As published on Essential Kids
To invite or not to invite? That is the question. Or, at least it is for hundreds of couples each year who are planning their weddings and making the call on whether or not to extend invitations to children as part of their celebrations.
Kathy Apostolidis, a Wedding Planner & Stylist at Events by Nightingales , says that she regularly gets asked by clients if they should invite children to their wedding or not and, whilst she estimates that around 90% of her clients end up making the decision not to have children attend, it’s not a decision that is always made lightly.
“We always encourage our couples to feel comfortable with their decision because it is theirs and only theirs to make. We discuss how close the children are to the family, if they are to be a part of the wedding, and what style of wedding they wish to have.”
Apostolidis explains that the decision as to whether or not to invite children can also be influenced by factors such as number limitations, the child friendliness and safety aspect of the venue, and how formal the occasion is to be.
Antoinette Du Preez who made the decision not to invite children to her wedding can certainly relate to a couple of these influential factors saying, “We had our wedding at a venue that could only accommodate about 50 people and was a cocktail party theme with very fine food and wine.”
Du Preez explains that to have extended invitations to children would have meant that the number of friends they could have invited would have been limited, so a simple policy of ‘no kids allowed’ was the best and easiest option for her, and a decision that she doesn’t regret at all.
“I don’t like kids at weddings, but I think it very much depends on the venue as well. Ours was certainly not a kid friendly venue and so if kids had been invited it would have made it very difficult for the parents to have a good time anyway.”
“Certainly If I was invited to a wedding now, I would not even contemplate taking my kids. I would arrange babysitting so that I could have a good night out and enjoy the evening with the bride and groom rather than spend the night worrying about controlling the kids.”
But, what about for those people who are torn with the decision of whether to invite children or not?
Well, according to Apostolidis a compromise that is quite popular these days is to separate the celebrations, with children being invited to attend the ceremony but not the reception.
*Jo Turner did exactly this at her wedding in 2011 explaining, “We sent the message out that children were welcome to attend the ceremony and cutting of the cake (which we specifically did straight after getting married so they got some), but there was to be no under 18’s at the reception.”
Similar to Du Preez, Turner’s decision was fuelled by the need to keep the numbers down but also her belief that tired children running around at a reception would not be fun, for either the kids or the parents.
“I believe weddings should be adult only celebrations”, says Turner, “and this set up worked perfectly for us. The children felt like they were included and special as they got to attend the celebration and see the bride and the cutting of the cake, but then they went home and left the adults to have fun.”
Turner adds, “Interestingly enough my sister married a year later and 2 of the children who were not invited to our wedding attended hers. The parents actually ended up leaving the reception early as the kids were tired and bored.”
On the flipside however there are definitely those brides and grooms who are in favour of having children attend a wedding, and Lisa Love is the perfect example.
“We had a total of 12 children at our wedding, 2 of which were my own,” she says. “It’s a personal choice, but to me it was important that the kids were part of the happy occasion and family event, and they certainly brought a playfulness to the day.”
Whilst Love does admit that there were a couple of slight hiccups throughout the day such as a few squeaks from the littlest invitee (aged 1) during the ceremony, her son having a meltdown about carrying the ring down the aisle, and her receiving assistance from a littler member of the congregation when it came to cutting the cake, she believes that overall the day went really well.
That’s not to say that she didn’t have to plan for it though.
“I made all the kids little chalk boards and a mask, and provided bubbles, stickers and crayons to keep them entertained. We also had a photo booth that kept them busy for hours, and I provided snacks of Tiny Teddies in case they got hungry while waiting for dinner”
So is this the key to making a wedding with children a success? Apostolidis certainly thinks so.
“We do advise our clients to organize entertainment for children to stop them getting bored, but also as a means for them to enjoy the day as much as the parents. We recommend activities such as colouring in, play area zones, separate rooms with a hired baby sitter, and entertainers such as face painters or magicians.”
So whilst personal choice is all well and good, the question that no doubt begs to be asked by many is what is the etiquette in these kind of situations, and how do you go about not offending people who feel that their children should be invited?
Anna Musson, Founder and Etiquette Expert at The Good Manners Company, offers the following advice and tips;
Consider who your guests are. If most of them have children and you do not wish them to come, be prepared for some backlash and non-attendees.
If it is an interstate or overseas wedding, inviting children will ensure they can travel as a family and make a little holiday out of it, particularly if you have children of your own.
As a younger couple, having children is likely less of a consideration and there is no need to feel guilty about not inviting your young cousins.
There is no reason to state: “adults only reception” or “no children please” on the invitation. The names of the invitees that are clearly printed on the invitation and that should be sufficient.
Should you wish to invite children, include their names on the invitation or state that children are welcome.
You may wish to state, “children are welcome to attend the ceremony from 3-4pm if they wish”
With sweetness and compassion explain to guests who question your decision not to have children attend that you simply don’t have the budget/space for all the children and if you have some, you have to have them all.