Adult only or Child-friendly wedding?
For every couple who coo over kids at weddings, there’s another couple that’s nervous kids might disrupt things. Neither group is wrong exactly. Asking children to be a part of your celebration (as participants, attendees, or both)—can definitely impact the big day. That’s why, before you finalise your guest list, you should consider whether or not you want to invite them.
Kids make having a flower girl and ring bearer possible. Involving them also means taking the weight off of parents to find a babysitter for their little ones on the day. Plus, there may be important children in your life—like nieces and nephews—that you want to share the occasion with. On the other hand, toddlers are known for tantrums, teens may grouch around with their “too-cool” attitudes, or your friends and family members might prefer a break from their younger entourage. As you can see, there’s a lot to think about!
No matter where you are on the love ’em to leave ’em spectrum, my latest blog below offers guidelines on how to stand by your intentions and avoid confusion and hurt feelings.
Unlike decisions about menus or music, those related to children should be handled quickly to avoid awkward questions from parents who need to make plans.
Is It Appropriate Not to Invite Kids?
Yes—especially if the wedding is in the evening or is very formal. The no-kids rule works best when the majority of the families are local. As it means that parents can leave their children with familiar babysitters for the entire day or drop them off between the ceremony and reception. If you’re hosting a destination wedding, it’s harder to not invite kids.
Be Explicit on your Invites
Address your invites properly. The traditional way to indicate whether a child is invited is to include his or her name on the invitation. If your card will have both an outer and inner envelope, the child’s parents’ names should appear on the outer envelope, but on the inner, the name should be written beneath the parents’ names. (If you’re using just an outer envelope, of course, the child’s name should also be on it.) Even if the child is over age 18, he or she should receive a separate invitation, even if he or she’s still living at home. Resist the temptation to write Mr & Mrs Smith and Family as that can be vague and lead to confusion.
Call All Guests with Children
After your invitation is sent (or better yet, before), make a call to your friends and family who have children to explain that your wedding is or isn’t child-friendly. If you’re willing to invite this person to your wedding, you should be willing to pick up the phone and have a conversation with him or her. This is an especially effective approach if you’re worried about a stubborn friend or flaky relative bringing children against your wishes.
Will, It Look Bad If You Invite Some Children and Not Others?
Opinions vary, so it’s best to choose a clear rule and stick to it. I suggest drawing the line at immediate family. Most children who have wedding duties are close relatives, such as a niece or stepchild (but even these children don’t necessarily need to stay for the reception).
If there are just a few children from different families, an age cut-off can work because older kids are more likely to behave. The more youngsters you have, the more their behaviour will change. If you’re inviting 150 guests, and you have only two little girls that are 10 and 6, it’s cute. But if you have 20 children that are 10 and older, you could end up with a playing field—and that might not be ideal
Considerations for a kid-friendly wedding day
Of course, if the two of you are ready to welcome families and children of all ages to join in your wedding day celebrations, you’ll need to take your youngest guests’ needs into consideration. Here are a few potential additions to plan for in advance:
- Possibly hiring a children’s entertainer
When it comes to entertainment options, you may want to think about the littlest wedding guests who will be present. For example, you could hire a children’s entertainer for an opening act before your wedding band kicks off. Doing so will help to wear out the little ones early on.
- Tabletop activities during the reception
Small children have notoriously short attention spans, which means that you need to give them something to do during the reception. One quick and easy solution is to give them some activities, such as puzzles or colouring sheets. You could put these out on the children’s place settings ahead of the event.
- Options for a children’s menu
You may have the fanciest, five-course menu planned for your wedding guests. But what about the kids at your wedding? Chances are that they’re not going to be fans of fine dining. Work with your catering team to create a plain and simple kid-friendly menu they can choose from.
- Organised childcare
One of the best ways to ensure that your youngest wedding guests are kept busy is to hire childcare to watch over the group of children, collectively. While this is an additional out-of-pocket cost, it’s also your best bet to ensure your wedding day is as stress-free as possible. Shop around to find the best local service for your needs.