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This is as touchy subject. Constant watercooler chatter on the wedding planning circuit among brides and grooms-to-be- is the “child debate”. Couples are always debating whether keeping their guest list strictly adult will hurt their guests feelings by not including their children. There are two schools of thought on this…

#1 Leave the kiddies at home

Look, here’s something you need to understand (parents of said children)… When you got married no one tried to upstage your day by bringing along a gaggle of toddlers dressed to the nines, spitting up and teetering around to a chorus of “oohs” and “ahhs”. While we love your children and welcome them as a lovely addition to the world, we think you deserve a night off. Leave the kids at home. Get a sitter, dress yourself up and come out and party with your friends. We’ve missed you.

#2 Bring ’em along…

On the other hand, there are those that think that excluding their friends and families children makes for long term strife that just might not be worth it. People actually get offended if their children are left off an invitation. They believe that their children are part of their world now and inviting them means inviting all of them and couples should just man up already.

Here’s a few things to remember…

You did this once before right? So you know how much these “parties” can cost. If a couple includes children, most venues will accomodate them with child prices and menu options so they’re not spending the normal $75 to $200 per person on children. No kid could consume THAT much mac n’ cheese.  But depending on the number of children, this addition to the budget can make a serious dent.

In addition, inviting children means inviting your friends to not pay attention to you, and isn’t that the point of this day? I digress.

So you can really go one of three ways here…

OPT FOR THE ADULT ONLY RECEPTION

If you really want an adult only reception, say so on the invitation. Address the envelopes to the couple and use wording like ” Please join us at LOCATION directly following the ceremony for an adult-only reception.” Then let guests with children know that a sitter is on hand if need be, and let upset guests know that only children in the actual bridal party will be attending.

OR

COMPROMISE

Invite children to the ceremony only…

If it’s important for your friends children to be invited but you want to give your friends a break, invite them to the ceremony. Provided they’re well behaved or make good use of the cry room, a  good way to compromise is to start here.

Hire a Sitter..

I worked a wedding a few years ago that was strictly an adult only reception. The bride told me that if I saw a child wandering about at the reception, I was to escort said child and their guardian out of the reception area calmly informing them that this party was a “KID FREE ZONE”. That may sound harsh, but the bride had gone to great lengths to plan an adult only reception that even her nephews weren’t invited to attend. So any additional child that caught a ride to the dance with his parents was simply asked to spend the evening with the hired sitter,  who was in a nearby house entertaining a handful of mini’s with movies, popcorn, board games and more. Smart girl. Providing a sitter to people was quite a nice touch considering many of her guests were out of towners, plus it’s cheaper than hurting your friends feelings in the long run.

OR

INVITE THE KIDDIES

If you decide to invite children to your reception… entertain them. They don’t care about your wedding. Really. Create a “kiddie table” like the one that Katie & James created for their Annapolis Wedding. Load it up with crayons, coloring books, sunglasses etc to keep them busy. Here are some other “kid-friendly” ideas from Kate Parker Weddings.

Craft Table by Kate Parker Weddings

Craft Table by Kate Parker Weddings

The Beach Table by Kate Parker Weddings

The Beach Table by Kate Parker Weddings

The Candy Table by Kate Parker Weddings

The Candy Table by Kate Parker Weddings

I think welcome baskets are one of those details that go a really long way. Let me just say this, and I’ve said it before. If someone is going to spend money to buy a new dress, buy you a shower gift and a wedding gift and pay for gas/airfare/train ticket and a hotel to celebrate your special day.  The LEAST you can do is offer up a little sumpin’ sumpin’ in their hotel room. I’ve seen just about everything from a well thought out basket with local treats to a simple gift bag with aspirin, water and snacks with guest hang tags.

Thanking the most important people in your life by making them feel a little bit more at home is a wonderful gesture that will go a long way no matter how you decide to welcome them.

Here are a few of my favorite Welcome basket ideas you can whip up yourself…

First up the FANTASTIC gift baskets from Kate Parker Weddings. Kate Parker is one seriously FAB wedding coordinator, holding court in New England. She helps those design savvy brides focus and create an incredibly classy and memorable affair. But let’s talk about the gift baskets. Each basket is filled with locally-made products and information pertaining to your wedding weekend, including a personalized map highlighting your event locations from the rehearsal dinner to the reception site.  They offer baskets for an array of locales including Baltimore, Napa, Boston, NYC, Santa Barbara, Vermont, Chicago, Maine, Miami and more!

If that wasn’t enough, Kate Parker Weddings will ship your custom baskets directly to the hotels of your choice along with a guest rooming list for east distribution!

Want to personalize each basket event further? Kate Parker Weddings will create a personalized welcome letter to be included in your basket. Just send in a copy of what you’d like to say and they take care of the rest! Here are a few of my favorites!

The Nashville Basket $34 plush s&h

The Nashville Basket $34 plush s&h

The Newport Basket $36 plus s&h

The Newport Basket $36 plus s&h

The Vermont Basket $27 plus s&h

The Vermont Basket $27 plus s&h

They also make theme specific baskets which are great as well!
My personal favorite…

The Red Sox Basket $32 plus s&h

The Red Sox Basket $32 plus s&h

The Green Basket $42 ($45.50 w/ Nalgene bottle) plus s&h

The Green Basket $42 ($45.50 w/ Nalgene bottle) plus s&h

You can also mirror Kate’s fantastic work and attempt your own DIY versions of theme or city specific welcome baskets for your guests! You can find great containers at yard sales and flea markets, but if you want to stay uniform with your containers try places like Oriental Trading, The Bucket Outlet, Bliss Weddings Market, and Artistic Gift Baskets. Also don’t be afraid to shop your local Home Goods, Dollar Store, TJ Maxx and Target.

Also, check this out…

I LOVE THESE!

The Out of Town Tote from Bliss Weddings Market. Fill with city specific treats and you’re guests will be able to take it with them… literally.

Out of Town Gift Bags from Bliss Wedding Market $14.99 each

Out of Town Gift Bags from Bliss Wedding Market $14.99 each

Another fabulous company that does really wonderful welcome baskets if you opt for outsourcing is Navy & Lavender. They create custom welcome totes in a variety of themes to fit any wedding including City Chic, Beach Bliss and Country Charm.

Some others include…

Summer Lovin' Tote Set $37-$47 from Navy & Lavender

Summer Lovin' Tote Set $37-$47 from Navy & Lavender

Spring Awakening Tote Set $37- $47 from Navy & Lavender

Spring Awakening Tote Set $37- $47 from Navy & Lavender

Plus most baskets have the option of adding the Navy & Lavender “Rescue Me” Kit which includes all your basic essentials in a pretty little package. Too cute!

Navy & Lavender Rescue Me Kit $10

Navy & Lavender Rescue Me Kit $10

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