If you decide to invite children to be a part of your wedding, you will need to make this decision very early on. If children are not permitted at the wedding, then parents need to make arrangements for childcare on your big day. You need to avoid confusion, and you should clearly stipulate on the wedding invitation as to whether or not children should come. You might even want to address the invitation to the children as well as to their parents. You would hate for parents to show up with their children when you haven't made the necessary arrangements. But what sort of arrangements are needed?
1. The Actual Ceremony
Your wedding ceremony might be short and sweet, or it might well be an extended affair. It's your big day, so it's entirely up to you. Having said that, it can be difficult for younger children to stay still and quiet for an extended period of time (or even a relatively short period of time). As such, if you invite children to your wedding, you might wish to invite them to the reception only. It's a matter of personal preference, but you might not wish to have a crying child at your ceremony or one who doesn't yet understand the concept of using their indoor voice. You might need to arrange a babysitter to supervise any children for the duration of the ceremony.
2. The Wedding Meal
Some younger palates might appreciate the pan-seared scallops drizzled with truffle butter or other fancy dish that you plan to serve, but many might not. It can be advisable to have a special children's menu. Yes, children can be fussy eaters and it complicates things (and adds to your costs) to provide a special meal, but these children are your guests too, and you want them to enjoy themselves. A children's table is also a good idea so that the children can be as loud (and potentially as messy) as they want, without distracting your adult guests.
3. The Wedding Party
You might want to set up a special play area for any children who might be at your wedding. Ask the function venue if they are able to provide such a space close to the main reception area. It's relatively easy and inexpensive to set up, although supervision might be required (depending on the age of the children). You can provide colouring books and other craft-based activities. Or you might want to opt for the "modern babysitter" and set up a TV showing some great films for kids. A few cushions or beanbags won't go amiss either. This allows younger guests to take a snooze if they need to.
There's no right or wrong decision when it comes to inviting children to your wedding. Don't be concerned about causing offense, since it's your big day and so the choice is entirely yours. It's just very important to make a decision as soon as possible and to stick to it.