Once upon a time...Entertaining children at your wedding party

Thu, 04/30/2009 - 05:45

When a Hollywood actresswhose wedding I was organizing on the Amalfi Coast asked me for a babysitter for her three year old daughter, I didn’t have a second thought. I called my daughter who conveniently lives in that area, and we arranged a sleep over with her four year old.
Any Italian family would have done the same, since taking care of the little ones is a family responsibility and there are very few babysitting services in this otherwise very child-friendly country.


Italians love their bambini! Children are the core of family and the centre of attention, and as such, they reap all the benefits of the adult world: they get to stay up late, they get to go to all the parties, they even have control of the TV remote. Anywhere you go, there are always some little rascals running around bringing joy to their parents’ hearts. They are especially cherished at weddings: a pat on a child’s head is the ultimate good luck charm for bride and groom. Thereby comes the traditional wedding good wish: Auguri e figli maschi! (best wishes and hope for a boy!)


But sometimes the adult view of a good time is far from a child’s concept of fun, and weddings fall into this category of unbearable events for kids. Sitting still for a one-hour mass in a stone-cold church or waiting out a forty-minute civil ceremony are a test of tolerance even for the best-behaved. Those yawns of sheer boredom, that non-stop whining for the end of it all; sulking, sassing, and sighing, all they get from their parents is reassurance that the end is near. From fidgeting, to fussing, to festering, the little ones keep mommy and daddy (and guests!) on their toes by wandering off and getting into any trouble they can find.
Soaking themselves in a basin of holy water, climbing up (and slipping off!) medieval statues, running up and down the bridal aisle, picking flowers from carefully placed (and costly) decorations – these miniature guests (read pests) get to the reception venue high on energy and low on obedience. And in the meantime, their disheveled parents – mums ready to quietly slip off the heels underneath the dinner table and dads ready to hang out with the boys and puff on a celebratory cigar – are hoping and praying that the children will find some non-life-threatening activity to keep themselves busy...

…these miniature guests… get to the reception high on energy and low on obedience

Precious relief for parents and guests alike is to provide entertainment for the youngsters. With affordable costs and offering priceless value, there are plenty of clowns, play groups, and actors ready to tire out the kiddies, keeping them busy for two to three hours or more. They are a popular tradition for birthday and holiday parties in Italy, and there are plenty of companies all over the country which provide this invaluable service. Balloon blowers, song singers, role players, magicians, clowns, dj’s: even if your wedding is in a remote countryside castle, the entertainment squad can reach the venue for a reasonable price and make your wedding party enjoyable and memorable for everyone.
To help you plan, your wedding invitations may include a separate card to survey for age ranges and scout out popular themes. Here are some examples:

Harry Potter games (ages 8 to 12) split the children into the 4 houses of Hogwart, and include a series of magical games that aspiring wizards thoroughly enjoy.
The Treasure Hunt (ages 8 to 12) involves solving puzzles and guessing clues, aimed at finding the valuable treasure to be shared with everyone.
Star Wars (ages 8 to 12) engages everyone in being a part of the universe, discovering new planets and asteroids, competing against each other in outer space games.
Storyteller (3 to 6) stories and fables which amaze and engage even those who try not to believe.
Princes, Princesses and Dragons (3 to 7) involves dressing-up and dancing in a magic kingdom.
If you’re not sure of what‘s ‘in’ with the teens, go for ‘Art Attack’ – arts and crafts for all ages. If you just want to tire them out so they’ll mellow out at a certain point, ‘Baby Disco’ will wear them out for sure.

Entertainers provide materials including balloons, specialty art supplies, child-friendly make-up, favours and prizes, you just need to provide the space. Depending on the number of children and how long you want to keep them out of sight, pricing starts at 100 Euros for a three hour stretch. If children on your guest list figure at least 10% of the total number, this addition to your budget will make the difference for remembering your wedding celebration as one in a million and ensuring that everyone lives happily ever after!