Should We Designate Seats for Young Children at the Wedding Reception?
Or should we assume they will prefer to sit on their parents' laps?
When babies and toddlers are invited to a wedding, it can be difficult to determine how to best accommodate their needs. This is especially true when it comes to seating arrangements. Will the parents need an additional seat to place a car or booster seat atop, or will the child sit in a high chair or on a parent's lap? Are you, or your venue, responsible with providing seating alternatives, or will the child's parents bring something suitable? You could discuss this with the children's parents or ask the catering manager (or whomever you're dealing with at the reception venue) for advice on what has worked well at other weddings.
As for other kids at the wedding, it's safe to assume that children from 5 to 16 years old will sit in their own seats—either with their parents or at a designated children's table—since they're all self-sufficient. A toddler who's 2 to 4 years old isn't ready for such responsibility and obviously neither is a baby who's under 2. To determine how you should handle reception seating for the younger crowd, read on.
When they're a year old or younger...
If a baby is under six months old or not sitting up on his own yet, assigning them a seat at the reception is probably unnecessary. They'll likely arrive at the wedding in their parents' arms, and that's where they'll stay when they're not in someone's lap. But before making an assumption, ask the parents whether or not they'd like a high chair, which you'd have to borrow or rent from the caterer or event space. If the baby is more than six months or sitting up on his own, he's likely in a high chair at home so you'd want to reserve one for him at your reception, too.
When they're 2 to 4 years old...
You can't expect a toddler to sit quietly in a parent's lap all night. It wouldn't be much fun for the child, or for Mom and Dad, who'd have to take turns eating while their squirmy, energetic little one got up and down from their lap all night. So, assign the child a seat at the parents' table and ask ahead of time for a highchair or booster seat.
When in doubt, add an extra seat.
Ultimately, if you have the space, it can't hurt to add an extra seat (or high chair) at the table. While this might be associated with a slight increase in rental costs for you, knowing that the family has the option to make themselves a little more comfortable will bring you peace of mind as a host. Another option? Have your venue stock a few additional chairs and high chairs in the back, and instruct them to ask parents of small children if they'd like an additional seat brought out.