How to Decide Whether to Invite Children to Your Wedding

Kids having a pretend wedding

One of the biggest decisions many couples face when planning a wedding is whether or not they want to include their favorite pint-sized people on the guest list. Kids can bring a funny, silly, and magical spirit to the big day, but they certainly don’t come without stress or wild unpredictability. So how do you decide if you’d like to have children present or not? Asking yourself these questions might help.

Do You Have Any Little Ones Who Just NEED to Be There?

The first question to ask yourself should be whether you know some kiddos who you absolutely do not want to be without on your wedding day. If you or your partner have young siblings or children of your own, these kids might be absolutely essential to the event in your eyes. The answer to this question might also affect your overall kid-friendly wedding decision for a few reasons. For example, if you know you want your niece to be a part of the celebration, this might mean that a few other young relatives will need to be invited, too. This is as much about giving the kiddos some other little ones to play with as it is addressing family politics around children. So if you know you simply must have one or two kids there, this decision might become a no-brainer for you.

How Will Your Family React?

Now, of course, your wedding is just that: YOUR wedding. But it would be disingenuous to imply that your family’s opinion will have no bearing on your plans. If you know it’s family tradition to include kids, but you simply don’t want to, it’s absolutely a valid choice to keep the party adults-only, and you should go with what you want for your day. However, it’s definitely good to know going into it that you might face some push-back for that decision. If you’re comfortable standing by your choice, you should absolutely stick to whatever you and your partner have decided, but it’s helpful to have the heads up that you may need to be prepared to handle some delicate conversations with your guests who have kids when the invitations go out. If you’d rather avoid those conversations altogether, it might make more sense for you to invite the little ones along.
Kids blowing bubbles at a wedding

Do You Want to Have Kid-friendly Activities?

If your wedding is going to have tiny guests, it is not a necessity but may be helpful to have special things set aside for the little ones. This may mean specific food options, activities, or even on-call babysitters for your event. These can be awesome and make the kiddos and their parents feel really cared for and special on your important day, but realize this may add additional work for you and your partner or wedding planner. If you’re okay with this (or even excited about itwho doesn’t love coloring books and bubbles!?) then it might be a great fit for you to include children! But if the thought of planning one more thing kicks your brain into panicked overdrive, you might want to shoot for an adults-only reception for the sake of you and your partner’s sanity.

Is it an Option to Invite Only Children of Your Immediate Family, but Not Everyone Else’s Kids?

For my wedding, which included my stepdaughter, we did invite children of immediate family members—my stepdaughter, of course, and our nieces and nephewsbut no children of other guests. We certainly didn’t want my stepdaughter to be the only kid around, but our venue also had capacity limits that made inviting all of our guests’ kids impossible. This option worked well for our situation and our family and friends were very understanding about the decision. If you feel it’s important for immediate family, children included, to be invited, but you’d rather limit the number of kids present to only close family, just make your intentions clear to your guests and party on!
Flower girl with funny hat, glasses, and mustache

Do You Mind a Little Unpredictability or Humor on Your Day?

There’s something about children that immediately brings some pep and fun to any event. Kids also come with a little wild side, though, so it’s a good idea to assess your comfort level for that before you include all those preschooler’s names on your invitations. Pretty much everyone who’s ever been to a wedding with kids has a hilarious story of a rogue flower girl or a little kid who had a temper tantrum during the vows or some other such mishap. Although those stories are almost always funny in retrospect, make sure you have a realistic expectation of yourself and your ability to temper stress on such an important day. If you’re prepared for some unexpected flavor, you’ll be fine, but if you know that unpredictability will stress you out, it might be better to have your guests leave their young ones with a sitter for the big day.
Hopefully, once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll have a much better idea of whether or not children will fit well into your wedding plans. No matter what you decide, just make sure you’re as clear as possible on your invites so guests know the plan, and you should be ready for an amazing wedding day!
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