By Nicole Vance with Nicole Vance Photography

Photographers love it when couples include children in their celebration. There’s nothing cuter than little ones walking down the aisle right before the bride makes her grand entrance.

But as we all know, kids can only behave for so long. Wedding days are long for grown-ups and can be the most exhausting possible day for children. They are off their sleep schedules, they aren’t eating at normal times, and they are in a new place surrounded by new people. It’s overwhelming! After a busy day of prepping, by the time everyone is ready for photos, the kids can be at the point of entering colossal meltdown mode, and your time slot for photos becomes a battleground.

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So, how can you avoid this potential temper tantrum? Here are a few tips to make the day go smoothly so you can include your children in both your wedding party and photos.

1. Make a Schedule – Collaborate with your wedding photographer to streamline the photo process so that the kids are required to be present for just a short amount of time. Naturally, children don’t have long attention spans, so try and make the most of it. Have a list of photos with the kids to take first so they can go to the reception and have fun sooner.

2. Make a Plan – Children are included in wedding parties because they (and their parents) are very important in the couple’s lives. If mom and/or dad are also in the wedding party, plan ahead to have someone that the kids are comfortable around and can watch them after they are done being in the spotlight. Don’t hold up the wedding party photos because there’s no one to watch the little ones while the adults take their turn in front of the camera. A quick hand-off keeps things moving on schedule!

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3. Bring Snacks! – This one cannot be stressed enough. Tell mom and dad to pack non-staining snacks the kids will enjoy, making sure the kids eat often. Wedding days include weird schedules and there isn’t time to stop and eat in the middle of it all. Strategically packed snacks will help keep the kids full and on their normal eating schedule. Anyone that has kids can tell you for a fact, if a kid is either tired or hungry, you can usually get them to cope…but if they’re both, it’s a recipe for disaster!

4. Provide Motivation – Bring along a treat or toy that can be used as a motivational tool (also known as a bribe). You can give this job to mom and dad, or plan a gift into the day as a thank you surprise for their participation.

5. Entertain Them – It’s exciting for them to be in the spotlight on your big day, but their attention spans just aren’t in it for the long haul. Have a few quiet activities planned to entertain for those in-between moments. Everyone will be happier. It’s even great to have some family or kid-friendly activities during your reception to keep everyone included in case they don’t want to dance the night away.

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6. Plan for the Inevitable – Kids in good clothes will find a way to get dirty – stain sticks, baby wipes, even something to wear OVER their nice clothes while they have a snack will help avoid disasters. Bring extra underwear, socks, tights, or even an emergency backup outfit in case an accident of some sort happens.

7. Hire Help – There are actually childcare professionals you can hire to help wrangle the kids at your wedding. Your wedding vendors will be able to recommend someone for you to contact.

8. Comfort – Make sure the kids are comfortable in their clothes, shoes, hair, and accessories. Sore feet or too-tight pants can be easy triggers for little ones to have a mid-reception meltdown.

Nicole Vance has been photographing weddings in Richmond and throughout Virginia for over 10 years. Her experience ensures she can capture amazing moments in any environment beautifully and she is passionate about telling your story through photographs. You can find her at