Deciding what role you want children to play in your wedding can be daunting. Here are some planning tips to make sure their presence only elevates the day, not distract from it. (Children includes all guests under the age of 10).

Tip to save money:

These younger guests should be given a special kids meal such as chicken fingers and mac n cheese. Serving the younger kids this type of food is not offensive and will typically be appreciated by parents for you taking the time to think of accommodating their child. Plus kids will be thrilled they don’t have to try the chorizo stuffed date wrapped in bacon (yes, that’s a thing!). Your biggest issue will be having to stop the groomsmen from begging the chefs for some of that loaded mac n cheese he saw the ring bearer eating.

Tip to make them feel included:

A great way to make sure the kids enjoy the reception but also allow for mom and dad to have a carefree night is to set a “bed time”. Depending on the schedule and timing of the wedding, allow for about an hour after dinner for dancing. After that time, escort the children into a separate room filled with games, drawing supplies, and movie options. The groom’s room is a great place to do this and makes the kids feel like they get their own special VIP kids party! Make sure to invite the kids outside at the end of the night for the couple’s departure to help blow bubbles or throw confetti.

Tip to avoid a tantrum:

If you have a special gift for a flower girl or ring bearer is to give it to them either a few days before the wedding or after the wedding so the other children do not get jealous.

Tip to avoid your sister missing for half the wedding:

Hire a sitter that many of the kids know, or at least the fussier ones have met before (ask the parents to arrange it).  Having someone there who the kids are familiar with will ease the children’s anxiety about leaving their parents. If infants will be attending encourage the parent’s of that child to bring their own babysitter for special attention. Remember that any sitters should be fed a meal; this doesn’t necessarily have to be the pork tenderloin your guests are eating but a chicken dish or whatever you have decided to feed the photographer, videographer, etc. works fine.

Having children in a wedding can make the day extra special and they make for adorable pictures. Just make sure to communicate with the parents before so they know the plan ahead of time and can prepare accordingly.