Children or no children that’s the question! Your decision not to invite them should you choose not to can create untold issues with family and guests divided in their opinions.  We’ve all been at weddings where a child has cried throughout a ceremony and or reception which can put a bit of a spoiler on your day. Whilst some guests may welcome an opportunity for a child free day, others would prefer to celebrate your wedding day with their children particularly if they are family. It’s never going to be a win, win scenario.

Whatever you decide, it’s how you handle it that makes a difference.

Etiquette professional Alana Lenart from Etiquette for Success give her views on how to handle this frequently discussed wedding dilemma.

Yes or No?

Whether to invite children or not to your wedding is a tough decision. When I’m asked by couples if they have to invite children I tell them no, you don’t have to. What you do need to do is give the decision some thought and factor in who is going to be affected by it.

So I breakdown the children at weddings situation into three categories. Absolutely no children, children in the bridal party are invited and children welcome, it’s a family affair!

No Children…..

If you and your partner don’t want children at your wedding then that’s ok. Begin by addressing the invitations to the adults only and be prepared that guests may then subsequently ask you if they can bring their children.

When this happens, make sure that you and your partner are on the same page with your answer and stick to it. If members of your bridal party have children, communicate that it is a child free wedding prior to asking them to be in your bridal party. This gives them notice to arrange for someone to look after them and for them to accept this invitation. Understand though that they may be disappointed so this situation requires thoughtful discretion. I do know of bridesmaids that have pulled out of their duties because their children weren’t invited.

Just The Bridal Party

If you decide that children in the bridal party are invited then this is reasonable and by no means hypocritical. My husband and I had our nieces as flower girls and their baby brother attended with his parents but no other children were invited. Handle it like the absolutely no children situation. If you are asked on the day why some children are allowed, say that it is because they are a part of the bridal party.

Children Welcome

Children welcome, it’s a family affair!- if you’re happy to have children at your wedding then that’s great but try and ensure that their needs are catered for. Ask your caterer to have a children’s menu and have a range of drinks for them being mindful that only having sugary soft drink may lead to disaster!

Maybe also organise for the children’s meals to be served first. The majority of younger children eat quite early so expecting them to wait until the main course is served may create some cranky kids behaviour.

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Above: Paper Carousel

Another tip is to arrange for them to be seated at a kids table although you’ll need to give the table decorations some thought. Absolutely no candles for obvious reasons.

If a kids table isn’t possible ask a friend or family member to set up a kids zone prior to the reception starting. Some activities to consider are board games for older kids, colouring books and pencils (avoid permanent markers!), maybe even an iPad with age appropriate programs or films. You may even want to hire a babysitter for a few hours to keep them entertained while the dinner is being served and speeches are happening.

One other thing to remember is that if you are inviting children don’t expect that they will sit quietly for hours on end no matter how much entertainment is available. They are kids afterall and they will get excited about being apart of your special day.

What I wouldn’t recommend doing is inviting some children and not others. This will more than likely lead to problems on the day and you don’t want to deal with that. Some guests may ask you directly if they can bring their children and the best way to handle this is quickly and politely, in-person or by phone. For example, “Dave I understand that you would like to bring the kids however we are only inviting adults. We are lookingforward to celebrating with you and Sally on the day.”  If your numbers are genuinely limited then by all means say that. Children may only be little but they add to your overall number.

If you have a specific etiquette question or need help with a wedding planning dilemma please get in touch. You can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

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