Tricky Wedding Planning Topics - Kids or No Kids?
When you start planning a wedding there are a few topics that wreak more emotional havoc than others. Budget, because money is always an intense topic, does not matter how much you have! Guest list, of course you need to invite your aunt Sally’s dog walker. And, oddly enough, the seating chart tends to cause a slew of opinions. Everyone from the parents of the bride and groom to pretty much every guest attending the big event seem to have opinions on who should be seated together and where they should be seated.
We can’t take away ALL the crazy that ensues from wedding planning, but we can give you some tips and trick we have learned in the last 15 years of planning weddings. We are going to tackle some of the stickiest situation with regards to wedding planning in upcoming blog posts.
Today’s topic - Kids or no kids?
The dilemma of whether or not to invite kids to your wedding has become quite the contention between the couple and their friends or family. While we agree that it is the couple’s prerogative to choose to have a childfree wedding or not; ultimately, this decision will have an impact on your guests either way.
As modern America is often said to be unaccommodating for parents, shouldn’t we do all we can to assist? If a child is not invited to the wedding however both parents are, shouldn’t we encourage a family unit to be seen as a team? Will the small cries and laughter coming from the little ragamuffin in the back of the church cause the bride to not be the center of attention? Is it fair to ask a guest to attend your wedding, bring a gift, incur the travel expenses of gas, parking, or overnight hotel stays, AND the cost of a babysitter on top of it all?
On the other hand, due to couples waiting longer and longer to get hitched, wedding guest lists have gotten much more complicated. In our grandparents day the couple getting married tended to be in their early 20s. The bulk of the guest list was family and the couples parents friends. Now with couple waiting until late 20s to early 30s to get married, the guest list is significantly different in make up. Now in addition to family and the parents friends, the couple has friends and co workers that need to be invited. Space is almost always an issue when working out the guest list. Additionally, inviting children certainly adds costs to the overall budget. It doesn’t help the fact that the cost of weddings has steadily increased over the past five years. This may be due to the substantial increase in social media. According to slate.com, 70% of Pinterest users have wedding boards prior to even getting engaged! Couples want every wedding detail to be picture perfect in order to capture that Instagram-worthy shot. As author Elissa Strauss reminds us,
“Weddings aren’t sets, couples aren’t actors, and guests aren’t extras. Weddings are a beautiful thing, but they are so easily obscured by the layers and layers of Pinterest-inspired accouterments that couples dump on top of it. Children lend weddings an element of chaos and unpredictability. A few guests might feel annoyed, but most will see it as an invitation for improvisation and authentic feeling in an environment that’s increasingly devoid of it. Children inspire within us feelings of freedom and abandon; an ability to find joy in imperfection.”
If you’re going to have kids at your wedding, there are precautionary steps you can take to avoid children impeding the fun of the night. Factor in children’s attention spans and be realistic. Dependent on their age, most young children will not stay up until the end of the reception. To prevent parents leaving your wedding early due to bedtime, hire a babysitter to take the kids after dinner. Contrary to popular belief, we do not recommend having a “kids only” table where children are to eat together. This gives way to kindergarten madness and causes more distractions than if a child were to eat with their parents. We may even condone bribery by suggesting a new coloring book, crayons, or even candy at their place setting to help keep them content and busy. If you think “hangry” only applies to adults, think again! Hungry tummies lead to grouchy and irritated children.
Whether or not you decide to invite kids or not, we recommend setting the expectations from the beginning. If you are allowing kids, make it clear on your invitation by addressing your invitation with “and family.” Take it one step further and allot a place on the RSVP card to state the number of children and their names. Perhaps have a conversation with those families with kids prior to sending out the invites if you decide to not invite children. Explain your reasoning. Maybe you decided to only invite the children that are part of the “wedding party” serving a role as ring bearer or flower girl? Maybe you only invited the children in your immediate family? Ultimately, this is a personal decision and one that only YOU can make.