Ok, so this is a big topic , so I’m breaking it into two parts:
Part One: Your OWN kids at your wedding - keeping them busy and involved
Part Two: OTHER people’s kids - how to occupy them, or not invite them
I’ll address Part 1 here (your own kids!) and Part Two in next week’s email! Don’t have kids? You might still find this really interesting.
I’m talking from experience here! When we got married in 2017, our son had just turned 8 (I think? He’s 11 now in 2020, ha!). He also has a few sensory processing things to deal with (not huge on crowds - I can relate to this entirely), needs lots of preparation for things, that kinda stuff - again, literally just a tiny version of me.
So, here’s what we did to make sure the day ran as smoothly as possible! We also made a huge effort to include him in our ceremony, so I’ll talk about that more below.
Ok, so we used to make social stories ALL THE TIME for Oskar, every time we went on holiday, or to the hospital or when he started school, and our wedding was no different! A social story will benefit any kid, regardless of whether you normally create them or not, it’s an awesome tool to make sure your kiddo knows what to expect and how to behave.
When I say social story, I literally just mean we made a (terrible by the way, this was prior to me learning how to use design programs) story about what was going to happen. We made ours in the Google equivalent of PowerPoint (Google Slides) so he could watch it on the iPad. No printing necessary!
If I can find it I will link our wedding social story so you can see it! Basically the story has lots of pictures and talks about what is going to happen, for example “mum and dad are having a wedding - a wedding is a big party with all our friends and family. You will be there too” - like that, keeping it simple and clear.
Basically, you wanna list what will happen, in what order, and talk about when your kiddo is expected to be quiet and sit still, and make a big deal about the fun parts too (e.g. “there might be lots of sitting quietly while grown-ups make speeches, but after that we will be eating yummy cake and having a dance.
As I said, we did this for our son and it meant that the day went smoothly and he knew exactly what to expect - he knew that there would be ‘boring’ times where he had to sit and listen, but that there would be plenty of fun stuff too, and cake of course!
2. Create a space
Our wedding ceremony and reception were at two different venues, but this can apply to any wedding, just adapt it to your needs!
Our wedding ceremony was held at a big old estate with lots of grassy space, so we were able to let our son run around in between the ceremony and photos, and have a play (we took a ball and a frisbee I think!).
Our reception was held in the sweetest community hall, which happened to have a small room at the back where we set Oskar up with a space just for him. This is what I did:
Put up a small linen tent (aesthetically cute, but also amazing for creating a ‘chill’ zone)
Filled the tent with a camping mat, a sleeping bag and a pillow - because weddings go until LATE and kids get tired, I think I also packed his teddy
Packed a backpack full of activities: books, colouring in stuff, and iPad obviously
Snacks, lots of snacks - and a drink bottle!
Oskar spent a lot of the wedding chatting to family and friends, he even spoke in our ceremony. It was a huge day for him, so once we had eaten dinner he went off to his little tent and snuggled up to play on his Ipad (let’s be honest, there was no need to pack a book!).
He stayed in there for most of the night, occasionally popping out to see what was happening. This meant that we knew he was safe, he was happy and most importantly he was relaxed - which meant that we could enjoy ourselves without having to worry too much about him, and led to a much more relaxed evening for him and us, which is what this is all about!
3. Occupy and entertain
I talked about this above, but basically what we did was fill a backpack with things to occupy our son and made sure my parents had it with them ready to go (I didn’t wanna be lugging a backpack down the aisle, ya know!).