Talk about topics where everyone has strong opinions! While some people feel like a wedding is not just a wedding without kids -- others see children as a major liability, cocked and ready to ruin the most important (and expensive) day of their lives.
Whether you believe children to be little angels, devils, or somewhere in between, deciding whether or not to invite them to your wedding can be a tall order, especially since you don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.
But before you add a kiddie table complete with chicken nuggets to menu, here are four things to take into consideration when deciding if you should add kids to your final guest list.
Formal Evening Wedding
Are you springing for the six-course meal, black-tie event complete with a live orchestra? If so, you may be off the hook when it comes to having to invite children. The more formal the event, the less likely you’ll be expected to invite kids.
And before you feel too bad, remember most kids are miserable at fancy wedding bashes, while their parents are eternally grateful for an excuse to have an adults-only night on the books. #winwin
Letting your guests know on the invitation that this a formal, adults-only event is usually enough to avoid any hurt feelings. After all, if they were spending $100K on one evening, they wouldn’t risk their “I Dos” being interrupted by a screaming little guest, who misses their nap.
If you’re concerned about your out of town guests having the child-care they need, consider arranging a babysitter or nanny for the evening of the wedding that a few parents could share. If your reception is at a hotel, it’s not uncommon for parents to split the cost of a babysitter who can hang out slumber-party style, watching Pixar flicks with the kids while the adults party downstairs.
Afternoon weddings are seen as more family-friendly (yes, even if those tea sandwiches cost more than your ring) so if you want to invite the kiddos, afternoon weddings are perfect for the entire family.
If you do invite kids to your afternoon wedding (or a wedding at any time) don’t fall for the usual “kiddie table” tradition. Keep families seated together so the parents can keep a close eye on their children, which will help avoid meltdowns and screaming fits in the middle of dinner service.
Inviting Select Children
All’s fair in love and wedding invites.
Here’s the deal, just because you invite some kids, doesn’t mean you have to invite all the kids. Putting blanket rules on your wedding invites like “nobody under 12” implies that you’ll have to invite all children 12 and over.
And that’s simply not true.
Perhaps, you’re close to your little niece and nephew, or maybe you just can’t imagine your big day without your best friend’s children. Invite them. By inviting these special littles, you’re not obligated to invite everyone’s kids just because they have them.
Like the adults on your guest list, invite the children you have a special relationship with - and leave the others off the invitation. And if anyone asks, you can simply say you had limited room, and so invited the kids that you were close to.
Who can argue with that?
Sometimes in our quest to be “fair” we can end up hurting someone’s feelings, and as The Knot points out, if you’re not inviting the child to reception, don’t invite them to the ceremony - especially if other kids get to go. We all know how much it sucks to watch our friends go off to a party we weren’t invited to.
Don’t Make Them Eat Duck
...or whatever fancy-food you have on the menu. If you’re going to include kids, make sure you splurge for the extra kid’s menu. Chicken nuggets, mac and cheese -- you know all the good stuff the other guests will be eyeing over their filet and asparagus.
Once you’ve decided on whether or not you’ll be inviting children, and who’s getting the invitation, remember that clarity is absolutely key. This way parents aren’t left guessing, and you’re not surprised with a little guest who wasn’t supposed to be there.
When you send out invitations, clearly address who is invited on the outside of the envelope. For example, if you’re only inviting the parents - just make the invite out to Mr. & Mrs. Smith. If the kids are welcome, address the invitation to The Smith Family.
Clarity, honesty and sticking to your guns about what you want, is the best way to make sure that your guests know exactly where you stand - and will also help you make a decision on who to invite. Because whether you invite all the kids, some of the kids, or none of the kids -- you get to have exactly who you and your SO want on the guest list.