Weddings are big events for most people, and so I think it goes without saying that they can also tend to create a fair share of drama for couples and their families.
One area that I’ve seen cause a great deal of stress for couples is whether or not they are going to invite kids to their wedding. Usually the decision itself isn’t stressful, but the resulting responses from friends and family begin to create plenty of drama.
Here are just a few of my top tips and pieces of advice to help you make the decision and handle the responses you might receive.
1. Consider your venue, location and budget.
I think before anything else you need to always go back to your main wedding decisions: venue, location and budget. If you’ve already paid the deposit for a wedding venue that isn’t made for children running around (think a fancy hotel or tropical resort on a cliff), then kids are an automatic no. Also, your venue may have rules about children that you should consider before telling everyone to bring their kids along too.
Also, just because you’re inviting smaller humans doesn’t mean they’ll be free. You still need to include kids into your head count for chairs, food and other rentals items. You can certainly come up with some creative ides with your caterer or venue coordinator on alternative options for dining and food choices so you aren’t given a five-year-old a filet, but regardless you’ll still need to figure out where your tiny guests will sit and what they’ll eat.
If your venue, location or budget aren’t able to accommodate kids, your hands are somewhat tied when it comes to allowing them to be a part of your wedding day. If guests inquire about bringing their small children, just explain to them that it wasn’t your decision but something your venue doesn’t allow. If you still really want to include them in your bid day, consider inviting them to your rehearsal dinner or even a morning-after brunch!
2. What is the overall mood of your big day?
A black tie wedding is probably not the place for small kids running around, but a relaxed farm wedding might be the perfect place to include some. When deciding on the overall “feel” of your big day, be sure to consider if you had always envisioned your nieces, nephews or friends’ kids being there. This can help you ensure that the mood of your wedding also matches your big day.
If your wedding is more of a relaxed atmosphere that would accommodate kids, consider hiring some babysitter to be available on-site to keep on eye on the kids so parents can enjoy their grown-up time. You can also see if there is a space in the venue that could serve as a great “kids space” where they can go to eat, take a nap or hang out while the rest of the party is eating dinner or listening to toasts.
I will say that one thing kids can certainly help with is getting people on the dance floor! Nothing is sweeter than seeing kids totally go crazy to some music, and this can not only help your guests get a little more groovy, but makes for some amazing photos and memories too.
3. Provide options and alternatives for upset guests.
There will inevitably be the guests who assumed they could bring their kids and now are looking to you to fix the problem. In this case, I think it’s fair to try to offer some alternative solutions to appease both parties.
For example, if your wedding is taking place at a hotel, compromise with the parents and see if they can have a sitter watch their kids upstairs in their hotel room during the wedding. This way they’re only an elevator ride away, but the parents (and your wedding) can still go kid-free for a night.
Another alternative could be to only allow kids to the reception after the dinner is over, so they can enjoy dancing and partying all night long without causing any distractions during your dinner and toasts. You could still have a sitter watch the kids in the hotel for a few hours, and then once the dancing starts have the sitter bring the kids downstairs to join their parents.
As I mentioned earlier too, you could always welcome your friends and family to bring their kids to a welcome dinner or morning-after brunch. This way the kids can still be a part of the weekend without being a major part of the big day.
In the end, I think it’s always nice to provide parents with as many options and resources as possible. Share the contact information for trustworthy sitters in the area, or see if the hotel or resort you’re at provides a kid child service. I went ahead and hired a sitter to be at my wedding for my flower girl and ring bearer to take the burden off their parents for finding and paying for one. This was a small gesture that really went a long way!
4. Remember at the end of the day, it’s YOUR day.
I truly hate seeing brides or couples making decisions about their big day for other people that they don’t fully agree with. Obviously family and friends are important, but so is your wedding day! If you have never envisioned kids crying during your ceremony, or chaotically running around your reception, then don’t invite them.
Your friends (if they are true friends) will understand and forgive you. If some people say they can’t go unless their kids can come, then you may just have to be ok with them not being at your wedding. I honestly believe that your real friends – who only want to see you at your happiest on your wedding day – will follow whatever instructions you give them, and won’t argue or try to get you to change your mind.
As long as you and your fiancé are on the same page with your decision and you are confident that you are planning and creating the wedding you’ve always dreamed of, the rest will work itself out.
Maybe some people you thought would be there won’t, and maybe you’ll have to have some awkward conversations along the way, but in the end you’ll have a truly magical wedding day that was 100% what you had always envisioned.
Thank you to Sam Stroud Photography for all the beautiful photos in this post!