Allow kids to come to your wedding, or not. That is a sensitive topic for many grooms and brides planning the most special day of their lives. It’s your wedding and your party, you have the right to have it play out anyway you see fit – even if that playing is in a kid-free zone. Think of it as a wedding present to yourself. While many children can be quite well-behaved, it seems that at a wedding all bets are off. Often this is because the pint-sized partiers actually do have a reason to fuss, if you think about it. They are constrained in uncomfortable and fussy clothing, they are up way past their bedtimes (missing naps, too) and they are not being served the chicken nuggets and peanut butter they are accustomed to munching on. But, if you have pressure from the bride or friends and siblings who all want to bring their kids, don’t worry, there are tactful ways to say “no” and also creative alternatives to allow a few rugrats in.
Drop the hint in the invitation. If you do not want children to attend your reception, specifically indicate that on the included RSVP card. Spell it out in plain English so that your guests aren’t confused – this is no time for detail-sparing diplomacy. The RSVP card could read something like this, “Two seats are reserved in your honor” instead of the traditional “_____ guests will be attending.” Yikes, the later implies that an infinite number of people could come! Also, instead of addressing the envelope to “The Smith Family,” specifically use the Mr. and Mrs. salutations without any reference to a “family.” Write the message and addresses with one of our favorite groomsmen gifts, a fancy silver pen that adds significance to every message.
Drop the hint in person: When speaking to your friends, family and guests; reiterate the plans you and your bride have for a “fancy adult evening.” Of course, if pushed, you could say that children are welcomed at the ceremony, but the reception is adult-only. Blame it on the venue, appear apologetic! Typically, if parents are going to get a babysitter for the reception, they will hire that sitter to come early for the ceremony too. It’s just convenience.
Exceptions: Of course, there will be exceptions. Even if people have been clobbered over the head with the “kid-free” communication, they still may bring their children. Plus, some of your guests have to travel from afar, and of course will have their progeny in tow. We know you’re not going to turn them away at the door, so have a contingency plan in place. Teenagers that you’ve invited to the wedding can be paid a nominal fee to watch the youngsters in an adjoining room. A room where the rascals will be free to run around, create mayhem and eat animal crackers and raisins to their hearts’ delight. This is where the flower girl and ring bearer can hang out after they’ve finished their respective jobs, posed for photographs, and charmed everyone with their cuteness. Don’t forget to treat these two little wedding helpers with ring bearer and flower gifts as a show of your appreciation and affection. Also, prepare wedding favors for the children in the babysitting room that will keep them productively busy. Good choices are crayons, activity books, personalized yo-yos, small toys, a pocket knife and whatnot. Err; perhaps the bride will be better suited to execute this task.
So, as you can see, there is some tact involved with children and the wedding reception. I mean, it’s pretty callous to turn away a nursing newborn, but at the same time, you don’t want to hear screaming in the background of your wedding video. Plus, it can be expensive to have a lot of children in a wedding, often the “per-head” cost is the same as an adult and we all know that the tykes aren’t going to appreciate the harp player and caviar bar. But, on the other hand, relax. Weddings are family affairs and there are always children in some branch of the family tree. You may have once been that obnoxious brat that screamed out in the middle of the vows that “I want candy!” Oh wait, that was me.
So, do you have any suggestions for our readers on how to handle this “childish” situation? If so, let us know in the comments below.