There will be ten children including my DS, seven boys aged 1, 2, 2, 3, 6, 6 and 7 and three girls aged 3, 5 and 6.
My plan is to lay a kids' table with a few savoury snacks, colouring books and games to keep them quiet during the speeches, then once they've eaten they can have some other toys, games, balloons so they have fun while the grown-ups are boring.
I'd really really like some advice on the best things to spend my money on (it's a tight budget) as my ds is 7 I feel a bit out of touch with what younger children do! What can you give a 3 year old to keep them busy and happy? My DS loves doing wordsearches and dot-to-dots and colouring but I'm probably living in dreamland imagining that that sort of thing will work for all of them.
I'm putting the little ones (aged 1 and 2) on tables with their parents with highchairs while aged 3 and up sit on the kids' table, does that sound right? I'll tell the parents that they can move their children to their table if they prefer.
In the evening I'm hopefully going to have a babysitter upstairs in the hotel so parents can leave their children watching DVDs or sleeping while they enjoy the reception. Anyone have any thoughts on legal/insurance/liability issues with this?
If there's space in your venue near the kids table, you could contact a local Gymboree/Jumping Beans type tots club thing and rent some of their soft play things, like tunnels, big spongey blocks to build with, etc. That's what we did for our wedding (in a restaurant, private room).
3 year olds? Sticker books are your friend ;) My sister's recent wedding also had about 10 children in the same age range. She made each child up a parcel with some individually-appropriate amusements inside, and they were there at their places on the adults tables - they each sat with their parents. It worked well - the parents could sort of ration the distractions out through the meal/speeches as they were required. I'd wonder in your set up whether anyone would take responsibility for sitting at the kids table with them and keeping them settled? My 4 year old preferred sitting with us I think, and we could have removed him (or more likely his little brother) quickly if he had not been quiet during the speeches despite his goodies - perhaps more quickly than if he'd been elsewhere in the room. But they'll all be different, and as you say you've given parents that option. You're being a lovely bride to give it such consideration.
When my parents got married (I was 3), they hired a father christmas for the children but that would only work for a December wedding! My sister got married last year and had colouring books and pencils laid out at the children's places. She also had a 'sweetie bar' where after the meal they could go and choose pic n mix which kept most of them quiet during the speeches, and had some children's music and dances for the early part of the disco. They also chose a venue where the doors opened out to a large enclosed garden so they could run and play freely. There were a lot of children there and it worked really well.
I did party bags for the kids at our wedding (kids sat with parents). Lots of stickers, crayons and paper, stamps, toy cars, craft activities for the older ones, bubbles, yoyos, soft toys for the really little ones, books for the oldest ones (11). Worked really well, and my friend did similar at her wedding (hers were more elaborate as fewer kids) and both went down well.
we had a magician who did a magic show in an adjoining room during the speeches, and a nanny who supervised that - worked really well.
i would seat children with their parents and seat families together (and child-free people on separate tables). 3 yo kids are not going to be happy / well behaved on a separate table - parents will have to go and hover around them, which is more disruptive than having them nearby.
Most of our friends had small kids at our wedding. i checked with childless friends whether they'd rather be on the 'child-free' table, or be seated next to their friends and their friends kids - then seated them as they requested.
I didn't think of ideas like kiddy party-bags at the table with toys/drawing activities etc. (i had no children then) Would definitely do that now I have experience of kids!
If you don't have a separate activity for them to go to during speeches, perhaps bring out some extra toys/sticker sheets/similar at that point - because they'll probably be bored of the ones they got earlier.
Oh, and make sure that the kids meals are served first. Our caterers brought out the adult meals first - and soon realised their mistake!
Went to a wedding where all the kids ate in a separate room to the main room, had their own food, party and games with qualified staff to look after them, it worked really well. Prior to the event, several parents said they wanted their child with them, and that there was no way that their child would want to leave them. It was a roaring success, the kids literally sprinted off without looking back, would definitely recommend!
I was worried about this issue before our wedding, but feedback from the parents and children was that they all had a great time.
We had children sat with parents, but I arranged the plans so that groups of 2/3 children who knew each other would be at the same table. Like others have suggested, colouring books and sticker books were provided. The best tip in keeping costs down I received was to visit the local pound shop beforehand - got some great bargains!
Fortunately there was a lot of space at our venue so the kids could run around a bit and have fun between courses at the meal if they wanted too. Actually, there were some long delays with the catering on the day so this was a very good thing!