How To Hire a Wedding Babysitter

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Special Feature by Sittercity.com
Venue? Check. Wedding cake? Check. A reliable, experienced babysitter? Oh, right.

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With the chaos of wedding planning and the speed with which everything seems to move once that date is set, it’s easy to rush overlook hiring a sitter to provide wedding day child care. Because wedding planning is hectic enough, here is a complete guide to help you hire a great babysitter for your wedding reception from the child care experts at Sittercity.com.

When to start searching
While you may book your venue a year or two in advance, wedding sitters are a completely different story. They tend not to plan very far in advance, so a sitting job that's more than six months away won't be on their radar. Instead, the best time to find a sitter is at or around the three-month mark. That way, you'll still have plenty of time to interview sitters and they'll be more open to getting something down on their calendars.

What to include in the job posting
In your job posting, make sure sitters have all of the information they'll need, such as:

  • •The date (including the year!), and start and end times of the event
  • •Number of children expected to attend and their ages (Sittercity recommends booking one sitter for every three children.)
  • •Any special needs or allergies that the children have
  • •What you'll be providing for sitters in terms of food
  • •What you'll be providing in terms of games/entertainment for the kids
  • •Your contact information (e-mail and phone number)

Sample job posting:
I'm looking for a sitter to care for three children (between the ages of 3 and 5) at my wedding reception on August 22, 2009. You'll show up at the downtown Hilton at 6 p.m., half an hour before the reception starts, so we can show you the room we've set aside for child care and the parents can meet you. We'll provide you with a few DVDs, coloring books and snacks for the kids, as well as a meal for yourself. We're expecting the reception to end no later than midnight. If you're interested, please contact Melissa at 312-555-9671 or email amanda@emailaddress.com.

What and how to pay
Many sitters will have their own event rate, but if they toss it back to you to determine what's fair, you actually have two options. You can pay an hourly event rate - typically between $25-40/hour with an extra $3/hour for overtime - or you can pay one flat rate for the evening, regardless of whether the reception runs late. Which you choose has a lot to do with the possibility of your event running late. Let’s take a look at how both of those work:

Imagine that you have planned your reception to start at 6 p.m. and end at 11 p.m.

If the event ends on time, at 11p.m.:
• Hourly rate @ $30/hour: $150
versus
• Flat rate: $175

If the event runs late and ends at 12:30 a.m.:
• Hourly rate @ $30/hour: $150
• Overtime rate of $33/hour: $45
• TOTAL: $195
versus
• Flat rate: $175

So if you know for a fact that your venue will not allow the possibility of the wedding running overtime, the hourly rate is best for you. If you're planning on a late-night party that will likely extend past the scheduled time, a flat rate would be better.

Prepare the parents
To help parents feel comfortable leaving their children with a caregiver that they haven't personally selected, it's a good idea to give them some extra information about sitter.

For sitters with online profiles, for example, you can print out the profile (complete with clean background check, reviews from other parents, photos and more) and mail it before the wedding to the guests who will be bringing children.

If you have a wedding website, you can link to the sitters' profiles directly so parents can browse the profile elements themselves. In addition, you can put together a wedding day binder that contains sitter information as well.

Keep in contact
As you get new information that will affect the sitter's job – another child added to the mix, a slight time adjustment, etc. – contact the sitter to let her know. Regardless of any changes, send your sitter a follow-up email two weeks before the wedding to confirm everything and give her a call the week of the wedding to run through any last-minute details or questions she may have.