Wedding Etiquette:Children at Weddings

Children at Weddings_jules Hirst

photo by David Murray

Kids and wed­dings.  Do you feel kids should be invited to wed­dings?  If you are a par­ent and your child is not invited do you attend the wed­ding?  Here is a great arti­cle from BlogHer  that dis­cuss chil­dren at wed­dings.  Enjoy!

Wed­ding sea­son is offi­cially upon us, and you know what that means. Drunk uncles try­ing to dance with your friends, the bar­tender say­ing clever things like “you again?” when you order another top-shelf cosmo, doing the Y.M.C.A. against your will and bet­ter judg­ment, wait­ing for grand­par­ents to go to bed so the DJ can play “On a Boat”. Sounds like a child-friendly scene, right?

[insert record scratch]

This sub­ject is a bit of a sticky wicket. Because although today’s wed­dings have mostly evolved (devolved?) into a vari­a­tion of the above scene, they started out much dif­fer­ently. Wed­dings used to be thought of sim­ply as a cel­e­bra­tion of two fam­i­lies com­ing together, and last I checked, there’s some­times kids in those. Tra­di­tional cer­e­monies include them in impor­tant roles like car­ry­ing an empty ring pil­low to the groom (every­one knows that los­ing the actual rings is the best man’s job) and dump­ing a full bas­ket of rose petals at the top of the aisle, fail­ing to scat­ter a sin­gle one along the way.

So how did this notion of specif­i­cally dis-inviting chil­dren to wed­dings become such a hot topic?

Some­where along the way, “wed­ding” became code for “most expen­sive and over­planned event of your life.” Ter­ri­fy­ing shows like Bridezil­las and Say Yes to the Dress have fed the mania machine. After watch­ing a few episodes, the thought creeps in that per­haps you too should be vig­i­lant about the font and paper­stock weight of your place­cards. That you too should plan to start your cer­e­mony at exactly 5:17, posi­tion the pho­tog­ra­pher at a 43 degree angle to catch the light just right, pay hun­dreds of dol­lars so your spray­paint foun­da­tion glows but doesn’t shine in the sun­set. And if some tod­dler should start yap­ping about Elmo at the top of his lungs, ruin­ing your per­fect moment? Well, it’s easy to see how a com­plete psy­cho­log­i­cal break might be on the way.

Does this mean all wed­dings should be child­free? Or maybe just that the bride-and-groomzillas should calm down? Each couple’s sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent, but one thing’s for sure – every­one should be aware of a lit­tle child-related wed­ding eti­quette.

Here’s some for every­one involved:

Bride and groom, no one under­stands the value of an adults-only party bet­ter than me.

But if those clos­est to you have kids, is it really that big of a deal to you that your wed­ding be child­free? Keep in mind that peo­ple are uber-sensitive about per­ceived slights to their off­spring, and fam­ily rifts have started and car­ried on for decades for far more triv­ial offenses. You’ve got enough to worry about with­out mak­ing addi­tional prob­lems for your­self. Seri­ously. You’re about to offi­cially enter into some­one else’s fam­ily – if the kids in ques­tion are on that side of the fam­ily, think long and hard about whether this is how you want to make your entrance.

All that being said, when you’ve got twenty-five grand or more hang­ing on the biggest day of your life (for some peo­ple), it’s your pre­rog­a­tive. If it’s not going to cause drama, or you just don’t care enough, knock your socks off. It’s your damn day, as they say. You (or your par­ents) are the ones foot­ing the bill, you should have con­trol over who’s there. A nice “Adult Recep­tion” on the invites should do the trick. If some­one doesn’t like it, they need not attend.

If you’ve got the cash to do it, a nice com­pro­mise is offer­ing to hire a few babysit­ters to cor­ral the kids into a sep­a­rate room at the venue or leave them back at the hotel.

Par­ents, I’m going to implore you to use a lit­tle com­mon sense.

Are you part of the imme­di­ate fam­ily? If not, do the bride and groom love chil­dren, enough to want them there? Are your kids well-behaved, would you want them at your own wed­ding (no seri­ously, would you?)? Do you have any babysit­ting resources you can call upon so you don’t even have to worry about this, and can just have an awe­some night or week­end livin’ it up childfree?

Look care­fully at the invi­ta­tion and wed­ding web­site – are there any clues that there shouldn’t be chil­dren there? If the invite is addressed to just you and your spouse instead of the [insert name] Fam­ily, con­sider doing some research – talk to some­one close to the bride and groom and see if you can get a feel for what’s accept­able. If you’re still in doubt and can’t leave the kids behind, ask the bride. If you’re too much of a chicken to ask, at least have the decency to note it on the reply card so she’s not scram­bling on the day-of for addi­tional seats and kids’ meals.  It also gives her a chance to call you and end your friend­ship prior to the wedding.

If you’re get­ting haughty and think­ing things like babysit­ters are expen­sive…well yes, they are. You knew that when you had kids. You also knew you’d have to make sac­ri­fices. And if the bride and groom don’t want kids at their wed­ding and you can’t afford to leave them behind, then not going to this wed­ding is going to be one of those sacrifices.

Arti­cle writ­ten by: May­be­Baby­May­beNotLiz
Photo by: David Mur­ray