Whether or not to have children at your wedding is something that you may need to discuss with your fiancé. For some couples, it’s not even a question: They can’t imagine having a wedding without all of their nieces, nephews and little cousins dancing the night away! And of course, many brides and grooms come to their marriage with little ones already in tow. For other couples, however, it’s not so clear cut: They might not have siblings with young children, and the thought of their friends’ kids running around might be the complete opposite of what they envision for their wedding. Or perhaps the venue is small, or the wedding will be very formal. It’s a personal decision that the two of you will have to make. Whichever way you would like to go, there are a few considerations that you should keep in mind:
If you are choosing not to have children at you’re wedding…
You need to make your intentions for a childfree wedding clear from the beginning. First, advises Martha Stewart, address your wedding invitations to the parents only. On the small card inside the invitation, put only “Mr. John Smith and Mrs. Mary Smith,” instead of leaving it to chance that they might assume that their invitation is for the entire family. You should also personally call each invitee who has children in order to make it clear that their kids aren’t invited. Simply work into the conversation that you are having a child-free wedding. Of course, this works best when you are having your wedding in a place that is local to most of the families; it’s not really fair to not invite children to a destination wedding, where the parents won’t have a sitter!
If you are choosing to invite only some children….
This can be a dicey situation. If you can make the cut-off of “immediate family only,” and limit the children invited to those belonging to your siblings and other close family members, then that is best. If, however, you allow your two best friends to bring their kids but no one else, you’re looking at the potential for hurt feelings. You could also only invite the children in your wedding party to the reception. Ring bearers and flower girls can be between the ages of 3 and 7, and girls ages 8-17 can be considered junior bridesmaids. Boys older than 7 could be given the task of handing out programs or helping your ushers. Either way, this is a situation that could cause hurt feelings, so proceed with caution.
If you are choosing to include any and all children…
This is the easiest for your guests, but not always for you! First, assign tasks to as many kids as possible to help them stay busy. It might help to have one of your family members point out where the “cry room” is if you are getting married in a church, so that those with noisy babies and toddlers will (hopefully) take the hint and make an exit if their children become too loud. Have your wedding DJ play some kid-friendly tunes to get the little ones dancing during the reception. Talking to your caterer about having kids’ meals for the under-12 set can not only save you money, but also ensure that the kids will actually eat something. You could set up a “kid table” at the wedding, or you could seat children with their parents. You could even hire a babysitter or two to supervise kids in a special “children’s room,” depending on the venue. Stock the table or room with coloring books, puzzles and other child-friendly items to help keep little ones entertained during the first dances and other “boring” parts of your wedding, where they’re more likely to be disruptive.
Children can be a joy or a hindrance on your wedding day, and it’s up to you to decide how you would like to handle the situation! Many brides love having little ones at their weddings, but others simply don’t. Do not let anyone make you feel guilty for your decision to have or not have kids at your wedding; remember, this is your special day!