Wedding Etiquette:Children at WeddingsJules Hirst
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.