With everything from travel and lodging to gifts, attire and possible hangovers (!) to contend with, attending weddings can get pretty complicated for your guests.

But all that pales in comparison to figuring out what to do with their little ones.

Of course, couples are not required to allow children of any age at their wedding (some venues don’t allow it or demand licensed sitters on-site); nor are they responsible for helping parents figure out or pay for child care. But if you have a lot of guests with wee ones, it’s worth considering your options.

When the kids aren’t invited

The proper way to let parents know that their kids aren’t invited to the wedding is to not include the children’s names on the invitation’s outer envelope, says Anne Chertoff, a wedding editor and mother of two. If you get RSVPs with the kids included, either meet in person or call to politely explain that the wedding is adults-only.

To prevent hurt feelings, be consistent and don’t allow ANY children; however, one frequent exception is newborns – they may be nursing every couple hours, aren’t mobile on their own and won’t stay late.

If you have out-of-town guests who are traveling with their kids, be thoughtful and do the research for them in finding the best sitter options, whether it’s a service, through the hotels or via friends in the area, advises Chertoff. “Leaving your kids with a stranger can be very nerve-wracking for moms and dads,” she says, “so knowing they are hiring someone with glowing recommendations can help put their minds at ease and allow them to enjoy the wedding.”

When the kids are all right

If you’ve opted to allow kids, it’s the parents’ responsibility to care for them during the event. That said, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more pleasant.

“Definitely serve kid-friendly foods like mac-and-cheese, chicken fingers and fries,” Chertoff says. “Nothing is worse than screaming, starving kids at a wedding.” To avoid boredom-induced tantrums, place a favor/activity bag at each child’s seat or arrange for a kid table that comes with things like coloring books, crayons, picture books, puzzles, games and (quiet) toys.

If you have room in your budget, you can also hire an experienced sitter to oversee the kids at the venue, although Chertoff then advises arranging for a separate room, especially if the children will need a place to sleep. Provide a television and their favorite DVDs to keep them busy.

©CTW Features