The Wedding Sitter

opinion 2 Hi everyone! I have been asked to babysit for a family from daycare in a couple of weeks for a wedding. The family is great, and I worked with their 5 year old daughter, who is hilarious! Part of the job that day involves keeping her occupied/supervised during the ceremony. I am concerned about this because their 3 year old is very strong and independent. (Mom has told me this herself.) I have babysat for this family before, and B (the 3 year old) did fine. Mom and M (the 5 year old) are both in the wedding. After the ceremony, I need to keep the girls occupied during pictures. What are age appropriate activities for a church? I should already know this, I just want some ideas, as I have never worked during a wedding. Second of all is pay. The babysitting service I used to go through had a minimum of $10/hr for all awake hours and $50 flat rate overnight. Is this a fair price? Last but not least, because I will be chasing a preschooler around, am I supposed to dress up? Thanks!


Village said...

Prince Harry, during the Royal Wedding, kept plastic wigglies in his pocket to distract the little flower girls if they became upset. One did, he gave her a red worm, and when she wouldn't part with it, it made it into the wedding pictures. Little kids are fascinated with anything they haven't seen before, so put a few little toys into your pockets to keep their attention when necessary.

Personally, when I sat for weddings, I charged $10 per head per hour, two hour minimum. It's hard work. Everyone is dressed up, and no one wants to hear a crying child. AND, COUNT ON IT, you will hear, 'Since you are already here, could you watch my child as well. It's just one/two/three more. No bid deal.'

If you have a hard time getting $10 per child per hour out of your mouth, especially when practical strangers start trying to give you their children, have cards made, with your name and wedding fee. And you might want to charge the first couple of hours up front. Seriously, I once ended up with 7 kids. I would have been furious if it had been at $10 an hour. At $70 an hour, I was making bank, and I deserved it. A bunch of crazy caked up kids that just wanted out of their 'holding pen, and into the party.

MissMannah said...

Are you supposed to watch them during the reception too? That's when I found I was getting all the extra kids when I had this gig. The easiest way was to arrange a separate room, like a nursery, for babysitting so all the parents know they can drop their kids off, but only if they pay cash up front. Bring a nanny bag with you, filled with crayons and coloring pages, small toys, books and whatever else to keep them occupied.

I was a little confused about the ceremony. You said the 5 year old is in the wedding but you're supposed to keep her occupied. Wouldn't it be Mom's job to make sure her daughter stays still up on stage? Also, if I were you, I'd just ask if I could keep the 3 year old in the back room because she's not going to sit still and quiet through the ceremony, why even bother trying to fight her?

oh well said...

If you are going to church, you should be at least slightly dressed up (without overdoing it, a dress and flats that you can run in maybe).
I would ask the parents to bring a
sippy cup and appropriate snacks, and I would take along some colouring books and crayons, possibly a princess sticker book
to get into the wedding spirit.
I like Miss Mannah's suggestions about the separate room and charging other parents upfront.
If you expect to babysit the kids through the night, you might want to take along some cuddly toys and books.

My thoughts... said...

I would go to the target dollar section and buy some random toys. Their stuff is usually so random that the kids wouldn't have seen it before. I also really like bubbles in addition to coloring. Don't forget games like "I spy" and quiet contests and simon says (doesn't have to be active can just be 'simon says wiggle your tongue') also, it might just be the kids I watch, but I get a lot of time out of asking them to make faces that show different expressions.

You still need to get dressed up because you will be at the wedding but you should be comfortable. You could probably even get away with a more buisiness causal outfit as oppossed to wedding dressy.

If you are able to watch just that child in a hotel room or something then I think $10 is a fair price. If there are more children or you have to try to really keep the child (or children) quiet and presentable then you deserve more.

MissDee said...

What MPP forgot to mention is that I need to keep B (the three year old) occupied during the ceremony and during pictures.

Marypoppin'pills said...


I did not edit your submission, I published it in it's entirety and both the ceremony and pictures are mentioned:

"I have babysat for this family before, and B (the 3 year old) did fine. Mom and M (the 5 year old) are both in the wedding. After the ceremony, I need to keep the girls occupied during pictures."

MissDee said...

MPP: I can't

MissMannah said...

I don't understand that part either. You said the 5 year old is in the wedding and so I'm assuming she's also going to be in pictures, so why are you keeping her occupied? Aren't there going to be about a dozen adults around there, including a photographer? Like I said, with the 3 year old, she ought to not even be forced to watch the ceremony and just play in the nursery all through it and during the pictures. My thoughts is right on the ball with the dollar-store ideas. The kids will be so excited by the novelty that they won't care if the toys are kind of junky. I would advise against bubbles though because they can sometimes stain on certain fabrics. You really need to sort all this out with the parents, and probably the bride, before the wedding day so you can see if you can get a room reserved for a nursery, instead of just showing up that day and asking where you're supposed to go.

MissMannah said...

I'll just go ahead and throw my personal opinion in here too. Unless it is a really lavish reception, I really don't see why they'd need a babysitter at all for the 5 year old. A girl of that age should be mature enough to enjoy herself at a wedding, especially if she's in it. And other than sitting still during the ceremony, I'd think the same thing of the 3 year old too.

Also, I forgot to answer your other question. Of course you need to dress up, unless you never plan on doing this sort of job ever again, because word will get out that you are not respectful if you show up in jeans. Odds are you won't be doing any chasing because she'll be dressed in all the frills anyway.

AdultsOnly said...

Some random thoughts:

Mom is hiring this person as her responsibility during the ceremony is to the bride.

Whe would any parents using the service pay up front? Very few service providers of any type charge up front and I never use any that do (unless they take charge cards so there is dispute protection on my part, not very applicable here.)

Why would any of the adults in the wedding photos, must less the photographer, be responsible for watching the 5 year old during wedding photos, which can drag on and on? Doubtful the 5 year old is in all of them and again her Mom is being proactive in hiring someone. In fact, OP probably shouldn't take on additional kids until all of these duties are done.

I hired a sitter during my wedding and reception as I knew, despite no children being invited, some people would bring them anyway. We had a room at the hotel where the ceremony and reception were held and just paid her a flat rate. One of the ushers stood by the entrance to the ceremony and again to the reception to direct all parents with kids to drop them off in this nearby room. He phrased it as "We anticipated some people might have emergencies with their childcare but still wanted to stop in for a minute, as of course you know this is an adult only wedding. Luckily, we were able to provide childcare so you can stay for the whole time!" A few tried to bring their kids out for dancing etc. (because, of course that is what we spent a year planning our reception to see - a 6 year old stomping around - but they were politely directed back into the daycare room.

Bostonnanny said...

Adults only,
The reason the nanny should ask for money up front is because she could get fucked over by watching multiple children who's parents "forget to pay" or "realize they don't have any cash on them" later when they pick up their child.

I personally dont agree with the "all about me" bitchy bride syndrome that women seem to go through for a damn wedding. Your wedding is a cerebration of your love for your partner that you share with family and friends. If your friends and family have children then they should be invited as well, not cast away. I would have never left my children with a babysitter I didn't know or hired by someone else. If I couldn't find a sitter and the bride was being such a selfish bitch I would have just stayed home.

A wedding day isnt suppose to be all about the bride, it's about love.

AdultsOnly said...

BostonNanny -- and you are really feeling the love aren't you!!!!

It has been said said ad nauseam: the wedding IS all about the selfish bitch and the self centered bastard at the top of the cake (maybe he hates kids at a wedding too - why is it always the woman's fault?)

In any event, I am sure your joyous, loving, family-personality has been missed at many an event.

oh well said...

AdultsOnly, your wedding is your wedding. I think it was pretty considerate of you to hire a sitter
and a special room for the kids. I once went to a wedding where kids were invited (I should say tolerated), and I was told that there was no need to book a sitter and a room (which I wanted to do), as that was already taken care of. It turned out that there was no sitter and the daycare 'room' turned out to be a loud corner of the banquet room. Needless to say it was a disaster.
On another note, some of my best memories as a kid are family weddings teeming with children.
To each their own.

MissMannah said...

AdultsOnly, I didn't mean to imply that the photographer or anyone else should be taking the role of the babysitter. I meant that while M is having her picture taken, I don't see a need for MissDee to watch her. After her pictures are done, the mother should then deliver her back to MissDee. Most professional photographers know how to get kids to pose for pictures, that's why I brought that part up.

Your wedding sounds like a total bore to me. I love having the kids running around and being silly. If I ever do a "real" wedding (we went to the good ol' courthouse), I want everyone to have fun and not have to worry about childcare. That includes parents watching their own children. Weddings are meant to be family affairs, not a chance to show off how much money you can spend. Hey, this is only my opinion.

Phoenix said...

my god adults only you are a fucking bridezilla. Children in weddings is important and the OP should very well get all her fees up front because as you know there are rude and stupid people that come to weddings and they wouldn't pay her after the fact. She would get so screwed for working so hard.

I remember being in the wedding ceramony when I was 3 and again at 8. All the kids in our family attended the ceramony and did fine. No kids ran up and down the isle in fact not one of them spoke. If the OP knows these kids she can make the judgment call on whether or not they can handle themselves and in what scenario. I advise tho that you don't take on extra kids for the ceremony only the reception. Don't make youself repsonible for keeping multiple children quiet. And sit in the far back in case something happens and you need to exit the church fast, like a tantrum errupting.

I would wear business slacks and a nice blouse and flat shoes. You may end up chasing someone and keeping them from getting their nice clothes dirty. You will need to be extra attentive during picture time. The photographers are usually very good to get the children pictures don't first along with other family then they focus on the bride and groom. You will need to make sure they don't dart out in front of the camera.

Weddings are fun for everyone and you will feel the atmosphere when you get there. Just make decisions as you go and use common sense. When you see the 5 year old acting a fool and clinging to mom while she is trying to talk to the bride go up and distract her.

But for certain. If any other parents want your help. Make them pay you cash up front. If they don't have it tell them kindly that you are unable to help and maybe ther is a stupid teenager some where who would be willing to work for free.

AdultsOnly said...

Again, I have no regrets about how I chose to have my small and simple wedding 22 years ago, It is a special day for the couple getting married and we actually look back at photos on our anniversary. Very doubtful that anyone else sets such store by OUR wedding or even thinks about it at all - why should they -I hope they have their own memories to cherish. If that includes a wedding/reception full of kids, good, I would never dream of criticizing it to them (but would grumble about it to my husband.)

Either kind of wedding can be great, but having a sitter there to watch any young children, either in the wedding party, children of the wedding party and so forth is a welcome addition, even at a country hoe-down. I may be in the minority, but the sight of someone's second cousin's two- year-old decked out in a horrendous frilly frock and stumbling down the aisle with a forced grimace, and a basket of wilted rose petals, which she then dumps at the alter does NOTHING to add to the wedding as far as I can see. I remember several frieds who were hesitant to announce their engagement because the Moms who seemed to live for seeing their kids in this role would descend en masse, demanding a place in the spotlight for their kid.

Sunny said...

I just nannied for a 3 year old and an 8 year old at a wedding. They were both flower girls. My duties were to get them to the church early for pictures and keep them happy and clean until the ceremony. Their parents were at the ceremony and took over parenting (thank goodness) during. I asked the bride what she expected out of the children during the ceremony and she said that kids will be kids, that made things a lot easier because, I believe, it is unfair asking (and enforcing) a 3 y/o to stand up front for 20+ minutes.

The other 3 y/o in the ceremony, (who was not my charge and her mother was in the bridal party) didn't last up front or more than 18 seconds. Her grandma was waiting in a section near the front. Her grandmother had coloring books and sticker books to keep her occupied for the remainder of the ceremony.

During the reception, it was my job to follow the 3 year old around and keep her entertained. The mother also requested I take a bunch of pics (throughout the whole day). We explored the country club, danced like crazy, looked at the cake 15 times, made silly faces at the photo booth, danced some more, socialized with the bridal party. She didn't sit down at the table for more than 5 minutes at a time, needless to say, my Mahi Mahi remained untouched and I was starving by the time we left.

Now they have a ton of adorable pictures of the girls dancing and hugging the bride. The girls had a bunch of fun and danced the night away. I was exhausted by the end of the night, but it is always (usually) fun to do some out-of-the-ordinary nannying!

My advise to you is to get clarification on what the parents and the bridal couple expect and go from there. Pack a bag with snacks, coloring books, sticker books, and trinkets. Try to stop a big problem, like a tantrum, before it starts-sometimes its okay to let the normal rules slide in unusual situations.

I wouldn't ask for payment up front, but I would talk to them about pay (when talking about expectations). I wouldn't worry too much about ending up with extra kids unless the parents mention it-I had the other 3 y/o for 10 minutes and when she was having a hard time listening, I brought her back to her grandma. Good luck and have fun!

Blythe said...

Something that can be quietly played on the floor/table would be nice. The first thing that springs to mind are some stacking gnomes/trolls my family had when I was a kid, and that I brought on a trip with the kids I nanny for. At ages 7 and 4, both kids LOVED playing with these, while waiting for dinner, playing inside on a rainy day, etc. I don't know where you can buy these anymore (they originally came from Hearthsong), but this is what they looked like:

I tell you, they are worth their weight in gold!

Village said...

I forgot to mention. I went to an adults only wedding years ago, and there was a hotel room with nanny set up for the children who arrived anyway. Since I had been in the business and was curious, I asked the nanny what she was being paid. She told me a $300 flat fee. The wedding started at 5, and ended 11-12. So for six hours, she was making $50 an hour. And again, this was in the '90s.

calcuLATER said...

If you are going to hire a babysitter to entertain the children at a wedding and keep them out of sight, then why bother getting the kids all dressed up and drag them to a wedding? why not just hire someone to stay home with them while the parents attend the wedding?

Especially if one of the children is actually in the wedding. I would think that if you are close enough to a certain child/child's parents to include the kid in the wedding party, than there would also be a ton of other family/family friends at the wedding who the kid could mingle with during the reception.

I remember when i was about 6, me and my younger brother and cousin were all in my uncle's wedding. During the reception we all just bounced around and mingled. Sometimes we would play games together, but then we would also spend brief periods of time with the various members of our family. You know, dance with our dads for awhile, pick out dessert with our aunts, cuddle our grandma for a little bit, go on an exploration adventure of the reception hall with our uncles, etc...

I don't think it really put a damper on any of the adult's time at the wedding to hang out with their children/grandchildren/nieces and nephew for 20-30 minutes during a long party, in fact, i think they enjoyed it.

I guess what I mean to say is, let the kids enjoy the reception! weddings are fun, especially when the children in question are related to the bride or groom. If you don't want the child to be around during the reception, then why drag them to a wedding in the first place? Let the kids stay home in their comfy play clothes and go to the park with a babysitter, or watch a disney movie or do arts and crafts. Don't shut them in an extra room in some sort of fancy venue with someone they have never met before, while they sit around in uncomfortable dressy clothing that they can't really play in for fear of getting messy. Especially while their parents and all of the adults they love are enjoying themselves nearby!

christine said...

My daughters were in both of my sisters weddings. The first one, at ages six and four, was out of state and we also had a five month old in tow... we brought a sitter with us who was in charge of the kids at the reception. Obviously, we helped her keep them amused through dinner and then she drove them to my sisters home as soon as they ate. It was a night wedding and the kids had no business being there. The second wedding was local and the two girls were in the wedding. Again, a night affair, and it was in the middle of a snowstorm. We hired a sitter to stay at our house for my son and all of my cousins kids (they were from out of state... in fact, I think we had two sitters) and the plan was to bring the girls home after dinner but the weather was too bad to transport them and they stayed at the reception under our supervision. I don't remember them being a problem but we have pictures of them sleeping on make shift 'chair beds' because they were exhausted.

Pay? I remember I told each of my cousins they were to pay the sitter as though she was their sitter only. So, no group rate... I didn't let them cheap out on her. She was my regular gal and I wanted it to be lucrative for her.

N is for Nanny said...

I would ask the family if there is a dress code. It not only gives you the answer you need, but also shows respect. I once worked at a wedding for my nanny family, and their temple (they were Jewish) had very specific modesty standards that I would have totally botched - while still looking professional and respectable! - if they had not told me.

I would also ask if there will be other children there, and if so, if you have any responsibilities toward them. (My vote would be no, or at least not until the reception.) If you are expected to take on additional children, I'd suggest you tell them the maximum number of kids you are comfortable with and then ask for compensation. For example, "I'm fine with watching cousins during the reception as well, so long as I do not have more than six children by myself. Can we bump my rate up to $2x for those hours?" The family very well might offer to pay you more before you have to ask. You could also phrase it as "How do you want me to handle family members who ask me to take their children as well? Do you want me to focus just on yours or is this more of a daycare situation?"

I agree that new toys and non-messy treats are key for entertaining 3yo. However I would not spend more than a couple of dollars (if anything!) of your own money to make $10/hr. You could very easily end up spending everything you will make during the ceremony to entertain 3yo during it. A better way might be to say to the mom, "I've been brainstorming quiet things to keep 3yo occupied during the ceremony and was thinking a couple of small/quiet/tidy distractions would be helpful. Do you have anything stashed away or would you like me to pick some things up?"

Good luck! I hope you get to enjoy a piece of cake.