Kid Week: To Invite, or Not to Invite

Welcome to Kid Week at Manolo for the Brides. All week long we’ll be discussing the who, the how, the why, and the whether of having kids at your wedding.


The eye of the beholder is a powerful thing. For instance, that photo above? Depending on who’s looking at it, it might represent adorable kids being themselves in a super cute way… or it might represent imminent disaster costing significant cleaning bills and a possible trip to the ER.

And you know what? Both parties are absolutely right.

Some people feel that a wedding without children present is a hideous affront to the institution of marriage. And there are also people who feel that allowing a single child to attend makes a mockery of an adult celebration.

And you know what? Both parties are absolutely wrong.

Your marriage is taken neither more nor less seriously depending on whether you have children in attendance. The legality and spiritual significance do not change one iota depending on whether you have a flower girl or not.

In short, it’s an issue of preference, nothing more.

So if it’s just a matter of preference, how do you decide if you’re on the proverbial fence?

A good place to start is whether there are a lot of children you socialize with, or whether there are a lot of children in your family. Do you enjoy their company? Do you dread one on one conversations with anyone under the age of twenty-five? Are there a lot of frazzled parents who can’t wait to let someone else look after the little ones? Or do your circle tend more toward those who would take the idea of being separated from their young for a few hours as a death blow to your friendship? If there’s a clear majority opinion and you’re not greatly concerned either way, well, there’s your answer.

But there are other issues to consider than whether you like the company of children, or whether there are many children in your circle.

For instance, every one of those small bodies is another guest and another plate of food and another chair and another favor… and budgets do add up awfully quickly. It may be that if you invite children, you won’t be able to afford to invite adults you care more about having with you on the day. If that’s the case, then I say don’t invite the kiddies. It’s a perfectly reasonable reason.

Then there’s timing and style. If you have set your wedding for midnight, it’s probably best not to invite small children who will be cranky at being up so far past their bedtime. Other concepts that might indicate that it’s better not to bring the kiddies include: lots of open flames or very delicate glass in the decorations, liquor-soaked cake, no games or dancing, a seventeen course tasting menu based around organ meats and cephalopods, a theme of Bacchinalian Orgy.

On the other hand, daytime weddings are great for kids. They’re alert and not overtired. Make sure there are some non-alcoholic drinks for them and keep the music and conversation reasonably clean. Have something on the menu the average kid will at least recognize as food. You’re good to go. Most children will then make their own entertainment.

Are there children in the wedding party? If so I highly recommend inviting other children to the festivities, as well. This is particularly important if you have only one child in that wedding party. If you were a four year old, would you really want to be the only person under the age of eighteen at a big party? I know I wouldn’t have!

In the longrun, whether or not you invite children is an entirely personal decision. Base it on your situation and your preferences.

Me? I wouldn’t have missed having children at my wedding for the world.

But you know what? I’ve been to several adults-only weddings, and I enjoyed them, too.

4 Responses to “Kid Week: To Invite, or Not to Invite”

  1. 7Nina June 4, 2012 at 1:57 pm #

    I also think it depends on the ceremony.For example, Greek Orthodox ceremonies are usually in the daytime,but the full ceremony can take over an hour and not a lot of small children are capable of sitting still for that long-full Catholic masses can be dull too. Also, consider the parenting styles of your friends and family-will they freak if their kids are left off the invite? Are the kids well-behaved? If they are very young, will the parents take them out if they start to fuss?

  2. Lisa June 4, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

    Most of our friends have kids, so we would have lost half our guest list if we hadn’t invited the kids. I was so worried that the kids would be bored, and all the pre-wedding hullaballoo we completely forgot to put out the special kid party favors we’d prepared (packets of crayons and pages from coloring books) — yikes! But as it turns out, the kids totally organized themselves, and with over 30 kids, everyone found someone to play with. Inviting the kiddos also gave way to this priceless picture: http://farm6.static.flickr.com/5105/5847575581_11acb93d1e_z.jpg

  3. Heather Barranco June 5, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    As a wedding cake designer, I would say keep them far far from the cake! It’s a disaster waiting to happen. As a mom of 3, I would say it is totally fun to bring the kids if they are over 3. They are the life of the party and the biggest part of a parent’s life. I love dancing with my kids at weddings.

  4. Katie June 5, 2012 at 8:12 am #

    We invited our 7 nieces and nephews (aged almost 1 to 9.5), who were all part of the bridal party (meaning they had special clothes and walked up the aisle and not much else) They behaved beautifully all night, thanks mostly I think to being well behaved in general. Our 2 year old nephew danced the whole night, and the only problem was that when their parents dished up their dessert before the buffet was officially opened, others thought that they could dig in too – we had to cut the cake, and had a birthday cake for a bridesmaid!
    We might have invited more kids if not for space/money issues, but then it might not have gone so well!