Children at Your Wedding

Lisa and Ryan's Wedding
Photo courtesy of Spark Photography
Whether or not you should have children at your wedding is something that you will need to decide as a couple. Kids can be cute, and they can be fun, but just remember that it's your day and you don't want guests to remember a child throwing a fit at the reception instead of your first dance. Here are some ways to get them involved or keep them out of your big day and the right way to go about it. 

Stick to a plan
It's best to decide early on what your criteria is going to be. Is it no children at all, just immediate family, or is there an age limit? The earlier you decide, the easier it will be to notify friends and family when they ask and to stick to your guns. You will feel less guilty telling someone they can't bring their children if there is a specific reason or protocol you are following and it will keep you from "looking bad" if some children are invited and others are not. 

Make it clear
Get to the point right from the start by being clear on your invitations. Often times phrases like "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith and Family" or "The Smith Family" can sometimes be vague, especially when families have several children of varying ages. You can put a general phrase on the main envelope as long as you include the children's names on the inner envelope or invitation. For instance, a family may have four children, two under the age of five and two over the age of 10- you may wish to only have the two older children at the wedding, but have the family get a sitter for the other two to assure that they parents can enjoy the night as well- be sure to make that clear by listing just the two older children's names. For children that are over 18, it is generally best to send a separate invitation, especially if they are living out of the house. 

How to say no...politely that is
If you stick with specific protocol it will be much easier than you think. Being honest is the most important part and your family member or friend should understand that this is your day and you picture it a certain way. Be sure to have specific things to back up your decision, it will allow you to feel confident in telling them that their children are not invited. You may even have your mother or maid of honor discuss the decision with them so you don't have to take the full hit. 

Talk it out
Don't be afraid to call the parents of the children to talk it out. You may feel better making it clear to them that their children can or cannot attend your wedding even before you send out the invitations. It is much better to have things be clear from the start and to let them know in advance so they can plan accordingly for a sitter if they aren't coming or choose outfits and make a plan if their children are invited. 

Children in your wedding party
Even if children are part of your wedding party as the flower girl and ring bearer, it doesn't necessarily mean that they need to stay for the reception. Depending on the time of day and formality of the event, it may be best to have the children end their duties after the ceremony. However, they may also feel upset if they are not invited to the reception and feel like they are "missing all the fun". The decision really depends on the child's age. Generally if they are over five, they may have more feelings towards not attending, but obviously the younger they are, the easier because they won't know either way. 

Putting them to work
If  you have invited children to be present at the ceremony and reception, then you may want to keep them busy so they can stay out of trouble! Keep the children busy by enlisting them to do a few tasks during the ceremony and reception. Have them act as ushers by passing out the ceremony programs and directions to the reception for guests. Or have them escort guests to their seats and watch the gift table at the reception.

Chicken fingers and french fries galore
Remember, most kids have no idea what filet is, only two foods register with them: chicken fingers and french fries. And the good news is, it will lower your catering bill- some venues or catering companies have even begun including children's meals for free as long as you reach a certain adult head count. You may want to make phone calls to each family to ask what their child prefers or you may wish to include it on the menu selection on the invitation, whichever seems easier. For teenagers, consulting the parents on what they may prefer- chicken fingers or filet- is probably best.

The infamous kids table
Whether or not children should sit together at their own table or with their parents is another thing to consider. Again, this often depends on age. Most children from six or seven and up are generally fine sitting on their own at the kids table, especially if they have older siblings or cousins that will be sitting at their table as well. However, younger children may need to sit with their parents or be in a different area entirely with someone watching them. Also remember that high chairs or booster seats may be needed for children of a certain age.

Hiring a sitter
If children will be at your wedding, you may want to hire a sitter or two to watch over the children and take the pressure off of their parents who should enjoy their night as a guest. Look to companies like The Wedding Sitters, Inc. who will offer onsite babysitting services for your wedding. Not only will they watch over the children, but they'll keep them entertained with cupcake decorating, crafts, cartoon characters, candy buffets and more!

If one thing is for sure, having children at your wedding will make for some cute pictures!


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