Wedding etiquette: should you invite kids to your wedding?

flower girl wedding

They look so cute in their little flower girl dresses, mini-tuxedos and adorable accessories, sprinkling petals and bearing rings; but they can also be unpredictable, exhausted and can throw a tantrum bigger than Bridezilla herself. Children at weddings: it's a conundrum for brides and grooms the world over. Here we explore the dos and don'ts of having kids at your wedding. The call you make on this common wedding etiquette issue can make or break the happiest day of your life.

What type of wedding are you having?

The question of kids at your wedding may be largely taken out of your hands. If you are holding a late-night wedding celebration, a destination wedding, or even a nuptial event at an obscure location where children can't be easily ferried back and forth, this may be the deciding factor.   

How should you let people know if you don't want kids at your wedding?

If children at your wedding is a definite no-go for you, make sure you are clear about this with your guests from the very beginning to avoid confusion. Some couples include a simple one-liner on wedding invitations or save-the-dates so guests are aware of the expectations. Similarly, if you'd love kids to be a part of your nuptial celebrations, make sure you let guests know from the get-go. Something as simple as 'Children Welcome' inscribed on your wedding invite should do the trick.  

Can you invite some children and not others?

There is usually a blanket rule on this, so as to avoid completely offending any of your wedding guests. In most cases, it's all in or all out: you can't just pick and choose the cutest ones! One exception to this is if you have nieces and nephews, your own children, or kids who are part of the bridal party. In these cases, it's ok to decide these will be the only children at the wedding - just remember once their bridal party duties have finished, they will most likely need activities to occupy them if they're the only kids on the block.  

Flower Girl Ceremony

Is it ok to impose a curfew?

Children up past their bedtime is never fun for anyone, so it's perfectly acceptable to impose at curfew or cut-off time for kids at your wedding. A popular option is to welcome kids to your ceremony, but don't allow them to attend the reception. Or if you opt for children to be part of the festivities but don't think it's appropriate for them to attend until the final garter-pull, set a clear curfew for some child-free wedding time.  

I'd love to have kids at my wedding: how will I keep them occupied?

If you wouldn't dream of marrying the man of your dreams without the kids being a part of the party, here are a couple of ideas to help the festivities run smoothly. Some wedding venues incorporate lawn games or other activities into their offerings. Alternatively, you can hire equipment to keep the kids amused, more often than not the adults will want to join in the fun too! Setting up a dedicated kid's table for meals or a special kid's area can work well too. Just make sure you assign another adult or hire a nanny to oversee kid's activities at the event so you don't end up coordinating lawn bowls teams or managing children's meal preferences on your big day!

Don't expect a choir of angels

Unrealistic expectations can ruin many a wedding fantasy. It's unrealistic to think children (especially younger ones) will sit stock still and quiet during a ceremony, speeches and formal events. If kids are part of your wedding, try to keep them active and engaged wherever possible, as you'll have a better chance of getting them to sit still when it's absolutely necessary.

 Little girl at wedding

Compromise is key

If you've begged your nieces and nephews or your best friend's kids to be a part of your bridal party, and then expect their parents to cart them off mid-celebration hundreds of miles away, it might not be entirely fair. A popular solution, especially if you are in a remote or obscure destination, is for the bride and groom to hire a babysitter or two, to look after any children for the duration of the celebrations or after a certain time. This works well if there is an area or separate venue that can be set up onsite or at a nearby location. This way, your favourite offspring can be involved in your wedding, but also have the option to time-out when they have reached the end of their celebratory tether.

toddlers at wedding

Kids at your wedding: it's your call

Like many wedding decisions, the choice whether or not to have children at your wedding is an entirely personal one. Whatever you decide, make sure you communicate this clearly with all of your guests to avoid confusion, embarrassment or angst. For a full range of customised details to make every wedding spectacular

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