Friday, October 11, 2013

The Last Word On Kids and Weddings (Orange County Wedding Planner)

Yes, or No, How Do You Make it Work?
(Pic courtesy of Flory Photo)
Tomorrow is Isabel and Ryan's wedding day!  At one of our meetings at their reception venue, Turnip Rose, we were talking with Chrissy Sherbanee, the venue's Special Events Consultant, about Izzy and Ryan's final guest count, and specifically the number of kids that will be attending the wedding. Chrissy had a very interesting outlook on handling that issue, and I asked if I could talk to her about that with  in more detail, later. 

Chrissy has worked at the Turnip Rose Catering Company since 2000, and coordinates between  90-100 weddings and events every year, both at their reception hall in Newport Beach, and off-site. The first thing to do,  she says, whether you make the decision to allow children at your wedding or not, is to decide what that looks like to you. "What do you consider to be 'a child'? Because if you there's a family that has kids that are  14, 15, 16 years old, then those aren't really children. What's your cut-off?  If you’re saying we're only inviting adults, that technically means 18 and older, and you have to make it clear to your guests that's what's happening ," Chrissy says. 

Exceptions to that rule are your prerogative. "If your brother is coming out from New England, and he has three kids, and they're making your wedding a family trip, you can let that happen, without feeling like you have to explain or defend yourself - you have to do what you feel is right for your family. College friends from out of town and their kids, or, 'We’re only having the ring bearer and a flower girl at the reception, my niece and my nephew, and no other children. Okay. That’s certainly acceptable.  It’s your wedding and you get to decide who’s going to be there." Some couples, she says, will even have those children only attend the ceremony, but ask that they are taken back to the hotel or home, during the reception. 

Obviously, there can be pushback on this from your guests, which you should deal with on a case-by-case basis, "If someone says that they’re not coming to your wedding because they can’t bring their kids, that’s their business, that’s their deal." If you want to, you can refer them to a  babysitting service, or designate a hotel room, with babysitters, to watch their children during the wedding. Or, you can just stand your ground, she says. "'If you want to come to my wedding, then, no, you can't bring your kids.' The invitation is not an obligation, just as it isn't for other guests who have different reasons for not being able to make it."

Plus adding the cost of having kids at your wedding could be bad for your budget, too. Chrissy remembers a conversation she had with a Bride's mother a few days before, whose RSVP count keeps growing because their guests are writing in their children, "Twenty-five kids they didn't invite. That's 25 more meals to pay for, two extra tables with centerpieces, it's favors, it's figuring out where to put these extra people. And the Mom asks me, 'How do I can my family and tell them No?" Instead of looking at it as, there are 25 extra people that they did not invite, so we have tell them that they can’t come. But couples are afraid to do that, because they think it makes them look mean or cheap. But, realistically, you have to be very clear with yourself about what your budget is, and what you can afford to do. Determine how important it is that these children attend your wedding, for whatever reason, and sit down and make the deep cuts. "Each person makes the calls for their side, and keeps it simple, 'We’re limited in our seating in the venue, and we can't accommodate your children' ...and you ARE limited!"

The same rule holds if you decide that you do want kids at your wedding. What does that look like to you? What are the ages of most of the kids, where are they going to be during the reception? "Find out what is possible at your venue first," Chrissy says. "They might have a room or a patio that's off to the side, where the kids can be. A lot of venue won't you have crayons or markers at the kids table." If you do have a kid's table, make sure that it's positioned near their parents tables, either right next to them, or no more than a table length away. "A lot of couples want to put the kid's table on the other side of the room, and that's not a good idea. Someone needs to be responsible for them, and their parents need to be able to see them." Or you should have a babysitter, with them, someone not related to any of the children, who is supervising them and their needs. It's not a bad idea to provide entertainment, too. Movies playing in a separate room? Magicians or games? But most of all, put them where their parents can see them, and easily check in with them."

Couples do another thing that doesn't always work out, which is putting teenagers at the same table as small children. "They think since, most of the time they're all family, it's fine. Teenagers don't want to be stuck watching their younger cousins or siblings, that's not a good time for them. Be aware of what that dynamic is going to feel like for everyone."

But, Chrissy emphasizes, "Any children under the age of 10 should sit with their parents." Couples feel that they're giving parents a break by sitting their children at separate table, but most times, that's not what parents want. Think of it from the that point of view. "They want their kids sitting with them. 4-year olds, 8 year-olds, 6-year olds? They should be with their parents, and a lot of times, they come up to me and they're upset that their kids aren't sitting with them, and they want any extra place setting next to theirs." 

The bottom line, Chrissy says,  is for the bride and groom to look at everything from all of their guest’s different perspective. "You’re not going to make everyone happy, and you’re not going to make them jump and down in anger because of your decisions, either . But, if you look at it all from, “If this happens, would it annoy me? What would I do with my small child as a parent?” If you ask yourself those questions, the answer is going to come very quickly to you."

If you would like to contact Chrissy about holding your wedding at the Turnip Rose, call (949) 645-4114 or email

See you at the end of the aisle, 

Liz Coopersmith
Silver Charm Events

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