If there is one wedding topic that is bound to stir up strong feelings, it is the question of whether or not it is necessary to invite children to a wedding. On one side of the debate are those who feel that it is entirely up to them which people they want to have at their wedding, and on the other side are those who think that having an adults only wedding puts an unfair burden on families. This is a look at both sides of the question, as well as advice on how to handle this sticky subject without creating any hard feelings among your family and friends.
A wedding invitation is intended only for the people to whom it is addressed. This means that an invitation which is addressed only to parents is not automatically extended to their children. There can be plenty of reasons for having an adults only wedding. Perhaps the bride and groom simply cannot afford to feed a huge number of people and their caterer does not offer a discounted menu for the kids.
Maybe they want to have a very formal affair, and a bunch of little ones hopped up on cake running around the reception does not fit with the bride’s vision of her perfect wedding. Or it could be that the bride thinks her stately march down the aisle in her long gown and elegant bridal jewelry will be marred by a crying baby. Whatever the specific reason, plenty of couples would prefer to have a child-free wedding celebration.
The reality is, however, that many of your potential wedding guests may already have children, and if they cannot bring them, they may not be able to attend your wedding. This should not be taken as an insult (“If they really cared about us, they would hire a babysitter and be there!”). It could be that your guests cannot afford to hire a sitter on top of all of the other expenses involved in attending your wedding, particularly if they will have to travel.
Can you imagine what it would cost to hire a sitter for an entire weekend? Or maybe they just don’t have anyone with whom they are comfortable leaving their kids for an extended period of time. While guests should not judge the engaged couple who opts to have an adults-only wedding, nor should the bride and groom get mad if their guests with children cannot come.
So where does this leave you? With compromise and the need to establish clear guidelines. First and foremost, if the bride and groom decide to have a no children policy, it needs to apply to all children. If you decide to exclude most kids, but go on to invite your favorites, parents will have every right to be highly offended. It has to be all or nothing, with no exceptions. Set an age cut off, like sixteen, and stick with it. Your guests may not love it, but at least they cannot say you are not being fair.
On the other hand, it might be that having a few children at your wedding would not really be the disaster you envision. Most parents will be considerate enough to whisk the crying baby outside if he starts to wail during the vow exchange.
They will also (hopefully!) keep an eye on their kids during the reception to make sure that they don’t tip over the wedding cake stand. Really, it is the parents of the kids who will have to deal with having them there, far more than the bride and groom. And your little niece will probably love seeing you dressed up like a princess in your flowing bridal gown and sparkly bridal jewelry!
Couples who are willing to compromise may be able to have their cake and eat it too. For instance, you could set up a kids table with a babysitter at the reception, stocked with plenty of activities to keep the little ones occupied and out of trouble.
When the wedding is in a hotel, sometimes the bride and groom even hire a babysitter and a hotel room where guests can drop off their kids during the reception. While it will add to the cost of the wedding, it will keep the peace among your family and also enable you to have the sophisticated wedding you desire.