Children at the Wedding: Yes or No?

There has been a trend over the last few years to exclude young children from weddings and sometimes the reception as well. The etiquette for this trend is shaky and seems to rest on the premise that ‘it’s my wedding, I want it my way’ rather than the more traditional inclusiveness of most families.

Taking that view, then yes, it’s the Bride’s choice on who is or is not invited at the service or at the reception. At the same time the choice to add that little statement at the bottom of the invitation “Children under X years are not invited to the ceremony, please” can cause an enormous amount of bad feeling among relatives with small children. Many parents are quite insulted by their little darling being excluded and just may ignore that line on their invitation completely, and tell the bride to go jump in the lake.  They just bring the kids anyway and don’t want, need or are unwilling to hire a babysitter for the afternoon.

At the same time, the wedding that includes small children has the perils of whining, crying, emergency diaper changes, inappropriate shouting, fights, and sometimes the odd bout of vomiting in church. It happens and not every bride is prepared to deal with that kind of thing happening on her special day.

It may be necessary to find a compromise. If a bride doesn’t want young children at the wedding, she should be courteous and find an alternative place for the young ones. Here are some of our favorite suggestions for keeping the little ones happy,

  • Hire a babysitter or childcare worker with proper certifications from the Red Cross.
  • See if the Hotel or Reception Hall has a separate area where the little ones can have a play area.
  • Hire a clown or magician to entertain the kids.
  • Have coloring books, bubbles and other toys available to keep them occupied.
  • Make sure there is an area for the very youngest children to take a nap.
  • Have changing facilities available for infants and toddlers
  • Have an area for movies or video games for the older kids.

Not having young children at a wedding is still a fairly controversial issue. The underlying assumption is that the children are not well-behaved. Sadly that is often true: many children are not trained to behave with good manners in public. Of course, many times the parents also could use a refresher course, but that is another issue. Screaming children who run all over the ceremony site, getting into things and disrupting the wedding ceremony are never welcome. Children who can sit quietly and watch what is happening and can understand that this is a special occasion are always welcome.

I personally, as a minister, don’t mind. Some of the most memorable moments of weddings I have done have been provided by young children and I have always enjoyed them. It’s up to the bride to decide whether she is going to ban all kids or just those under a certain age group. At the same time, if she does, it is then up to her to provide for the youngest class of guest at the wedding.

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