Planning a Kid-Friendly Wedding

Congratulations!  You've planned your dream wedding and invited everyone that's important to you, including the children of all your friends and family that you can't imagine not including in your big day!  But now you're starting to stress what the children will do.  Will they have fun?  Will they be bored and get rowdy?  Will they like any of the exciting {and expensive} food you plan to serve your guests?  Will their parents be too busy being mom and dad to really enjoy themselves and dance with you?
Great news: You can include children in your wedding day in a way that will keep them happy and entertained, without sacrificing the glamorous plans you have for the adults.  And here's how!
Keep Them Entertained
One way to win over the kids {and make sure the parents enjoy themselves} is to recruit someone to entertain them during the ceremony and/or reception.  Pick a space to designate as the "kids' room" and fill it with a babysitter and activities such as movies, coloring, puzzles, board games.  This gives the kids a place to make new friends with the other younger guests, while the parents get to really break it down on the dance floor!
Provide Activities
Keep younger guests occupied during cocktail hour and during the reception "down time" with activities specifically for them.  Coloring pages and crayons are a great option {bonus points for using your engagement pictures to create the pages!} and stickers can be fun, too.  Bubbles are fun for kids of all ages, but make sure to check with your venue to find out if they are allowed.  And don't forget dancing - even the littlest guests will have a great time out on the dance floor! 
Fun-Filled Favors
If you're offering more "adult" type favors at your wedding, such as succulents or mini champagne bottles, consider providing younger guests with something they'll enjoy!  Options include decorated cookies, personalized M&M's, and sunglasses.  Caution: Don't be surprised if adults ask for them too!
 Kid-Friendly Fare
Let's face it, not every kid is going to love salmon, filet mignon, or other typical wedding food.  Consider asking your venue if they offer kids' meals as an alternative.  These meals typically cost less, meaning you save money on food and the kids get to eay pizza or chicken fingers.  It's a win-win!
Drink Me
Since underage guests aren't able to enjoy the bar, considering asking your venue to offer an assortment of sodas, juices, or other non-alcoholic treats like Shirley Temples!
Offering an assortment of desserts, such as a candy bar, dessert bar, or ice cream sundaes is a guaranteed way to satisfy all of your guests, but especially the younger ones!  It provides a great alternative for younger palates, especially if your cake flavors are particularly unique {think: apricot, raspberry, lavender}.
 Whatever you decide to do, don't eliminate children from your guest list just because you think they'll be bored and won't eat the food you pay for.  Making a couple of teeny adjustments and planning ahead really could make a huge difference for your underage guests!

Be a Nice Guest: Wedding Etiquette 101

Elizabeth Henson Photos

Ever wonder what it takes to be the perfect wedding guest?  Check out the first post in our series on how to "Be a Nice Guest" by guest blogger and JDE intern, Lauren Windham.  Lauren is an experienced wedding guest, bridesmaid and recent bride as of February 2016.

 Summertime is filled with so many lovely things - sunbathing, lazy beach days and of course, weddings!  If you're anything like me, it can often seem like every season is wedding season!  To prepare you for your summer soirees, here's a few tips on wedding etiquette 101:

1. Do not, in any way, shape or form, wear white: This should be an obvious one but sometimes, people need a reminder.  No matter how cool it may keep you, keep that LWD/white pant suit on the hanger.  Be a nice {and respectful} guest - blues and corals are perfect alternatives for a summery wedding day!

David Champagne Photography
  2. Do refrain from taking an excessive amount of photos: It seems like many couples {including my husband and I] are opting to have an "unplugged" ceremony free of phones, photos and Facebook updates.  Why?  Because brides and grooms often spend countless hours {and dollars} on choosing the right wedding photographer.  Leave the photos to the professional and save the status updates for the day after.

3. Do not complain to the bride and groom: This comes from personal experience.  Don't complain to the bride that the champagne isn't being poured fast enough.  Take any and all questions, comments and concerns to the wedding planner or coordinator and save the bride/groom/parents from unwarranted stress.

Angie McPherson Photography
 4. Do make a point to say hello to the bride and groom: Make sure you say hello to the newlyweds and join them out on the dance floor!  Count it as one of your "guest duties."

5. Do not get overzealous with the bar: Trust me, the bride and groom want to make sure you are enjoying the reception but secretly, the thought of drunken antics can be anxiety-inducing.  Enjoy a drink {or two}, but make sure you've assigned someone to keep you in check and ensure you get home safely.

David Champagne Photography
 6. Do celebrate: A wedding day is a wonderful celebration of the bride and groom.  Enjoy it!  Take in every little detail {that the bride may or may not have obsessed over} and make a point to do your wedding guest duties - sign the guest book, eat a slice of cake and get down on the dance floor!

Be A Nice Bride: Keep Your Guests Informed

Hey ya’ll!!  Happy Thursday!  It’s almost the weekend and we are gearing up to head out for a styled shoot with some amazing vendors on Saturday. Keep an eye out for some behind-the-scenes snaps from the JDE team.

In the meantime, I wanted to share another “Be A Nice Bride” post with you.  This time it’s all about the importance of keeping your guests informed!

Save the Dates are the best way to give your guests a heads up if your wedding will be out of town or on a holiday weekend.  Since traditional invitations aren’t sent out until 6-8 weeks prior to the wedding day, this gives your guests a little extra time to make travel arrangements, book hotels, find childcare, and request time off work.

Photo Credit: Elizabeth Henson Photos
Your Save the Dates are also a great place to include your wedding website, which can serve as a hub of valuable information for your guests.  You can share some background on the area for your out-of-town guests, like the best places to eat and what attractions they just have to visit before they head home.

Your website is also a fantastic place to share your wedding registry info.  Emily Post holds to the opinion that registries should never ever be shared on your wedding invitations, and I couldn’t agree more.  To avoid any awkward conversations with guests about where you’d like gifts from, share this info on your website.  And remember to keep it to a maximum of 3 stores...more than that and you start to look a little greedy.

Another valuable bit of info to include on your website is what your guests should expect on the day of the wedding.  What time will the ceremony start?  Are there special instructions for parking?  Will the party be in a field and should they leave their heels at home?  Will there be a cocktail hour or will they need to entertain themselves between the ceremony & reception?  These are all things that will help your guests come prepared and able to really relax and enjoy the day with you.

Photo Credit: Kirstyn Marie Photography
Wedding programs are one of my very favorite details about a wedding day.  Whether you have individually printed programs or a stunning chalkboard sign at the entrance to the ceremony, providing your guests with a few details about your ceremony goes a long way!   You can introduce your bridal party to everyone with little snippets about how you all know each other and how they have supported your relationship with your fiance.  Your program is a great place to explain any special readings or unity ceremonies you might be including in your ceremony since some people may not be familiar with them.

Your program is also a really wonderful place to honor lost loved ones.  I’ve seen some of the most touching tributes to grandparents, parents, and siblings in wedding programs and I always enjoy seeing the guests’ slow smiles when they read over them.

Photo Credit: Shannon Moffit Photography
Taking these extra steps to make sure that your guests are well-informed really does make a huge difference in their experience on your wedding day.  And happy guests mean a happier day for the new couple!!