Is your wedding going to be ‘family-friendly’ or ‘adults-only’? It’s not exactly an easy question for couples to answer but it's inevitably something you'll have to address. While you don’t want to offend any of your guests, the thought of having infants, toddlers or even older children in attendance at your wedding ceremony and reception can present a few challenges. Here’s what you need to know about how to handle this sometimes sensitive scenario—without getting on anyone's bad side.
Make your decision early on
The two of you need to sort this matter out well before you start writing your wedding invitations, and be forewarned, it’s a topic that tends to divide people. According to one survey, 25% of people believe that all guests should be able to bring children to a wedding. However, the reality is that accommodating families on your big day is often harder than imagined.
There are a few factors you have to consider. For one thing, children can be unpredictable and you will need to rely on their parents to take control. You also need to think about how having kids in attendance will affect your wedding budget; in addition to a larger overall headcount, will you also have to arrange for dedicated childcare services?
On the other hand, issuing an all-out ban on kids at your wedding is likely to ruffle some feathers. If you happen to have close family members with little ones, they may find this hard-line rule unaccommodating or even rude. Other guests with children will have to make plans for childcare ahead of time, which can be especially challenging at a destination wedding, where they're away from their regular go-to resources at home.
Are the two of you willing to compromise? While you may not want your wedding to be overrun by children, you could make a few exceptions here and there—say, for your maid of honor who has a child, or for children within your families. That way, you avoid upsetting close relatives but don’t have too many children in attendance.
Be clear about your expectations
Next, you need to let your guests know what you’ve decided. You'll need to be 100% clear about the policy for kids at your wedding, but how you deliver this information is up to you. You may want to include it within your wedding invitations or create a separate page about children at your wedding on your wedding website.
Regardless of how you convey the information, make sure you include:
- Whether or not children are invited
Of course, the most important piece of information you will need to share is whether you have decided to invite children to your wedding. If you are not inviting any children, be honest but avoid over-explaining your reason. This is your wedding day and you have the final say.
- Which specific children are invited
If you’re making a compromise and only inviting specific children, you should tell your guests which ones can come. Be aware that some guests—i.e. the ones who cannot bring children—may not take the news well. Tread carefully. Explain that you have a guest limit.
- What you expect from the parents
You should also let parents know what you expect from them in terms of care; the majority of these duties should not fall on your shoulders. Let each of them know that they will need to take responsibility for their own family throughout the event.
Considerations for a kid-friendly wedding day
Of course, if the two of you are ready to welcome families and children of all ages to join in your wedding day celebrations, you'll need to take your youngest guests' needs into consideration. Here are a few potential additions to plan for in advance:
- Possibly hiring a children's entertainer
When it comes to entertainment options, you may want to think about the littlest wedding guests who will be present. For example, you could hire a children’s entertainer for an opening act before your wedding band kicks off. Doing so will help to wear out the little ones early on.
- Tabletop activities during the reception
Small children have notoriously short attention spans, which means that you need to give them something to do during the reception. One quick and easy solution is to give them some activities, such as puzzles or coloring sheets. You could put these out on the children’s place settings ahead of the event.
- Options for a children's menu
You may have the fanciest, five-course menu planned for your wedding guests. But what about the kids at your wedding? Chances are that they’re not going to be fans of fine dining. Work with your catering team to create a plain and simple kid-friendly menu they can choose from.
- Organized childcare
One of the best ways to ensure that your youngest wedding guests are kept busy is to hire childcare to watch over the group of children, collectively. While this is an additional out-of-pocket cost, it's also your best bet to ensure your wedding day is as stress-free as possible. Shop around to find the best local service for your needs.
Whether or not you allow children at your wedding is a huge decision, and it's not something that you should take lightly. Spend time discussing it with your significant other and determine together what works best for the two of you and your respective families. So long as you plan ahead and make a unified decision early on, you should have no problem navigating this tricky area of wedding etiquette.