by Alan Dodson
As I began to write this article, I did a little bit of research on what the “experts” have to say about entertaining kids at weddings and receptions.
What I found and essentially did not find both somewhat surprised me. Virtually every article I read advised to have coloring books, paints, inflatable bouncy things, play station games, even tubs of candy to keep them occupied.
As a DJ, I tend to think in terms of music, games and interaction when I talk about having fun and entertaining people. It really doesn’t matter what the age or size of the person, everyone has certain things that they like and certain things that they dislike.
A Little History Lesson
There is a wide difference in opinions about whether children should even be at a wedding or reception. The history of “flower girls” and “ring bearers” dates back to Victorian times for the girls and although the ring bearer has been traced to ancient Egypt, the common aspect of the young man is also steeped deep in Victorian tradition. It is almost inevitable at a modern wedding for at least a few children to be present during the ceremony.
If children are included in the invites, there should be some provision for a special area with supervision, away from the actual ceremony arranged. My personal opinion is that I typically advise couples against using very young children at all in their ceremony. They are just too unpredictable for my organized style and attention to perfection. One might speak out in the middle of the ceremony, or another might have a temper tantrum in the aisle.
However, in some families it is all too common for a lot of children to be invited along with their parents for the wedding and reception.
Entertaining the Youngsters
A magician, clown or other type of children’s entertainer can provide kids with a very welcome distraction for a couple of hours. But, a large group of kids without such a distraction presents special challenges for us as mobile DJs to keep everyone entertained.
This is a task that I approach with careful planning and execution. It can be very difficult to provide entertainment to distinctly different age groups at the same time without a qualified assistant; however, it can be done and with a great deal of success if you take time to create interactive games that both the younger guests and the older guests can do together.
Scavenger Hunt Musical Chairs
One of my favorite games for this task is called “Scavenger Hunt Musical Chairs.” The basic premise of the game is to combine traditional musical chairs (The DJ plays music while everyone is out of the chairs, and when the music stops and someone is out, then removes a chair) with a scavenger hunt (The participants go out into the audience and find the item or items that the DJ names). Some common ones are: A man’s belt, lipstick, business card (which I keep), a man with a mustache, toilet paper, necktie, a Hawaiian dollar, a ringing cell phone, etc. (Email me for a full list).
The Family Dance
Another great game is called, “The Family Dance.” Four to six kids pick adults as their partners. The DJ plays a short piece of music and the children demonstrate their best “moves” to it. The DJ plays the same music again, and the adults must copy what their partners just did. I like to use selections such as Mambo #5, The Hustle, The Stroll, etc.
This type of entertainment should only be attempted at a wedding with LOTS of practice and experience, so try them out first at birthday parties, company picnics, and family gatherings.
If you are wanting to create more games and interaction, I suggest adapting some of the games from the “Minute to Win It” TV show. The games I described above are adaptations from games taught to me by Scott Faver at ARMDJs and in workshops.
I am personally assembling a DJ games book of games and interactive bits sent to me by DJs and entertainers from all over the world. If you would like to contribute any games, email them to firstname.lastname@example.org. All contributors will get a free copy of the compilation when it’s published, and full credit for submissions will be given.
Alan Dodson – Wedding Wizard
Alan Dodson is the Entertainment Director of An Unforgettable Event (ThoseWeddingPeople.com), and has been entertaining at and producing events since the early 1970’s. He has also worked as a voice talent on radio and television, nationwide. Alan specializes in weddings, and is a co-producer of the Tri Cities Bridal Show (tricitiesbridalshow.com) as well as producer of bi-monthly workshops for grooms (aPerfectGroom.com). He has written numerous articles for business and trade magazines, and has been a speaker on implementing social media into wedding DJ businesses. Alan is a founding officer of the E. TN Chapter of the ADJA (adja.org/chapters/etenn), where he now serves as President. He maintains an informational wedding blog on his website (TopDiscJockey.com). Alan can be reached by email at email@example.com.