“My sister does not accept children at her wedding. Should I insist?

The “should I have kids” etiquette when it comes to the big day can be divisive. Amanda Cassidy speaks to brides on both sides of the debate.

Let’s face it, having kids at your wedding can be a blessing or a curse. There’s the moaning inside the church, the running around the flower arrangements, the dirty hands and sometimes inappropriate late nights to consider. On the other hand, can you really imagine celebrating one of the happiest days of your life without these adorable cuties?

If you want to have a low-key late-night wedding, it may be best to reserve the guest list for adults only. In fact, many guests with children might thank you for excluding their offspring so they get an excuse for a baby-free day. But prepare for a backlash if you decide to ban all children altogether.

“I didn’t think it would end up being such a big deal”

Chaos

Ciara is getting married for a second time in October. She and her partner children are older (the youngest is 14) and they decided to include “adults only” on the invite.

And this caused problems within the family.

“I didn’t think it would end up being such a big deal,” she admits. “We just wanted our own kids and didn’t want the day to be diluted by kids who can be a lot of work, especially when they’re young. In fact, we thought it might be a nice break for people. Maybe the problem is that the wedding takes place abroad.

Emily, who married in February after calling it off twice during the pandemic, knew that if she decided to ‘ban the kids’ from the wedding there would be trouble. “I saw it with my cousin who talked about it after her engagement. There was a huge contingent in our family who would have taken it very badly. I don’t see where the problem is myself. I’m sure it would have been less chaotic, but when it comes to family, those big days are usually pretty hectic.

But Ciara says the main problem is her sister who is also her bridesmaid. “I put her on the invitations but she called me with a lot to say. They would have to find a nanny for the whole weekend, she said, and her youngest was 10 months old, which she said was too young to leave. I don’t have children myself, but I hope to have this day only once. I want it to be perfect and for me that means no children.

Choice

But wedding planner Loan Hartley says there are ways around an outright ban that can ensure every party goes well, party it up!

“Reserve a few front row seats for the little members of your wedding party who might need a break from standing at the altar,” she suggests.

“Offer kid-friendly dishes to make mealtimes fun and consider adding board games to your reception tables for quiet entertainment. Or consider a bespoke kids room with movies and maybe a magician or a babysitter.This way the parents have a break and the wedding party can go on without any hectic hustle and bustle.

Ciara says that for her, clarity was key.

“I knew that I couldn’t invite all the children in the family either. After all, they still take up table space and they probably won’t even remember them. I explained to my sister that I couldn’t get involved in all the drama of “why wasn’t my kid invited” so I held on and it was a brilliant day. Then she told me she was glad she had the break and could enjoy the weekend without mommy homework.

Special

Loan says to avoid hurt feelings if you have kids (like bridesmaid and ring bearer), be sure to explain your invitation settings.

“Parents tend to make assumptions about whether their kids make the list. They assume their kids are or aren’t, but they often don’t ask anyway. So you need to make it very clear who is included. If you’re inviting children, adding the words “and family” to the invitation envelope says so.”

Emily says that ultimately having the kids there added a very special element. “There was the feeling of a meeting between my grandmother who is 85 years old and my cousin’s newborn baby. The toddlers added some really fun times too. For the most part, I think the kids have been really successful. And it was a bonus not to have fallen out with anyone about it!

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