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Couples can have kid-friendly receptions
MISSISSIPPI STATE – While wedding receptions are intended to be a time of celebration for just-married couples, the event might not be so enjoyable for younger guests.
Jennifer Russell, Leflore County child and family area agent with Mississippi State University Extension Service, suggested offering kid-friendly activities and accommodations at the reception. When planning the reception, consider how many children will be in attendance and the ages of the children.
“For an active group of little ones, consider creating a game area,” Russell said. “Rent or borrow table tennis or air hockey tables, a basketball goal, hula hoops, jump ropes, or a putt-putt golf machine. If the wedding venue is a hotel or country club, they may have all the equipment needed at no additional cost.”
For preteens and teens, a wedding reception could be even less enjoyable.
“If you have lots of teens attending, you could create a coffee-free café,” Russell said. “Set up the area with tables and chairs, sodas, a variety of herbal teas and designer water, international newspapers and magazines, and some vintage board games.
“Have music playing – cool music – and assign one member of your wait staff to man the café,” she said.
Giving children a separate area during the celebration is something Deborah Simmons, owner of Signature Occasions Wedding and Event Planners in Jackson, recommends.
“Couples who are expecting children at their wedding want to make sure they have a good time and are entertained,” Simmons said. “Making arrangements for the children allows the parents to enjoy the celebration, too, without worry.”
She and her team often recommend designating a special area or room for children and providing adult supervision in that area.
“Providing games, crayons, puzzles and craft projects are some ways we suggest entertaining younger guests,” Simmons said.
Passing out favors also may help entertain the smallest of guests.
“Rather than mints or matches, candy is a good alternative for kids,” Russell said. “Even inexpensive toys are good choices. A princess crown or some plastic cars are often all it takes to occupy tiny hands and minds for hours on end – or at least until the wedding cake is cut.”
Sit-down dinners can be a challenge.
“Whether or not you provide a separate play area, consider dividing the dining area,” Russell said. “Create a special area – or even a separate room – for children. This will allow your adult guests to enjoy the night with the comfort of knowing their children are right next door.”
Make sure the menu includes kid-friendly fare. Good options are chicken strips, hot dogs, grilled cheese, hamburgers and pizza, Simmons said.
Couples expecting very young children at their wedding should consider the time of day the wedding and other festivities will take place.
“Even the sweetest child can change from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde as bedtime approaches,” Russell said. “If you want to have young children at your wedding, it is best to hold the event well before bedtime.”
Russell also offered one precaution to couples expecting older teens to be in attendance.
“Instruct bartenders to ask for identification from the guests, particularly since some of the older children might appear to be adults,” Russell said.