"Whether you should invite children to a wedding or not,” says Calder Clark of Blue Moon Events, “can be a hot-button topic. But it doesn’t have to be a problem if you treat the children with Southern hospitality, just as you would your adult guests.” For Calder, that means letting kids be kids—within reason. To that end, at rehearsal dinners and receptions, she suggests creating a table loaded with treats and toys to help occupy the little ones while the hours pass. It doesn’t have to be anything super-fancy, she says. “Children aren’t tabletop snobs!” she points out. “They don’t expect sterling flatware and silken table linens, so have fun. Think butcher paper and crayons, twill linens and bowls of candy, and mellow, merry toys.”
Consider height and comfort. If your young guests are all less than five years old, create a low table by using a legless tabletop on stacked and secured milk crates with low stools or baby chairs on the sides. Opt for cushioned chairs over folding ones.
Have a plan B. Create a backup kids camp room with books, DVDs, snacks—and supervision.
Don’t be trashy. Choose unwrapped, no-choke candies for refuse and safety purposes, and skip lollipops, gum, and other mess-makers. If there are wrappers? Let the kids know to stash spent paper in their goodie bags.
Play nice. Stock the table with quiet activities that require little or no supervision. Noisemakers and silly string impinge on adults, so opt for alternatives like Silly Putty and Rubik’s cubes instead.
Be age-appropriate. If wedding-going parents want a “date night,” attending children younger than two years need the care and attention of an on-site sitter. But children ages three to 10 can be seated at a kids’ table. Let the older ones supervise the younger ones and check in on all from time to time.