Whether it’s your own child(ren) or those of your friends/family, don’t overlook the importance of planning for kids on your beach wedding day. You’ll want your flower girl, ring bearer or other cute little guests remembered for all the right reasons. Not because they were crying, throwing sand, or partaking in other beach mayhem! So we have some tricks to help your wedding day run smoother than a baby’s bottom. 😉 Oh, and the kids will surely have a great time too with these kid-friendly beach wedding tips, including fun places to visit after the special day.
How To Plan For a Kid Friendly Beach Wedding
We have broken up these kid friendly tips into 3 categories: pre-ceremony, during, and post wedding. Most often moms and dads bring their own bag of tricks for use during the wedding. But what about when it’s time to take photos after the wedding? Or those last few antsy minutes before the ceremony starts? Well, here goes:
The key here is don’t use up all your tricks before the bride walks down the aisle. You are getting ready for a ceremony with a restless, bouncy kid, who naturally will want to frolic and play on the beach. To deal with that pre-wedding energy:
- Go for a Walk – Ask the officiant or photographer approximately how long until the ceremony starts. Go for a walk/run in the sand to burn off some inherent kid energy. Stay within viewing distance of the ceremony site and be prepared to get back to your seats within a minute or two. If the child is in the wedding, it’s not advised to wander off on a walk. However, a run around in the nearby sand or some energy-burning movement is encouraged. The minutes leading up to the ceremony is a great time for a game of “I spy” or “Simon Says.”
- Snack Time – A healthy(ish) snack before the wedding is a great way to keep kids happy. Don’t choose something that’s going to stain, spill, or cause a mess. Goldfish, pretzels, apple slices, raisins, and Cheerios all make for the perfect nibble pre-wedding.
- Pep Talk – Talk to kids so they know what to expect once the wedding begins. Kids are more likely to behave when they have a clear set of expectations and timeline. Let them know they are expected to be quiet, stay seated, and there is nothing wrong with a little incentive (incentive = politically corrected word for a bribe). The promise of a lollipop or bubbles post ceremony can be a great motivator. Now, kids under 2 may not understand the idea of waiting for a reward or understand the rules laid out, so more on that. But kids around 3 and up will totally understand. Kids in the wedding ceremony should have a clear understanding of what they will be during and where to walk/stand/sit during the wedding. Don’t assume anything here!
Things to Do During the Wedding
It is NOT the bride or groom’s responsibility to be managing ANY childcare DURING the ceremony (biological kids or otherwise). This is YOUR wedding day. Holding a crying baby while exchanging vows is unromantic, impersonal, and quite frankly, unfair to your spouse. So plan for someone to be the “emergency” helper (preferably non-wedding party member). There will be plenty of time afterwards to include your child in your special day including wedding photos.
Now there are a few different ideas here and the strategies for keeping kids quiet and content during the ceremony differs with t;heir age.
- Babies (non crawlers or walkers)- The biggest task here is keeping baby happy. This means the caretaker will need to be in a position to stand, sit, bounce, or walk away with minimal distraction. Preferably the back row(s) on an end. Bottles, cereal puffs, pre-chopped food, quiet toys, pacifiers should be on hand, at all times! DO NOT keep a miserable crying baby at the ceremony site- take a hike (literally, down the beach) Happy baby = Happy bride! 🙂
- Crawlers/Toddlers– Same goes for above. A clean, quiet snack (no crinkly wrappers or crunchy bites) or noise free toys are a great way to keep the little ones content and quiet. Even a shovel and bucket is a great toy to have on hand for easy entertainment. DO NOT expect a young toddler to sit for the entirety of the ceremony. So whatever keeps that little one happy, bring it, pack it, use it! Expect the best, prepare for the worst.
- Young kids– Kids ages 4 and up should be able to sit through the ceremony (averaging 10-15 minute) without a hitch. A coloring book or sticker book and paper pad are easy, quiet kid tools to bring along though just in case.
- NO TECHNOLOGY– Avoid iPads, iPhones, Leap Pads, and all other screens during a wedding. Unexpected alerts and sound effects can be very distracting. And, even if silenced, are just a distraction to other guests. Not to mention the whole sand/water mess factor.
After the Wedding
Whew! You did it, you made it through your vows. No criers, no screamers, no bored kids. You and your kid(s) deserve a pat on the back!
- Reward good behavior– Bubbles, lollipops, a kite. Find something fun for the little ones. They just sat through a (un-exciting from a kid perspective) event and now it’s time to do what kids do best. PLAY!
- Photo-ready. There will probably be a few wedding photographs with the kids so, again, remind the kids of the expectations. Smile nicely, listen to the photographer, and it will likely be quick and painless! They will delight in these pictures when they grow up and look back at your special day.
- You did it! That’s about it. Run in the sand and celebrate the day!
Family Friendly Things To Do in Clearwater Beach
In the days before and after the ceremony, there are plenty of entertaining activities for children in the Clearwater/Tampa area.
- The most popular area of Clearwater Beach is Pier 60 which has many activities for kids right off the pier, with street performers, craft booths and a sunset cinema under the stars. There is also an amazing beach playground. These activities are free and open to the public.
- Next up is the Clearwater Marine Aquarium. This is home to “Winter the Dolphin” who made an appearance in the movie “Dolphin Tale.” You can tour the aquarium, and there animal encounters that allow you to get up close and personal with dolphins, sharks, otters and pelicans.
- For family cruise that includes music, games and friendly pirates aboard their ship, the Pirates Ransom is entertainment that all ages can enjoy. Captain Memo’s Pirate Cruise includes fantasy world of swashbucklers and pirates. The two-hour trip along the Intracoastal Waterway and Gulf of Mexico includes complimentary lemonade, soft drinks, beer and wine.
- Don’t forget adventure mini-golf: this one comes with live gators! Congo River Golf has giant waterfalls and rocky summits, mysterious caves and tropical rainforests. Travel to a world of excitement and family fun with Congo River Golf, voted best miniature golf again and again.
- Of course in nearby Tampa, don’t forget about Busch Gardens: the ultimate family adventure, featuring an unparalleled combination of up-close animal encounters, award-winning live entertainment and world-class thrill rides.
Okay, now for the “grown up kids”- if you’re ready to take the next step and tie the knot, take a look at some of our all inclusive beach wedding packages and click HERE to book your Florida Beach Wedding!