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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I

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

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


How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Space For The Children At Your Wedding

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


Initial Things To Consider

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

♥ Does your venue have useable outdoor space?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Organizing Child Care Supervision For The Wedding

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

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


How To Find Suitable Child Care

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥ What are the ages of their children?

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

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

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

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

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

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


How Many Child Carers Do You Need

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

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

♥ Age of children

♥ How many children

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

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

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

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

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

1:5 for children aged 2 to 3 years;

1:8 for children aged 3 to 8 years;

1:10 for children aged over 8 years.

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


At What Age Do Children Need Supervision?

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


Alternatives To Professional Child Carers

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

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

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

♥ attend your wedding at all,

♥ bring their children to your wedding, or

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

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


Cost Of Child Care

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

• 0-2 children $10/hr.

• 2-5 children $12/hr.

• 5-8 children $15/hr.

• 8 or more children $20/hr.


Things To Discuss With Your Child Carer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Booking Child Care

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


Timing Of Your Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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


Timing Of Child Care At Your Wedding

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

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

Your options when organizing child care are:

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

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

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

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

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


Rehearsal Dinner

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


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

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

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



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

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

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


How To Entertain Children During Your Wedding

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


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Ceremony

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

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


Tips For Preventing Meltdown During The Ceremony

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

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

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

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

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

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


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Photos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

• whether they can help organize the treasure hunt if necessary

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

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


How To Entertain Children During The Wedding Reception

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

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


Children’s Seating

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Organizing A Children’s Table

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


Child-Friendly Centerpieces For The Tables At Your Reception

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


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

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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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


Children’s Tabletop Safety At Your Wedding Reception

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

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

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


Setting Up A Children’s Table

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

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


Activities To Entertain Children At The Table During The Wedding Meal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

a puzzle book

sticker sets

small story book

mini activity books and washable crayons

coloring books

crayons, pencils and paper

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

assorted puzzles and tabletop games

a small box of Lego

stuffed finger puppets

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

a jewelry or bead set

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

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

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

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


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

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

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


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


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

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


Music And Dance For Children At Your Wedding Reception

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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


Furniture and Decoration

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

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

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

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


Health And Safety In The Children’s Activity Room

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

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

♥ have socket covers on unused electrical sockets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Activities For Children During The Wedding Reception

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

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


Competitions

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

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

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

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

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

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


Prizes For Children

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

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

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


Art and Craft Activities

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

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

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

pot painting

origami

handbag making and decorating

mask or crown making and decorating

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


Other Activity Ideas

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

Comics and story books

Activity and puzzle books

Nail varnish painting (little girls love this!)

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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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


Holiday Themed Activities For The Children

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

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


How To Set Up A Toddlers Area

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

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

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

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


How To Set Up A Baby Play Area

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

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


How To Set Up A Children’s Chill Out Zone

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


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

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

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How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children Part I
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part III
How To Organise The Perfect Wedding Including Children - Part IV


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

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

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


Hire A Professional To Entertain The Children During The Wedding Reception

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

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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Tips For Hiring Children’s Entertainers For Your Wedding

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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


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


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


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

three-legged race

a one-footed hop

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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

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


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

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


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


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


Children’s Activity Equipment Costs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Organising Nap Time For Your Younger Wedding Guests

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

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

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

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


Important Points To Remember When Organizing Children’s Activities

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

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

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

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


Children's Favors

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

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

a coloring book with a small box of crayons

small inexpensive toys and games

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

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

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


CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING THIS ARTICLE

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

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

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


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Unique Planning Guide For Destination Weddings
Date: May 15, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ceremonies & Destination Weddings & Planning & Reviews & Sponsored Reviews & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas & Venues

This is a sponsored review.

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Destination Guide

The hardest part for couples planning their destination wedding will be choosing which country or island in the Caribbean suits them best. To help you in making this difficult decision Islandbrides.com provides you with a guide to each of the Caribbean destinations. This website is a free one-stop shop which will save you having to research all the different Caribbean destinations yourself. The time saving destination wedding guides provide you with country information, location maps, entry and marriage requirements, the lowdown on the unique and interesting wedding traditions and customs for each wedding destination and also wedding vendor directories to assist you with locating and contacting destination wedding planners, wedding venues, photographers, florists, bakeries and more.

The website is very easy to navigate with drop-down menus to enable you to effortlessly search for destinations, venues and vendors. It contains everything you need to know about getting married in each of the featured destinations.

Planning Tools and Wedding Website

Islandbrides.com also offers registered users free useful planning tools including a wedding budget calculator, an email reminder service to keep track of important dates and wedding planning tasks. As well as this they also provide a free wedding website builder to all members. Personal wedding websites are a great way of keeping your family and friends up-to-date with your destination wedding plans.

Beach Wedding Guide Forum

Undoubtedly if you are planning your own destination wedding in a tropical Caribbean paradise you will have a few questions which need answering, particularly as you will be committing to spending a large sum of money on this event. I think that many couples will find the Beach Wedding Guide Forum useful. This is where other couples post comments about how their destination wedding plans are going, share wedding planning ideas and experiences and offer advice to each other. You are sure to find some unique ideas for your own destination wedding within the forum.

Photo Gallery

If you like to stay clued up on the finer details of celebrity beach weddings or if you just enjoy having a snoop at other newlywed’s wedding photos then Islandbrides.com also has a photo gallery section where other members have posted their own destination wedding photos and stories.

Wedding Articles

A further advantage of Islandbrides.com is that it also features useful articles with tips and advice on planning beach and destination weddings. There are invaluable cost-saving ideas to keep your wedding budget low and creative suggestions which are sure to give your beach wedding an individual theme. There is a vast archive of articles with categories including 2007 wedding trends for beach weddings, how to entertain children at your beach wedding and (what I think should be the essential read for most beach wedding brides-to-be) how to avoid having your coiffed hair turn frizzy in the humidity of your beach destination!

If you are in two minds as to whether a destination wedding would suit you then I thoroughly recommend that you check out Islandbrides.com. It contains copious amounts of unique ideas, useful information and most importantly it is simple and free to sign up. In my opinion if you are contemplating hosting your wedding in an exotic location then Islandbrides.com is definitely worth a look.

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Win A Luxury Scottish Wedding
Date: March 17, 2007 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Contests & Planning & Venues

If you know of a couple who deserve a helping hand with their wedding planning, what better way to surprise them than by nominating them for the Sunday Post’s Dream Wedding Prize! One lucky couple will be the recipients of a wedding package worth up to £14,000 including highland attire, bridesmaids dresses, invitations, favors, cake, flowers, photo and video, a DJ and luxury venue. The venue the Scottish Post have chosen for the wedding is the elegant Victorian hotel, the Dunblane Hydro. This palatial hotel will provide the lucky winners with a traditional Scottish wedding experience.

The Sunday Post want readers to write in to them and explain why they think their friends or family deserve to be the lucky bride and groom who receive this amazing prize. If you are planning your own wedding, you can even vote for yourself! The newspaper will print some of the best submitted stories during the upcoming weeks and will then choose the most deserving winning couple.

Why not give it a try – you might win and this would definitely save you time, effort and (most importantly!) money with your wedding planning! Good luck.

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The Five Key Steps To Correctly Planning A Wedding Tent
Date: October 18, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Civil Weddings & Planning & Reception & Themes & Unique Ideas & Venues

An outdoor wedding reception can be magical, whether it's on a breezy stretch of beach or under the stars in your back yard. It's essential though to have wedding tents set up properly for your guests' comfort and to shield against the elements in case of inclement weather.

Please bear these 5 key points in mind if you are considering using a wedding tent.

1. Size Matters

If you want a wedding tent to function properly for your event, make sure you know what size you really need. There are more than a few things to take into consideration when choosing the size of the tent:

♥ How many people will be attending?
♥ Will this be a buffet or a sit-down dinner?
♥ Will you need room for a dance floor and a band or DJ?
♥ How many tables will there be and what is there shape and size?


2. What is taking place in the tent?

Will the entire wedding take place under tents? If so, you will need room for not only the guests, but an alter area, a runner, and plenty of space for the bridal party as well as a separate area later for the dining and/or dancing. Don't make the mistake of thinking things can just be "rearranged" - it's too confusing and is a recipe for disaster.


3. What kind of tent?

Yes, there are different kinds of tents for weddings! The most traditional is the pole tent, which, by definition, is supported by individual poles beneath the fabric to give the tent its shape. Tension on ropes holds the roof in place. More recently, frame tents made of fabric over an aluminium or steel framework have become popular. These are more rigid and allow the tent to stand free without supports.

4. What your tent needs:

Now that you know a little bit about tents, you should delve a little bit deeper into the features. Talk to some tent rental companies in your area and ask about the different quality of tents available. A few things you should ask about include:

♥ The specification of the high-quality canvas material that should have been treated with a waterproofing material to resist rain.
♥ Wind resistance - you will want a tent with high wind resistance in the event of an unexpected squall.
♥ What are the support capabilities for running electrical to and through the tent for the lighting, DJ, bandstand, etc? Will the rental company provide electrical outlets, extension cords and other needs?
♥ Are there tents available with roll-up sides to allow the breeze through for ventilation? What about roll-up windows?
♥ Does the rental company include set-up and take-down in their price?


5. Decorating makes all the difference:

Once you've had a tent or series of tents set up for your wedding, don't leave them as "unfinished canvas." There are so many things you can do to add to the magic when you are working with tents! Simply wrapping the poles loosely in tulle, gauze or mesh netting in either white or a colour to match the wedding party will immediately soften the edges of the tent corners and add a hazy, dreamy effect to the "room."

Under the roof supports, string zigzag swags of fairy lights for a magical effect. For an even dreamier effect, twist the lights with netting or gauze to soften the effect. After dark these will look beautiful as they softly reflect light back down onto the party-goers. Another option is to twine artificial ivy or silk flowers around ropes and poles to create a garden bower feel. Or try suspending dozens of Chinese paper lanterns from the ceilings for a festive effect that will add a warm, colourful glow that you can repeat with Chinese paper fans and fortune cookies at each place setting. With a little imagination, your guests will forget they are in a tent and believe they have stepped into a fairytale!

Further Reading on Wedding Tents:

Nine Things Everybody Asks About Marquee Hire - Frances Leyland at CountyMarquees.com answers the questions she gets asked time and time again!
Interactive Marquee Layout Planner - Use this highly recommended tool to design your own layout. Select your required dimensions and start to add your choice of seating, tables and dance floor for the perfect layout.
SimpleSeating.com - Easily create, preview, and print your seating charts in just a few simple steps.

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Scottish Real Life Weddings On Sale Now
Date: October 12, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Magazines & Unique Ideas & Venues

The Winter issue of "Real Life Weddings" is now on sale at newsagents. You can read the inspiring real life stories of 18 brides who were recently married at some of Scotland’s finest venues. If you are still looking for just the right venue for your big day, take inspiration from these weddings, which were held in four distinct types of locations; in the city, beautiful gardens and historic buildings – and if you are looking for a venue that's a little out of the ordinary, well there are plenty of ideas for you too!

You can buy "Real Life Weddings", as well as the current issue of "The Scottish Wedding Directory" and any back copies you missed online here

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Woburn Abbey Wedding Fair At The Sculpture Gallery
Date: October 11, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Attire & Dresses & Industry News & Shows & Venues

Whilst at the National Wedding Show I had the pleasure of meeting a number of exhibitors from Woburn in Bedfordshire. They were there to promote why Woburn is the perfect place to get married. I was quick to learn that there are a number of wonderful venues for a bride and groom to consider - from the elegance of the Sculpture Gallery to the unique setting of the Safari Lodge or the historic Inn at Woburn. It really was a fantastic opportunity to meet a team of people who offer everything you would need to make your day run smoothly and effortlessly, from the wedding cakes to wedding cars, photographers to fashion.

In particular it was lovely to speak to Chris Southgate from the Questor Woburn Bridal Boutique (01525 290658) and Hollie from The Wedding Workshop (01525 403233). I highly recommend you take a look at their websites and give them a call if you don't live too far away.

Luckily though they will both be attending the Woburn Abbey Wedding Fair in January, the details are as follows:

The Woburn Abbey Wedding Fair

Location: The Sculpture Gallery situated in the South Court of Woburn Abbey

Dates: Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th January 2007.

Starts: 10:00am, Last Entrance 4:00pm

Entry: £2.50 per person - brides and grooms enter free of charge

Fashion Shows: Start at 11:30am, 1:30pm and 3:30pm. Featuring the Wedding Workshop in Ampthill, Fogarty Formal Hire of Leighton Buzzard and Mother of The Bride, Eleni's Fashions.

All couples stand the chance to win a fabulous two week honeymoon from Thomas Cook worth £4000. (Sponsored by The Wedding Guide).

The Workshops will feature:

1. Carrying your flowers with confidence with Tracy Goodwin and Sara Whitehouse from Creations.

2. Timing to perfection - how to plan your wedding day and the action plan fro the arrangements with Andrew Coy, Directory of Hospitality, The Sculpture Gallery.

3. Top tips from Park7 Studios to help you look and feel great in your photos from Di Fisher LMPA LBIPP

4. Wedding etiquette - fact or fiction? given by Richard Heywood, Professional Toastmaster.

Contact Details:
Woburn Abbey, Woburn, Bedfordshire MK17 9WA
Tel: 01525 290333
Fax: 01525 290549
Web: DiscoverWoburn.co.uk
Email: enquiries@sculpturegallery.co.uk

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The Woodland Lodge Makes A Unique Honeymoon Venue
Date: September 12, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Honeymoon & Industry News & Reviews & Unique Ideas & Venues

The Woodland Lodge has arrived at the Enterkine Country House Estate near Ayr, and promises to be the perfect overnight venue for honeymooning couples, anniversary stays and those who just want to get away to somewhere different. The inside of this magical lodge offers a relaxation area, underfloor heating, a built in wardrobe and dressing area, plasma television, Grohe shower room and magnificent bedroom. The lodge set amongst 350 acres of woodland estate, will be the first one in the UK provided by the Bothy Lodge Company, based in Ayrshire.

The cost is £185 including Scottish breakfast and VAT for an overnight stay.

Click the image below for a full virtual tour of the interior.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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How To Plan A Second Wedding

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

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

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

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

Announcing Your Engagement

If you have children

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

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

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

If you are a widow or widower

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

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

If you are divorced

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

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

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

Organizing your second wedding

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

The advantages of organizing a wedding second time around are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Top tips when organizing your second wedding:

Venue

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

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

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

Legal requirements

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

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

Vows

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

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

Wedding traditions for a second wedding

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

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

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

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

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

Involving Children in a Second Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

♥ Ask children to be in charge of the guestbook.

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

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

Some additional points to remember:

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

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

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

Jill Curtis says,

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

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

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

To compare or not to compare?

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

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

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

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

Footing the bill for a second wedding

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

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

Invitations

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

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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

Bridal Attire for Second Weddings

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

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

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

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

Wedding Gifts for a Second Wedding

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

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

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

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

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

Honeymoon Plans

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

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

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

Resources I recommend for planning your encore wedding:

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

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

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

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

More second wedding websites to check out:

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

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

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

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

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

Oprah Winfrey

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

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

The new Mrs. Francis was reported to have said:

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

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

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

Madonna

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

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

Bill Clinton

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

Which celebrity would you like to crash your wedding?

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


How to recognize the 8 different types of Wedding Crasher

1. The uninvited stranger

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

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

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

2. The invited guest that drinks heavily

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

3. The larger than life guest

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

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

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

5. An ex-lover

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

6. The crasher from next door's wedding

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

7. The curious crasher

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

8. The criminal crasher

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


Tips for spotting a Wedding Crasher

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

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

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

1. Crashers like to arrive late

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

2. Crashers like to blend in by standing out

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

3. Crashers like to look the part

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

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

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

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

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

6. Crashers like to carry gifts

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

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

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

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

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

9. Crashers never speak about themselves

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

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

Watch out!

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28 Reasons Why I Love Google!
Date: July 28, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Books & Coupons & Destination Weddings & Directories & Dresses & Honeymoon & Magazines & Miscellaneous & Planning & Reception & Reviews & Shopping & Unique Ideas & Venues & Videography

Yes it's true - I love Google in so many ways.

Let me explain why. Most of us have a friendship with Google and meet up most days, either at work or home! It's just so easy to find exactly what you want, just type in your query and Google delivers. To be honest though my friendship turned into a full on love affair when I started to learn ways that Google could help me even futher. There really is so much more to Google than just a simple search.

I would like to show you specific Google services and queries that can help you plan your wedding.


Google Services:

♥ Google Answers

Type in your wedding related question and have an expert reply to it, or alternatively, as I do, just browse existing wedding questions at your leisure. There is a non-refundable listing fee of $0.50 per question plus an additional 'price' you set for your question that reflects how much you're willing to pay for an answer. I recommend you review some of the wedding questions to get an idea of how much information you will receive for any given amount. The lowest you can pay for a question is $2. Google Answers is a great resource and an excellent opportunity to get your wedding question answered.

♥ Google Blog Search

Using Google Blog Search you can search for content on many wedding blogs - either informational sites like Wedaholic.com or personal blogs set up by engaged couples. Additionally you can review wedding related references made on other blog sites. Quite often the information found on a blog is much more current than a major wedding portal.

♥ Google Book Search

Use Google Book Search to find the full text taken from wedding books and also discover new ones at the same time. Most wedding books are on “Limited Preview”, but nevertheless this gives you an idea of what the book is like before you buy it.

♥ Google Calendar

Google allows you to set up a special “Wedding Calendar” so that you can record all of your key dates leading up to the big day. This is great tool for sharing with your parents, bridesmaids, best man etc. If you already have a Google Mail you can toggle between your email and calendar with ease.

♥ Google Catalogs

This is a fantastic way to shop for wedding favors, gifts and so much more. Simply by using Google Catalogs you can see all the references made to weddings in the top shopping catalogs. Just flick through the catalogs as if they had been delivered to your door!

♥ Google Desktop

All the Google information and functionality you ever wanted, right on your desktop.

♥ Google Directory

Use Google Directory to search the web organized by topics into categories. This way you can really find the wedding site you want - you defintely won't find any fluff or spam sites here.

♥ Google Earth

Google Earth combines satellite imagery, maps and the power of Google Search to enable you to review potential wedding venues and honeymoon possibilities without moving from your desk - a very powerful tool. Before you know it you will have spent an hour circling the globe in amazement!

♥ Google Groups

Google Groups is a free service which allows groups of people to communicate effectively with each other using email and the internet. I recommend you take a look at the alt.wedding and alt.wedding.marketplace groups.

♥ Google Images

This is a brilliant resource for searching for images of your dream wedding dress or the type of reception you desire. Additionally it is a great place to catch up with all the celebrity wedding pictures!

♥ Google Maps

Invaluable as a way to find the exact location of a wedding supplier or get precise directions to a possible wedding reception. One of the most powerful time saving Google tools.

♥ Google Notebook

As you browse the internet searching for wedding ideas don't you wish you had somewhere to save all the scraps of information you come across? Well look no further! Using Google Notebook you can add clippings of text, images and links from web pages to your own notebook without ever leaving your browser window.

♥ Google Movies

When the wedding planning gets too much, treat yourself to a movie. Google Movies gives you the latest information and times before you book online. Is there anything Google doesn't do!

♥ Google News

When you're addicted to weddings you just have to have the latest wedding news - I know the feeling! Keep track with all the celebrity wedding gossip by visiting Google News.

♥ Google Pages

Use Google Pages to easily and quickly create your own wedding web pages. This free online tool makes it easy for anyone to create and publish attractive pages in minutes. If you want a simple page announcing your wedding then this is the tool for you. As you edit your page, you will see exactly what it will look like when your wedding guests see it. There are definitely no complex tools to learn and no web designers to hire.

♥ Google Suggest

I love Google Suggest, just start to enter your query and you are presented with a number of alternatives you will have probably never thought of.

♥ Google Video

It would take you a lifetime to view every movie on Google Video, such is the array of varied content. Search on "wedding dress" for example and begin to see the many options you have.


Google Operators:

Next time you search in Google I recommend you use some of the following operators for a more precise search.

define:wedding

Use this to get the exact defination of a keyword. For example Wikipedia states that "A wedding is a civil or religious ceremony at which the beginning of a marriage is celebrated". No suprises there, but try defining the internet in one sentence!

link:theknot.com

This operator enables you to find a list of websites that link to your favourite wedding site. In this case I'm able to find other wedding sites simply by asking Google for a list of those ones that link to TheKnot.com.

related:hitched.co.uk

You can use the related operator to find sites similar and related to any of your favourite wedding sites. Click on the link to see web sites related to Hitched.co.uk

site:weddingchannel.com

Ever wondered how many pages there are in a web site? Use the site operator to get links to every page on the site. If you have the time you can read all 275,000 pages at WeddingChannel.com!

allintitle:wedding ipod

The allintitle operator restricts the results to those with all the query words in the title. So, for example, if you are looking for specific articles on the use of ipods at weddings you could use the query above, as this would only return documents that have both "wedding" and "ipod" in the title.

intitle:wedding budget

The intitle operator restricts the results to documents containing that word in the title. For instance the query above will return documents that mention the word "wedding" in their title, and mention the word "budget" anywhere in the document.

allinurl:wedding songs

If you start a query with allinurl, Google will restrict the results to those with all of the query words in the url. For instance, my example will return only documents that have both "wedding" and "songs" in the url.

inurl:wedding tips

If you include inurl: in your wedding query, Google will restrict the results to documents containing that word in the url. For instance, my example will return documents that mention the word "wedding" in their url, and mention the word "tips" anywhere in the document.

wedding * dress

This query will return documents that contain wedding and dress separated by exactly one word.

-inurl:htm -inurl:html intitle:"index of" mp3 "wedding"

Use this query string to search for wedding mp3s. Alternatively you can just replace the word "wedding" with the name of any music artist.

I hope these links help with your wedding planning and with your other Google searches. Undoubtedly the major reason I love Google is because of Google Romance - how else would I have met my husband!

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Tips For Hosting An Outdoor Wedding Reception In A Unique Location


Tips For Hosting An Outdoor Wedding Reception In A Unique Location
Date: July 19, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ask The Planner & Budgeting & Flower & Decorations & Miscellaneous & Planning & Reception & Shopping & Themes & Unique Ideas & Venues

Hi Everyone,

I had this question regarding how to decorate a Village Square in Cyrpus for a wedding reception:

"I would like to ask you a question. My fiancé is from a village in Cyprus in a really beautiful location -very romantic. We have decided to have the wedding reception in the village square. I have no idea how to decorate it as I do not want to spoil the whole thing. The square is concrete, only pedestrians, no statues or sculptures - there are only very old houses like cottages (with very old stones not bricks). We have the permission from the council - they were very excited about the idea because young people have stopped using the square and have their wedding receptions at a pool or a hotel. Please can you help with decorating ideas. Thanks very much."

This was my reply:

Thanks very much for your question. I think it is lovely that you have decided to hold your wedding reception in such a traditional location rather than following the trend of opting for a hotel or pool - it sounds beautiful.

I am assuming that you intend to decorate the Village Square to provide you with a seated area for your wedding guests to dine at and an area for dancing. I would advise you to do some research locally and I’m sure you will find tables, chairs, umbrellas, linen and tableware, etc. which you can rent for the wedding reception. Try to choose wooden rather than metal seats as they tend to absorb heat rather than scorch your guests’ when they go to sit down! I recommend that you use the tables, chairs and possibly ornamental arch (see below for details about arches) to define your areas in the Village Square. You could position your tables and chairs all around the dance floor area in a circle or you could set your tables up at one end of the Village Square and leave the remainder of the space for dancing and the band (if you are having live music). For a distinct layout, replace round tables with large oval or long rectangular tables that can sit up to 16 guests.

I do not know what the intended colour scheme of your wedding is, but you could choose flowers, candles and other decorations to complement this and carry your theme right through to your wedding reception. From the details you have given me it sounds as if your wedding is going to have a romantic theme to it and so I have used this as the basis for my decorating ideas set out below.

At an outdoor wedding reception Mother Nature provides most of the decorations with the trees, plants, flowers and surrounding views, so you really don’t have to spend a fortune to decorate it. I have set out below some creative and practical tips for you to follow to elaborate on the charming atmosphere your Village Square venue already has.

Decorations for the Village Square

To create a romantic atmosphere try the following:

Lighting

Lighting will help to transform the Village Square into a magical wedding reception venue. I’m not sure from the brief details you have given me whether or not you will have a source of electricity available for your use in the Village Square. Going on the basis that you are not able to use electricity here are some ideas for lighting the Square for your wedding reception:

♥ String up some fairy lights from trees in the Village Square or even along the top of the stone walls surrounding the Square. These white static battery-run LED Fairy Lights are available from Lights4fun.co.uk and cost £4 for 1.5 metres. These will look great as the evening gets darker.

♥ If electricity is available for your use then you could string up normal fairy lights in the same way. These come in a fantastic array of colours nowadays. You can also choose different shapes (butterfly lights, hearts etc) to match the theme of your wedding reception. Strings of lights can be purchased very cheaply and they are a fantastic way of creating a fantasy wedding reception.

♥ If the Village Square does not have great streetlights lighting it up at night-time then you might want to consider renting some spotlights as you don’t want your guests falling over each other in the darkness!

♥ Light large tiki torches or citronella torches that can be stuck in the ground for light and also repel bugs. If you are unable to stick them into the ground (you say the Square is made of concrete) find large buckets, fill them with sand and stick the torches in them.

♥ If there are trees surrounding the Square:

- Suspend paper and metal accordion lanterns from trees with candles in them.

- Hang Chinese lanterns in the branches like these ones available from TheUrbanGarden.co.uk.

Flowers

One of the advantages of having an outdoor wedding reception is the natural beauty which surrounds you and reduces the need for vast amounts of decorating to be done. Visit the Village Square in the weeks running up to your wedding reception and check out how many flowers and plants surrounding the area are in bloom. This will give you a rough idea of how many pots of flowers and garlands of greenery you are going to need to decorate the Square for your reception. Flowers are an excellent way to decorate the Village Square inexpensively.

♥ Garlands of foliage and greenery such as ivy can be strung up around the Square. If you don’t want to use fresh flowers you can buy rolls of artificial greenery off of the internet.

♥ If there are any unsightly stone walls or anything that you want to hide, you can use garlands of flowers, fairy lights or a mixture of both to detract the eye from what is underneath.

♥ To add height and to define the perimeter of your reception space use big potted topiaries. If you can’t borrow or hire them for the day then buy some and they can either be given to members of your bridal party as gifts after the reception or they can decorate your garden! If the topiaries are very tall you can decorate them with fairy lights and ribbons to match your colour theme.

♥ A simple idea is to use galvanized metal buckets or other planters and fill them with flowers. If you are on a tight budget you can use whatever the local flower is which is in season. If money is no object then you can use elegant roses in a colour which compliments the rest of your colour theme.

♥ If there are fittings around the Square from which you can hang baskets of trailing flowers then this could add a colourful element to your decorations.

Arch or arbor

♥ A lot of couples who stage their wedding receptions outdoors choose to have some sort of focal point erected such as an arch. You can leave this unadorned or you can decorate it with flowers and ribbons to match your wedding colour theme or even swathe it in sheer white chiffon or voile. Not only will be arch be a focal point for your wedding guests but it will also provide a perfect backdrop for your wedding photos.

♥ You could place your wedding cake underneath a canopied arbor to create a focal point and help to organize the different areas of your wedding reception around it.

♥ Try to decorate the arch with flowers which co-ordinate with those used on your table settings and bridal flowers. You can ask your florist to decorate the arch or do it yourself.

♥ A definite advantage of using an arch at your wedding reception is that after the event you can place it in your garden as a reminder of your wedding day!

♥ Decorate the Village Square with pastel colored paper streamers. This is very inexpensive but an effective way to add colour and define the area of your wedding reception.

Table decorations

Flowers, floral arrangements and lighting form an essential part of decorating the Village Square but what will really add a sense of uniqueness to your wedding reception will be your choice of table decorations - these help to create an elegant ambience.

♥ You could bring your tables to life and add height to them by anchoring balloons at the centre of the table. Balloons are an inexpensive decoration. eBay sells heart-shaped helium balloons in a variety of colours and prices start at a mere £2.99 for 10 balloons. You could tie colourful ribbons to the end of your balloons to match your colour theme. You could use the balloons to decorate surrounding trees too.

♥ Sprinkle rose petals or confetti onto the tables. They are so many different colors for you to choose from. Have a look at confetti.co.uk. They have real flower petal confetti which is biodegradable - this is important so that you do not have to worry about clearing it up after your reception. It costs £7.99 for 1 pint of confetti. If the weather is likely to be windy then skip this idea as it would make too much mess if the confetti was blown around.

♥ Use greenery to transform the tables by decorating them with garlands of ivy.

♥ Use glittery table linens to add some pizzazz to your wedding reception. These will look great by candlelight!

♥ Cover the tables with white or pastel colored tablecloths and use colourful linen napkins at each setting.

♥ For a quick and inexpensive way to add style if you use long rectangular tables at your wedding reception, try gift-wrap runners down the centre. To find out how to achieve this look click here. The great thing about this is that you can make the wedding favors for your guests to match with the same gift-wrap paper.

♥ For an outdoor feel fill tiny terracotta flower pots with sugared almonds or traditional Cypriot sweets and place them at each table setting.

♥ For favors which double up as table decorations use individually planted flowers of your choice in tiny terracotta pots tied with a ribbon to match your wedding color theme. You can tie a card to them with each guest’s name so that they serve as a place setting as well.

Candles

Using candles to decorate the village square will add a romantic intimate atmosphere and will also provide gentle illumination when the sun goes down in the evening.

♥ Turn plain glass lanterns into something really pretty by twisting lengths of ivy around the rim and fasten them with a small knot at the back. Arrange these on the table or hang from tree branches, trellises or dot about the periphery of the Village Square.

♥ Tie pastel colored organza ribbon in a bow around clear glass votive cups. These can double as guest wedding favors.

♥ As an alternative to lanterns, fill terracotta flowerpots with sand or pebbles and then stand taper candles in them. If you use plenty candles in each pot you will create a beautiful glow.

♥ For easy, inexpensive centerpieces for your tables fill glass bowls with water and place floating candles in them. You could intersperse these with floating flowers too.

♥ As you are having an outdoor wedding you could use scented candles to create a lovely aroma.

♥ As your reception will be outdoors you should also consider using citronella candles to ward off bugs and bees, otherwise your guests will be swatting bugs all evening! If the Village Square is a known hot-spot for bugs in the evenings then perhaps you should consider arranging for an exterminator to spray the area with insecticide the day before your wedding reception.

♥ Candles glowing from inside lanterns creates a simple and elegant look for your wedding reception. Look at the selection of clear glass lanterns available at Beau-coup.com. They have a wire handle attached to them so you can use them as a tabletop illumination or suspend them from a tree. They come in a variety of sizes. You could present these to your guests as wedding favors.

♥ Place tea lights around the tables for a simple romantic glow.

♥ For informal, inexpensive lanterns use jelly jars. All you have to do is wrap a piece of flexible greenery around the jar just below the lip, and twist a piece of floral wire around the ends to secure and place a nightlight or small votive candle inside. You can decorate the jars with ivy, willow or other local greenery. These are perfect for protecting your candles from breezes.

♥ To add height to your table settings use large votive trees. These are available from Etreasuresgifts.com for $69.95 but shop around. The great thing about these is that you only need a couple of them to add a stunning focal point on the reception tables and the best bit is you can keep them afterwards - a unique reminder of your wedding reception! The pressed two-toned glass leaves can be arranged in any position you want around the 5 votive holders so that the candlelight can shimmer off the leaves.

♥ If you are on a tight budget you could create your own outdoor chandelier of lights by placing a large branch off of a tree into a pot (you could spray paint the branch gold or silver first if you feel creative!), fill it with sand or stones to hold the branch firmly in place and then suspend tea light holders, glass votives or even jelly jars off of the branches using metal wire. If you are using tables for your reception which have a hole where the umbrella slots, you could place a large branch in there and use it as a votive tree.

Centerpieces

As the wedding reception is outdoors you should add height to the tables by adding stunning centerpieces to each of them.

♥ I love this table setting from TheKnot.com. It merges a low candle arrangement with a tall one using fuchsia, bright blue and yellow pillar candles to give the large open space a warm and vibrant feel. This sort of look would great for your Village Square and is easy to recreate.

♥ Use various candleholders of varying height and style and place them on each table. When the candles are lit all across an open space it will create a very elegant and romantic look for your wedding reception.

♥ Use floral arrangements as centerpieces. These can be as simple or elaborate as you choose.

♥ You could fill terracotta pots with flowers to match your colour theme.

♥ Another idea for a unique centerpiece which will look great in an outdoor wedding reception setting is a beach bucket centerpiece as shown here. You take a small metal beach bucket and paint it in your wedding colors. You can then pot a small tree in it and scatter petals over the top of the soil so it does not show.

♥ Fill a galvanized watering can with fresh summer flowers as a centerpiece.

♥ Use tall vases and fill them with flowers. These will help to anchor the tablecloths in place as well.

♥ Have a look at Theknot.com for instructions on how you can make your own centerpiece for the wedding reception tables.

♥ For a stunning citrus centerpiece you could try this idea from Martha Stewart. Tie lemons and grapefruits with yellow taffeta ribbons and pile them into a glass bowl. The bows are secured by pins and sheer yellow organdy drapes from the bowl.

Additional things to consider

♥ For additional colour you could decorate the chairs at your wedding reception. Tie large bows on the backs of chairs with ribbon streamers.

♥ I’m sure that you will be having children attend your wedding reception as I know how family-oriented Cypriot people are (my brother’s wife is from Cyprus!) so how about renting a bubble machine to add a touch of fun. It creates a lovely party atmosphere and the children will love it.

♥ The wedding cake should be given pride of place in the village square as this will form the centerpiece for your wedding reception. If the weather is going to be hot perhaps you should place your cake in the shade or underneath a canopied arch as you don’t want it melting before you and your new husband have a chance to cut it!

♥ If the Village Square lacks colour then choose bright vibrant colours in your wedding decorations to give it an eye-catching appearance rather than using muted pastel colours.

♥ If there are any unattractive features around the Village Square then you might want to shield them off using trellis which can be decorated with trailing greenery and flowers. This is not too expensive to buy and you can use it in your garden after the wedding reception.

♥ Will there be enough bathrooms for your wedding guests? If not, you might want to consider renting port-a-potties. These port-a-potties are fitted out with a sink, vanity unit and mirror. If you decide to do this make sure you decorate them with some fresh flowers, perfumed hand soap to make them more festive.

Weather

♥ Have you had any thoughts about what you will do if the weather turns bad? Perhaps you should have a back up plan in place just in case. Having a backup plan for any outdoor wedding reception, anytime of the year, is always a wise move. It might be a good idea to rent a marquee which could provide your guests with shelter just in case.

♥ If there is a possibility that your guests might get cold in the evening when the sun goes down perhaps you should think about renting outdoor patio heaters like the wedding setting pictured here.

♥ Likewise, if the weather is likely to be extremely hot then think about renting tables with umbrellas which would provide your guests with some shade. You don’t want your guests to be melting in the heat! If it going to be very hot weather you should consider renting large electric fans (which could be powered off of a generator in the absence of electricity) and spreading them around the periphery of the village square.

♥ If there is a chance that the village square might be a windy location make sure that you protect your table settings and your candles.

♥ Even a light wind can blow out candles so if there is a chance of wind you should definitely use votive holders, hurricane lamps or fishbowls which will ensure that your candles remain lit.

♥ You can prevent your table coverings from blowing off by using heavy table items as centerpieces, such as large vases of flowers, potted plants or candles. If it is very breezy put large smooth pebbles on the corners of the table to secure the tablecloths or you could use garden twine to tie pebbles to the corners of the cloth. Another idea is to sew small weights into the seams to weight them down.

One thing I have not yet mentioned is the logistics of getting the Square decorated in time for your wedding reception. It is probably best to decorate the Square on the morning of your wedding. Ask a group of your friends and family to volunteer for this job as you and your fiance will prbably not have time to get involved yourselves on the morning of your wedding. Give them clear instructions for doing it and if possible have a trial run prior to the wedding so that you can plan out where your guests will sit and where the dancefloor should be.

Remember that if you are on a tight wedding budget it is possible to decorate the Village Square and keep your costs down. Try eBay for a lot of your decorating supplies as they are very affordable and will undoubtedly deliver them to you in Cyprus. To save money bulk buy items like citronella candles and garlands of greenery.

My final thoughts are that you don't have to go overboard on decorating the Village Square. You will find that the outdoor atmosphere creates its own magical atmosphere without too many embellishments. If you decorate it with some creativity you can add a romantic touch to your wedding by turning the Village Square into a unique setting for your wedding reception.

Please let me know if you have any further questions. Good luck with your wedding!

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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.

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7 Unusual Wedding Venue Ideas From Budget To Luxurious!
Date: May 29, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ceremonies & Civil Weddings & Destination Weddings & Reception & Unique Ideas & Venues

When choosing a wedding venue, most brides think of celebrating in style by going straight from the church to a hotel or banquet hall by car or limousine. This is the traditional wedding venue of choice, but it certainly isn't the only choice for romantic festivities.

1. Private golf clubs are becoming more popular for couples these days as more and more clubs are opening up their facilities to even those who aren't members. These facilities offer all the advantages of a fine restaurant and almost always have a fine view of the golf course as well. Add the perks of a wait staff who are well-seasoned and the opportunity for gorgeous photo opportunities outdoors and you have a great package.

Visit these examples: Gainsborough Greens and Hope Island.

2. Barns and Other Outdoor Buildings in rural areas can be surprising beautiful locations. These hidden treasures can be wonderfully accommodating because of their sheer size and out-of-the-way locations. Many bed and breakfast establishments these days also have renovated barns on their property that have been renovated for functions such as receptions. They have will have wooden dance floors, elaborate sound systems, and heating systems installed. The rustic high-beamed ceilings can be enhanced with fairy lights at night for a touch of romance, and the upper doors opened to let starlight in on summer evenings.

Visit these examples: Elms Barn Weddings and The Tudor Barn.

3. Paddle-Wheelers or Day Cruisers can provide everything from the wedding itself to the dinner and dancing of the reception in one package price. Think how much your guests would enjoy a cruise down a local river, watching the scenery flow by while you and your fiancé exchange vows on deck. Then everyone enjoys a leisurely dinner and heads aft later for dancing to the music of a live band. These wedding packages are usually all-inclusive, saving you the trouble of shopping around for prices for catering, music, etc.

Visit these examples: Great Lakes Schooner and Vancouver Paddle Wheeler.

4. Local Wineries provide charm and a unique atmosphere to your wedding day. Call around and inquire about having your wedding in the vineyard. Afterward, host a wine-tasting reception and give favors with a wine theme to your guests. Many small to medium-sized wineries can also offer wedding venues in conjunction with local specialty food producers (cheeses, chocolates, etc.) in order to create a wedding day with truly local flair for you.

Visit these examples: Viansa in Sonoma and Hansfahden.

5. Local attractions such as museums, historic landmarks, etc. are all ways to put a personal stamp on your special day. Are you a local history buff? If you've been volunteering at one of the local historical societies, they may be willing to allow you to hold a small wedding and/or reception in a historical home or house museum. If there is an unusual landmark such as a fort or stockade, consider it for a charming rustic wedding.

Visit these examples: New York Museums and Stuhr Museum.

6. Natural vistas abound with possibilities, depending on where you live. Have you considered getting married in a national park near that gorgeous waterfall where you first went camping with your fiancé? What about in the basin of dormant volcano at Volcano National Park in Hawaii? Nothing could be more dramatic! (Always get permission for any wedding in a National Park!) In the New England states, autumn weddings are gorgeous against a back-drop of changing leaves in the mountains, so plan an outdoor wedding. Wedding venues abound that feature outdoor catering under tents that allow for views of the hills with their brilliant foliage.

Visit these examples: Hawaii and New England.

7. Destination Weddings - for Full-Tilt Luxury. Finally, consider fulfilling your ultimate travel fantasy by taking not only your soon-to-be spouse, but all of your friends on an incredible journey by having a destination wedding. This wedding venue has become more and more popular in recent years, and can turn your wedding day into an exotic weekend-long retreat for you and your friends. No location is off limits - Europe, the Caribbean, Asia, Africa. If you love to travel and want something truly unusual to make your wedding day memorable, a destination wedding is one way to make it happen.

And finally visit these examples: Destination Weddings by Wyndham.com and USBride.com - if you can afford them!

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Couple Marry During the London Marathon at Tower Bridge
Date: April 24, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ceremonies & Civil Weddings & Funny & Unique Ideas & Venues

Tower Bridge, one of the most famous landmarks in London, was yesterday a scene to a wedding with a difference!

During the 2006 London Flora Marathon Katie Austin 25 and Gordon Fryer 34 from Romsey near Southampton ran the first 13 miles with her Bob to the Tower, where they then stopped for a 80 minute service! They then continued afterward with the bride's mum Tina, all the way to the finishing line.

You could hardly mistake the couple as Katie was wearing a length ivory wedding dress with train above her running shoes and Gordon and Kate’s father wore traditional waistcoats and wing-collared shirts and cravats. They did though shortened their trousers so as their running wasn’t impaired.

The ceremony took place at the Bridge Master's Dining Room which is registered as a licensed premises for civil ceremonies by Southwark Council. Reports state that despite the rain the brides hair and makeup held up and on leaving the bridge they were greeted with confetti showers and loud cheers.

Despite getting married they still had time to raise money for Help the Hospices and if you would like to donate please head over to http://www.justgiving.com/marathonwedding. This national charity gives time and care to people with incurable illnesses.

Their wedding video was produced by PurpleWeddings.co.uk and hats off to them for capturing this fantastic wedding.

You can watch the whole day unfold by watching this amazing 42:09 min video or a 4:32 min montage. The movie starts with their early morning preparations at the hotel, then next shows their trip to the start line on the tube with the bride's father Bob. Following this we see how they mingled and waited at the start line in the celebrity tent with the likes of Jade (not to be missed!), Steve Redgrave, Sophie Anderton, Rebecca Loos, Zoe Salmon and Gordon Ramsay. The movie shows the trio's interview with Sue Barker before they set out on the marathon through a pack of press photographers.

After aerial sots of London - Katy, Gordy and Bob are seen arriving at Tower Bridge for the 1pm ceremony. Next we see the couple exchanging vows with a reading from Katy's mum Sue, the registry being signed and then everyone relaxing with a glass of champayne. After chatting to the guests the married couple and the bride's parents leave Tower Bridge, through even more press. Finally we next see all four finish wilth Gordy carrying Katy over the finish line - amazing!

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Get Married In Gretna - Just Make Sure You Know Your A74 (M) And M10
Date: March 05, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Ceremonies & Legal Matters & Planning & Traditions & Customs & Unique Ideas & Venues

The A74 (M) might not mean much to many brides but for some of the 5000 married at Gretna Green in 2005 it will have been final road on their route to a wonderful married life!

As I make my frequent journey from Scotland to England I always try to imagine what it must feel like to be approaching Gretna on your wedding day, knowing that this is the marriage capital of the UK.

For those of you that can’t quite picture where Gretna is take a look at this link from Streetmap.co.uk

Just above Carlisle you will see “Hadrian’s Wall” , the border between Scotland And England.

Back in 1753 Lord Hardwicke passed a Marriage Act that if both parties were under the age of 21 they had to seek consent from their parents to get married. Thus this started the trend of young couples eloping to Scotland where this Act did not apply. In fact in Scotland as long as a girl was over 12 and the boy over 14 they could get married, with or without parental consent. This though was changed in 1929 when the The Age of Marriage Act 1929 (applying in Scotland, England & Wales but not in Northern Ireland) stated that both boy and girl had to be at least 16 years, still though no consent was required by their parents. Having read the General Register Office for Scotland web site they quote:

According to one early 20th-century source*, marriage in Scotland at such young ages was in practice almost unknown. No doubt if marriages between children had become common, there would have been public pressure to raise the legal minimum age of marriage earlier than 1929.

So there you have it couples have been speeding up and down the A74 (M) for over 250 years to get married before their parents found out!

Well maybe not so much now but the romantic idea is there all the same - for me anyway!

It takes over 5 hours to drive from London and the surrounding counties to Gretna so thinking back when ones only mode of transport was a horse it seems the trek to wedded bliss must have been quite a journey! We have it so easy nowadays.

I wanted for just a few minutes to imagine how easy it would be to arrange a marriage at Gretna Green. I have this notion that you can just turn up and get married, but deep down know this isn't the case.

So how easy is it to get married in Gretna, is it the answer to avoiding all the stress that far too many brides feel in the build up to their wedding day?

My first port of call was Google, as with most things on the internet.

It appears that main authority site on the subject of getting married in Gretna is GretnaWeddings.com. There seems to be a ton of information but the one page I was drawn to was the step by step guide to getting married at the Anvil Hall. Here is a link to the all important seven steps.

Scanning down the steps I found that number 7 states:

The two Marriage Notice Forms can be submitted up to 3 months and no later than 15 days before the wedding.

Thus any eloping bride and groom must firstly stop to read the small print and do some form filling before packing their bags and hailing a cab, bus, train or jet! In fact it is seriously recommended that you read these guidance notes before filling in a M10 Marriage Notice Form each. Further good bedtime reading can be found at this official Getting Married in Scotland Guide.

The GretnaWeddings.com web site also offers a number of packages you can choose from. Take a look at this page and choose from the Solway, Heather, Tartan, Highland, and Thistle wedding packages. The Thistle package seems to include everything you could imagine, apart from the reception - things certainly seem to have changed since 1753!

I could go on but one last thing, if the thought of motoring up the M6 and A74 (M) to catch a glimpe of a romantic wedding at Gretna seems to much - why not use this webcam to book a seat for the next wedding, I'm hoping there is one at 3 !

As ever good luck with all your wedding planning and if you are getting married at Gretna please let me know.

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British Couple Wed in Lighthouse
Date: March 01, 2006 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Venues

Shane and Anne How from Kent have become the first couple in Britain to get married in an old lighthouse. The wedding took place at Dungeness Old Lighthouse, a 102-year-old listed structure which was decommissioned as an active lighthouse in 1960.

The newlyweds admitted their choice of venue was quite unusual. They had considered marrying in Ashford Registry Office but decided they wanted something a bit different for their special day. The lighthouse had only recently been approved as a wedding venue. Mrs How had visited the lighthouse many times as a child so it seemed a perfect idea to get married there.

The lighthouse was decorated for their wedding ceremony which was attended by 30 guests. Regulations allow that weddings at the lighthouse can take place on any floor but the dimensions of the lighthouse allow space for just 10 people at the gallery level and the other guests have to make do with a place on the stairs leading up to the ceremony.

The lighthouse can be seen from the back of the newlyweds' house so they will always be reminded of their unique wedding day.

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Discovering Trendy Wedding Venues
Date: December 06, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Celebrity Weddings & Venues

Finding a wedding venue can be tough!

I found that once I had found my wedding venue and then subsequently my reception venue everything else seemed to fall into place. I'm not sure if I was just lucky, but it was such a weight off my mind that other decisions didn't seem so difficult.

I could start to picture the whole day and everything seemed so much more real - especially when I had put down the deposits!

One venue that has certainly been pushed into the limelight is Windsor's Guildhall in the UK. I know it well and although TV coverage for Prince Charles and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall was only of the outside many people around the world are now aware of it.

Come December 21 Sir Elton John and David Furnish will again give further status to this Windsor venue when they are one of the first gay couples in the UK to get wed.

It makes me wonder will brides and grooms start to pick venues based on which celebrities previously got married in them?

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How Much Notice Should I Give A Wedding Venue?
Date: October 02, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Budgeting & Church Weddings & Destination Weddings & Planners & Planning & Venues

As a guide most venues require at least 6 months notice with deposits having to be paid immediately and then the balance 2 months before the wedding. However, it is not unusual for some wedding venues to take bookings up to a year in advance. If your preferred venue is popular you might have difficulty securing your desired dates. It is advisable to book as early as possible to ensure that your chosen venue is available for your wedding date.

There is less notice time required for weddings abroad such as Thailand, Bali or the Caribbean. There is usually only a one month advance booking period for these types of wedding destinations but obviously the earlier you book the better deals you will get and also the wider your choice of available dates will be.

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How To Easily Brainstorm Wedding Venue Ideas
Date: October 02, 2005 • Author: Emily • Filed Under: Bridal Party & Budgeting & Church Weddings & Planning & Reception & Venues

Choosing a wedding venue is a matter of what suits your taste, your budget and satisfies whatever romantic visions you have of your wedding day. The wedding venue is one of the most important aspects of your wedding day so consider very carefully what will make yours special.

My advice to you is that if you are unsure of what type of wedding venue suits both of your ideas then you should concentrate on deciding on an ideal location.

Before you start looking, you should brainstorm with your fiancé and draw up a budget, an estimated list of how many guests you would like to invite and decide whether there will be a daytime ceremony and afternoon and/or evening celebration.

The first place to start when deciding on a traditional wedding venue is to have a tour around your local area making a list of those venues which you like the look of and which look like they will suit your budget and your needs. Researching your wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you will make, the first important decision being agreeing to marry your fiancé!

Have you attended any weddings recently which you thought were held in the ideal setting? If there are certain aspects of a wedding that you have attended and enjoyed greatly you can reproduce these to meet your own needs. You should ask your family, friends and acquaintances for recommendations and attend local bridal fairs and shows. These can provide you with a variety of venue choices and give you a chance to have a chat with staff members from the venue without having to enter into a formal relationship with them. Another idea is to check the internet for local wedding venues and go to their websites to have an initial look.

You should go with your fiancé or with your parents or friends on field trips to different types of wedding venue. By visiting different types of venue such as churches, hotels with outdoor facilities etc you will be able to come to an informed decision.

Perhaps you and your fiancé could reach a compromise whereby you have the marriage ceremony in a church and then the wedding reception could take place at an outdoor venue, such as in the grounds of a hotel, stately home, castle etc. Additional outdoor venues include a local beach, park (bear in mind because most beaches and parks are public property you may well need a permit or license), gardens or country club. If you contact local hotels and other licensed wedding venues in your chosen area they can usually let you visit on a day when a wedding is taking place so that you can witness yourself how your own wedding would look in their grounds, by the river, in a garden marquee, under their ornate gazebo etc. Only by visiting venues will you be able to visualise how your wedding will look. I have attended many outdoor weddings and I felt that being outdoors added an extra dimension to the whole wedding experience. For the bride and groom I think that outdoor weddings offer the opportunity to express yourselves in an unconfined atmosphere.

When you have drawn up a list of suitable venues either call or visit the facility and request a brochure specific to weddings which sets out what is offered and any exclusions, rules, regulations and options and also an estimate. You can then compare prices, arrangements and the range of services supplied. Some hotels offer a "package deal" with wedding venue, reception, toastmaster, wedding cake stand, florists and other services included. Decide whether you would prefer a full service wedding venue where they take care of every little detail regarding your ceremony and reception. Perhaps you would prefer one of the rental based venues where you simply rent the property, tables and chairs and then you will have to organise everything else from table linens, tableware, flatware and glassware through to catering, decoration and attendant staff. There are also rental based sites that have a working relationship with selected caterers and are familiar with other wedding service providers and vendors.

When you have short-listed a few venues, call and make appointments to visit the wedding venue. Most wedding venues need to be booked up to a minimum of one year in advance so if one of your choices of venue is hugely popular you should visit sooner rather than later. Most wedding venues and licensed venues can become booked very early due to the fact they can only accommodate one wedding a day. The earlier you book the greater the chance you have of obtaining your first choice of dates.

Initial questions to ask staff at your short-listed venues:-

♥ Do you have an in-house wedding coordinator?

♥ What are your rates for the different packages and what are the options available?

♥ Do you offer a wedding package and/or discounts for small or large wedding party, accommodation booked at the venue etc?

♥ What additional expenses may be charged?

♥ If you are intending to invite young children to your wedding are you looking for a venue which can provide an insured and bonded babysitting service?

♥ How much and by when will we need to put down a deposit to secure the venue for your chosen date?

♥ What is the latest time frame for making changes to your wedding plans?

♥ Will the venue provide you with a written contract? Will this include a 3 day cancellation clause?

Ensure that when you meet with the wedding planner at the venues you visit that you feel comfortable with them and feel able to be open and honest. If you feel that they are trying to force their opinions on you then I would anticipate that you are going to have communication problems with them in the important months leading up to your wedding day. Always carry a notepad and pen to write down important information and questions that may arise during your interview. Ask for a tour of the facility so that you can check their amenities. Usually if you will be providing accommodation at the venue you will be given the opportunity to have a look at the guest rooms and (if applicable) the bridal suite and/or bridal changing room. The staff at your wedding venue should have good attention to detail, should be willing and able to accommodate your wishes and above all else should be there to listen and tailor your wedding requirements around your budget and your vision of your perfect day.

Finally I would recommend that you relax and enjoy this period of your wedding planning. No matter what venue you ultimately decide on you and your fiancé will have a unique wedding day, the memories of which will stay with you forever.

Good luck and enjoy yourself!

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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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