In my last blog post, I talked about having kids IN your wedding, but what if you’re still trying to decide whether or not to invite kids to your wedding at all? Let’s start by asking yourself a few questions:
- Do you have your own children or nieces and nephews that you can’t imagine not having at the wedding?
- Do you want your wedding to be a fun affair for the entire family? Or do you envision an adults-only wedding reception?
- Do a lot of your guests have children (particularly out-of-town guests) where not inviting their kids would make it difficult for them to attend at all?
- Does the idea of hearing a cooing baby as you’re walking down the aisle make you smile? Or make you want to scream?
Remember.. there is absolutely no right or wrong answer to these questions! It’s your wedding day and you and your partner should make a decision based on your own personal feelings and your personal and family situations. But let’s talk in more detail about each option, shall we?
Option 1… The more the merrier!
Having kids at your wedding means that families with kids can attend without having to worry about finding a babysitter for the evening. This is especially true for your out-of-town guests who will avoid having to make the tough decision to attend your wedding while leaving their kids with someone at home or relying on an unfamiliar babysitter in your city. Keep in mind that your guests attending with children may have to leave early to put their kids to bed at a reasonable hour or to relieve their babysitter. They also may be chasing around their little ones.
Kids are adorable, but everyone know what they’re best at.. being kids! This could mean that there kids taking up space on the dance floor or there might be kids that aren’t perfectly quiet for the wedding ceremony. If you’re having kids at your wedding, then you probably don’t mind… and you actually can’t mind! Just think of all the cute pictures you’ll get at the reception and the stories you can tell your niece at her rehearsal dinner!
If you have a few extra bucks in your wedding budget, consider putting together little activity bags for your tiny guests. Coloring books with crayons, mini Lego sets, or other crafty activities will help keep those kids occupied during the wedding ceremony and reception!
It’s also a good idea to provide some kid-friendly food options for your little guests. Chicken fingers, pizza, mac and cheese and fruit cups are all great options for kids and certainly less expensive than the filet mignon your guests will be feasting on!
If you decide to have kids at your wedding, you’ll have to be at peace with the fact that kids can be unpredictable. An ill-timed nap or hunger pains can make the most adorable kid turn into a screaming mess. While most parents would hopefully take their crying kid out of the ceremony or reception quickly, inviting kids means you’re inviting kids’ unpredictable behavior to your event.
Option 2… A child-free wedding
If the thought of kids running around on the dance floor or hearing a child crying during the wedding ceremony gives you hives, an adults-only wedding might be for you. Be forewarned though… not all of your guests will understand this decision and may even give you a hard time about it. I see this all the time with my clients… they don’t invite kids, but guests send in their RSVP card indicating that they are bringing all of their offspring. Honestly… it’s one of those things that drives me absolutely crazy as a wedding planner! People! Learn how to read your invitation!! But I digress… (We’ll touch more on that later!)
Having a child-free wedding may help you keep your guest count lower… which means you could potentially spend less overall. A lower guest count means you won’t have to feed as many people and you may have a lower table count which means fewer floral arrangements and tablecloths to rent! Your wedding may even feel a little less chaotic since there won’t be tiny people running around or potentially stealing the spotlight from you and your partner!
If you choose not to have kids at your wedding, make sure to make this clear to your guests well in advance so they can make arrangements to have a babysitter that night. This is especially important for out-of-town guests who will need to make additional arrangements for their children.
Fun fact… it is not proper etiquette to put “adults only” on your invitation. Emily Post would say that how the invitation is addressed indicates who is invited to the wedding… so if the kids names aren’t on the envelope, that means they aren’t invited!
Addressing an inner and outer wedding invitation envelope when inviting families – Photo by WeddingPaperDivas
If you’re using inner and outer envelopes then the names of the parents should be on the outer envelope and the name of the child or children should be written under the parents’ names on the inner envelope. Wedding Paper Divas has a some great examples of how to address invitations if you’re using inner and outer envelopes.
If you’re just using outer envelopes, be sure to include both of the parents’ names and child’s name or children’s names on the outer envelope. You can also address the invitation to the parents and adding “and family” to indicate that their children are also invited. (Remember, if the child is over 18, he or she should receive their own invitation, even if they still live at their parent’s home.)
Option 3… Limited children invited to the wedding
Instead of an all or nothing approach to having kids at your wedding, you can do a limited children option. Meaning, instead of inviting all the kids of all the guests, you can limit the children invited to just your young cousins, nieces and nephews, or just the kids that are in the actual wedding (like flower girls and ring bearers).
But one word of warning… while you may be tempted to hand pick the kids that are invited to your wedding (say, only the most well-behaved ones!), it’s a good idea to have clear parameters for your decision so you can avoid hurting anyone’s feelings. Inviting all kids, no kids at all, or only inviting the kids of your immediate family or bridal party is easy to explain if someone asks, whereas hand selecting the kids you want there and the ones you don’t will certainly be confusing to guests and may cause unwanted conflict. You should be able to easily come up with a straight-forward response when a parent asks why their kid wasn’t invited. It’s so much easier to say, “We are only having our nieces and nephews at the wedding” than it is to explain why their notoriously fussy toddler didn’t make the cut.
So… What did you decide? Are you inviting kids to your wedding?