How to Keep Kids Entertained at a Formal Wedding

Because saying "adults only" isn't always an option.

Whether or not to invite kids to a wedding is one of the most debated topics for brides and grooms. Some people feel a formal event is simply not the place for children, or they worry about the little ones causing a disruption. Others are of the opinion that it’s important to include entire families, and simply enjoy seeing the kids of their nearest and dearest looking adorable in their dress clothes. Oftentimes, you’ll end up seeing children more at casual weddings and adult-only affairs at black-tie events. However, if you still want a more formal celebration but don’t want to risk offending anyone by saying “no kids,” there are ways to make your reception appropriate for children while still having an elegant and sophisticated evening. 

how to keep kids entertained at a formal wedding
Photo by Laurie Bailey Photography; Planning & Design by Linda Howard Events

- Hire childcare. This can help for the ceremony as well, should you have invited kids beyond those in the wedding party. Babies will likely sleep through it and older children can usually handle sitting still, but this way you won’t have to worry about an antsy toddler pulling attention away from the vow exchange. 

- Supply activities. Some kids will be happy hitting the dance floor, but  – just as with adults – others won’t consider busting a move to be a good time. While the grown-ups will be satisfied mingling, the children will be happy to have alternative things to do. Whether you supply coloring books or games, it’ll keep them occupied during the dinner and toasts as well. 

- Create a kid’s corner. With any luck, your venue will have a spare room you can use to let the little ones hang out. It’ll be easier for the babysitters to wrangle everyone, and they can watch movies or play around if they have too much energy for an activity book. Even if there’s not a full room, you can section off an area of your venue space or tent with piping and drapes. If your reception is outdoors, an area with lawn games, bubbles, and other distractions will keep the kids occupied while still keeping them in their parents’ line of sight. 

- Don’t forget refreshments! You probably already know to have a children’s meal option for dinner, but what about cocktail hour? Passed appetizers aren’t always kid-friendly, so consider offering some snacks for your younger guests to enjoy so they don’t get cranky. Remember that the open bar isn’t quite as exciting for them either, so make sure there is juice or even mocktails like a Shirley Temple for them to enjoy. 

Get tips on making the perfect seating chart, discover the pros and cons of having kids at your wedding, and view 19 ways to keep kids entertained at weddings.

Authored by: Emily Lasnier