Your nieces, nephews, and littlest cousins are probably just as excited as anyone else that you’re getting married—but they also have early bedtimes, short fuses, and the potential to drag your friends and family away from the festivities. How do you choose to invite kids to your wedding versus having an adults-only celebration? Both ways are completely fine and some weddings, just by virtue of the potential guest list, end up one way or the other on accident. If you are somewhere in-between and unsure which way to go, here are some things to consider.
Pro: Kids are cute and fun and will have a great memory of your wedding
If you and your spouse-to-be like kids, you will likely enjoy having them at the wedding. Children, especially those over age 6 or 7, will most likely remember you walking down the aisle in a cloud of white, so you’ll be part of giving them their first real wedding memory! Kids remember that stuff forever! Some of the kids involved can be a flower girl and ring bearer, which adds a lovely note to the ceremony that can only be achieved if children are permitted to be there in the first place.
Con: Parents will divide their attention between the kids and the celebration
As mentioned above, caring for small ones is work, which means that anyone who brings children to your wedding is going to likely have to take some breaks from the festivities to focus entirely on the child. This may not be true for kids 10-years and older, but if any babies or toddlers come to the event, expect the parent to be more or less fully occupied even if they are somewhat “present” for your event. If you count on time to really chat with the parents of kids who are attending your wedding, make sure you find some other time to do it if their children will be present at the ceremony and reception.
Pro: Families appreciate the option of bringing kids with them
It is a kind, warm choice to let parents decide whether to get childcare and have a night out or bring their kids with them to the celebration. Most parents will tell you that bringing children to a mostly adult-focused event like a wedding is work in and of itself, but if a babysitter falls through, or the wedding is in a new and unfamiliar place where no known babysitters are handy, they might like to just bring the kids along for the ride. You will appear accommodating, kind, and generous when your guests see that their little ones are on the guest list.
Con: Weding ceremonies and receptions can be long and boring for kids
While the parents obviously can decide what is best for their kids, the very expectations of a wedding day can be hard on children, especially if the ceremony is going to be long—sitting still and doing almost nothing can be taxing, especially on wiggly three-year-olds. Even if you think you’ve planned a reasonable length of ceremony or reception, the kids who attend may end up losing their patience and being very tired by the end of the day. Choosing to not invite them at all does circumvent that outcome.
Pro: Allowing kids is the norm and doesn’t rock the boat
There’s no getting around it: when people see an invite to a wedding, they usually assume it is for the whole family. Only through a delicate, clearly-addressed invitation (and usually some family members spreading the word) can you manage an adults-only wedding in a family with kids. If you know that there are a decent amount of family members who will have serious reservations about coming if their kids aren’t invited, you may just want to choose to include kids regardless. If you’re committed to a kids-filled wedding, consider paying someone for floating or temporary babysitting services to take little ones while their parents grab a dance or chat with other guests. This helps you proactively enjoy having kids there.
Con: Kids can get cranky, frustrated, and disruptive at times
There’s no getting around it: little ones sometimes send up a squawk at the funniest of times, or take off after a passing squirrel, or any of a number of surprise choices. It is completely fair, on a day that already poses so many logistical hurdles for you as a bride, to decide you want one less variable. For instance, if your venue provides china and glass champagne flutes, it can feel like a drag to change out to durable plates and cups just to prevent a big crash and broken glass from a little one. It is completely fine to ask for the event to be adults only!
No matter what you choose, make sure you keep the rules consistent since hurt feelings are more likely to come from exceptions than from the rule. Choose the path that makes your day the most special for you and yours.