sound quality. By finding out the brand names of the DJs equipment you will quickly be able to gauge the quality of their audio equipment and this should help you to decide whether or not you want to use their services for your wedding reception. Proper equipment will give good sound quality that will not be disturbing for your wedding guests. There is nothing worse than being seated next to a speaker at a wedding that is producing poor sound quality. Like anything though the use of top quality equipment does not guarantee that the DJ is a huge success, but at least you will know that you will be listening to professional quality sounds for starters!

12. Will your DJ be using a wireless microphone?

Wireless microphones work well at weddings and allow the DJ to roam the dance floor without tripping over a chord. This is great as it gives them the flexibility to teach wedding guests all the steps to a group dance. Sometimes DJs prefer sticking with a chord microphone because they are more likely to get interference from a wireless microphone. Personally I think that this is a bit of a cheap get-out because if their sound system is properly setup with today's technology they generally should not get a problem when using a wireless microphone. If you have a preference discuss this with your DJ beforehand.

13. Has the DJ worked at the venue before?

Do ask your DJ whether they have performed at your choice of wedding reception venue before. Although this is not essential, the more familiar they are with the layout and staff at your chosen venue the better. If they have not played there before, it is best to meet your DJ at the venue so that you can discuss the specifics of setting up the DJ table, dance floor location and speaker positions.

14. Does your DJ understand the best way to set up speakers at your venue?

Always ask your DJ how many speakers they intend on using. As a bare minimum there should be a subwoofer or a pair of speakers positioned on the ground and a pair on stands. Anything less will cause problems - having two speakers solely on the ground will produce a muffled sound and lack of clarify when announcements are being made. Equally a pair of speakers on stands is great for microphone clarity but won’t be ideal for the music as this will sound hollow.

If your reception room is large you should ask your DJ whether he will be using far-field speakers. These are ideal for throwing the sound further than normal speakers and are essential if you are dancing outside. Ask your DJ whether he intends to perform sound checks prior to the entertainment commencing.

Ideally you will meet your DJ at the venue so that you can discuss the actual positions for the speakers. If there are hard surfaces like marble ask them how they are going to overcome issues such as acoustical echoes. Solutions to overcome this problem could be as simple as setting the ground speakers so that they point upwards at 45 degrees. If the speakers are obtrusive or ugly looking, feel free to ask your DJ if they can be covered to make them less visible.

15. How much time will your DJ need for setting up?

Normally the DJ will need at least an hour to set up his equipment at the reception venue. Check with your DJ whether this will be sufficient for his requirements beforehand and let the wedding venue know if he needs more time. It is important that if you are eating your meal in the same room as the dance floor, you arrange for there to be a time lapse between the end of the meal and the tables being cleared to the evening entertainment commencing. Usually guests are quite happy to mingle in the bar area or stretch their legs outdoors after the meal.

16. Who pays for your DJ's food?

Feeding the DJ is often overlooked but it is necessary. They are providing a wedding service for you so you should definitely feed and water them during the course of the wedding reception - you don’t want them wilting halfway through the evening’s entertainment! I would not recommend adding another cover to your wedding breakfast total (that's far too expensive and totally unnecessary). You should arrange to provide the DJ with a smaller meal that is quite inexpensive - you can pre-arrange this with your catering manager and confirm this with the DJ. Alternatively, if you have a wedding buffet in the evening you can let the DJ know that they are welcome to help themselves to it - within reason!

17. Will your DJ provide a lighting system?

Before you even get into a conversation about lighting systems you must be very confident that your DJ can deliver on the music front first. Why? - because it is the music and the DJ’s emcee skills that are most important! Once you have chosen your ideal DJ then you can discuss the lighting with them.

Most DJs will be able to offer an intelligent lighting system which is choreographed with the music. This is much more sophisticated than the old days where a few flashing lights and a mirror ball constituted a lights show! Typically most DJs offer a basic lighting system within their fee but if it is within your wedding budget you could pay extra and upgrade. How about an amazing light show that includes your names and those of your guests projected in laser light on the wall as their names are announced at the reception! That is a little over the top for me, but there are other variations available with the lighting - discuss it with your DJ. Undoubtedly he will have plenty of options he can tell you about.

18. How much will your DJ cost?

Everyone with one eye on their wedding budget wants to cut their costs down, but make sure that you are not selling yourself short by drafting in a bargain-priced DJ - you might be paying for what you are getting in this instance! Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that you are paying over the odds for your DJ because all that they are being paid for is to play music for 4 hours! Professional DJs will have invested a lot of time in your wedding prior to your actual wedding reception. Typically they will be spending between 10 to 20 hours consulting with you, purchasing the music, editing, preparing, setting up the equipment, packing up the equipment and other administrative tasks.

DJ prices can vary enormously and it is important to realize that a lot of couples say in hindsight that they wished they had spent more of their wedding budget on the entertainment. Research shows that you can spend between $400 and $3200 on a wedding DJ, but in general $1200 for 4 hours is the average for a professional DJ.
You will generally pay more if you hire a DJ as part of a wedding venue's package deal compared to finding your own DJ and paying them directly.

19. Ensure you include all the details in the contract

Finally, after choosing your wedding DJ, do remember to get everything in writing. Most DJs provide formal contracts. Make sure that any changes you have requested are attached to the contract and ensure that it is signed before you proceed any further. The contract should include a clause regarding what happens if the reception overruns - will there be extra charges and what will they cost? The contract must specifically state the name of the DJ who you have requested for your wedding day - you don’t want someone else from the same company but who you have never met before. Remember to confirm the arrangements with the DJ in a phone call during the week preceding your wedding.

20. How to find a DJ online

Hiring a wedding DJ in the US :

Wedj.com - Use this site to search for a wedding DJ in the US, using postcode and date filters.

Weddings.Respond.com - Respond’s Directory lists the top wedding DJ businesses in your area, organized by category and location.

Discjockeys.com - Search for prescreened and member referred wedding disc jockeys.

Gigmasters.com - Search within the US and Canada using your city and state. Select from thousands of wedding DJs for hire.

AllTimeFavorites.com - Browse this site for DJs in the US.

Hiring a wedding DJ in the UK :

UK-Disco.co.uk - Comprehensive UK list of wedding DJ and karaoke services in your area.

Hitched.co.uk - Review featured local services for music and DJs, with listings categorized by county.

Musicmoz.org - Search this comprehensive directory of all things music including DJs, edited by volunteers.

The sooner you book your DJ the better. You should definitely aim for having a DJ booked no later than 9 months in advance of your wedding day if you want to guarantee a professional DJ service in your local area. Do be aware that if your wedding is held in a major city, it is wise to book even earlier than this as, not surprisingly, the best DJs will be booked at least a year in advance. Likewise with weddings falling on major holidays, such as Christmas - the earlier you book the better.

I totally recommend that you also read the advantages of using an iPod for your wedding music entertainment, and Nina’s article on the Pros and Cons of Choosing a DJ or Wedding Band so that you can make a well informed decision on whether you really want a wedding DJ, as opposed to a band or going the DIY route and using your own iPod!

If you follow these steps you will have a memorable wedding reception that everyone will enjoy! Good luck.

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas 5 tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself? - How to save money by opting for an iPod.

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 IV
A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon


Discover The Five Secrets To Wearing Stylish & Comfortable Wedding Shoes
Date: June 30, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Bridal Party & Music & Dance & Shoes & Shopping

Wedding shoes have been important to the complete bridal ensemble ever since Prince Charming slid the glass slipper onto Sleeping Beauty's delicate foot. Today, it's important to make sure that the shoe you choose matches the style of gown you are going to wear, and with so many types of gowns and weddings this is quite a dilemma!

Are you getting married on the beach, in a church or in a rustic chapel? The range of shoes you may select from could include flip-flops, jeweled heels, leather boots or even the proverbial glass slippers with little kitten heels. There are a few things to keep in mind, however:

1. Remember to keep comfort in mind :

Your wedding gown is going to be the real focus of attention. In many cases, you gown is going to cover most, if not all, of your shoes, so don't choose a shoe that is excruciatingly painful because it is "gorgeous" if you know it is going to be painful by the end of the day. If you don't normally wear three inch heels, don't wear them on your wedding day. Choose a slender one-inch heel in an attractive style instead so that you will be comfortable. Or better yet, a lovely ballet-style flat that compliments your dress. Of course, if you are used to heels, by all means wear them!

Visit BridalShoes.com

2. Match fabrics as well as colors :

Many brides try to get shoes dyed to match their gowns and then are disappointed when they don't match because they have looked only at the price and gone with the cheapest material possible. If you choose a different material than what your gown is made from, the dye, no matter what color you attempt to use, will not "grab" the same, and the light does not reflect in the same manner. Satin, peau-de-soie, silk, brocade and other materials all have different reflective and dye qualities. You must choose shoes out of similar materials to get a good match.

Visit Shoes.com

3. Don't assume high price means best fit :

Having said that you should pay for good quality material, we won't claim that high price ensures the best fit. The only way to know what shoe fits you best is to try the shoe on. Each brand will run different, and some shoes will fit in one size in one brand and another size in another brand. If you want to dance the night away on your wedding day, be sure to walk around in a few pairs and check the fit so that you find a pair that not only looks great but fits comfortably. You may be surprised to find that some very inexpensive shoes have a fantastic fit.

Visit Shoebuy.com

4. Consider looking at shoes that aren't "bridal shoes" :

If you will be doing a lot of dancing, look into purchasing shoes from a store specializing in dance shoes. Ballet or ballroom shoes are designed to be extremely comfortable and come in a wide range of styles and colors that are extraordinarily versatile and attractive, with plenty of give and flexibility. Once you try these on, you may find yourself going back to these stores for special event shoes beyond your wedding day.

Visit BellissimaBridalShoes.com

5. Save money for your bridesmaids by going neutral :

If your bridesmaids are wearing pastels, consider allowing them to purchase off-white or white shoes. If they are wearing rich, deep tones, go with bone, taupe, muted metallics or even black for their shoes. Remember, if they are wearing floor-length gowns their shoes aren't going to show, and really, they aren't the center of attention - you are. Your bridesmaids will thank you for the opportunity to invest in comfortable, attractive shoes they can wear again and again instead of a pair of mint green heels that will languish in their closets and be tossed after they gather dust for months.

And last but not least visit QualityBridalShoes.com

Related Posts :
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Marks & Spencer's New Bridalwear Range
The Designer Wedding Show At Battersea Park on November 3rd - 5th, 2006
Brand New Wedding Dresses Up For Grabs On eBay


How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music
Date: June 02, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Music & Dance & Site Reviews

Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even do it yourself with an iPod your musical choices will set the mood and the pace for your wedding day. Wedding songs are one of the elements of the wedding day remembered most by guests, so be sure to put your own stamp on the day through your choice of music for both the wedding ceremony and the reception.

The music you select for your wedding will help to create the right atmosphere for your big day. It is really crucial that you take time to select wedding music which best reflects your feelings, your personality and the theme of the wedding you want to create. After all you want your wedding to be remembered for the right reasons – not the fact that you allow the DJ to play D:Ream’s “Things Can Only Get Better” for your first dance!

Some of the things you might want to consider when choosing your wedding songs are as follows:

* Remember that you will need to select music for the wedding ceremony, the cocktail hour or pre-reception drinks party and the reception.

* If your wedding has a specific theme (for example medieval, beach, tropical, Asian or Italian) you should choose music to match.

* If you are selecting music for your first dance than really think carefully about your choice. Have a look at the lyrics for your chosen song and practice dancing to the beat of it with your partner to ensure its not too slow or fast for you both. Beware of choosing songs which are trendy and popular at the moment. Its more important that you choose a song which is meaningful to you both.

* When selecting music for your ceremony talk to your officiant. They might well have strict guidelines about which wedding songs can be used during your ceremony in their house of worship. Its important to discuss this with them at an early stage to agree which songs will be used at your wedding. Officiants could well have some recommendations they can make to you for songs too.

* You will want your guests to not only feel relaxed and enjoy themselves but additionally you might want them to feel included in your wedding day. Perhaps you could choose a specific song for a specific guest to make them feel special.

* A key piece of advice professional wedding planners give regarding choosing wedding music is to plan out an outline or plot for your wedding, as if it is a movie. This will mean that you know which key moments will require specific wedding music (e.g. walking down the aisle, father/daughter dance, the bouquet or garter toss) and which moments simply require background music (e.g. during the reception meal).

* Always ensure that you have given clear instructions to your live band, DJ or whoever else is responsible for your wedding music so that both they and you know what music is being played at what time during your wedding day.

To simplify the process for you of choosing the perfect soundtrack to your wedding day I have researched some of the most popular wedding song websites and have set out below a brief review of some of the best. Most of the websites I’ve recommended contain large libraries of wedding songs to choose from and some of them have broken the lists down into categories and sometimes even sub-categories, such as processional or ceremony music and then celebratory or reception music. You might also want to consider having a look at these websites to select music to include on your wedding video. Have a browse through the websites and have some fun!

OurWeddingSongs.com

This is a slick site with very nice graphics. It is easy to navigate and sets out in detail descriptions of each different type of song available for each different segment of your wedding day - from the ceremony to the reception, including bouquet toss songs, unity candle songs and even cake cutting songs. There seems to be a good amount of songs to choose from and they range from oldies to more recent chart-toppers. With each song suggested they include lyrics, which is great so that you can check that the wording of the song you choose for a specific part of your wedding is totally appropriate.

This website is set apart from the others by the fact that it gives you ratings out of 10 for each of the songs displayed within the different categories which members of the public have voted on. This is great as it tells you which are the most popular wedding songs, or you might prefer to think of them as the most common (meaning perhaps you should set yourself apart from everyone else and use something different!).

WedAlert.com

This website has a varied selection of categories and sub-categories to choose from. It features 1200 songs which are said to be the most popular wedding songs in North America.

Although it does not have lyrics to many songs you can listen to soundbites of a lot of the songs. By clicking on a certain song title within one of the categories Real One Player opens up and allows you to hear a 45 second sample of the song (only if you have speakers though!). Some people might prefer hearing the sample of the song rather than reading the lyrics as it can really help to remind you of what a song sounds like. Be warned though 45 seconds can sometimes not be long enough to help you decide whether a song is going to be appropriate for your first dance. This site does have links though telling you where you can buy the CD’s the songs are taken from.

This website has lots of good suggestions for songs you might like to play for different aspects of your wedding including father/daughter dance, mother/son dance etc. As well as listing contemporary and classical songs this site also has a well presented ethnic music selection with plenty of variety to inspire you with your choices. I think that this website gives great advice on how to choose your wedding music and how to organize timings for the music on your wedding day in order to create the right atmosphere.

WeddingMusicCentral.com

The wedding music library within this website is fantastic. There are a huge selection of popular wedding songs and lots of song suggestions within each category. Unfortunately only some of the listed songs have samples attached to them that you can listen to, but you will find that the most popular wedding songs do have sound clips available. A great feature of this site is the CD listening room. It sets out recommended wedding CD’s which you can select and then listen to taster songs from each CD. The site also has links on how to buy those CD’s.

Another reason to visit this website is that it has an invaluable guide on how to pick the soundtrack to your perfect wedding. There is a huge amount of well laid out information to help you select which songs you need and when you should play them at your wedding so that you can organize the music for the whole ceremony and reception. The expert planning section is fantastic and I think it will greatly assist you in making your music selections.

Look out for the article within this website on “How to avoid the 3 biggest wedding mistakes most couples make with wedding music” by Gloria Sklerov and Barbara Rothstein. This is a must read!

Wedj.com

This website says that its selection of wedding songs have been chosen by disc jockeys who have performed at weddings throughout North America. I think that this is brilliant because you know that the songs listed are authentically chosen by experts who are in the know as to which songs are most popular. This could be especially useful if you are planning on using an iPod at your wedding and handling the music selection yourself as it will give you an idea of which songs are appropriate for the different stages of your wedding. For example, by using the suggestions listed on this website you can gain ideas of which songs are great for getting people up onto the dancefloor, background music during the meal or even music for cutting your cake to.

Although there are not as many categories as the other websites I have reviewed above they have got a very full selection of music for the 4 categories that there are. As before, when you click on a link to a song Real One Player opens in another window and allows you to hear a 45 second snippet of each song.

This website also has numerous links to live bands who are available all over North America for wedding hire, which is very useful if you are thinking of having living music at your wedding. In conjunction with this, they have the facility on their website for you to listen to samples of popular wedding songs being played live by bands free of charge. This is a great way to get an idea of a band’s sound before you consider contacting them.

I hope that you’ve found my reviews useful. Good luck with selecting your wedding music!

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
20 Essential Wedding DJ Choosing the right DJ is crucial and my top tips should help you get it right.
Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself? - How to save money by opting for an iPod.
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas 5 tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.

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 IV
A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
Don't Be That Bride's 5 Part Series On How To Deal With Divorced And Separated Parents
Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon


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

Recently I received the following question on tipping wedding suppliers:

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

Here is my response:

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

Etiquette

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

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

Budget

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

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

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

Contracts - read the small print

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

Tipping Guidelines

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Additional Tipping Tips!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Boost Your Wedding Budget – Invite Your Guests To Pay For Your Wedding!
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part II


Alanis Morissette Favours An iPod Over A Wedding DJ - How About Yourself?
Date: January 07, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Celebrity Weddings & Music & Dance & Unique Ideas

It is becoming an increasingly common view from couples planning their own wedding on a budget that one of the main moneysaving options is to opt for DIY music rather than hiring a band or wedding DJ. More and more budget conscious brides and grooms are cutting costs of expensive weddings by forgoing the traditional wedding DJ and master of ceremonies, and instead using an Apple iPod. Could this new digital technology make wedding DJs obsolete?

A lot of wedding DJ's really help to create an atmosphere and do offer you the benefit of their many years experience of wedding entertainment. However a lot of couples’ confidence in wedding DJs is waning nowadays as DJs are prone to sitting at a laptop pushing a few buttons and get paid vast amounts of money for doing so. Most couples rightly believe that they could do exactly the same thing themselves and save money.

However, it is not just budget-conscious couples who are opting for iPod music at their weddings, rock star Alanis Morissette, who is engaged to actor Ryan Reynolds, has said during recent interviews that she is interested in using an iPod at her wedding which is due to take place this year. She is amongst a growing number of couples making personal music players a central part of their wedding day.

The way it is done is for the couple to make a playlist of music they would like to hear at their wedding reception and then download it to the iPod. The iPod can then be connected to a PA system. A sound system will need to be rented or borrowed including speakers, amplifiers, cables and a microphone. These sound systems are inexpensive to rent comparative to the cost of hiring a DJ or live band. If you don't own an iPod or know of anyone with one an MP3 DJ program on your laptop can work just as well.

Advantages of using an iPod for your wedding music entertainment:

♫ As mentioned you will be saving money. DJs charge an average of £500 per wedding and a live band can cost up to double this amount. If you already own an iPod then your only cost will be hiring a PA system to play the iPod through. If you don’t already own an iPod or laptop you can spend the money you budgeted for a DJ on treating yourself to a new one.

♫ By being in complete control of the musical entertainment at your wedding reception this allows you to put your own personal stamp on the event. You can choose every song that is played and express yourselves through your choice of music.

♫ As a couple you might well have different taste in music. By using an iPod you can both download your preferred songs so that you can get greater variety than might possibly be available through a DJ.

♫ Choosing to select the music yourself will allow you to control the pace of the evening. Sometimes wedding DJs can make the event seem staged and not so relaxing. You can select different playlists to alter the mood of the evening.

♫ Organising the wedding music yourself is an exciting and innovative idea. By using an iPod you can set a trend and bring a uniqueness to your wedding. Your guests will be sure to be impressed by the novelty of a wedding without a DJ.


Things to consider when using an iPod:

♫ An iPod sound when amplified over large sound systems is usually fine but it is important for you to have a practice session beforehand. If you are renting the sound system equipment ensure that you rent it prior to the wedding date so that you can pre proof the audio setup. This is even more important if you are having your wedding reception outdoors.

♫ Using an iPod can be a money-saving idea as long as you are organised and have some committed friends to help. You will need to arrange who will set up and dismantle the sound system on the wedding day. You will also need to nominate someone to be in charge of the music that can change songs in the event something is not working.

♫ To ensure that the sound system runs smoothly and to keep an eye on the playlist you could perhaps ask a musical or technical whiz amongst your friends, family or wedding attendants to be the unofficial music-watcher. Sometimes there can be a couple of seconds pause between songs so it is important to have someone supervise.

♫ In order to keep the reception flowing smoothly you should consider nominating someone to make announcements and quickly switch the music to enhance various events at the reception (e.g. cutting of the cake, tossing of the bouquet/garter, the first dance, serving of the buffet etc.).

♫ Another point to note is that it will take a little bit of practice to switch between the iPod and a microphone when acting as MC and making announcements and speeches during the dancing. Ensure that whoever has offered to do this task on the wedding day has a practice in advance.

♫ Something to bear in mind is that the person you choose to operate the iPod and thus "DJ" your wedding reception will not be able to undertake any other responsibilities during your wedding. It is a big responsibility and one that might best be shared between a few of your wedding attendants, family members or friends to ease pressure on any one guest. You might well want to release your inner DJ/MC and take on these tasks yourself!

♫ Ensure that you offer your guests choice with your music playlists. There might also be special songs that you should ensure are downloaded prior to the wedding. Select appropriate music for the guests and respond to their requests. You should be prepared to deal with guest’s music requests. If you do not choose to take requests but would prefer to stick to a playlist then this can be left to run with minimum supervision.

♫ An important recommendation is to back up your playlists in case of a technical malfunction. Another idea is to have a backup iPod or laptop or other musical device whereby if the iPod fails to work for some reason (they have been known to freeze) on the actual day then you do have an altnerative source of music rather than reverting to Uncle Tommy playing tunes on the spoons to entertain your guests!

♫ Make sure that you leave the iPod in one place and do not move it around as this can increase the risk of it failing to work.

♫ If you are concerned with the visibility restrictions of an iPod then try a powerbook laptop as its screen is larger and it allows for more audio options.

♫ If you are not having dancing at your wedding event and simply want background music you can simply use an iPod and speakers without having to rent a larger sound system.

♫ If you are at all worried that if you eliminate the DJ the musical entertainment may not go so smoothly look at positive feedback on the internet. You can start to read up about another bride-to-be’s opinions on iPod music at weddings here.

Further Reading On Wedding Music and Songs:
20 Essential Wedding DJ - Choosing the right DJ is crucial and my top tips should help you get it right.
How To Successfully Choose Your Wedding Songs And Music - Whether you choose a live band, a string quartet, a DJ or even an iPod these tips will help you make your choices.
Revealing Five Wedding Song Ideas 5 tips to selecting the best wedding songs you can.

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 IV
A Great Way To "Thrill" The Guests At Your Wedding Reception!
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Wedding Book Review - "The Engaged Groom" by Doug Gordon


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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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