Addendum: This post was written after an especially taxing day with my much-adored baby girl. I initially included the following disclaimer, but my husband subsequently proofread the article and his obvious surprise convinced me to write a second part to the post: I realised that although in essence my sentiments ring true, my tough day had culminated in an uncharacteristically harsh and biased piece. So for balance, you may wish to also read Should You Invite Children to Your Wedding? Part Two – The Other Side of the Story.
Disclaimer: If you are choosing to read this post, then I am presuming your interest illustrates that we share similar views. If I have this wrong, then I apologise in advance for any offence inadvertently caused.
Many couples are choosing to tie the knot that little bit later in life, and thus children are often a part of the equation. Perhaps you are lucky enough that this is not at all a dilemma for you, in that you have very strong feelings one way or the other. Maybe you are as yet undecided. Or if you are less fortunate, it may be that you do indeed have strong feelings, but that protocol/tradition/domineering in-laws-to-be have feelings of (apparently) greater strength.
For those in the latter category, here are seven issues to consider before making your final decision:
1. Do You Have Children?
The obvious place to start when considering this matter is whether a ban would affect you directly. The issue may become contentious if you have children of – or you love as – your own and want to include them in your special day (you’re not a monster: it’s only other people’s kids you don’t want around, right?).
In this scenario, you may wish to consider banning children other than your own/family/those not included in the wedding party. Whilst potentially unpopular, all of these are acceptable restrictions. Though perhaps unconventional, you can get away with this providing you avoid singling out that one particular devil-child in your circle of friends, and instead make it a blanket veto.
2. Noise and/or Disruption
Picture the scene: finally, finally your beautiful, perfect day has arrived. You are wearing The Dress and, having worked damn hard for the last five months, you’re looking better than on any previous day of your life, if you say so yourself. Your hair and make-up are so immaculate you barely recognise your reflection. You made the most poised and flawless entrance to your ceremony, exactly as you had planned, and are now standing beside your betrothed demurely whispering your vows to one another. And this is the moment some snotty child decides to throw a tantrum, effectively drowning out your moving words.
I think I’ve made my point.
If the above vision had you breaking out in a cold sweat, pause to give thought to the photos taking place immediately after the ceremony: prime boredom time for the kids. Ditto the wedding breakfast, but at least at this point you can balm your frayed nerves with a glass of wine. (Yes, there is likely champagne floating around during your photos, however you will be tied up with the photographer. Not literally one would hope – that would be grounds for divorce.)
During the wedding breakfast there will be waiters squeezing between tables with plates of hot food and bottles of wine. Even if wild children tearing around do not faze you, you can be sure they will exasperate the staff. (What I imagine may well faze you is grubby fingers taking a chunk out of your wedding cake – before it has even been cut. I’ve attended a wedding where this actually happened before my very eyes. The bride handled it well, but then in fairness she hadn’t spent upwards of five hundred pounds on a pièce de résistance.)
The easiest way to negate the inevitable concern of boredom is to provide entertainment for the little ones. Coming up with ideas that will not only occupy their attention for hours on end, but also be appropriate for a variety of age groups – including your friends – could be described as a form of entertainment in itself…
Not only do you have the cost of the extra headcount, you also need to budget for said entertainment. If you’re supplying it for the enjoyment of your own children, you may be quite content to find the funds to cover the cost. However, with all of the other obligatory expenses, you may resent providing costly entertainment for the benefit of, essentially, strangers – strangers who may have already ruined your perfect ceremony. #justsaying
5. Will Vetoing Kids Mean Your Adult Guests Are Unable to Attend?
Do you and/or your fiancé have friends who will be unable or unwilling to arrange a sitter for your wedding? Or, come to that, family members who may come under that umbrella? If this would be more upsetting for you than having their annoying brats in attendance, it’s worth considering extending those invites.
6. Will You Offend People?
Should you decide against including the little darlings in your invitations, there will in all likelihood be one or two invitees whose noses you put out of joint. Many parents, like myself, do not hide the fact that they are not big fans of other people’s children. However, in every (healthy) case, no matter how unpleasant their offspring to others, they are perfect in the eyes of their adoring parents. Ergo, prepare to offend. (But bear in mind that you’re not intending to insult, they are choosing to take offence – a subtle but relevant difference which may help to salve your conscience. You’re welcome.)
7. Do You Care?
And this is the main point. Does the prospect of injuring the delicate sensibilities of one or two negate the dread of entertaining their brood? Having taken all of the above into consideration, do you still harbour doubts about having grubby-fingered, snotty-nosed, wailing little cherubs at the most lavish and important event of your life? I think it’s clear which side of the fence I sit on in this situation. However, I absolutely accept that for some, your wedding day would not be complete without children present.
Ultimately, what it comes down to is this: for every child you know and love, you will of course want nothing more than for them to share your day. And the fact that you would forgive them anything, and even find their interruption of your ceremony adorable, just clarifies this truth. It is those that you do not know and love that hold the potential of ruining your wedding.
So, let’s assume you have weighed things up and made a reasonably informed decision to bar kids that have not been given a starring role in your day. How do you tell people? A small piece of advice: leaving their names off the invitation, in some circumstances, will be too implicit. A very nice way of making clear your intentions whilst also contriving a compromise is to invite the parents to the day, and explicitly invite the children to the reception only.
As mentioned at the beginning of the article, there is a second part to this post: Should You Invite Children to Your Wedding? Part Two – The Other Side of the Story.