Should little ones be invited to your big day? Real brides (and grooms) share their opinions and tips on children and weddings.
Here at RegistryFinder.com, we’re kicking off a new series called, “Ask a Real Bride.” While tradition and etiquette experts are wonderful guides, we believe it’s helpful to hear from real brides on how they handled the all-too-real drama and dilemmas around saying “I do.”
Our first topic: Kids. Should little ones be invited to the big day? Is it ok to exclude them? How should couples communicate their wishes without offending others?
When I began asking the brides in my life for their opinions, I was overwhelmed with responses and strong feelings surrounding the issue of kids and weddings. I hope their reasoning and advice will help you decide what’s best for your wedding. Read on for the brides’ (and a few grooms’), opinions and tips!
The Case for Kids
“I said yes because there were so many special kids and families I wanted there and they make it so fun! Plus kids love to dance, so they help get things going on the dance floor!” –Katy G.
“The kids who came to our wedding made it super fun. Watching them hit the dance floor was great! We didn’t have a crazy reception so it was appropriate for them. Seems to be the weddings where they are expecting to party hard that the “no kids please” clause gets included.” —Hannah C.
“What even is a wedding without kids?! We had so many little ones at our wedding and I would do it all again! Besides the gift of marriage children are one of the greatest ways God shows us His love! And oh the joy they bring!!! That’s what we wanted for our big day.—Kristina T.
“The more the merrier as long as the parents parent. Great time to teach kids how to behave and dress for a special occasion.”—Margaret M.
“It’s selfish not to invite them. Kids are part of society and should be treated as such and parents shouldn’t be stigmatized especially at such a momentous event!”—Kate C.
“We had a lot of out of town guests with families. We invited our family (including kids), and a couple close family friends that are like family. We did our best to accommodate them. We had a bounce house, and a special goody bag with activities for the kids to do. We included an activity book, crayons and a disposable camera. It was so fun to have all of the kids dancing the night away with us. I think it really depends on the type of wedding you want and what you can afford.” –Katie B.
The Bottom Line:
- If you envision a relaxed, family-friendly wedding, without a ton of speeches or heavy partying, bring on the kids!
- Unless you have a hefty budget to work with, a wedding with kids will probably become a more of a casual affair.
- Be sure to provide fun activities to keep the kids occupied (and give the parents a chance to enjoy the event!)
“Not a bride and not married yet, however, I am planning a wedding right now, and I can tell you that my bride (and I) decided not to invite any children. We didn’t want any crying babies or distractions during the ceremony and have been to far too many receptions where the kids take over and make a scene on the dance floor. While we’re sad that we won’t get to have a flower girl/ring bearer, it also takes away the difficult task of having to pick which of our friends’ or family members’ kids get those honors. It’s been a bit of a struggle sticking to that plan because we are both very close to our families, but ultimately we feel it’s what’s best for the wedding vision we have in mind. “–Oscar F.
“The only kids at our wedding were the ring bearers and flower girl, but this was simply because of numbers. We have so many children in our lives (about 30 kids of family and friends). I would have loved to invite each one, but we had a limited amount of space at the venue. Picking and choosing which children would be able to come wasn’t going to work for us, so we just had to say no to kids. We had a ton of out of town guests, so having a babysitter available is a must! Each situation is different; you just have to do what is best for your big day!” –Anna R.
“I think if it is a destination wedding and children are not included that there should be some type of childcare option available for the parents to use.” —Caroline H.
“We went to a wedding a year before ours where all kids were invited and the strollers took up the ballroom! We decided at that wedding we would not be doing that. And not to mention it’s such a fun all-inclusive date night out! We had one couple very upset and so they RSVP’d no – but really – those who really love you will respect your wishes!” —Missy M.
The Bottom Line:
- If you’re limited on space or budget, cutting the kids is one way to trim the guest list.
- Keep it fair: if you can’t invite everyone’s children, it’s best not to invite anyone’s (the exception is your flower girl and ring bearer).
- If you’re planning a kid-free destination wedding, or have many out-of-town guests, you should provide childcare. Your friends ought to have the option to travel with their children, but still comply with your request for a kid-free wedding.
- Let your invitations break the news: you don’t have to issue a “No Children Allowed” decree—a carefully worded invitation will indicate which members of the household are invited. Envelopes should be addressed to “Mr. and Mrs. _______.”
- Be prepared for backlash: chances are, some guests will complain. If possible, have one of your parents or another family member handle it!
Best of Both Worlds
“We offered childcare at the church for the ceremony in the nursery. We had a nice sign framed at the registration book that let people know it was available. No childcare for the reception, although it would be a nice gesture to the parents! I know kids love the dancing and cake so we were fine with them being there. We just didn’t want a baby crying during the ceremony if possible.” —Blaire R.
“Groom here: we had kids in our wedding and invited kids to our ceremony (we both love kids and my wife was a nanny to our flower girl and ring bearer) but for the reception it was adults only. And I totally get if couples invite kids to the reception as well. It truly all depends on what you want as a couple and what atmosphere you would like for your big day.”—Kyle A.
“We’re getting married in 12 days! It was really important to me and my groom that the kids in our family were invited. But that’s us! We love kids, so having a chance to dance with them was important to us. We made sure our band knew kids were invited so there would be no offensive music, too. But, we also wanted to make sure that parents could have a night out if they wanted. So babysitters will be available past 9 p.m. for anyone that would like a kid-free late evening. Some people are using a sitter, some people aren’t.” —Victoria P.
The Bottom Line:
- For the best of both worlds, bring childcare to the wedding.
- Provide onsite babysitting during the ceremony to minimize distractions.
- Another option: invite children to witness your vows, but stay with an onsite babysitter during the reception.
A Professional’s Perspective
“What about “Ask a Real Photographer?” They’re fun to photograph at a wedding, but I would limit it to kids of brothers and sisters of the couple, only. A lot of couples do this and also hire a babysitter so that their siblings can enjoy themselves! Best of both worlds!” –Lauren, Lauren Louise Photography
Expectations are Everything!
“I think you can’t make a wrong choice on this as long as you’re realistic about what each choice means.
We chose to involve children in the ceremony as well as the reception. One child cried during the ceremony, and my mom was worried I’d be upset. I wasn’t! I knew if I involved children, this was a very real possibility, and Michael and I decided we were ok with taking that risk. If this will really upset you, it’s fine to have an adult only affair!
If you want to have a childless wedding, that’s completely reasonable! It’s your and your partner’s day! However, it is unreasonable to be angry or upset with family who decide not to come. It’s expensive and sometimes difficult to find childcare. Consider also providing a childcare option if you want, though not all parents will feel comfortable leaving their child with an unknown babysitter.” –Kathleen H.
Thanks to our Real Brides (and Grooms!)
I hope that these perspectives give you confidence, no matter how you choose to handle little ones on your big day!
Have a question for our real brides? Let us know what topic you’d like us to tackle next!
And for more etiquette inquiries, be sure to check out our recent Ask Cheryl posts!
-Written by Christina Peterson, who loved every minute of being a bride!