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Baby Flower Girl

Baby & The Bride

By Amalah

I want my wedding to be kids free. And one of the main reasons is that, selfish as it may be, I want to be the center of attention.  My fiancé’s sister just had a baby and fully expects her to be our flower girl, by then the baby will be a year old.  I am not exaggerating when I say his family is obsessed with her, and I know his mom and sister would try to make the baby the center of everything. It is slightly complicated by his sister being one of my bridesmaids.  I can’t just exclude the baby only, so I need to exclude all kids.  I really don’t want to offend anyone and am wondering how I explain this to them without hurting feelings, especially his mom and sister?


So. Okay. I think long-time readers know that I am not exactly the most patient person when it comes to weddings! And my day! And meeee!  And how do I defend a totally selfish decision without anyone thinking I’m selfish but don’t I deserve to be selfish because IT’S MY BIG FAT SPECIAL DAY? I just…don’t get it. I was born without the wedding wiring, I guess.

(And in the interest of full disclosure: I had my niece and nephew in my bridal party, but did not include children on the guests’ invitations. Someone brought their five-year-old anyway. It was perfectly delightful having a ring bearer and flower girl; everybody oohhed and ahhhed as they walked down the aisle, then my nephew fell asleep on my mom’s lap 30 seconds into the actual ceremony. During the reception, none of the children [even the technically uninvited one] ever registered on my awareness radar ONCE. Until I saw them in pictures I kinda forgot they were even there, because I had plenty of other, more important things to think about.)

So. Going to work very hard to be patient and as middle-ground-ish as I can with this one.

This may be one of those times you’re just gonna have to own your decision. And any judgment/hurt feelings that come from it. Unless you like, lie about the venue not allowing kids (which would be easily proven incorrect) or make your fiance the bearer-of-bad-news/fall guy (more on that in a bit). If you really, really feel like you aren’t going to be able to get through your wedding day without feeling seethingly jealous over the attention people might lavish on a one-year-old child, then fine. It’s your wedding! You’re the bride. You can absolutely control whether or not kids are allowed at your wedding or if your future niece-in-law serves as a flower girl.

But you can’t control what people think of those decisions, or if they secretly think of you as a bridezilla, or if this starts you off on the wrong foot with his family. Or if, no matter how nicely you inform them that you’re opting to not have a flower girl and would like them to leave her with a sitter all day, you get nothing but appalled faces or arguments or…I don’t know, your sister-in-law bursting into tears and running out of the room. Weddings seem to bring out the craziest behavior from everybody.

Or maybe they’d be totally cool with it and apologetic for being so presumptuous about you being on-board with a one-year-old flower girl. I don’t know.

Look, I’m a parent. I have kids. I do NOT NOT NOT automatically assume that an invitation for me includes them. I do NOT NOT NOT NOT automatically assume that they will be welcomed at every social gathering or situation — especially weddings! You do not have to invite my kids! I understand! Just…please then understand that it’s a big obstacle, then, for me to attend your wedding, particularly if it’s out of town or far away or an all-day thing. Or even if I simply can’t find a sitter for your straightforward, in-town, early-evening wedding. Anyway. That’s my take on kids and weddings, in a nutshell.

Family, though… Well, family be crazy, sometimes. I can picture them insisting that it’s perfectly okay to make an exception to the no-kids rule for a family member who is part of the bridal party (that’s what I did). And then you’ll have to be even more blunt and say that you don’t want her in the bridal party and they’ll say “Why didn’t you say something earlier” and you’ll say “You realize I never asked her to be flower girl, you just assumed” and gaaaahhhhh.

And while I do find it a little strange that your whole “no kids” thing actually seems to stem from wanting just to exclude this particular baby…I also want to read between the lines here and assume that maybe this isn’t the first time they’ve been a bit presumptuous and insert-y about the wedding, making decisions for you without asking. And I’ll take your word for it that their “obsession” with her (though to be fair, she’s a BRAND NEW BABY, people do tend to chill out about them after awhile) would really and truly upend the natural bride-focused balance of your wedding and make it the Niece-In-Law Show. And I’ll take your word for it that the only possible solution is to bar their beloved grandchild and daughter from even being in attendance. (Rather than say, a compromise that she can be dressed up and in some of the pictures, but not at the ceremony when she might cry. Or part of the ceremony but hire a sitter for the reception.)

And if this was YOUR family and YOUR sister and YOUR niece, I’d probably be much less hesitant to tell you to just go ahead: I apologize for any confusion but we’ve decided our wedding day is strictly for adults only and that extends to the bridal party.

But…uh, it isn’t your family. What does your fiance have to say or think about all of this? He’s…noticeably absent from your question. Is he completely on-board with the kids-free wedding, right down to his baby niece? Does he think it’s crazy that his family is pushing a probably-non-walking infant for flower girl and agrees there’s a high risk they’ll try hijack the day with her? Or does he not really think it’s a big deal if say, his sister walks down the aisle holding her daughter instead of a bouquet? And then the baby will need to go home to be in bed by 8 pm so whatever?

Yes, it’s your wedding and you want to be the center of attention. It’s also his wedding. HE should be YOUR center of attention, rather than whether the guests are all staring at you…or the cute baby over at table 12. And I really am all for the grooms getting to make decisions about their weddings, or at least get ASKED about certain decisions. Particularly decisions that pertain to their side of the family and guest list. And since this is his family, I would have a long talk with him about your honest feelings and maybe — JUST MAYBE — let him make the call about the baby and then handle any resulting discussions or fallout that comes from the decision. But I think it’s important that yes, it also be his decision to exclude her, rather than you unfairly outsourcing any unpleasantness with his family because you’re afraid you’ll end up pouting when a one-year-old steals your mighty bridal thunder. And if he decides that it’s not worth the potential for hurt feelings and would rather acquiesce, then so be that decision too.

About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch


Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Ama...

Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy’s daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it’s pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.

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  • Katie

    September 23, 2011 at 4:57 pm

    In the interest of family harmony, for now and ever after: “niece-in-law” distinction or not, when you say I Do, you’re going to become “Auntie L,” and that baby will be your niece–I think there’s a pretty big argument that that’s what families (and weddings) are all about. If your SIL is coming from out of town (as Amy mentioned) not having a baby at the wedding is going to be a huge hassle. That said, my brother and his wife just had a “no kids” wedding, that we traveled from out of town for, and had to find a sitter to watch our 10, 7 and 1 year old kids. It was fine; everyone lived; and while I roll my eyes at it, it’s not going to cause lasting family resentment. My older kids, though? Were honestly pretty bummed that their new aunt didn’t want them at the wedding.

    As far at the one year old? He doesn’t know or care. And, frankly, I couldn’t have imagined him playing any formal role in the wedding ceremony. If you do decide to exclude kids, could you stick with “one is just too little to be a flower girl?” Because short of being carried down the aisle, it’s just not gonna happen. Which, brings me too…if it’s just this baby that you’re worried about, unless your SIL is a total monster, I know most parents of young babies are extremely paranoid about any ceremony disturbances. My husband and I have spent many, many, many weddings/funerals/church services out in the lobby with out younger kids. If, as the wedding gets closer, it appears that someone will be able to do this with your niece-to-be, I’d probably relax, and invite her to the ceremony.

  • Becky

    September 23, 2011 at 5:23 pm

    My SIL just went though this – she asked that no kids be allowed (which included our 4 month old baby) and while it was a HUGE pain in the butt to travel 6 hours with my baby and NOT bring her to the wedding (my mom came and babysat), I never complained about it once because truly, it was her decision…. But I have to tell you – I was in the minority. She got some MAJOR FALLOUT for her decision to exclude certain people. As in “you’re kicked out of the family” fallout. I would say you have to be REALLY FREAKING SURE it is 100% worth it to exclude a baby niece because you will NEVER hear the end of it. EVER. Seriously.

  • Stefanie

    September 23, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    I wanted a no children wedding, but ended up with two children in attendance–a 1 year old and a 3 month old. I allowed them to come because if I hadn’t, their parents (my brother and a cousin that I’m close with) wouldn’t have been able to come. And it was fine! As much as brides worry about being upstaged by a person wearing the wrong clothes or an adorable child, I don’t think I have ever heard a story about a bride actually BEING upstaged. It’s just…not possible. People are coming to your wedding. It’s YOUR wedding. They are not coming to see a child, they are coming to see you marry your fiance and celebrate the two of you.
    I think the best thing anyone said to me when I was planning my wedding was “Of course it’s going to be perfect. It’s your wedding day! How can that not be perfect?” At the end of the day, whether that baby is there or not, you’re going to be married to the love of your life, right? And isn’t that the goal? Is it worth potential discord between you and your new family to safeguard yourself against something that is likely to be a non-issue?

  • CoCo

    September 23, 2011 at 6:25 pm

    I completely understand your desire to have this be your day and not to be upstaged by Babyzilla. I don’t think this makes you selfish or not focused on what is really important. And I know Amalah referred to your fiance’s family as not your family but they are your family starting on that wedding day and they need to respect you and your fiance’s decisions related to your marriage in every aspect. (Hopefully your fiance is on board with this plan and your reasoning).
    I had somewhat of a similiar issue but in my case it was my future SIL’s un-ruly 7 year old who was known to cause havoc and devestation wherever he went as well as having the uncanny ability to upstage every situation. So in order to prevent him from ruining the wedding, we made it a kid free wedding. However, we did arrange for childcare at the reception site so that the parents didn’t have to pay for a babysitter and could easily slip out of the ballroom and check on their kids who were with several babysitters in a nearby hotel room (the hotel upgraded the hotel room to a suite once they found out what it would be used for). Or wedding reception attendees were relatively kid free so we didn’t have to worry about there being too many kids in the babysitting room. If that is a worry of yours you can extend the childcare solution to only the family and bridesmaids/groomsman.

  • JB

    September 23, 2011 at 6:37 pm

    I dunno, this reminds me of the 30 Rock quote….

    Liz Lemon: You get jealous of BABIES for their soft skin…
    Jenna: AND because of how much attention they get.

  • Anonymous

    September 23, 2011 at 6:53 pm

    And this – this right here – is the EXACT reason I eloped. On a beach. Zero drama.

    It’s one day. One day in the history of an entire lifetime (and to be extra cynical and sarcastic), with a 50% chance it won’t last anyway.

    For the love of god, just let them carry the baby down the aisle and appease them. It’s better to look amiable to the family that is now welcoming you (and possibly paying for this day?). Will she even be walking at that point? Once Ms. “Look at Me! Look at Me!” walks down the aisle in her gorgeous gown, guaranteed, all attention will
    turn back to her. And she’ll be queen for the day anyway!

  • jL

    September 23, 2011 at 7:00 pm

    One Year Old is pretty young to be a flower girl. That would be the excuse I would use. And really, by the time she gets to be one, the sister in law may not want her there. I have one year olds and my brother is getting married next week and there is no way I am bringing them to his wedding. And it is a casual backyard wedding.
    I can pretty much guarantee you that you will not notice that baby one bit on your wedding day and she definitely won’t steal your thunder. I think lots of things about weddings seem very HUGE before they happen but afterwards, it is such a blur, you really won’t remember. I think it is fine if you don’t want her there but it might not be worth the impact it makes on the family later. I think the places she may steal your thunder are the bridal showers and maybe the rehearsal dinner and those kind of pre-wedding events so that is something to think about. I doubt you will notice at the wedding though.

  • IrishCream

    September 23, 2011 at 7:04 pm

    YES, the 30 Rock quote!
    I’m of the opinion that you don’t get credit for being aware that you’re doing something for selfish reasons. Saying you know you’re being selfish doesn’t make your decision magically less selfish.
    Weddings are about two people coming together and making what will hopefully be a lifelong commitment. That doesn’t mean that you can’t also have a crazy party and dance down the aisle and get your hair done all fancy-like, but that does mean that the day is not all about you, you, you. That’s what birthday parties are for. 🙂
    Seriously, I could get behind telling your future SIL that it would be too much pressure and stress for HER to have such a small baby in the ceremony, so you wouldn’t dream of letting her take on that job. But let the baby make an appearance at the ceremony, and let your in-laws feel happy and proud that you’re joining their family, not hurt and resentful.

  • IrishCream

    September 23, 2011 at 7:06 pm

    Sorry — I meant the reception, not the ceremony.

  • Alice

    September 23, 2011 at 7:11 pm

    My argument against having the baby be a part of the wedding party is just as others have said at 1 even if she is walking, it’s doubtful that she’ll walk down the aisle.  My flower girl and ring bearers were almost 3.  The boys made it down the aisle but at least one of them immediately told his mom he didn’t want to sit in church and she had to take him out so he didn’t cause a scene.  The girl refused to walk down the aisle so her dad carried her in.  

    That said, I would allow your niece at the wedding.  I’ve seen when kids aren’t allowed parents leave asap or if the family really is baby crazy they’ll still be talking about your niece even without her there. I was happy I included kids.  Honestly I knew they’d be a gamble and it was fine, at the reception I was busy talking to people the whole time, completely the center of attention even though I had the a couple elementary schoolers, 3 3 year olds, a 2 year old, and a baby there. the kids entertained people and got more on the dance floor than would have been there without them.  

  • GM

    September 23, 2011 at 7:33 pm

    See what Mr Soon-to-be-hubby thinks. If someone close asked me to a wedding where no kids are allowed I’d try to get a sitter. I wouldn’t be offended. I’d be happy for the excuse. If we weren’t close I’d skip it without further thought. My daughter was a flower girl in my best friends wedding while I was the maid of honor and boy, was it a handful- even with help. I fully support child-free weddings. I mean really, what kind of kid wants to sit still in a pew/chair for 30 min-1 hour? I don’t think its fair to the kids and, speaking from experience, I remember hating it too when I was young. 

  • Melissa

    September 23, 2011 at 7:59 pm

    I must be one of the only ones who definitely thinks that she/her husband should get to decide that this baby is not her flower girl. That is totally her choice. That being said, asking people to travel, especially people with small children and then asking them NOT to bring them to the wedding – well, that makes it really hard. When it’s close family it’s even worse. My brother is getting married in 3 weeks, 5 hours away. My inlaws can’t help out and there’s nobody to leave my 1 year old son with for 4 days. I am going to a child free wedding with my 1 year old because I have no other choice – because it’s my brother. Please understand it’s awkward and there are difficult choices on both ends.

  • a

    September 23, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    Wow… it really would not occur to me that my kid was not included in an invitation to a family wedding. You’d have to tell me specifically that kids weren’t welcome. In that case… well, I would understand, I wouldn’t be insulted, but; I’d be surprised and perplexed.

  • Brianne

    September 23, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    Ditto to the checking with the fiancé. And you WILL become the Aunt to this baby, so maybe consider jumping on the bandwagon and joining in on the obsession. 

    I love my in-law nieces and nephews as much as my actual ones, but I really tried hard to have a relationship with them and love on them whenever I could. Its nice to know that they remember our wedding with fondness. 

  • k

    September 23, 2011 at 9:38 pm

    I’m a wedding photographer, and since I attend over 20 weddings a year (in addition to a full time job) I feel qualified to tell you that it’s this sort of nitpicking over details such as “whether or not everyone will be paying attention to MEEEE” that will get you a big fat stressful unhappy wedding day. It’s not a guarantee….but it’s highly likely. Juuuust sayin.

  • Tracy

    September 23, 2011 at 9:48 pm

    I find it odd that you accuse your fiance’s family of being “obsessed” with the new baby.  I should hope they are!

    But seriously, are you sure the family really assumes the baby will be a flower girl?  I have a two-month-old baby, and I would never just assume that someone would want her to be part of their day, unless I was asked.

  • z

    September 23, 2011 at 11:03 pm

    Where did you find such a picture of a scary baby bride?  It’s perfect for the post– I’m in awe.

  • Katherine

    September 23, 2011 at 11:08 pm

    Wow. Congratulations, Amalah. You displayed an amazing amount of restraint. I can’t seem to wrap my head around what this woman is saying. There are plenty of reasons to want a kid-free wedding. Being a parent myself, I considered not having “extra” kids because I wanted the adults to have a good time without having to worry about their munchkins. (Instead, I opted to invite whole families and set up a kid area at the reception with corn hole, K’Nex, Legos, and ladder ball.) But the fact that you want to exclude all children just for the sake of excluding one- who is your niece!- because you’re afraid she might take attention away from you?! It’s fairly laughable. I could give you many reasons why this is ludicrous, but I’ll stick with one. You might think the to-do about this baby is ridiculous or unwarranted now, but put yourself a few years into the future for a minute. If or when you have your first baby, won’t that same excitement from his family be pretty awesome? If anyone on that side finds out the real reason why you don’t want kids at the wedding…well, what goes around, comes around. I’d hate for your kids to have to pay for this.

  • KB

    September 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    Having a no kids wedding is not a huge deal — but if your only reason is that you want to be the center of attention (and not cost, venue inappropriateness or something like that) I hope you’ll rethink it. You WILL be the center of attention no matter what, guaranteed. Right now some of the family is obsessed with the new baby — understandable. It may be much different in a year.

    As Amy says, make your decision and own it. But — and just going from the info you’ve given — the fallout from not having kids could be worse than any trouble the kids would actually be that day.

  • Tai

    September 23, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I can kind of understand what the OP is feeling.  Sometimes people plan events in their lives that don’t involve children. And that is okay.  When I was growing up, I wasn’t upset when I wasn’t invited to every freaking thing because it was probably boring anyway.

    Also, even if she’s excluding this *one* kid, it bears considering that people go nuts if their preshus snowflake isn’t invited but some OTHER kid was. 

    Also, it is HER wedding, and her FIANCE’S. This is a decision that should be left to them (as in they agree, not she says no so there, and not he says yes so there) not Grandma or the baby’s Mom or whatever.

  • Liz

    September 23, 2011 at 11:29 pm

    We had kids at our wedding and I barely noticed them. I was too busy talking with every single person who wanted to congratulate us as newlyweds and taking pictures and having a shot at the bar.

    My 2 year old niece was the flower girl–she stood frozen at the start of the aisle, her dad motioned to her to come on down, she dumped the entire basket of petals in that one spot and ran down the aisle to him and it was hysterical! Everyone laughed and I’m so happy that I have that memory.

    A few years ago a cousin on my husband’s side had a few sitters in a hotel room to watch kids during his wedding and that was extremely helpful for many parents since it was an out of town wedding. I didn’t utilize it because my daughter was only 4 months old but if I was going to that wedding now, with a 3 yr old and a 16 month old, hell yes I would.

    You have to think of how this will affect your in-law family and what kind of potential mess it could create. Will it be worth it? My guess is no. Let the kids come and don’t worry about it, it is your day and everyone there knows it. Years from now you’ll understand when you have kids and they aren’t invited to a wedding, it’s a total pain!

  • good2Bqueen

    September 24, 2011 at 12:41 am

    @ a – If your child’s name is on the invitation, the child is welcome.  If your child is not listed, they should not attend.  This is just basic etiquette.  Please don’t assume your child is invited to every event you are.

    I understand the no children thing and here’s why:  my 2 year old son would get absolutely no enjoyment from attending a wedding.  Why would I even want to subject him to that?  Unless, of course, I just want to dress him up (torture), make him sit still for an undetermined length of time (torture), and show off my little “angel” (torture) to every one there?  Perhaps weddings should be reserved for those children old enough to understand what is happening and want to be a part of supporting the couple, rather than just coming along for the ride.

  • Felicity

    September 24, 2011 at 7:33 am

    I don’t get why everyone is jumping on the letter writer. I intend to have a child-free wedding (that is, anyone under the age of 12, which means yes, my cousin in law will have to leave her children at home/with a sitter). The reason? I have spent my entire life blending into the background at every social occasion, and never had a birthday party, therefore I would like at least one day to be about me and my other half. Selfish? Maybe. But it is the only day that I will be. I don’t care if that upsets people. If I can’t be a little selfish on my wedding day, when can I?

  • Amanda

    September 24, 2011 at 8:56 am

    Sorry but I have to be an asshole here. A wedding is a merging of families. If you want to exclude some part of that family on your wedding day, that doesn’t exactly lend itself to familial felicity. What about down the road? You gonna exclude the kid from Christmas/Hanukkah/whatever dinner just because it might be the center of attention?

    I’ve been invited to several weddings since the birth of my daughter and here’s where I stand: if it’s a friend, especially someone that I know doesn’t have any kids or family with kids, then fine, I’ll get a babysitter. If it’s family? Well, either I haven’t gone or I went but didn’t get them a wedding gift. They got me and my presence instead of a gift. That cash went to the babysitter. I didn’t get the friend a gift either for that matter.

    Maybe this sounds petty but money’s tight. If I’m supposed to leave my kid (now kids) at home with a sitter, then the $100 bucks I would have spent for your gift is now being spent on that.

    Maybe I am an asshole.

  • natalie

    September 24, 2011 at 9:50 am

    I second Katherine…I am fine with deciding to have a no kid wedding, I have left my child at home for multiple weddings and never had a problem with it…but doing it simply so you can exclude one child because they are getting, in your opinion, too much attention from your in-laws right now, and apparently this is a BRAND NEW baby AND it sounds like the first baby? Have you talked to your fiance about this? Does he agree? If you think his family would be fine with what you are putting out there, and it doesn’t sound like it or you wouldn’t be writing amy, then by all means make this decree…but if you are afraid that this will for ever cast you as the outsider and the wicked aunt (especially if they find out the no kids rule is BECAUSE of the new baby) then I would find a way to include this baby because if you have kids of your own your current attitude of ‘all about me’ could hurt their relationship with their dad’s family. 

  • cagey (Kelli Oliver George)

    September 24, 2011 at 10:57 am

    I love Amy’s response to this – perfect.  Do what you want – it’s your day and your wedding.  Just realize you may not get the response/reaction you want.

    Much of this conversation I can’t relate to.   My family uses weddings as a celebration of two families coming together  – fancy party or not.  Boy, am I grateful for that.

    My youngest sister got married this past Labor day in a super fancy, pretty expensive wedding and kids were invited. My kids 4yo and 5.5yo were in the wedding and did just fine.  The groom’s 3yo niece did NOT do well – poor thing was terrified, so she ended up not walking down the aisle.  It wasn’t a big deal and we all laughed about her “honorary” flower girl status.  

    And trust me, no little kid upstaged my sister.  It was clear she was the belle of the ball.  🙂

    One of my very favorite memories from the wedding was that of my dad dancing with my 5.5 yo niece and my 4 yo daughter.    My dad was a little emotional about his last daughter getting married, but getting to dance with his granddaughters like that helped lighten the mood.

  • Kimm

    September 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

    I understand not wanting the 1 year old in the wedding party- it would look weird for someone to carry them down the aisle- most 1 year olds can’t walk well yet. I think if you explain that to your sister in law she would be ok with it-because 1 yr olds ARE still babies, I don’t know anyone who has had a BABY in their wedding party. I really wanted my niece to be flower girl, she was 3, but if I had her I would have had to have the other 2 of my husbands nieces in the wedding party too and it would have been all about them, seriously, because I know how their family is. They were still invited to the wedding though. I just say do what you want.

  • Lydia

    September 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

    So my brother and his wife had their 10 month old twins at my wedding.  They were the first grandkids and the first babies for anyone in a LONG time (like 12 years to the next cousin).  Our family was obsessed with these babies.  Head over heels in love with them.  They came to the wedding and it was TOTALLY FINE.  You are the bride, you will get LOADS of attention every single second of the day.  If some people go over to oooh and aaahh over the one year old it will not steal your spotlight.  I promise.  It is so not worth pissing off your in laws over this.  You will be with these in laws for a lifetime, start off on a good foot.

    And congratulations 🙂  Have fun.

  • NGS

    September 24, 2011 at 3:05 pm

    This was my life 3 1/2 years ago. We didn’t invite children – they weren’t on the invitations, the wedding was an evening affair, and they weren’t welcome. Sorry. My husband and I talked it through and had very frank discussions about how annoying we find children at events like weddings and graduations and agreed to stand strong, present a united front, and NOT have children attend.

    Yes, it upset my MIL and SIL that my precious niece was not invited, but honestly, it was best for everyone. My niece would have been loud and rambunctious and my SIL would have been a nervous wreck about it while my oblivious MIL would have made excuse after excuse for the child’s poor behavior. Yes, my aunt and uncle still hold a grudge that their teenage children weren’t invited, but that was the decision we made. Very delicate emails were sent (I can send you an example if you like) and extremely frustrating phone calls were made, but we made our stance known and exceptionally clear.

    But (and this is a big but) my SIL still resents me. My uncle still doesn’t talk to me. Yes, I think that my niece, a darling holy terror still, would have taken attention away from me. But would it matter to me 3 1/2 years later? I think not. I don’t have a lot of regrets from that day, but if I could go back and change one thing…it would be relenting and allowing some of those young ones to be there.

    If you don’t want to relent, I get that, too. It’s your day and your decision. Best wishes and have lots of fun!!

  • Diana

    September 24, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    At one year old, the child won’t even be walking reliably, so I don’t quite see how she could even be a flower girl.    If you want to look super to the family, and keep the kid out of the way, hire a sitter to watch her during the wedding.

  • Monica

    September 24, 2011 at 5:46 pm

    I agree with Amy…think long and hard and make sure your husband-to-be is 100% okay with the decision. You can’t upstage a bride on her wedding day, and it has nothing to do with how beautiful your hair and dress will be, it has to do with how much in love you are and something like that is just so palpable, that nothing else will matter. As long as it doesn’t matter TO YOU. I don’t know a bride, that a year down the road, wishes she didn’t stress about a good 80% of that stuff. Really, do some meditation, yoga, a massage a week…whatever works. I had a no-children wedding and have just attended two no-children weddings this summer (and I have a 4 month old, 2 year old, and 4 year old). I made the no-children choice because I just wanted my family and friends to relax, and let loose and have a night out to celebrate with us and not parent their small children. Right now, weddings are the only opportunity my husband and I take to splurge on a sitter for so long and have a great evening with friends/family/dancing. So not everyone will have some of the opinions listed here about how horrible and selfish you must be if you don’t have children at your wedding. Sheesh.

  • Lala

    September 24, 2011 at 7:57 pm

    There’s not really enough info here to figure out what’s going on. My take is, if your future in-laws are really so unreasonable they won’t accept that you don’t want a barely-mobile baby to be your flower girl, go ahead with the no-kids plan and don’t worry… they would have found something else to hate you for soon enough.

    I’m guessing it’s not so much about being worried about being upstaged by a BABY, but more about being upstaged by SIL who already forced her own self into the bridal party and likes to use her baby to stay the center of attention at all times. But we all project our own experiences onto these kinds of questions… 🙂

  • Haley

    September 24, 2011 at 8:01 pm

    Our wedding had lots of kids in attendance, and I wanted it this way. The timing was perfect, and I’ve always loved the idea of kids at weddings. HOWEVER, a one year old as a flower girl is far too young. Most churches have age limits, but you want your day to be stress-free, not wondering if little Susie will walk down the aisle or throw a fit or whatever. And, at the end of the day, the decision is yours. We had friends’ kids as our ring bearer and flower girl, not cousins, even though there were plenty to choose from. We wanted the kids who we knew the best to be by our side on our day, and guess what? Nobody questioned our decision.

  • Hannah

    September 25, 2011 at 3:55 am

    There are two different questions here. 1) do you have to go along with your in-laws’ plans and have a 1 year old flower girl; and 2) will the presence of this child upstage you on the day.

    To the first question – no, of course you don’t, and there are very diplomatic and gentle ways to express that. A simple “one year old is pretty young, and we don’t want to put too much pressure on niece or SIL on the day”. And say it gently, and soon. The end.

    To the second question – clearly, it is up to you AND your fiance if you want to have a child-free wedding. Sometimes, child-free weddings are totally appropriate – if they are evening celebrations, if the ceremony is going to be very long and formal… it really depends. If lots of people on your guest list will have children that they’ll need to find a sitter for, offering child care on or near site is a welcome gesture. There are ways to have a child-free wedding without being a prima donna about it. However, if your sole reason for *not* allowing children is because you’re afraid someone else might get some attention that day… well. I’m sure you’re reading these responses right now and feeling very defensive and attacked – but it’s good practice, because if the in-laws find out what’s going on inside your head this is exactly how they are going to react. Except with actual consequences because it’s your family. I think you need to have a chat with your future husband about what he wants. Relax. Try to remember what weddings are supposed to be about, and enjoy your day. 


  • C

    September 25, 2011 at 11:26 am

    We had a “no kids” rule at our wedding and it was because it was a destination, black-tie, evening wedding. We told everyone this for a year ahead of time. We hired nannies for anyone who had/brought children. We set up an email list with EVERYONE attending the wedding and made sure that anyone who had a kid that was planning on bringing them along knew that they were expected to use the nanny and they all seemed to understand. Yet, halfway through our reception, my MIL & SIL snuck out to bring some of the kids down to the reception. And yes, it was a huge deal because they were laying all over the floor and running around and I did notice. Everyone noticed. I still to this day don’t understand why they would do that and I was called some extremely awful names (in my wedding dress on my wedding day in front of my mom). I had my husband ask them to take the children back to the nannies and pretended the whole scene didn’t happen, but unfortunately, my in-laws did not react the same way and left the reception, forcing others (who were not involved) to leave as well. It was very embarrassing to my husband to have his family act this way.

    We told them for a YEAR that they were going to have their own kids party while the adults were able to eat and drink and relax kid-free so I don’t know what we could have done differently. In addition, we did not put any kids names on any invitations so that also bothered me. I have a toddler and she has been invited to several weddings but I just don’t think its a place for a kid at all. I look at it as a night out with my husband…getting dressed up, drinking, dancing and staying out late. How fun would it be for a small child? And I also don’t think its appropriate for kids to be around copious amounts of alcohol but maybe thats just the kind of weddings I attend…

    Anyway, its your wedding and its the only one you get. If you don’t want kids there, you don’t have to have kids there and its your choice. Maybe as a compromise, let the baby be the flower girl and then have her set up with a babysitter during the reception to play and do kid-appropriate things?

  • Ally

    September 25, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    My kids were in 2 weddings this summer (ages 4,2 and 6 months). It was awful. The kids were normal, but it was a huge distraction to have them running around and I wish that we would have said no. I think certain weddings are fine with kids (if it is more casual) but not for more elegant affairs. You totally have the right to make this call and people should be gracious about your decision. My baby definitely stole a lot of attention, especially from the relatives who hadn’t met him yet. Hopefully they will understand.

  • Leslie

    September 25, 2011 at 7:31 pm

    Just wanted to offer an alternative if you end up going for the kid-free option.  We recently attended my cousin’s wedding in Maine.  Due to the distance from our state (Tennessee) and the fact that my 16 month old had not met anyone on that side of the family, we made it a family vacation.  The wedding was kid-free, but my cousin kindly invited those of us with children to bring them to the rehearsal dinner, which was a casual lobster bake.  That gave us a chance to introduce our little guy to all of our family members in a low-key environment that didn’t hold any potential to disrupt the Big Day.  It also allowed us to enjoy a fun kidless night at the wedding!  My aunt helped us arrange a couple of nannies to watch kids back at the hotel during the wedding.  It was a nice solution for everyone (and it might be particularly important for you since in-laws typically host the rehearsal dinner and it’s their side of the family that claims the baby!)

  • Olivia

    September 26, 2011 at 8:16 am

    I can understand not wanting a 1 yr old as the flower girl, she might not even be walking by then. But excluding her and other children from the wedding makes no sense. Weddings are about combing families and families come with children. I’ve been to a couple of wedding in the last year where children were welcome. Both were very large (both families, plus pretty much all church members invited) and seeing all the children there was fabulous. Plus, knowing that so many people there were parents, made it really relaxing. All the children had fun dancing and running around, and all the adults were happy to keep any eye on them. The bride was not upstaged at all.

  • Rebecca

    September 26, 2011 at 8:52 am

    Wow. Have been reading your blogs for years and years, and this is the first time that I have not only disagreed with you, but think your delivery was kind of snotty.

  • AJ

    September 26, 2011 at 9:40 am

    I will pass on my most used piece of advice from planning my wedding: “Relax, it’s a party!”

  • M.

    September 26, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Well, I can kind of understand where the OP is/might be coming from. I can well imagine there might be more to this story.

  • ali

    September 26, 2011 at 11:14 am

    Honestly, I’m not very sympathetic here. These people will be your family and is it really worth angering your family and getting that relationship off to a rocky start? Why not have new sis-in-law/bridesmaid walk down the aisle with the baby? Also, if you are that worried about the focus not being on you, i can pretty much guarantee you that something else will happen that day that removes the focus from you for at least a moment, so you’re setting yourself up for disappointment on that count…

  • Jo

    September 26, 2011 at 11:28 am

    We made our ceremony adults only to exclude 2 children – a family member of my husband’s is not great with the parenting, her 2 children are not very ummm behaved, and we were afraid they would literally follow me down the aisle and their mother would allow it. That meant that all children were excluded, including our 1 year old nephew even though both his parents were in the wedding party! We decided to specify in the announcements that children under 5 were welcome at the reception, but that we had a babysitter for the ceremony; and people RSVP’d for babysitting. We then had a teenage sibling be the ring bearer. It worked for us; but we didn’t have anyone pushing for another option. P.S. the baby will be a passing diversion; people pay attention to the couple getting married on the wedding day.

  • andrea

    September 26, 2011 at 11:31 am

    I love the sitter idea.  I would totally take advantage of that if such a thing were available.  And I think your guests would really appreciate that you thought enough of them to provide this.

  • VG

    September 26, 2011 at 11:52 am

    No offense to some of the responders, but this is the writer & her fiance’s day – not SIL’s, not MIL’s, not baby neice’s day. They make the decision about how things should go. And yes, there is ALOT of info missing – one peice that mostly everyone forgot is: M O N E Y. I think if the writer & fiance are footing the bill, then they call the shots. If parents are helping out, then there’s going to be a tug of war, b/c “money gets funny” when others are offering to pay for things of this nature.
    As for invites – Whoever is addressed on the invitation are the parties invited. You should NEVER assume your children are invited to things. Example: My cousin on my father’s side got married recently, the invitation was addressed to Mr. & Mrs. G. We just got a birthday invitation to my hubby’s best-friend’s mother’s 60th b-day party. It was address to The G Family. Do you see the difference?
    Side note – My cousin & his fiancee had other guest bring children, ranging from 13-6 months. I though the kids were a bit of a distraction with the running around (What else is there to do????) and the reception didn’t end until midnight and some were still there (6 month olds!!!!) Maybe I’m the other a-hole on here, but I think THAT’s selfish IMO.

  • Karen

    September 26, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    My inlaws are very interesting people who like to get their way and are not welcoming on new family.

    Our wedding would have been a disaster if I had tried to control anything in any way. I just let it flow and it was a wonderful day. We did have a 2 year old at our wedding and we danced with him and took photos. He is my husband’s cousin. He called me “Star lady” from the tiarra and gazed at me with awe. 10 years later, I smile when I think of his addition to our day. I think kids can be crazy and a distraction but they can also add so much fun to a get together or situation. They are funny and do silly things that make people smile. They can also be crazy and trouble but most parents will remove them when/if that happens.

    I guess my stance on this is only you know what the pros and cons to this will be based on this child (over the course of the next few months) and your inlaws-to-be. Decide what the fallout might be and if the baby will be wisked away in the event of drama.

  • roo

    September 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    When my sister was getting married, she’d hired a trumpeter to play Purcell while she walked down the aisle.

    He… well, he sounded like a dying goose. There’s little that’s louder or worse than a poorly-played trumpet (except maybe bagpipes.) And as MofH, I was heartbroken for my sister. Her ceremony was ruined!

    I said something sympathetic to her about it later. Her response? “Oh, yeah… I guess he was bad.”

    Even later, she explained that pretty much everything that day that didn’t go right was lost in the haze of, “I’m getting married!”

    You’d be surprised what ends up just not being that important on your Big Day.

  • -k-

    September 26, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    How can a one-year-old even *be* a flower girl? That suggests to me that the LW isn’t exaggerating about the family being overly gung-ho with this kid. I feel like the kid is gonna wind up at the wedding either way, but I think she could reasonably make the decision that there will be no babies in the wedding party.

    Then, though yeah, there’s merging of families etc. etc., I also tend not to be in the “the wedding is the moment at which your in-laws being to run your life” camp, but rather on the side of “the wedding is the moment at which, if you haven’t started respectfully setting boundaries already, you’re late and it would be a damn good time to start”.

  • Katie

    September 26, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    My sister got married over the summer and my daughter (age 1.5) was the flower girl and I was a bridesmaid. The bride (my sis) was the one who initiated the invitation… as it should be! There was definitely an understanding that a 1.5 yo is pretty unreliable and we really had no idea what she would or wouldn’t do on the big day! In the end, my daughter refused to hold her basket, but she came running down the isle from my husband’s arms to my arms at the front of the church. This got a lot of smiles and laughs from everyone…. sure, she *was* the center of attention for about 30 seconds. BUT, of course all eyes were on the bride as soon as she entered!! I held my wiggly daughter during the bride’s processional and then dismissed her to the church lobby, where my MIL (not involved with the wedding other than as our sitter) was waiting to watch her for the rest of the ceremony. We made the choice not to bring her to the reception (although she was invited) because my MIL was gracious enough to babysit and we knew it would mean more work for us to run around after her at the dinner if she came with us. But, I think it’s best that WE (the parents) made that decision. It definitely would have rubbed me the wrong way if I was told that she was not welcome. At my own wedding, we welcomed kids… some parents opted to leave them behind, some brought them and left early, some probably kept them up late (I can’t even remembe). Ideally, the parents should be the ones who figure out whether it’s a good idea to bring their kids… they know best about bedtime, behavior, and how much work it wil be for them. Now, I get that some kids really are terrors and some parents really are clueless… but I still think that is just life. I try to be understanding, but I can’t help but feel that making a big deal about keeping kids out is kind of obnoxious. Especially in this case… with a close relative and just 1yo.

  • MR

    September 26, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    I look at it this way. The OP is calling the family “obsessed” about this baby. OP, when you have a baby, do you want them to ignore it? Would you want your SIL to tell you that YOUR baby wasn’t welcome? If you would want your in laws to shower your baby with love and attention, then you let the baby come to the wedding and even maybe be carried down the aisle. You can’t have it both ways. Your in laws seem like they are trying to welcome you with open arms. The love and attention they shower this baby is also the same love and attention they will shower your babies with, if you let them. But, I agree with other posters, kids really don’t steal the show away from the bride. I had 6 nieces and nephews all under the age of 5 when I got married. One of my nephews decided the ceremony was boring and started babbling. At one point, he was even rolling around in the aisle. I did hear him at one point during the ceremony, but I had NO idea about the rolling around in the aisle part until after the pictures came back. Most of the guests smiled at him briefly and promptly returned their attention back to dh and me. Not a single person came up to me at the reception and said “OMG, your nephew was hilarious!” No, it was all about dh and me. As for his babbling during the ceremony, it was at a point where I was really struggling not to cry. I figured one of my nieces and nephews would do something during the ceremony, but he was the one I would have least expected it from, so it made me laugh and I stopped crying. We also have a wonderful picture of dh and me with all of the nieces and nephews. At the reception we had kid-friendly snacks and a table with construction paper and crayons. I barely saw any of them the whole time. Remember, there are a lot of people at the reception and they spend very little time actually with you. So, it is nice for them to have a baby or something else that they can focus on while you eat and chat with your other guests. 

  • liz

    September 26, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    If you don’t want kids at the wedding, that’s fine, but it WILL cause hurt feelings and grumpiness that will last for years. Why do you want to start your married life with that hanging over you?

    Offer babysitting on site.

    And remember, if there are more than 20 people at the ceremony and reception, a few kids offer entertainment to those who aren’t talking to you right that minute.

    I had 120 people at my wedding. Wedding was all-day sort of thing at my mom’s house. I spent less than 10 minutes with each person. And I’m so glad I have pictures of all the kids that were at the wedding, because some of them are getting married now. And they’re inviting my son.

  • Annie

    September 26, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    When my husband and I got married 13 years ago, we had kids at our wedding. This included a few young babies and noisy toddlers, and a scene-stealing flower girl who gave everyone the stink eye as she went down the aisle. Hilarious. I still get compliments about my wedding, which means a lot to me. When people rememeber my wedding they don’t recall the kids, or any of the goofy things that happened. They recall the way they felt and the vibe of the event. They recall the way my husband and I interacted with each other and our guests. No one remembers the flower girl. Your wedding is yours of course, but it’s also the first event you and your new husband will ever host together, so your guests are important. The decisions you make will introduce you as a couple to your families and friends.

  • melissa

    September 27, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Cheers to Amalah for the very nice response. I can understand not wanting a ton of kids at your wedding. We didn’t invite kids to ours but we did invite our nieces and nephew and the kids of our guests that were traveling from out of state. I’m a Mom now and certianly don’t expect my daughter to be invited to a wedding. But the idea that one kid can’t be present because it will upstage the bride? That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I have ever heard of. You do realize that you’re competing with someone that still pees in her pants, right? Certainly your call. I can’t wait for your next question to Amalah about how to word your invitations – yes you want the women invited to wear burlap sack and no makeup. This is your day and you need to be the center of attention. No one else should look better than you.

  • Erika

    September 27, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    How I wish I had read this when planning my wedding at 21(!). It’s really, really not worth it to exclude kids. It just makes you look…ugh. Leave the decisions to the parents. Just because a kid is invited doesn’t mean that mom and dad won’t decide to get a sitter anyway.

  • LMo

    September 27, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    I just got engaged, and my fiance and I are having this exact discussion. I think (hope) we have settled on a mixture of all of these suggestions. Children will be welcomed at discrete events (the ceremony and next-day brunch) and not at others (rehearsal dinner and reception) but we will offer on-site child care for those who are present. It seems to me that there is nothing wrong with excluding children for the right reasons, i.e. the circumstances are inappropriate and they will be a disruption (not a distraction from the bride). Just my two cents.

  • Kate

    September 27, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    This is always such a tough subject, with strong feelings on both sides. We chose to have a no-kids wedding, seeing as it was a formal-ish, evening event that just wasn’t very kid friendly or appropriate, so we drew the line at college-aged or older. This meant excluding several of my cousins who, individually, are awesome kids, but when they get together in a big group can get a bit rambunctious. We felt, and still believe, that we made the best call for us, and my parents, who hosted the wedding, were fully on board with the decision. However, Amy is right — you cannot control the response to your decision. One of my mom’s siblings, whose children were not invited, was ticked, to the continuing detriment of their relationship. I would really caution you about starting off your relationships in a new family in this way. I am generally behind hosts setting whatever parameters they want, with the understanding that if guests can’t comply they should be allowed to decline the invite without issue. However, even I can’t think of a wedding I’ve attended where the no-kids rule actually applied to nieces/nephews of the bride and groom. You shouldn’t feel bullied into letting someone else plan your wedding (perhaps point out that one is kind of young for flower girl status?), but by the same token, this is your new family, and they adore that little girl as they will one day adore your kids. Is excluding your niece really where you want to push back? I promise, it is just not possible to steal a bride’s thunder. Everyone in the room is there FOR YOU. Sure, people might pass the baby around and talk about how adorable she is, but you will still be overwhelmed by the constant talking and well-wishing and general focus on the new family you and your husband are creating. Best of luck to you!

  • Tracy

    September 28, 2011 at 9:12 am

    Whether or not you want children AT your wedding, having a one-year-old IN your wedding is simply ridiculous. And if the family is insisting on this, I can see why you’re having problems with them.

  • stacey

    September 29, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    We didn’t have kids at our wedding, we didn’t want them. It was an event that we paid for ourselves, which meant that we were able to decide the guest list. No one randomly brought their kids…and at least 40 of our 95 guests have kids under 10 (many travelled from 5+ hours away). It was an adult event…we loved every minute of it. Would I have noticed them? Probably. Would I have cared? Yeah, probably.
    And now that I have a 7 month old? I still wouldn’t have wanted kids at our wedding (even though he is freaking ADORABLE).
    It’s your day, you can do whatever you want. But of course…only if you’re paying, and your huband to be is also 100% totally on board. He should be in charge of managing his family, you’re in charge of managing yours.

  • Sara

    September 29, 2011 at 8:56 pm

    I didn’t have kids at my wedding. Just kinda of kindly passed on by word of mouth. Ours was an evening event and the venue had stairs and tile floor and was a cocktails and dancing sort of place. Basically, we were trying to avoid the gaggle of small children that often happens at our large family events, you know, the herd of loud kids running wild, parents using family as an excuse to not watch kids closely enough. I asked my friends with kids what they would prefer, and they said they wanted to leave them at home. So home it was for the 8 and under set. Honestly, we wouldn’t have been that upset if someone brought a kid. We weren’t anti-kid, just anti-giant herd of late night children. We also chose not to have any flower girls or ring bearers. BUT if there had been an infant too little to leave at home, or a close family member’s small child they would have been welcome. Your choice is to bite the bullet and realize that the baby won’t ruin your day, or make a decision that will create (possibly major) issues with your future family I think you bite the bullet on allowing this kid to be there, heck even let them buy her a flower girl dress if they want to spend the cash, but I doubt that they will have illusions of her walking down the aisle as flower girl once she gets a bit older. And I promise. She won’t ruin your big day.

  • Lizzy

    November 19, 2013 at 6:35 am

    I have parents who were abusive in the past, and my mother is manipulative and neglectful now. My siblings eloped so I’m pretty much the only chance she gets at taking part in planning a wedding. And that’s partly why I’m having a suprise wedding. Planning a wedding is hard enough, I don’t want the experience to be completely ruined by her controlling tendencies and thoughtless remarks.

    Under the guise of a nighttime event, I going to spring the ceremony on my guests, just after the “reception.” And I will not have kids there. My siblings have kids so I will probably arrange a mini-party nearby for their kids, but I’m not really enthusiastic about my extended relatives attending, we’re not that close, so I’m not including kids in everyone else’s invitations.

    I really appreciate the experiences other people have shared, and while I disagree with many opinions, (this is me and him joining, not our families) I’m glad I got a preview for what is to come. I know the no-kid news won’t be accepted politely, my sister-in-law assumed she would be MOH at my wedding until I told her it will be a surprise wedding. I wasn’t even invited to theirs because they eloped on a whim, and now several kids later they can’t have their vow renewal for a long time, if ever.

    At my coming of age event, which my mother planned, there was a mishap involving someone I had expressly asked not be involved in the ceremony, who ultimately was. This resulted in an eruption of laughter from EVERYONE that while a reasonable person would insist was not directed AT me, felt that way and was and is still humiliating. One holiday, I hosted and tried my best to get a head count for, which my mother invited her relatives to, which increased attendance by no less than threefold. She denied doing so and I was embarassed by not having enough food for all the people that were there. These and a lifetime of unfortunate incidents have convinced me Suprise Wedding is perfect for my situation. I’m not having any children so feel free to keep, “won’t you want your kids to be included in other weddings,” to yourself.

  • kefi18

    February 9, 2017 at 5:59 pm

    My SIL was livid that we didn’t have our niece as our flower girl; she was 13 months old when we got married, only learned to walk 2 (2!!!) days before our wedding, and we’d already asked my friend’s 3 year old. My SIL insisted that our flower girl could pull our niece in a wagon (no), and showed up to our wedding with our niece in what was so beyond obviously a flower girl dress, “just in case you change your minds!”. We didn’t, and they both missed the ceremony anyway, as our niece A) blew out her diaper and had poop all over her dress, and B) didn’t nap in the car on the way there like they’d hoped, so my SIL had to take her outside because she was screaming and covered in poop. I’m glad we stuck to our guns about this, because babies don’t need to be in weddings if you don’t want them to be.