Etiquette: Childrens fun room at wedding reception is a great idea

For the News-DemocratOctober 14, 2013 

Q. Both my future husband and I come from large families. We are the last to get married in each of our families. We both have loads of young nieces and nephews -- 16 in all, ranging in age from almost 2 to 7. While we would prefer to have a wedding without children, it is impossible. Our brothers and sisters would never talk to us again if we did.

I don't think they (the children) will be much of a problem in church because I think they will be in awe of the beauty of the church with all the beautiful flowers, candlelight and music.

The reception probably will be a different scene. I would like to cut the wild commotion of kids running all around -- the screaming, tripping, crying, knocking over candles and destroying table centerpieces and playing with the favors on the tables, etc. Don't get me wrong, I love these little characters. When they get together, they have fun! I can just see them taking over the dance floor and sticking their fingers into the icing on our wedding cake.

Some of their parents are in the wedding and I know they would rather enjoy the reception and dancing and not to have to watch their little ones to see what they are doing or getting into what they shouldn't. Their grandparents should not have to deal with them all evening either.

Is it unheard of, or improper to hire a baby sitter, or two, male and female to take care of the kids at the reception?

There happens to be an adjacent room to the ballroom where our reception will be. This room has a long row of patio-type doors so that you can easily see what is going on in the room if the drapes are not drawn. They would be within eyesight of their parents.

My plan would be to have the children's meals served in that room; have a wide variety of board games to play; coloring books and colors; sticker books; sponge letters with glue sticks and construction paper to make their pictures.

I also want to hire a face painter and a couple who puts on a puppet show.

I've put together a list of other old-fashioned fun games for them to play, such as a race carrying a potato or cotton balls on a large spoon and dropping clothespins into a small- necked jar.

Later in the evening, they will be able to have an ice cream sundae and pick their own toppings.

Your opinion please?

A. Sounds like a "win-win" plan from all perspectives and is certainly an appropriate venue to add to your reception.

If other guests who have been invited, have children in that same age range, you will need to consider allowing them to join in the activities in this "children's fun" room as well.

I would also suggest having more than two adults in this room. You will want an adult to accompany each child when it is restroom time, which would leave only one adult in the room who may be in the middle of organizing a game.

You also might want to refer to them as "the fun room attendants" rather than "baby sitters."

The bride and the groom will also need to make an appearance in the fun room sometime during the reception so the children have the opportunity to see the bride's dress up close, and have the photographer take lots of pictures of all of them with the bride and the groom and of the children playing various games.

Another addition to the room could be a decorated candy table. I recently attended a wedding reception with such a table. It was so cute. Various size brandy snifters with M&Ms, licorice, Skittles, suckers, but no gum.

You will also want to communicate your "children's fun room" concept to not only your brothers and sisters, but to any other guests who have children. You can have a separate card printed with a short note to insert in your invitation, such as: "A children's dining and fun room, with adult attendants, will be available during the reception for children over two years old." Note: If you do not indicate the 2 years old, the fun room will indeed become a "baby sitter room" and the attendants will not be able to take care of babies and monitor the other children over 2 at the same time.

If your invitations have already been mailed, the matron of honor and maid of honor could assist you with phone calls to guests with small children, notifying them of the children's dining/fun room.

What wonderful fun memories you will be providing for these little children. They will probably want you to get married over and over again!

Dianne Isbell is a local contributing writer. Send your etiquette questions to Lifestyle Editor Pat Kuhl, Belleville News-Democrat, P.O. Box 427, 120 S. Illinois St., Belleville, IL 62222-0427. Or email to pkuhl@bnd.com

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