How to Decide Whether or Not to Invite Children to Your Wedding

Etiquette, Kids, Planning Tips
inviting children to wedding

Photo: Anna Palma

At least half of the weddings I've planned have been "adults-only." It's not uncommon in today's economy to see zero children on a wedding guest list, but finances aren't the only reason brides and grooms choose to exclude children.

In the case of destination weddings, lots of couples say that, because they know a lot of their friends wouldn't bring their kids, they don't want anybody to bring small children who might disrupt the other guests' child-free bliss that weekend. It's actually a thoughtful logic if the wedding couple aren't close to any children they'd like to include.

It's also okay to exclude other children from your guest list, but include a couple of kids who will be acting as flower girls or ring bearers. They're considered "wedding party" and don't violate your adults-only policy, so to speak.

If you're hedging about whom to invite, make the decision about whether or not to include children after you have both nailed down your guest list and figured out the approximate costs associated with each guest's attendance at all of the wedding events. If you're budget-challenged, you might not have the option to invite every child you'd like to include. Don't extend invitations until you know you can afford them.

See More: Should You Offer Kid-Friendly Wedding Favors?

Some brides and grooms would be happy to invite a lot of children to their wedding because they love the antics and pictures and memories it creates. But the size of their guest list, and the cost per person, may not permit them to invite as many as they'd like. If you really want to have the kiddos there, you might have to knock a few adult guests off the list. It's brutal, but sometimes, it must be done.

If you're going to invite children to the wedding, you need to try to invite all of the children belonging to your close family and friends. Not everybody will bring the kids, but you don't want to be accused of favoring some children over others. You can't invite one cousin's kids, but not another cousin's kids. They're going to notice and wonder why you didn't invite their children, too.

You don't have to invite all the little ones in your family just because your fiancé has invited all the kids in his. You each have a specific number of invitations to extend, and your families may have different dynamics. What's most important is making sure that you're not excluding the children of a friend or family member who would be really offended to see other people's children at your wedding.

Some brides and groom really don't want children at their wedding, but most of those couples don't have anybody on the guest list who will be upset over their kids being left out. And, if somebody does get upset, politely explain that it's a decision you and your fiancé made together, and while it's unfortunate they're unhappy, you hope they'll honor your wishes.

Sandy Malone is the owner of Sandy Malone Weddings & Events, a full-service traditional and destination wedding planning company and Do-It-Yourself wedding planning consulting service for DIY brides and grooms based in the Washington, DC area. Sandy is the star of TLC's reality show "Wedding Island," about her destination wedding planning company, Weddings in Vieques. Sandy's book "How to Plan Your Own Destination Wedding: Do-It-Yourself Tips from an Experienced Professional," will be released on March 1st, but is available online for pre-orders now where books are sold.

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