5 top tips- should you invite kids to your wedding?
In my role as a Celebrant, I’ve seen all sorts of things when it comes to kids at weddings! Young children have the uncanny ability to go from divine, gorgeously angelic pictures of perfection in their three- piece suits or their layers of tulle and tiaras, to screaming, red- faced-demons- from- hell in an instant.
This blog post will not presume to tell you whether or not you should invite other people’s children to your wedding and/or reception. Rather, it is a summation of the observations I’ve made over the years that may help you to decide- and if you do decide to invite kids, how best to prepare.
So here goes- my top 5 tips on what to consider regarding kids at your wedding!
Whatever you end up deciding- a) give your guests who have children plenty of advance notice of what your decision is and b) leave no doubt that this is the decision you have made
a) Speaking as a parent myself, I can assure you that wrangling children/babies is just as difficult, whether I am planning to take them to an event- or leave them behind with a babysitter. If you are having a destination wedding, it makes it even more difficult logistically for parents. They need time to book flights, accommodation, time off work, maybe get a new outfit, plan, pack- and all this is made more difficult if it’s not just them that they have to consider but a baby or young child. The more time you allow them to sort out their plans, the easier it will be on them.
b) Any ambiguity on the invitation will only result in probable awkward or difficult conversations that neither yourselves nor the parents of the children want to have. See here for some examples of wording that you could use.
Consistency is also important. – it may create problems if some guests’ children are allowed to attend and others have been asked not to.
Consider an age cut off
For example- ‘we are unable to cater for children at our wedding and reception, with the exception of breast-feeding babies’ or ‘your children that are over the age of 5 are welcome to attend- please let us know if they will/will not be attending for catering purposes.’
New parents may have a high degree of anxiety if they have been asked to leave their young babies at home, and they may regretfully decline the invitation if babies are not invited.
Ensure your venue is safe for children
Is your venue kid friendly?
I once officiated a wedding at a working cattle farm. Electric fencing was in use not far from the reception venue, and the late afternoon wedding was going on into the night. There were also unfenced dams on the property. Those hazards could have spelled disaster, had the bride and groom, in conjunction with the private venue, not taken steps to ensure children’s safety. There’s another popular venue near me where the balcony of the reception area is over a river. Commercial venues will, of course, have public liability insurance in place, but nobody wants to use it if it can be easily avoided through prior preparation. You could consider booking a designated childminder for the duration of the reception who will not only supervise but also keep kids entertained. If you are booking a wedding with me and would like me to provide you with the name of a trusted babysitting company, I would be happy to do so.
If young kids are invited to the reception, consider these things:
High chairs/kids menus/activity packs/designated childminder
These things can be relatively easy to arrange and take the stress away from parents who are trying to control bored, hungry, or tired children.
Have realistic expectations.
Before I became a parent I had no idea of the vast number of things that parents need to think about as far as organising and looking after their kids safety, sleep patterns, dietary needs, behaviour difficulties, and so on. Your friends with children will really appreciate you putting a little bit of thought into their position and trying to make things as easy as possible for them- but at the end of the day, kids are not tiny adults and we can’t expect them to behave as such. If you have kids in your bridal party, eg. flower girls/page boys etc- just be aware that they may have a spontaneous meltdown, they may just refuse to scatter the rose petals in front of the bride, or they may steal the show during the ceremony itself, seeing a perfect opportunity to capture the undivided attention of invited guests at a moment when the bride and groom are trying to exchange their vows. You could go with the flow and embrace it. But if the thought of a toddler tantrum happening at the moment you are trying to say your vows to your partner instills horror in the very depths of your soul, perhaps you should either reconsider your decision; or, have a plan for such an eventuality. For example, organise in the days/weeks prior (in conjunction with the parents, of course!) someone who will be able to quietly take the howling hell-raiser away from the ceremony. Someone who won’t be majorly upset at having to miss the ceremony themselves- so preferably not grandma or grandpa. It can also help to have the kids attend the rehearsal and practice walking down the aisle if that’s what they’ll be doing on the day. There’s never any guarantee, however, that children will perform the way you want them to when the big moment arrives, so please be prepared for this!
This is not an exhaustive list of things to consider, but hopefully, it will give you a starting point. It can also be really helpful for you to talk with parents of kids and get their perspectives and input.
Above all, do what you are comfortable with- after all it is your day and it should happen the way you are comfortable and happy with.
All the best for your big day!
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