Wedding Invitation Etiquette: Should Kids Be Invited To Weddings?

by Guest Blogger on 2012-10-1772

I’ve been thinking about children at weddings. Some couples are completely against having children at their wedding, and some couples welcome the little tykes: to which camp do you belong? How would you plan a wedding? And how do you handle it come invitation time? I can only imagine that choosing not to have children attend the wedding means you’re also choosing not to have children be a part of the event.

The former group (the “no kids at weddings” group) generally wants to have a more formal affair, and would like to entertain their guests in a mature, 18+ over environment (and no, I don’t mean it like that), or would like their guests to be able to enjoy their evening without having to chase after or, worse yet, let Young Master and Young Miss run amok through the wedding.

wedding invitation etiquette

I can understand that as one commenter (Mandy) at Rhi in Pink’s “My Wedding, My Rules” pointed out, “Guests don’t realize the way children change the atmosphere and, AND, that you pay per head no matter if that head is 2 feet or 6 feet off the ground.” It’s true, they do change the atmosphere quite a bit, although I can’t speak to the pay-per-head comment as I thought that didn’t always apply.

I’m not sure if parents who are offended by the exclusion of their children don’t realize that children change the atmosphere or if they simply expect everyone to appreciate the change and happily host their kids.

It’s an interesting conundrum as I’ve been to both types of weddings and I’ve often wondered what most people subscribe to as appropriate: there’s the popular belief that a wedding is a celebration for family and friends, aimed to give guests a good time, which may potentially clash with the belief that the wedding is of course, all about the couple. I’m certain that one’s wedding goals can make a significant difference in the budget of the event. For example, in some high-end weddings, families want their guests (with children) to enjoy the event and include babysitting and nursery services as part of the affair. Most of us, I’m assuming, can’t really afford to take that rather generously accommodating road.

The fact is, though, that in order to control your wedding costs, one of the best strategies is to cut down on your guest list, right? Which begs the question: how much from your hard earned savings are you willing to use for a one time event? Will you make special accommodations for certain groups of people at your wedding (e.g. little kids)? More on controlling those costs here.

Anecdotally …. 
An old high school friend hosted a small wedding reception with about 100 guests a while ago, and we spent half the evening dodging two 8 year old girls who were barreling through the reception hall, rolling on the floor, creeping around corners, and pouncing on guests. Sitting down to dinner, I had to be careful not to step on the fingers of the 2-year-old girl who was completely fascinated by my shiny Mary Janes; she kept sneaking up to pet them. Her 4-year-old sister was doing a census of all the female guests, grabbing hair, asking about their children, and in my case, poking my eye trying to check my ears for earrings.

I’m not saying that they should have been banned, but as an experience, it was more definitely akin to a mini-carnival than a night out on the town.  It suited the nature of the bride and groom who are family oriented and not terribly formal to begin with. So perhaps there’s no hard and fast rule, and it all just depends on how you want your special wedding event to be like.

So what’s your take on inviting kids to weddings? What do you expect your wedding to be like; or for those who’ve already gotten hitched: did you have kids attend your special day?

This article is brought to you by Revanche, who writes for A Gai Shan Life.

Created February 15, 2010. Updated October 17, 2012. Copyright © 2012 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Wojciech Kulicki February 15, 2010 at 12:33 pm

My wife and I married about a year and a half ago. The only kids at our wedding were the three kids who were actually part of the ceremony, and they were very close family.

The main reason was, as you point out, cost–our wedding guest list was about 80 people big, and adding kids would have added 30-40 more mouths to feed, which was simply outside of our budget. So the choice was to cut 20-30 more people from the guest list, or simple exclude kids. We opted for the latter.

I can tell you that, for the most part, everyone was very understanding. The party ran late anyway, and for most people it was a good excuse to get out of the house without the kids.

Where we ran into problems were people who pushed the issue (a bit rude, if you ask me, and definitely a tough situation to tiptoe around). We decided to not make exceptions, since it would not have been fair to everyone else who couldn’t bring kids. Instead, we gave those who pushed resources for babysitters, to very subtly (lol) hammer the point home.

We’re not mean (I promise!), we just wanted to be fair to everyone, and not let the budget get out of control in the end.

LeanLifeCoach February 15, 2010 at 12:37 pm

“would like to entertain their guests in a mature, 18+ over environment” – This and overall costs consideration is really what should and will likely determine if kids will be permitted. Ultimately it is up to you to decide but you’ve got to make that decision with the understanding that not inviting kids may mean that some guest decline the invitation (maybe another reason to exclude kids?).

“two 8 year old girls who were barreling through the reception hall” – regardless of the event this kind of behavior should not be a happening unless you are hanging on a playground!

Evan February 15, 2010 at 12:51 pm

I think the only other heated argument besides this one is whether to invite more friends or allow the invited friends to bring guests.

At our wedding we rocked the no kid rule and some of the adults acted worse than the kids which were cut out…. lol

Lyssabeth's Wedding officiants February 15, 2010 at 5:05 pm

I feel that to have or not to have (children at the wedding) is, like everything else in weddings these days, totally up to the bride and groom. From who escorts the bride to who attends the big day to the attire of the wedding party, everything is up for grabs. Don’t you just LOVE it? It offers so many opportunities for creativity and uniqueness. (I’m down with the beige wedding!)

Of course, someone will get their nose out of joint (it’s not a wedding unless at least one person does) but that’s unavoidable.

ladygoat February 15, 2010 at 8:35 pm

We did invite kids to our wedding, because it was a primarily a family event, and it was fine – the kids amused themselves, and the location was such that they had room to run around. I can understand the kids issue both ways – bringing kids to a wedding means the parents have to, well, parent, but not inviting kids sometimes means that parents can’t come to the wedding, since they then have to look for child care alternatives.

basicmoneytips February 16, 2010 at 4:51 am

My wife and I had a small wedding in our church’s chapel. I just told family and friends we were limited on space, and I did not think their would be room for kids. However, we did have a lady who watched the kids in a another part of the church.

Your wedding is for friends and family, so I think they will understand. Plus, in 2-3 years, will anyone remember?

Anthony February 16, 2010 at 8:08 am

My wife and I allowed kids to our wedding and reception. For the most part, we are casual people. Although we were all dressed up, our reception was as casual as our everday lives.

The food at our reception was buffet-style. So, technically, we didn’t pay per head. We paid for the amount of food that was there (equivalent to a certain number of adults). More specifically, we ordered 100 servings of food (we could have ordered whatever # of servings we wanted). Our crowd was about 150 including kids.

Betty February 16, 2010 at 9:23 am

It should be up to the bride and groom to decide whether children should be invited to the wedding. They shouldn’t feel obligated to invite any people – children included – that they don’t want.

jim February 16, 2010 at 5:34 pm

I’ve actually never heard of excluding children from a wedding. I wouldn’t do that myself. I think a “no kids” policy would be received very poorly in my family.

Rachel February 17, 2010 at 8:04 am

For my wedding it was more the matter of money, we have a large family and many friends and a tight budget. Family was allowed to bring their children (being related) and for our friends we simply had the parents name on the invitation. When asked by one family if their children were invited I had to say that budget was limited and there are a lot of children that are not family members that we would have to invite as well.

They seemed to understand the situation and I think in the end had a better time being free to enjoy the night as just a couple. We only invited close friends who knew us well enough that it was nothing personal. I truly believe the bride and groom get the right to say whether they want children at their wedding or not, because of money or not and the guests have a right to attend or not.

Ted February 17, 2010 at 12:57 pm

I think it depends on the immediate family. If your siblings have kids, it is tough to exclude them from the party. I enjoy kid free weddings more because I am not stuck chasing my kids around while wearing a suit, I can drink an extra drink (or two), talk to adults, and stay past 8.

I think a great alternative is to offer childcare at a fee for children under 12 (a teenager should be able to sit and enjoy the part for a few hours). I have been to a few weddings that had childcare at a nearby hotel. Made sense.

Credit Girl February 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

I guess the best thing to do is to consider who your guests are. My family is HUGE and it honestly wouldn’t be the same without the kids so they kids had better be there as they are a part of the family, regardless of age. Every wedding I’ve ever been to has included kids so I have no idea how it would be without kids but it’d be interesting to see if it’s more formal or sophisticated… But I mean if it is a financial matter, I’m sure your family/friends will understand.

John Frecker February 17, 2010 at 4:04 pm

My girlfriend and I have been having this conversation recently. We both come from families where children are almost always present at weddings. We’ve been discussing marriage and have agreed to not have children at our wedding. While this may offend a few of our family members, we feel that overall, we’ll have a better experience because of it.

Maureen February 18, 2010 at 12:00 am

I think it should be up to the bride and groom, as should everything about a wedding. Two issues I’d like to remind people about, as it just came up with my cousin’s wedding is a) if guests are coming from out of town, who is supposed to babysit the kids? b) if you have out of town guests and aren’t sure that there will be a sitter available or that the parents/kids will be comfortable with a stranger, let your guests know well in advance. In my case, I just happened to learn that I couldn’t bring my kids just a couple of weeks before my cousin’s wedding, even then it was just random luck that I found out. There were no sitters provided, we knew no one in the area that wasn’t part of the wedding party and I wasn’t going to leave my kids with a stranger. We ended up not going and eating the cost of the airline tickets. I totally respected that he and his wife didn’t want kids, but wished they had put that information on the “Save the Date” card and invitation (though the invitations came too late anyway as we had already bought our tickets).

African Sands February 18, 2010 at 3:42 am

I really liked this post. It is a difficult decision to make. But I think it is totally up to the Bride and Groom. It definitely saves money not having children at the wedding and yes, it definitely does change the atmosphere having kids at a wedding. I did not have kids when I got married so my wedding was a “no children” affair. Having recently taken my 2 small children to a wedding, I don’t think I will do it again (well at least until they are older)… even though there were lots of kids there, I found it very stressful trying to make sure my kids behaved well and didn’t make a noise.

Christie February 18, 2010 at 7:20 am

I did not have kids at my wedding and was very thankful. We specifically put on the invite that children over 14 were invited. We did have some upset parents (and kids) but our wedding was at my parents’ home in their garden and my parents didn’t want to worry about where kids were running and where they were. I loved that “my” day truly was all about me and my sweet hubby. Besides, the weather gave everyone something to complain about–it was 90 degrees that day!

Rosa February 18, 2010 at 8:10 am

As a parent, I just want to KNOW. Put it on the invitation so I’m not surprised when I show up in a distant city, having arranged for childcare so I could travel to your wedding, and find that kids *were* invited where I assumed from the venue they were not – or even worse, show up with no childcare arranged and find that kids are not allowed.

And, whatever you decide – don’t throw a hissy fit if people don’t attend because of it. My budget only has a certain amount of travel and childcare in it and I may not feel like spending it on you.

Just don’t assume people know what you think you’re implying. I was really surprised this summer to be invited to a baby shower where kids were not allowed and a wedding reception at a fancy restaurant where kids were allowed – but it was because they were my partner’s friends and family and he’s from a different region, religion, and income level than I grew up with, so the rules are all different.

Carrie February 18, 2010 at 10:29 am

What is it with some parents these days who think their kids are welcome just about everywhere? When I was young, my mom would take me to the wedding ceremony, because she knew I loved to see the pretty bride and bridesmaids — but she never ever considered taking me to the reception afterwards. I know it’s hard for some parents to believe, but we often don’t think your kids are cute or funny. They’re just annoying and should not attend adult affairs.

Charissa February 18, 2010 at 9:03 pm

I think it all depends on the situation, were it’s being hosted, budget etc. If the bride and groom would like to include children in the event that’s great, but if they decide not to include them then guests should understand.

Ely February 24, 2010 at 3:57 pm

There were no kids at our wedding because the event was limited to our very closest family and friends and there are no kids in that group. Easy.

I agree it’s up to the hosts (ie whoever’s paying) and it depends on the families involved. I personally don’t like kids at weddings or other formal events, but many women whose weddings I’ve attended LOVE them and wouldn’t feel like it was a wedding without tiny tuxes and dancing babies.

JC Productionz February 28, 2010 at 1:48 am

If the couple can afford it, its great if there can be a separate room for the kids with entertainment. There can be 2 adults supervising depending on the number of kids, and they also get their own food. Parents can drop in whenever they want to see how their kids are. Personally I’d spend the extra $ to do this because kids between the ages of 1-6 can be very disruptive, but for babies I reckon a babysitter is the way to go.

K March 2, 2010 at 11:10 pm

My 3 1/2 yr old daughter is invited to be a flowergirl my husbands cousins wedding. They are also going to have a ring bearer. Other than that, no other kids are invited.

I have two other kids, a 6yr old, and a 1 yr old, and they aren’t invited. They are very clear about the NO KIDS. I can’t get over how my other kids aren’t invited, (this is close family). They are even having other kids from out of town getting a babysitter. Why have kids in your wedding if your having a NO KIDS wedding!? How do I tell my other kids they aren’t invited, but their sister is. Also the people who would babysit for us will be at the wedding. We have never used a babysitter. Do we still let our daughter be in the wedding? Or should my husband just take her since its his cousin, and I stay home with my other two kids? This is a $40,000 wedding budget, so it isn’t like they are short of $$$$. It seems as they just really don’t want kids. I totally understand its THEIR day, but why have kids in your wedding, if its a NO KIDS party?! We had a HUGE Vegas wedding, it was up to everyone if they wanted to bring their kids, and some people did. I feel so torn!………..Any Opinions?

Destiny March 11, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Most of the couples we deal with prefer to leave the kids out because it changes the entire setting of the wedding.

For my wedding, we were somewhat forced to have the kids included. It was either that or completely eliminate 50% of our family from the event. Fortunately, we found a way to maintain the atmosphere and keep the kids happy at the same time.

This decision should be entirely up to the couple and they should not be backed into a corner with this decision.

Great Post!

Dave March 18, 2010 at 4:58 am

Personally, I have never been to a wedding where there are no kids running around, turning chairs over (sometimes tables too), crying, fighting, the works. I kind of like it that way, but that’s just me. ;-)

Becca April 14, 2010 at 3:00 am

I’ve read a lot of forum posts on this subject and have to say that it really is down to the bride and groom. However, they should make it clear on the invitations or their wedding site, what their policy is. There are ways of getting across a ‘no children policy’ in a polite manner.

One of the comments that seems to come up time and time again, against such a policy is that not having children at a wedding is completely out of keeping with the ‘family unit’. But people should remember that not every bride and groom wants to become a ‘family’, there are couples out there who don’t want or can’t have children and to them, having children attend their wedding day would be completely inappropriate.

It’s also likely that some parents look forward to an adult day out where they can let their hair down and not have to worry about children all day.

If you’re a guest who isn’t allowed to bring your children to a wedding, please just respect the wishes of the bride and groom and try not to be offended.

SwampLily April 16, 2010 at 8:51 am

K – I think it’s just plain wrong to invite some kids to a wedding and to exclude others, and to do that in one family makes it exclusionary and hurtful. Seems like they want your daughter as a prop to use how they want and are either unaware or don’t care about your other children. They should have at least offered for your two kids to be cared for by the sitter for oot kids, but still, it’s very possible your 6-year-old is going to feel left out and hurt. Why would two people want to start their life together with lots of hurt feelings?

Contrary to the belief made popular by bride magazines, the wedding is NOT only for the bride or bride and groom, the guests must be considered if the couple wants anyone to attend!

This is happening with us: A close family friend of 20 years is getting remarried in 4 weeks, 500 miles away. We knew about the upcoming wedding 6 months ago, and planned to make it a family vacation since there are 3 nights of festivities. We were very much looking forward to the wedding since there has been a lot of sadness in our family lately – I lost my dad 7 months ago, and my dear sister has been fighting a very aggressive cancer for the same amount of time. We just got the invitation to the wedding and our 12-year-old daughter is not invited. Our daughter has known our friend since he held her when she was 1 day old, and our daughter has always adored him, made gifts for him, etc. and she is crushed. :( We are pretty hurt, too, since he never mentioned this when he asked my husband to MC the reception. We talked to him and he was very blunt and curt, with a “deal-with-it” attitude, and has no help to offer on where our daughter is supposed to be for 3 nights! Obviously we can’t leave her at home or with friends for such a long time, or by herself in a hotel room in a strange city for 3 nights, or with a stranger with her in the hotel room – no way.

When we declined the invitation, saying it was impossible for us to attend, our friend said he was angry and hurt! Boy, weddings can cause some bad feelings, I think everybody ought to elope and use the wedding money for a fabulous honeymoon!

Mia June 17, 2010 at 11:59 pm

I really think it is up to the individuals in the situation, personally I think weddings are a good excuse to leave the kids at home for the night and have a really fun night off with friends and family, as that is pretty rare – not that we don’t love our kids!

I would hope that if you did invite kids then the parents of those kids would be aware of them and ensure they don’t disrupt the proceedings too much or too annoyingly.

Anita July 7, 2010 at 8:34 pm

I think that kids should be allowed at weddings. They end up being funny and make for great memories.

terri July 19, 2010 at 3:48 pm

I think kids should be allowed. My niece is getting married and no children under 18 is allowed, my other sisters kids just turned 18, but mine are still under so they cant go and it’s a far away affair. I have 5 sisters and only my children wont be able to attend. It really tends to complicate things too much and I dont feel like even going.

Wedding magician July 29, 2010 at 2:27 pm

It’s tricky – when the couple getting married are in their late 20s and 30s their friends will often have young children and babies and it just isn’t right to invite them or to bring them. Crying babies and kids running around can really take some of the sheen away from what should be a magical day.

Angry Sister August 5, 2010 at 12:25 pm

My brother just got married on 7/31 and I skipped his wedding because he said it was an “adult only affair” but everyone that could watch my kids (10 & 12) were going to the wedding. He tried to give them “jobs” in the wedding (wanted my 10 year old daughter to roll out the carpet for the bride’s 16 year old daughter to walk on) in order to justify their presence there. He didn’t ask me about them participating in the wedding until the day before! I was royally ticked off — he tried to turn my kids into performing oompa-loompas just so we can have the privilege of going to his wedding. Brother or no brother… no thank you! (and I told him that in so many words)

Allan Breeze August 6, 2010 at 3:24 am

I understand people not wanting kids in the church as they can be distracting, but outside of that they are so good for wedding photos and they really bring emotions and fantastic expressions out of people for the more candid shots.

Kris August 14, 2010 at 11:09 am

My situation…

My parents are paying for the wedding and requested that no kids (other than the 4 involved in the wedding party) attend. My hubby-to-be comes from a country where there they don’t do formal expensive weddings. They usually get married at court and have a casual reception at the house with everyone. Well our formal wedding is in 2 months and we had to break the news to his cousins (with 5 kids) that only the kids involved in the ceremony are attending. Clearly they were insulted because now none of them are coming (even the grandmother of the kids who is my hubby’s aunt). Oh yea…and they pulled the flower girl out of the wedding. They won’t even return our calls. My parents are hosting the wedding so i am trying to respect their ONLY wish. I am beyond ticked off at them because in my opinion what they are doing is childish and petty. That day is supposed to be about celebrating our marriage not their kids.

Hurt August 14, 2010 at 5:35 pm

My step-brother is having an “ADULT ONLY” wedding soon. I am so saddened that my 13 yr. old can’t be there to see his Uncle get married. We couldn’t wait for him to propose to his girlfriend, we were so excited when he finally did. Now we — my Hubby, my teen and I, as a family have decided that we’re not attending since our teen can’t go. I will respect their wishes, but I don’t think that I will feel close to him or his fiance. I have never gone to a wedding without kids being there, how odd that would be. They’re part of the family and our future. If they, kids/ teens, do not ever attend things that they need to have manners at, then how will they learn how to act in those situations? How will they feel about that family member that excluded them?

Leave them home August 16, 2010 at 8:06 am

All the weddings that I’ve been too were ruined by young children.

Friend 1 had a baby coo and cry during her vows. It’s “mother” just sat there.

Friend 2 had children running around her reception and almost knocked a pot of hot coffee out of a waitress’ hand, in addition to doing cartwheels in the walkway.

Friend 3 had a baby fuss all through her ceremony as well.

Weddings are sacred events that cost thousands. Why ruin months of planning over a child?

louise September 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

I have been to numerous weddings and I have never seen or heard children being naughty during the wedding and speeches. Children who are close family members should be allowed to go to the wedding. Weddings are overrated and expensive also there is too much expectation for the perfect day and they don’t care how they hurt in the process.

My sister is getting married and has asked me to be a bride’s maid; however, she is not inviting my two children that are 7 and 5. I have nobody to look after my children as all my family members are at the wedding. My children have been to two weddings on their dad’s side in the last two years. Both my children understand weddings and are upset that they are not invited. Furthermore, I feel that my children are going to feel more wanted and involved in my partner’s family than in mine.

louise hill September 11, 2010 at 5:57 am

I forgot to mention.

Weddings tend to be spoilt by drunken adults not by children. Examples of this are cake being knocked over, Fighting , being felt by a drunken male or female or even being chased around the room, throwing up on the food, damage to the room, alcohol being knocked over on other members of the guest, drunken members of the family thinking that it is funny to do funny/false dancing on the bride and grooms first dance these are some of the things that have happened at weddings!

Why don’t we ban alcohol form a wedding? NO I didn’t think so. So why should children not be allowed to attend when they are better behaved than most adults?

Ursula September 21, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Normally I would say that it’s up to the bride and groom if they want children invited. And it IS up to them, but take my situation…come from a very small family, there are a grand total of 4 children under the age of 10 in my family including my two sons who are 2 and 4. The other two are my second cousins who are also 2 and 4.
Long story short, my cousin just decided to snub me and my husband by inviting my 2 and 4 year old second cousins, AND all of the young children in her fiances side of the family (there may be like, 3 young kids on his side). Why on earth would you invite all young children but not mine? SNUB BIG TIME. Oh well. I won’t be attending so the laugh is on her.

Ilianna September 21, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Wow Ursula, your cousin DID snub you! What a rotten girl she must be.

Andrew, The Wedding Magician September 26, 2010 at 11:49 am

When I got married, we said no kids outside of the family. Fortunately our friends accepted this. It wasn’t really so much that we didn’t want them there as I agree with others who have said that children really can enhance a wedding atmosphere. However, for us it was the budget. We had 50 guests and that was all we could afford, so adding the children would have added on another 24 people! It all went well. Parents whose kids are not invited should get off their high horse and respect the wedding couples’ decision, IMHO.

Able October 1, 2010 at 11:23 am

I personally think that if you are going to invite kids to the wedding, make sure that they are well prepared for all that goes into a wedding. They need to have enough patience and proper attitudes to carry on with this event. You don’t want you wedding to turn into child care.

Wedding Magician November 19, 2010 at 3:25 am

I feel that not allowing children to come is somewhat pretentious. I am a magician and kids are always great to have at a wedding as they are great to entertain. It is not fair to keep them away from the wedding just because they may run around and mess about a little. Surely this is no worse than drunkard fools at the end of the night!

Michelle December 8, 2010 at 8:23 pm

Kids can be unpredictably funny in weddings. We invited kids to our weddings and provided some amusements for them but it’s ultimately the parents responsibility to look after their kids. If they felt tied down looking after them during the ceremony and reception then that was their problem. :)

gwen February 3, 2011 at 9:46 pm

Yes, Carrie! No kids at weddings. It’s the bride and groom’s day!

CarrieH March 8, 2011 at 1:41 pm

I am getting married next year and my fiancee and I have already decided that we don’t want any kids at our wedding. We are in our late 30′s/early 40′s and have no kids, so this policy sort of fits with who we are and what we want. We are already being challenged by some out of town guests about this policy. We don’t feel like we should have to make excuses for why we don’t want kids there, even though I can think of several off the top of my head…the biggest being the fact that, let’s face it, parents don’t seem to realize that THEIR child is disruptive or out of control, and if parents don’t control their child in a Wal-Mart, they probably won’t see fit to try to control them when there are numerous friends and family members around who can “watch” them. Parents seem to become immune to general misbehavior, although no parents think that their child is misbehaving.

But the fact is that this day is all about me and my fiancee. We are putting in over a year of planning, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars….and if we don’t want kids there, then there will be no kids there. We are paying for a lovely venue, a nice dinner, drinks and dancing. If people don’t want to come out for a night of free entertainment at our party, then so be it. It’s not about them.

The problem we seem to be having is how to tell people. I have heard that putting something on the invitation is not proper, so we have thought about putting something on the save the date cards. The old adage about “the names you write on the envelope are the only people who are invited” is all well and good to the effect that people understand that – but most don’t. We also have a wedding website that will state that no children are allowed.

We want to avoid providing names of babysitters in the area so that we are not held accountable for what may or may not happen that evening with the babysitter.

Can’t people just realize that when you have no kids and you live your life accordingly, you DON’T want kids and the most expensive party you are ever going to throw and you DON’T know any babysitters? Isn’t 16 months notice enough to find yourself a babysitter?

dawn May 10, 2011 at 9:54 am

Why in the world do a bride and groom insist that the day is “all about them?” If you just want it all about you, elope for pete’s sake. You have family to consider. If you don’t want to consider the kids of the family or provide babysitting to those families coming in from out of town, then don’t be hurt when we don’t come!

fred June 29, 2011 at 12:40 pm

So my brother invited me, my wife, and our three kids to his wedding 2000 miles away. We discussed that we were bringing the kids. He said he was excited to see them. I made plans to go, RSVPed for 5, and then after I bought plane tickets to the tune of 1500+ dollars, he has informed me that he expects us to use a babysitter for the event that we have never met which is not going to work for us or our kids. We have no idea what we are going to do. We suggested not bringing the kids and eating the plane fare but he isn’t happy with that either because he wants to see the kids!!! So his suggestion is that we come but spend the wedding night in our hotel room watching the kids. I really don’t want to go but i am not sure I want to burn the bridge with the brother completely. I just wish they had been clear from the beginning and get that you can’t invite children but then expect them not to be there when it is inconvenient for you. I also wish I could at least get an “I am sorry for the trouble I have caused” even if he doesn’t mean it. Any advice on how to not go but not cause a big family rift?

Silicon Valley Blogger June 29, 2011 at 12:57 pm

@Fred,
Sorry to hear about your troubles. If I were in your shoes, I would go without the kids. I would show my support to my relative yet not bring the kids, as there is obviously an issue with this. Just tell your brother that you will bring the kids another time to see him. I believe that a reasonable person would understand that you are not comfortable about bringing your kid over to be supervised in a new/strange area by someone you don’t know. So in my opinion, just attend without the kids.

Maybe if you enroll your kids in a summer or activity program, it may help? Then you have an excuse for not bringing them! Of course, you’d have someone at home to deal with them.

melissa July 22, 2011 at 6:38 pm

I have trouble understanding people not wanting kids at their wedding. Especially couples who intend to start a family right after the wedding… that is beyond me. The way some people talk about children, it’s as if they were things, not humans.

Also, people who say it is to give parents a break, to let them enjoy the evening; parents are adults, if they feel like going out without their children, they are old enough to make that decision and arrangements for themselves. Most parents who have disruptive children will be glad to leave them at home; parents know their children, and know if it is suitable to bring them or not. I have a 1 and a 4 year old, and we are invited to 3 weddings in the next few months, and children are banned from all of them. Even if they were invited, I would not bring my 1 year old daughter, knowing it would make both her evening and mine unpleasant. But my 4 year old loves dancing, and she loves princesses, and I am just sure she would have enjoyed herself and would not have caused any trouble. I am saddened by the fact that she is not invited. I remember going to weddings as a child, and I have very fond memories of them, I would have liked for my daughter to get the chance to see a bride, as I remember being so impressed by that.

I had children at my wedding and it did not disrupt it in any way (some parents would disagree, as they had to run after them all evening, but that is their decision, and it didn’t affect MY evening as a bride in any way). I had a blast and there were still people dancing at 4 in morning! The only disruption during the ceremony actualy came from one of our friends (adult) who said some stupid comment out loud. So actualy, I would recommend cutting out every drunk and obnoxious adult out before cutting out kids.

One of the upcoming weddings is one of our best friends. By the wedding date, I will have a 2 month old who I will be breastfeeding. That means I won’t be able to leave my baby for more than a couple of hours. So I am going to have to ask that friend if I can bring my baby along. I fear that alone is going to cause some trouble. But if he does not want the baby there, it means I can’t attend, and that is like him saying that my presence is less important than a baby’s absence, and that’s sad…

melissa July 22, 2011 at 6:53 pm

I just need to add one more comment: to people saying the day is all about the bride and groom: of course it is your day, but you are invinting people to enjoy this day with you, you are their host, don’t forget that. And yes, you are paying for the wedding, but it costs your guests a lot too: they have to buy an outfit, maybe have their hair done, and they give a gift (which usually should cover their costs), so don’t forget that it’s not this super free ride for your guests, they are also investing money in this event.

Layla August 29, 2011 at 10:49 pm

I can’t believe how entitled people with kids can be. It’s really pretty ugly.

It may very well be the case that your children are perfectly sweet and well-behaved. I myself have several young children in my extended family who are absolute darlings. However, I also have several children in my family who are (pardon me) hellish little monsters. And of course it’s always the people with the hellish little monsters who are oblivious to the havoc that their progeny are wreaking. For this reason, I will be excluding children under 8 years old from my wedding. It means that I won’t get to have some kids that that I’d like to see, but it’s the only way to be fair.

Weddings are about the guests AND the happy couple, and I am sure that most people, like me, want to please everyone. However, at the end of the day difficult decisions must sometimes be made, and the people organizing AND PAYING for the event (regardless of how expensive it is, or is not) are entitled to some deference. Guests would do well to be gracious and bear in mind that some children who are less well-behaved than their own might detract from the purpose of the event, which is to celebrate the marriage of two people. There is no reason to take this decision personally or become upset. It’s not that hard to explain to kids that the event is just for grownups, and I find it difficult to believe that it’s any harder or more expensive to hire a sitter than it is to buy a new outfit for the child(ren) to wear to the event. Pool your resources with other family members who have children that will be at the event, and find someone you trust to provide sitting services. If you care enough about the couple to make it to their wedding, you’ll think of something. If not, it’s really your loss.

Dre'a December 10, 2011 at 11:15 pm

@louse hill,

If people really do act like that at weddings, then I CERTAINLY wouldn’t want my child attending anyway. Doesn’t make much sense to me. Why would you want your kids around a bunch of drunkards?? And no, they shouldn’t have to limit themselves just because kids are around. After all, alcohol is the #1 reason why the majority of folks even attend the reception.

Now for those of you all who are getting offended for your kids not getting invited, I wouldn’t make a big deal about it. Don’t forget — It is the bride and groom’s day, and they are the one’s paying. I mean, I could see being a little down, especially if your kid is close to the couple. But you should NEVER get so offended to where you end up confronting the person. Did you ever think that they wanted to make a wedding video without a bunch of shrieks in it, or not want to worry about parents being all “Why is that bride drinking so much if children are present?!”

On the other hand, it is equally rude for the bride and groom to get mad at YOU because you can’t find a sitter. Whether or not the groom has kids of his own (which hopefully he doesn’t if it’s his first wife), he should at least be understanding enough to know that babysitters can be very pricey (especially for over night), and they don’t just pop out of thin air. Not only that, but it makes it 10x harder for parents who don’t have a regular sitter that watches their kids on the norm. I know that they wouldn’t want to leave their kid with a stranger.

But all in all, it’s bride and groom’s day. Therefore, their wishes should be respected. Even if they only want some kids and not all, they probably have their own reasons for that. I’m not married yet, but I am engaged. But do to all of the fuss you see nowadays with weddings (as well as everyone’s expectations), I think I may just have something small and end up with a beautiful honeymoon. =)

Silicon Valley Blogger December 10, 2011 at 11:42 pm

@Dre’a,
Excellent reasoning and I appreciate the explanations that express both sides of the “argument” here about whether kids should be brought to weddings. If you want to compromise — have a sitter watch the kids while you attend the ceremony. Then have the kids attend the reception for the festivities afterward! We’re doing just that next month!

Oh and a lot of the time, the kids end up being excluded because of the budget (as the strong reason given by some of the commentators here), not because the bride and groom are worried about the unpredictable behavior of children. So for some families, it boils down to affordability (unfortunately).

Tanara January 14, 2012 at 1:15 pm

We will have children at our wedding. It is inevitable really and I would find it awkward if there weren’t kids there because we have a lot of children in our family and are very family oriented. Between me, my sister, and step-brother and sisters and in-laws just from my mom and her husband there are 14 grandchildren. And 5 grandchildren on my FI’s side. So, to exclude kids would be to exclude the adults in our families and that is just not something that I am going to do. If we have to cut out other people so our family can attend, that is what we are going to do. Having said that… I’m not encouraging other people to bring THEIR kids. lol

Claire January 31, 2012 at 4:21 am

I’m the proud mum of a one year old, and was bridesmaid for my (ex) best-friend’s wedding recently. When she asked me to be bridesmaid a year ago she said that of course my son would be welcome at the wedding. The official invitation came and his name was not on it, she had changed her mind. I was really stressed out by this as a) my son was still breastfeeding on demand, and I can’t pump and b) we don’t have anyone who could babysit. The bride got angry and said just hire a sitter, but I said that my husband would have to stay home with him instead. It was awful, he refused to drink from a bottle and cried and cried and wouldn’t sleep, so I wound up leaving the reception at 10:30 pm, before the bride and groom left. She hasn’t spoken to me since. I wish I had never agreed. And the BEST bit? There were kids and babies at the ceremony, of her family, but my son wasn’t invited even though I was bridesmaid!

Justin February 2, 2012 at 7:54 am

Hi everyone,

I am engaged, and my fiance and I decided not to have children present, with the exception of the wedding party kids (ring bearers and flower girls, aged 4-8). I have found this to be perfectly fine with everyone I have mentioned it to except for one of my groomsmen. He is coming from thousands of miles away, and has three kids under 5. He feels like I should not exclude them, and to do so is an attack on him and his family and he doesn’t see what the big deal is. Including children at our wedding would completely change the dynamic of the environment, not to mention cost us thousands of dollars in overages for the added people. We are also currently at our venue’s capacity, so we were left with the choice of inviting less adults to compensate for the kids, which again is something we didn’t want.

To couples, looking to tell guest that kids are not invited. You have things to keep in mind:

1) tell your guests early. Make sure the decision is know so that you do not have guests waste thousands of dollars on flights. Just like you don’t want to throw away money during this stressful financial time, neither do they.

2) don’t be hurt if this guest cannot make it. Kids are a priority, and coming to a party will never top that.

On to the other side, to the parents, here are your options:

1) Find a baby sitter. I know that is not always that easy, especially if you are coming in from out of town. Hopefully you have had time to find one, given that the bride and groom have followed their rules.

2) Leave your significant other at home to watch the kids. While many couples are friends with couples, almost always there is one person with whom the couple is closest. Not ideal, but if you know other people in the wedding you could still have a good time.

Don’t get hurt if your kids aren’t invited. This is not a slight on you. People on this forum have mentioned how the wedding is for both the couple AND the guests, and I agree. That being said, the wishes of the bride and groom do trump that of the guest with the kid. The couple should understand if options 1 or 2 can’t happen, then the guest might not come. The parent should understand that it is just not their call to invite children. Inviting kids not in the wedding party opens a Pandora’s box for other kids. Maybe your kid is well behaved, but you cannot guarantee me that they will be on that day, nor can you speak for the other kids in attendance. I am sure your child will be able to see weddings in the future, it seems like about half have kids and half don’t. There will be more. In the mean time, let the bride and groom stress over how to pay for the event and how their relationship will evolve instead of how to not hurt parents’ feelings.

Thank you.

P.S. The people mentioning eloping having it right! I had no idea that this issue would even BE an issue until starting to plan my own wedding! Vegas!! Just kidding honey!

Maryanne February 13, 2012 at 10:42 am

My 5 year old son was asked to be the ring bearer at his cousin’s wedding. Of course, he said yes. Now we just found out 2 months before the wedding his older siblings, 8 and 9 are not invited. Now what.

a little disapointed February 13, 2012 at 11:49 am

My problem with the whole thing is…I was invited to a wedding where my 1 yr old would not be invited, however I would be driving through 5 states to attend. There is no babysitter for us to use and leaving my child with a complete stranger is out of the question. What do you do for family out of state? And getting a call from the bride who is being pushy and snotty, really got me worked up. Why would the bride be so bothered if I say Im not driving 12 hrs to leave my child with stranger?

Kim Harris February 14, 2012 at 3:35 am

I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to a wedding with no kids. For the most part, most weddings I attend allow kids. If I’m invited to a wedding and my kids are not, we simply find something else to do. I personally believe weddings should be a family event. There were all kinds of kids at my wedding! I enjoyed their company. They were well behaved (parents took full responsiblity for their kids).

Amanda February 15, 2012 at 8:58 am

I am getting married in a few short months. My Fiance and I have two young children of our own and between the two families there are about 10 additional children under 8. We are having a nighttime affair. I have asked our venue if we can use the bridal suite fo the evening. We are hiring a baby sitter and the venue will put platters of kids foods in there. We are going to bring a small TV and DVD player and the venue will decorate as the “kids movie reception”. For all of the local guest with children we are not listing the kids on the invite and for our out of towners we are listing the kids and putting an additional invite for the “kids movie reception” in the envelope. this way all of the parents are aware that it is an adult affair but accommodations will be made for the children at the same location as our reception. As for the locals they can bring their kids if needed. The food for the kids is costing me $100 and each baby sitter is $100 for the night. i am hoping to make everyone happy but some guest are already complaining. What can you do?

Lisa March 13, 2012 at 12:59 pm

My husband and I are sponsoring our daughter’s wedding in 2 months. Invitations go out this week. The bride and groom do not want unruly children at the wedding. The small children will be the children of cousins. Many of them are extremely unruly and not watched by their parents. This will be a family and friends affair, but it is formal. We have people coming from out of state that may bring their children because they have no one to leave them with. How do we explain to the cousins that yes there are some children coming, but not inviting the local ones? If parents watched their children, there would be no problems. I was going to hire babysitters for the venue, but the venue said the kids do not stay in the room. Any suggestions?

Silicon Valley Blogger March 13, 2012 at 1:06 pm

@Lisa and everyone else asking for suggestions on dealing with kids at the wedding. I wonder if it’s possible to find a way to entertain these children while adults are “doing their thing”? Babysitters are an idea, but the thing is, children are unruly because they are bored or restless. Is there something you can do to take that away? Kids sometimes entertain themselves with games or other things. But perhaps you can prepare with coloring books/crayons for kids or other ways to take their attention. Not quite sure what can be done during the wedding, but it is also the responsibility of adults and families who bring their kids to attend.

MBA March 14, 2012 at 3:09 pm

@Lisa .. I just witnessed a family crumble over this exact scenario. You may want to consider an age limit, such as 8 or 10 & over only. I strongly believe it is your decision on which children you wish to invite. Just make sure your invite is clear .. just simply addressing the envelope will not be enough .. I know this from my own wedding, I only invited the 2 children who were in the wedding party & my husband’s aunt & uncle put down 3 .. they had included their 24 year old son who was still living with them .. this was a dilemma because we were only inviting cousins that we were close to (we were paying for most of our own wedding & had a budget/headcount limit). Needless to say they were offended & chose to not come, so be it, we were not close to them. Parents talking about their 5 yr old being hurt … what for 5 minutes? Get over yourselves. You will offend some no matter what you do & you must be prepared for that.

I liked the idea of providing babysitting services either at the venue or close by that would include games/entertainment activities to keep the kids from getting bored, of course that’s if it’s affordable. This would be beneficial for your out-of-towners with children, but what I’ve read here, some parents would not even consider using this service. I think it’s up to the bride & groom with whatever they want. Now that I’m older, I don’t sweat the small stuff as much .. I would make it as clear as possible with the invitations & if someone responded with adding their children, I would decide on a case by case basis whether I would talk with them & that would depend upon how close they are to the family .. I would do my best to avoid any fallout … I’m not so sure I’m for cutting off people close to me for what’s supposed to be a celebration of love.

MBA March 14, 2012 at 3:18 pm

@Lisa: PS – Consider giving the parents the option before excluding & hurting/offending .. make the option theirs & of course wording is key .. I think you might be surprised at the parents who would make the best decision to leave their children at home who can not handle such a formal event.

Dani March 17, 2012 at 8:14 am

We are now planning my daughter’s wedding and she doesn’t want a bunch of kids at her wedding. We are putting an age limit on it…say 10 and over. We also had the suggestion of making one person from the bride’s family and one person from the grooms family take care of any situations with kids above that. We do have a flower girl and a ring bearer and will invite kids from out of town family as long as they are in the age limit. We went to a family wedding (husband’s brother) and our 3 kids weren’t invited. We had come from ATL to Chicago. We didn’t care in the least because it was their wedding. My kids wanted to go but they got over it because they got to stay with the cousins. We will also find and hire sitters for out of town guests with smaller children. Plus, the venue where we are having the wedding/reception is not really conducive to children. There is no where for them to run around and it is a smaller space.

People should stop being so offended. Life is too short to have this affect relationships. I mean, I see the point with a breast feeding infant, but all others need to think of the couple. In the end, who cares. My kids don’t even remember or care they weren’t invited. If you can’t leave your kids with someone, then stay at home and don’t fume. It’s your choice. If you think about the happiness of the bride and groom and what they want, then why make an issue?. Aren’t we all adults anyway? Acting anything less is childish in my opinion.

Williewallramajama March 19, 2012 at 1:54 pm

If you expect someone from out of town to be in your wedding party at a three day long wedding event, and that person has a family, you damn sure better expect them to want to bring that family, especially if they have young kids. Don’t assume they have someone to watch their kids for a long weekend or that your are doing them any favors by alleviating them of kids for the wedding.

Further, brides and grooms tend to get too self centered in their wedding plannings. They think they can control the whole atmosphere. Wedding are a celebration of your commitment to each other before God, family and friends, not God, family (minus family under 18) and friends (minus the most important people in their lives). It’s your day, but don’t expect that everyone’s unique situations can accommodate your particular desires and wedding vision.

carrie April 17, 2012 at 7:49 pm

If you get an invitation to a wedding with just your name, or just your name and guest or just you and another person’s name, that means “NOBODY ELSE IS INVITED”. You do not bring kids unless it is specified and I am shocked to read that some people would bring kids if they are not mentioned. Really? It is up to the people getting married on what they want to do. If you let people bring their kids, not all of them will watch them and will be drinking and partying while the kids are running around. This is not a playground.

Marie April 24, 2012 at 10:45 pm

My fiance’s sister has been horrible to me and my family, and is now trying to force me to have her kid as my flower girl. This child has no manners at all (the mother’s philosophy is that a kid just has to be a kid – it’s normal for her to be throwing things when she doesn’t get her way and screaming from atop the dining room table). My fiance always finds a way to defend his sister, and now I’m being told that it’s “Greek Culture” to have any of the groom’s nieces or nephews in the wedding. The inlaws are making it so terrible that I am thinking about just cancelling the wedding because I don’t want to look back (especially after spending so much money) and hate my day.

My family and friends are traveling to Greece to support us – I don’t think it’s right that none of our feelings are being taken into account. None of them want to be around the sister or hear a screaming child all day.

What is wrong with people??

pauline rooney May 9, 2012 at 8:32 am

I think kids still have a valuable place in our wedding ceremony. I am a retailer of boys’ suits and girls’ dresses and know from experience that everyone just loves to see the tiny suits and dresses on the children. Well everyone, except maybe the children themselves, but we can’t all be perfect. And I’ve been to occasions where the older guests have gotten drunk and started doing childish things like fighting and going to the toilet in the corner so if you’re going to bar children, then maybe you should have a dry bar as well, lest we all turn into children!

Lori September 10, 2012 at 7:56 pm

My fiance and I are planning a wedding for next summer. Our venue holds a maximum of 120 people. My fiance comes from a very large family and has many nieces and nephews, so at this point – in order to stay within the limit of our venue – we’re thinking we’ll limit children to those within our families. That means that some of our good friends who have children and will be traveling to our wedding won’t be able to bring their children, or possibly won’t be able to come to our wedding. I feel bad about this, but it seems like the solution.

LB @ Finanical Black Sheep October 18, 2012 at 10:48 am

This is a great post! I think kids should be included, because if you love your family and friends you should include their kids. I personally didn’t have a huge wedding, as it was just me, my husband and my best friend. I did, however, have a reception that included whomever. It was more fun that way, and I wouldn’t want to tell people to hire a babysitter just because it’s “my” day. That is why I had the wedding just the 3 of us, and the reception for everyone else. :D

Adam Hathaway October 23, 2012 at 4:13 am

I enjoy weddings that are planned around inviting children which usually means a little less formal. While I have been to many weddings that did not allow children but were fun also, I still much prefer the element of fun that kids introduce. We have also been to some weddings where our kids were allowed but it was not planned as a wedding with children and that is not a good situation.

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