Everybody seems to have an opinion on this one. Pretty much everybody seems to think their personal logic on the subject is – or at least ought to be – universal. Way too many people find the opposing view not only incorrect, but offensive as well.
What’s the question? Children as wedding guests.
I’ve wandered around more bridal sites, bridal blogs, and bridal message boards in the last two months than I had in the rest of my life put together, and this is one of the nearly universal sore spots that keeps coming up.
On the one hand, there are those who insist that a wedding is no place for a child and so to allow them to attend will make a mockery of the occasion and all the bride’s hard work will be destroyed by an unruly child. On the other stand those who insist that weddings are about families and families are about children so any marriage that fails to include little Egbert at the wedding is doomed from the outset. I wish I could say this was an exagerration.
Me? I stand squarely in the middle.
I love kids. I love having kids around me. I wouldn’t have missed having the smaller guests at my wedding for anything. One of the best shots in my wedding album is of a group of kids playing ring around a rosie, and clearly having a grand time. An eleven-year-old boy caught my garter with an Air Jordan move that still makes me laugh to this day. I also have fond memories of attending many weddings as a child.
On the other hand, there were weddings where my parents were invited without me, and somehow I survived them leaving me with a sitter for a few hours. As an adult, I’ve been to child-free weddings and had a great time.
Miss Manners, Emily Post, and their ilk all agree that it’s perfectly polite to choose either path concerning children. As far as I’m concerned, that more or less ends the argument: choose the version you (meaning the bridal couple) prefer, and stick to it.
Just keep a couple things in mind when making your choice and carrying it out:
1: Keep it consistant. If you choose to go child-free for the wedding, don’t invite any children at all. It’s probably best not to have children in your wedding party in this case, either. Two or three children can entertain each other, while one bored preschooler will take up a lot of someone’s attention. Also, if you invite people telling them little Agatha-Mae isn’t welcome because no children are allowed, and the first thing Agatha-Mae’s parents see is someone else’s child at the reception, this could lead to hurt feelings.
1b: If you invite everyone else’s kids, you have to invite the one tiny hellion whose parents are also invited. See above for the reason.
2: Don’t list who isn’t invited on the invitation. Not inviting children is not a breech of manners, but writing ‘no children’ on the invitation is. The uninvited are not indicated on that envelope, either. Make it out to who is invited. If anyone tries to RSVP for their children who weren’t invited, call the culprits and gently – but firmly – let them know there’s been a misunderstanding, and while you’d love to see little Nimrod some other time, he simply cannot be accomodated at the wedding.
3: If you choose to invite children, make sure you write every child’s name on the envelope rather than ‘and family.’ Also, it’s a nice touch to send older children individual invitations under their own names. And once they turn eighteen, it’s mandatory. Remember, you’re inviting individual people who share an address. Treat them as individuals.
4: If you plan to invite children, make the event child-friendly. Make sure there’s something for them to do that will keep everyone contented. Kids often love the dance floor, but it doesn’t hurt to have a corner set up with a few toys or some soft cushions for little ones to crash on. And while some kids are happy to eat the same thing Mom and Dad eat, others are pickier. Many caterers will do less expensive kids’ meals. Explore the option.
5: Whichever decision you make, don’t apologize for it. Don’t be defensive with those who try to tell you you’ve made the wrong decision. Just smile and thank them for their input, and do precisely what you’d already decided to do.