Wedding days, they say, are among the most important days in a person’s life. It is a day to celebrate the loved ones who are being added into the family and the loved ones who are already there. Like kids.
“Children can bring excitement to weddings,” says Crystal Bailey, director of the Etiquette Institute of Washington. “Incorporating them into a wedding, having them dancing on the floor — that makes everything beautiful and brings some youth.”
Having children at a wedding provides a focus on the family itself. Blended families are a prime example: The wedding is not just about the two adults getting married, it’s about new brothers and sisters and new stepparents. Because of this, couples naturally try to incorporate the kids into the ceremony, perhaps as a ring bearer or flower girl.
“Give them practice, try to get them to the rehearsal, it brings them comfort,” Bailey advises. “Have someone on hand to get them down the aisle, have them think about their posture. Pair them with a bigger kid; it will help them be less nervous.”
Friends are getting married and the invitation includes an invite for your young child as well. Now what? Parents should be honest with themselves. If they believe their child might be too young or would be a huge distraction to the wedding, then maybe their child should stay home, Bailey says. As much as a happy couple wants everyone they adore to be there on their special day, they probably don’t want an unhappy child or stressed parents.
If your child is ready to attend, “practice some table manners beforehand,” Bailey suggests. “Try new foods, help them decide what to say if the child does not like something. Remind them what it means to be a guest at an event. Remind them to use their manners and make them tip-top.”
Weddings can be a great opportunity for children to embrace a more polished environment, so let them ask questions. Explain why certain things are a certain way. This will give them a chance to learn and even enjoy the event with the rest of the guests.
Children can be a total plus to a wedding, but by no means should a couple feel obligated to invite younger guests.
“In my opinion, a wedding day should be the full vision of the bride and groom. With that being said, if they do not want children present, that is their choice and should be honored,” says Dennis Thomas, a minister and frequent wedding officiant.
When asked how the couple should handle this, he says it is up to the bride and groom. “With a low guest count, the option of reaching out personally to each guest with the no-children request is an option. If you have a much larger guest count, this may be a bit more time consuming.”
Thomas recommends putting on the invitation: “The bride and groom have requested an adults-only celebration.” Because invitations are often less formal these days (and couples have a wedding website with event information), he adds that couples can add a lighthearted line, such as: “Schedule that babysitter and give yourself the fun free night we know you so deserve.”
Got kids on the invite list or in the wedding party? Here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Ask the DJ to eliminate inappropriate music from the set list.
- Consider a daytime wedding, rather than an evening one.
- Offer some age-appropriate food options.
- Offer entertainment, such as a bubble machine or face painter.
- Hire a sitter at the venue to keep an eye on the younger guests.
And here are some general party hints from parents like you.