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How to Plan for the Littlest Guests

Guests with kids? A little understanding - and assistance - will keep them in the mood for celebrating

Anna Sachse CTW Features
With everything from travel and lodging to gifts, attire and possible hangovers (!) to contend with, attending weddings can get pretty complicated for your guests. But even the work that’s involved in attending a wedding pales in comparison to figuring out what to do with their little ones. Bring them along? Hire help?? Bring them and hire help??? Of course, couples are not required to allow children of any age at their wedding (some venues don’t allow it or demand licensed sitters on-site); nor are they responsible for helping parents figure out or pay for child care. But if you have a lot of guests with wee ones, it’s worth considering your options. When the Kids Aren’t Included The proper way to let parents know that their kids aren’t invited to the wedding is to not include the children’s names on the invitation’s outer envelope, says Anne Chertoff, a New York-based wedding editor and mother of two. If you get RSVPs with the kids included, either meet the person or call them and politely explain that although you adore their kiddos, the wedding is adults-only, Chertoff adds. To prevent hurt feelings, be consistent and don’t allow ANY children; however, one frequent exception is newborns - they may be nursing every couple hours, aren’t mobile on their own and won’t stay late. If you have out-of-town guests who are traveling with their kids, be thoughtful and do the research for them in finding the best sitter options, whether it’s a service, through the hotels or via friends in the area, advises Chertoff. “Leaving your kids with a stranger can be very nerve-wracking for moms and dads,” she says, “so knowing they are hiring someone with glowing recommendations can help put their minds at ease and allow them to enjoy the wedding.” When the Kids are All Right If you’ve opted to allow kids, it’s the parents’ responsibility to care for them during the event. That said, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more pleasant. “Definitely serve kid-friendly foods like mac-and-cheese, chicken fingers and fries,” Chertoff says. “Nothing is worse than screaming, starving kids at a wedding.” To avoid boredom-induced tantrums and poorly timed chatter, it’s also smart to place a favor/activity bag at each child’s seat or arrange for a kid table that comes with things like coloring books, colored pencils or crayons, picture books, puzzles, games and (quiet) toys. If you have room in your budget, you can also hire an experienced sitter to oversee the kids at the venue, although Chertoff then advises arranging for a separate room, especially if the children will need a place to sleep. Provide a television and their favorite DVDs to keep them busy. But while this setup may work for some kids (likely age dependent), an at-home baby sitter (or well-timed grandparent visit) definitely might be worth the expense.
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