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Brides vs. Babies, Round Two

By Amalah


I have an advicely question which needs the opinion of a parent completely unrelated to me. I’m planning a wedding. It’s far away, still, but of course, everything hinges on the guest list. Trouble is, we have two guest lists. One list of adults only, and one list with children included. It’s not a huge list either way, but adding children jumps the list by 25 or 30. I managed to skate around choosing which list to use through the whole “choosing a venue” process (holycrap I still can’t even talk about that), but I’m not going to be able to avoid it much longer. I have to decide: Am I having an adults only wedding, or will children under 18 be invited as well?

Of course, there are complicating factors.

1. Due to the ages of my cousins on my father’s side, there is no reasonable “cut off” age to apply across the board. We’d be dividing between siblings or telling just one of my dad’s 6 million brothers that he couldn’t bring his children.

2. I think the idea of a wedding with all of my 16 thousand cousins and kids’ friends running around and having a blast would be awesome. I think that a wedding with only adults, no kids to watch, no one having to take their children home early, would be equally awesome. I genuinely like BOTH ideas.

3. Hiring an on site babysitter and other various “kids table” or separate kid facilities have already been discussed and tossed out as unworkable in this situation.

4. My entire family already thinks I hate children. Excluding children would just confirm this in their minds. That aggravates me, as I do not hate children.

5. I kind of feel that an evening wedding with a late reception and open bar really isn’t a kid-friendly event, but I also feel that weddings are family-centric events.

So here are my questions. As a parent, how do you feel when you get an invitation (say to a wedding) that doesn’t include your children? Insulted? Excited for a child-free evening? If you got an invitation to a wedding that DID include your kids, but was an evening reception (going to 11pm or so) with an open bar, do you bring them? Do you feel obligated to bring your kids if they are invited, or make a decision based on your mood or what kind of evening it is? Do parents keep an eye on their kids at such events (I admit it – most of the kids I’d invite are great, but a couple are complete jerks not above sticking their hands in a cake)? Is it a bit “less fun” if you’ve got to watch your kids the whole evening, without anything really to entertain them? Do parents need to leave these events early to take children home? If I do decide to exclude children, how do I explain that it is not out of any animosity for kids (I DON’T HATE KIDS!), but simply because we’ve planned an adult evening? Tell the truth, there are people who are going to be pissed, aren’t there?


Your pal,

If you read the comments on the LAST question I tackled about kids and weddings and brides (oh my!), you probably got the picture that this is one of those AWESOME topics where 1) a lot of people have strong-ish opinions about it, and 2) nobody really agrees with each other.

So hooray! Congrats on THAT one. Moving on.

If you’re really just after what I would do, with my own children…I would be absolutely totally fine with you not inviting them. I mean, they’re LITTLE. They go to bed at EIGHT. By 8:30, they’re practically gremlins. One of them requires regular access to a changing table and destroys everything, and the other probably couldn’t find a single palatable thing to eat on a wedding buffet if his life depended on it, unless you had the entire event catered by Annie’s Organics. I am one of those parents who WOULD keep both of my eyes on both of my children the entire time, and would DIE if they put their hands in the cake or knocked over a centerpiece or farted during the ceremony.

There are times when being with your kids is really, really fun. A formal evening wedding and late reception and open bar is just — TO ME — not one of those times. I would not think twice about contacting our sitter before sending off our two-person RSVP. (We’ll eat whatever’s fanciest. Unless there’s ribs.)

If you did invite them, I would probably be a little surprised, a lot touched, but unless it was during the day, or there was information provided about on-site child care, or I had your personal assurance that it was going to be a very casual, laid-back event with dozens of other children to act as bad-behavior camouflage…I’d likely still leave them at home.

But then again, we’re talking LITTLE KIDS here. You mentioned the lack of a clear cut-off age and I really feel you on that. If my boys were…I don’t even know…9 and 12? Capable of eating chicken or fish without protest and generally behaving like real human beings after 10 pm? Or even 6 and 8, and at an age where busting moves on the dance floor is fun for them and hilarious for everybody watching? Perhaps then I’d be bit more on board with saving money on a sitter and bringing them along. (And on the flip side, if I only had one very small baby of the stick-em-in-the-sling-and-go-about-your-business variety, who could be counted on to nurse and sleep and not much else, I’d definitely rather bring him along.)

There’s also the whole “out-of-town wedding” aspect. If you’re expecting these families with children to travel further than a reasonable drive…I could see the no-kid invites becoming a bigger deterrent. Travel costs, possible hotel stays…PLUS needing to find and pay a stranger to watch your kids? People may understand, but they may also just not be able to commit to that.

Have I talked in aimless circles enough? God.

So. If you look at your list and see a high percentage of out-of-towners with kids…I think you might want to include the kids. I know you said hiring childcare or doing a kid’s table isn’t feasible…but what about aiming for something a little less organized? Any teenage cousins with some babysitting experience who could be persuaded into having a couple much-younger “charges” for the night? Some baby-crazy 12-year-olds who could be called to hold babies outside the ceremony or while parents get to sit down and eat? (Hell, we had the teenage sons of a couple invited families act as parking valets in exchange for $20 and tips. A lot of kids find weddings to be boring anyway, and are happy to have something to do.) Could you swing a small table off to the side somewhere with paper, crayons, some other craft-y activities in case kids get bored and looking for mischief? Fake flowers so kids can create their own bouquets, coloring pages of wedding cakes or getaway cars to decorate?

But. Here’s where I take wishy-washy to new heights: you are entirely within the non-Bridezilla realm even if you only invite adults. You’re obviously thinking this through and thinking about your guests and your family and pleasing everybody. But look, if you can’t invite the kids for some reason (guest count, budget, venue limitations, etc.)…OR EVEN IF YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO…give yourself a break. It’s okay. Evening wedding! Late reception! Open bar! Most parents get that it’s not really time for a big ol’ playdate. And some people might not be able to come and some might even be pissed that you did not include their preshus snowflakes. Bwah. More cake for everybody else then!

If you do decide to go no-kids but want to stave off any (real or imagined) bad will from snubbed parents, maybe try to organize some shared-sitter/drop-off locations? (And by “organize” I mean “delegate to someone local with kids who would enjoy feeling useful.”) A couple houses, a couple sitters, as high of a kids-to-sitter ratio as parents feel comfortable with (or is, you know, legal). Then multiple guests can split the cost of the babysitters, and out-of-town guests won’t have to stress over using an agency or finding someone responsible.

(Oh. If you do decide to go adults-only, there is always the chance that somebody will ignore the names on the invitation and bring their kids anyway. Happened to us, though we weren’t necessarily going no-kids, we were just trying to stay really, really small. They sent back their RSVP card with the printed TWO crossed out and wrote THREE. So. There is also that.)

Ultimately, just figure out which wedding is the one you REALLY WANT. Kids running around, getting down on the dance floor, saying hilarious things to your videographer? Or a nice grown-up evening out where everybody can stay as long as they want and dance the night away without worrying about the unsupervised 14-year-olds who managed to swipe a bottle of peach schnapps from the bar and are now puking in the rose bushes?


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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  • Ellen

    October 2, 2009 at 1:55 am

    Yup. The other thing to keep in mind is that whether or not they bring their kids (or even HAVE kids), a lot of people are not going to want to stay for the entire reception. Weddings go by in a blur for brides/grooms, but for guests they can really drag. Of course everyone’s happy for you, but the fact is that some of them are just waiting around for the cake-cutting and bouquet-tossing “moments” to happen so they can decently skedaddle.
    The reason I included kids in my wedding invitations was that I didn’t want to stress about it; I didn’t want to stress about anything if I could help it, and that mainly involved taking an approach that didn’t count on any specific way my wedding would go. I mean, I knew I wanted to come out the other end a married lady, but otherwise I didn’t care about kids wrecking things or people leaving early or the cake looking ugly or whatever. It’s just a party, things will go wrong, just resolve to have fun and it will be fun.

  • Beth

    October 2, 2009 at 3:38 am

    Amy’s response is awesome, and I just wanted to offer one other option that might sound a little wishy-washy, but it worked well for us. When we planned our wedding, including everyone’s kids made for a very long guest list that wouldn’t work for our venue. We discussed providing babysitters or activities for kids, but in all honesty, we couldn’t handle planning or funding any more details that weren’t aboslutely necessary.
    So we made the decision to invite only kids in our families. This worked well for our particular situation, and it made a very clear “rule” for how we could explain our wedding choices to guests, just in case anyone asked why their kid wasn’t invited…no one ever asked though…all the parents were way too busy taking full advantage of the open bar and rocking out on the dance floor.

  • Hilde

    October 2, 2009 at 8:05 am

    I’m delurking to emphasize Amalah’s last point: if your families are fairly large and a lot of people have kids, odds are some clueless person will bring theirs, and then you’re stuck with the worst combination: people grumbling about you not inviting kids AND you still have to plan for kids being present. We just got married and included kids simply because we knew that a few people would bring theirs regardless.

  • jodifur

    October 2, 2009 at 8:15 am

    I just wanted to 2nd Amy’s comment about helping to find sitters. I have a 4 year old, and we were recently invited to a fancy out of town family wedding w/out him. Fine, no problem. Except no one helped us find a sitter and then gave us crap when my husband went w/out me. So, I think not inviting little kids is fine, but if the wedding is in a place where guests won’t have access to their sitters, it is helpful if you help them find sitters, but you don’t need to pay.
    Soapbox over.

  • Stephanie

    October 2, 2009 at 8:32 am

    I think in some situations, it’s okay to have a cut-off age that would separate siblings. Like if one family has, say a two-year-old and a six-year old. Depending on the kid, a six-year-old could really enjoy a wedding (and be an enjoyable guest), but a two-year-old, definitely not. And if I had kids with a big gap in ages, I’d completely understand the youngest being excluded from a wedding invite. Even if the youngest was invited, I just might find a sitter for him or her anyway. My sister’s kids are five years apart, and the youngest (she’s three) is quite often excluded from things that the older cousins get to do, just because she’s not quite mature enough. She doesn’t always like it, but she accepts it.
    Of course, I don’t know the specifics of your particular situation regarding the various kids’ ages, but your families just might be more understanding about an age cut-off than you think.
    And I think a reasonable age cut-off is five or six, with some wiggle room, depending on the kids.

  • Sarah

    October 2, 2009 at 8:48 am

    No real advice, I just wanted to share a personal anecdote; my childhood best fried got married this June, I had a baby mid-May. She would have happily nurse/slept in a sling the entire time, I’m sure. However, it was a no-kids event (um, except that the bride had her nieces and nephews in the wedding and apparently family was allowed to bring their kids…). I was pretty hurt that I couldn’t bring her, because at that point it meant that I couldn’t go. I also felt that the allowing of family’s kids and not friend’s kids was rude.

  • Daisy

    October 2, 2009 at 8:59 am

    So I recently left basically the same comment on the previous brides/babies post (Look! Pushy Bride! My opinion is THE BEST!) and I also should say I said my wedding was in May which was a huge typo, it is, um, NEXT WEEK, but anyway.
    We have a destination wedding (Savannah! So pretty!) but our wedding doesn’t even start until 6:30 pm. That just isn’t conducive to kids bedtimes & our food is kind of fancy-fancy & we didn’t think all of our friends/family with kids would be so accommodating about finding sitters. So, first we planned a whole weekend of fun (destination & all) and made most of the other activities kid-friendly in case people were looking to make a mini-vacation out of the weekend. Then we sent out invites that were clearly only to the adults AND spread through “word of mouth” via Mom’s & wedding party that kids were not invited to the reception. Then we sent each family or couple with friends a note about how we hoped they’d join us & if the were bringing little Junior along for the weekend we had asked our Minister’s daughters & friends to reserve the night & we’d be happy to help them set up a sitter at their hotel. Not only did this prevent us from having to make any awkward phone calls “Um hi, you RSVP’d for three, but the reception is adult only……….gah….” but people were touched we’d taken the time to find reliable child care in a strange city.
    And then everyone decided to leave their kids at home & make a fun adult weekend out of it. WIN-WIN!

  • Heather

    October 2, 2009 at 9:00 am

    My husband and I are attending a fancy (black tie! Ack! Had to buy a dress with post-partum-ness! Double ack!) wedding next weekend, which requires plane tickets, with our 3.5 month old. The bride desperately wants to meet the baby, so there was no question of her attendance. I asked, and she responded with, tips about how to sneak out of the wedding if the baby got fussy. We are renting a car, rather than taking the shuttle, so we can ditch the fancy reception whenever needed. The baby is young, so there are no worries about food pickyness or real naughtiness. Hopefully, she will sleep the whole time. I would love to attend the grown-up type event without the baby, but I really don’t want to leave her anywhere yet. Hope my info help you out, good luck with your decision!

  • Heather

    October 2, 2009 at 9:01 am

    My husband and I are attending a fancy (black tie! Ack! Had to buy a dress with post-partum-ness! Double ack!) wedding next weekend, which requires plane tickets, with our 3.5 month old. The bride desperately wants to meet the baby, so there was no question of her attendance. I asked, and she responded with, tips about how to sneak out of the wedding if the baby got fussy. We are renting a car, rather than taking the shuttle, so we can ditch the fancy reception whenever needed. The baby is young, so there are no worries about food pickyness or real naughtiness. Hopefully, she will sleep the whole time. I would love to attend the grown-up type event without the baby, but I really don’t want to leave her anywhere yet. Hope my info help you out, good luck with your decision!

  • Olivia

    October 2, 2009 at 9:14 am

    This is all depends so much on individual circumstances I don’t think there is a good answer.
    If I was invited to a no-kids wedding, I probably wouldn’t go right now unless I was SUPER close to the couple. My baby is 6 months, I work full time and I simply wouldn’t want to spend much time away from her. And (wrongly) I would feel a bit slighted because my baby is super easy. I can (and have) worn her in a sling at adult parties, and she will hardly make a peep. But I know the “My baby is so totally not a brat” is not really a valid argument.
    My inclination would be to not invite kids if the logistics are too much on top of regular wedding planning. There may be hurt feelings, but mature adults will either leave their children with a sitter or chalk it up to one of those things you miss when you have kids.

  • Alissa

    October 2, 2009 at 9:42 am

    I’m with the PP. Out of towners, with kids, at an adult-only wedding? Help them find a sitter. We’re going to a very out of town, adult wedding in a couple weeks. Fortunately, auntie lives only 45 minutes away, so she’s our babysitter for the eight month old. But the groom’s BROTHER is coming solo, sans wife and four year old child, because nobody helped him find a sitter. And he’s… Well, he’s a bit pissed about that. Which doesn’t make for great family relations!
    I don’t AT ALL mind the no kids thing, personally. Hubby and I are going to have a GREAT TIME, stay at a hotel without baby, and enjoy ourselves! But without auntie living so close? We’d have been in a bit of a pickle.

  • aimeonee

    October 2, 2009 at 10:37 am

    We had an afternoon wedding, invited kids because I had young cousins, and genuinely wanted kids to come, but still caught flack from my husband’s cousin’s wife because we couldn’t arrange sitting for her little ones. You’re not going to be able to please everyone, so follow Amy’s sage advice: Have the wedding you really want. And enjoy yourself! As my darling 95-year-old neighbor told me, “Have fun, dear. If the bride has a good time, everyone has a good time.” So I did, and they did…Well, the cousin’s wife picked a fight with him and dragged a bunch of the family home early, but everyone else had a blast.

  • mary

    October 2, 2009 at 10:42 am

    I think you said “Familycentric” in your letter, so to me, that means everybody including the kids. My 3yo was just in a family wedding and she did pretty well (it was an outdoor reception and the wedding started at 2:30 or so). My baby was 5 months at the time and not a trouble even though she was with Daddy because Mommy was in the wedding. I think it would depend on the kids. I would probably not leave my kids for an out of town wedding until over the age of two. I just wouldn’t want to be away from them (I’m one of those “extended” breastfeeders). I would also be one of those parents who was ticked off about my kids not being invited especially if it were a family wedding. Family = Inconvenient whether you invite the kids or not, for the reasons already mentioned.

  • Kimmers

    October 2, 2009 at 10:50 am

    Amy, I think you did a fantastic job answering a really hard to answer question. What is it about babies and weddings that always bring out the strong opinions?? 🙂
    Can I piggyback off the OP’s question and ask, what if my fiance’s sister has 5 kids? And they range from 15 all the way down to 12 months? And I really, realllllllly want an adults only wedding, but I JUST KNOW that his sister will be MORTALLY OFFENDED if we don’t invite her kids (even though I love them dearly I must say, they are 100% the type to be very disruptive, even the 6 and 7 year old)? Fiance’s sister is the type to bring the kids evvvvvverywhere, sometimes to the irritation of hostesses, so I feel pretty confident that she will expect to bring the kids to the wedding. And, she lives about 2, 2.5 hours away and does not ever leave her kids with non family members. SO. I want the wedding I want and I think that’s completely fair, but I ALSO don’t want to start World War 3, you know? But the situation is further complicated by the fact that there are A LOT of other kids in my fiance’s family. If we cave and invite his nieces and nephews, do we have to invite all the rest too? (I feel like I should mention that this is also a cost issue too as we’re paying for the wedding ourselves and really need to limit the guest list, and adding kids will hugely inflate it.)
    Sorry to jump in with my own question, but it was so similar I had to ask!

  • E

    October 2, 2009 at 10:57 am

    Yes, Ellen. I wish I had known that when I was getting married. I know when we get a wedding invitation, the only time my husband is anything except grrr/dread/whine is when it’s guaranteed open bar and other friends as guests.
    I just returned from an out-of-town family wedding (which required plane tickets), which started at 7pm, to which my children were invited (which was touching, and no, we wouldn’t have gone without them). I was so glad to be there for my cousin, but for me, my focus is always my kids…that’s just the way it is. The wedding is periphery.
    Bride, depending on the size of your guest list, you will barely notice or recognize who actually made it or didn’t make it to the wedding, probably until you get the pictures back.
    Yes, I would love to have an adults’ night, but not if it means leaving my kids with a stranger in a strange hotel. And, spending a rare “date night” with my husband at your wedding isn’t really what I had in mind.

  • Amy

    October 2, 2009 at 11:02 am

    My mom owns a chapel, ballroom and event center, and bridal shop in Indiana, and has been a wedding coordinator for, jeez, forever. 15 years? Anyway, She has written about this very issue on her blog:
    As a former bride and many-times-bridesmaid, I have seen the fallout of having a no kids policy at weddings first hand. One friend of mine’s own brother threatened to boycott the wedding if kids weren’t involved – not for his own kids who were in the wedding party and would’ve been there anyway, but because of his niece and nephew (another sibling of the bride’s children). He came around, eventually, but not without a lot of yelling.
    I think you need to take the culture of your own family into account. What have your cousins, siblings, and other recently-married relatives done? Is your family the Jerry Springer type that thrives on drama and fighting, or are they more stoic and less likely to scream and yell? Because if they’re (forgive me) kinda trashy, it might be more trouble than it’s worth to say “no kids” and deal with all the hysterics for the sake of hysterics. (I have some kinda trashy family, myself, so I mean that with love and empathy).
    I think it’s completely reasonable to say, “No one under 13,” at an evening wedding with a bar, but you have to be prepared for people to say, “Fine, we’re not coming,” particularly people from out of town and people who have kids who span the gap – a 5 year old and 14 year old, for example.
    I have lots of thoughts on this, but I have to go to work… Sorry. 🙂

  • Denise

    October 2, 2009 at 12:16 pm

    I was married 10 years ago and this “kids” issue is still quite vivid. My parents wanted kids to be invited and my in-laws did not. Also there were 2 teenage cousins on my husband’s side who had recently been slinging mashed potatos across the table at a very pricy restaurant on the occasion of their grandmother’s 80th birthday. We invited everyone else to bring kids except the family with the food-fighting teens. The parents came but there is no contact with the cousins to this day. Personally, I don’t care, but my husband wishes that he didn’t ailienate them (especially the sister who wasn’t food fighting). The kids who did come to the wedding were supposed to be in another room being watched by a sitter, but the kids asked to go back to their parents and it all dissolved into a dozen kids running around during dinner. At least they had fun dancing.

  • Heidi

    October 2, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    Y’know, I’m in the same pickle. My BF and I have started talking about getting married.
    Problem is…he’s got 2 kids from his first marriage, we have one child together, and oh yeah, aside from ONE PERSON in the wedding party, everyone we know has at least two kids. Mostly under the age of six.
    Like the OP, weddings have always been a family affair, and families have babies and children.
    We debated for hours on whether or not to invite kids. I mean, OUR kids are there, and we didn’t want to insult the bridal party and yeah…We’re paying for this shindig ourselves, and lets face it: the more people you tack onto the guest list, you can practically SEE your bugdet dwindling and your money evaporating.
    I talked to my stepmother, (one of my stepsisters is in the wedding) and I asked if she thought anyone would be offended. She said if anyone was offended or crosses out TWO and puts THREE just calmly explain, “We’d love it if Hellraiser could come, but we’re on a very tight budget and we simply cannot afford for Hellraiser to attend. However, here’s the name of the babysitter we use, and we just love her.”
    If a lot of your family INSISTS on bring Hellraiser and Rebel Jr to the wedding, find 2-3 HS girls that’ll cut you a discount for the evening, btu stipulate to your guests that because you said no kids, they’re on their own for childcare costs.

  • Mama Bub

    October 2, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    We did not have kids at our wedding. We had a very large evening wedding and it just didn’t seem like the appropriate place. The only children were the ones IN the wedding. People understood that a wedding is not a children’s event. If people are coming from out of town, I would help them to find a sitter, though, otherwise they’ll be high and dry.

  • NGS

    October 2, 2009 at 1:07 pm

    Ah, yes. There was much family drama in our world over this question. We said no kids and we meant it (fine, I’ll come out and say it was because I am selfish and wanted to be the center of attention, not the adorable 2 year old bustin’ a move on the dance floor). Plus, Our wedding didn’t start until 6:00 pm. Late night! We had several people tell us they weren’t coming because of the kid situation. That was fine with us as we were trying to keep it small.
    But, the opposite side of the coin, the neglected side in this question, is that some parents LOVE an excuse to have a night away without kids. They get to put the blame on someone else – the bride and groom! And, the folks who have decided not to have kids generally love this arrangement because they’ve (usually, not always) decided not to have kids for a reason and having kids around, even well behaved kids, drives them batty.
    But, yes, two years later my in-laws still speak of me as the child hater and my own aunt and uncle refuse to speak to me or my parents. Drama.

  • Abi

    October 2, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    Please have the wedding you want. In my opinion adding 25-30 children to a wedding is a lot of chaos and additional money.
    That said, about 25 years ago my dad’s cousin got married and invited everyone’s children. I have such fond memories of the event – hanging out with my all my extended cousins, dancing with my dad and grandpa. It was great. I recently saw the couple at another family wedding and mentioned how I had such great memories of their wedding. They said they couldn’t believe how many kids from my generation had come up to them and said the exact same thing – 25 years later. They indicated that they had been hesitant to invite so many kids but in hindsight they were so glad they had.

  • Dee

    October 2, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    I’m commenting only because this issue came up recently with a friend of mine. I think if you have out of town guests with kids, the kids should definitely be invited. I have a 1 and 4 year old and am not comfortable leaving them even for a weekend to attend an out of town event.
    If guests are all local, then I’d still invite the kids knowing that most parents won’t choose to bring them (unless they are family). Most parents know their own kids. If the kids can handle the situation well, they’ll probably bring them along. If the kids turn into absolute monsters at 7:00 in the evening, they’re more likely to hire a baby sitter so they can enjoy the event and not have to worry.
    In my opinion, there’s nothing better than a bunch of kids shakin’ their little booties on the dance floor at a wedding!

  • LB

    October 2, 2009 at 1:17 pm

    I’ve always been a pretty firm believer in the Evening Wedding = NO LITTLE KIDS. I was never invited with my parents to a wedding until I was a teenager, because where I’m from, it’s just assumed if you’re having a nighttime formal affair there likely won’t be any young children. I have no children, but I am married, and yes, some people expressed their anger at not inviting kids to our wedding, but in the end, those people still came anyway and it hasn’t been mentioned since. SO…do what is right for you and your fiance. It is your day and your family and friends should be respectful of your wishes. Good luck and Congratulations!!!

  • Christina

    October 2, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    I’m planning my wedding right now as well. What I’ve done is be straight up with the Moms. I’ve called each of them and said something like, “Look I realize this can be a challenge for you and I want to make it easy if I can. I know you have to travel/drive/manage 3 kids/breastfeed/insert their issue here and here are the options I’ve come up with. How can I make it work for you?”
    Some of them have said, in not so many words, that my calling them was clearly my way of trying to keep them from attending. Some of them were straight up right back and said they just couldn’t manage. Others have been down right awesome and said they’d try and they’d do their best to come and work with the options I’ve come up with.
    I have a few attending who asked if it was okay if their toddler attended. My answer was, “You know your kid better than I do and if you’re comfortable with it I am too.” Which, is true, for me.
    I guess what I’m saying here is Amy is right and thats what I did to deal with it.

  • Sarah 3

    October 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    My sister in law got married 2 years ago and she only invited my children because they were in the wedding. She also provided sitting for the kids after the main pictures and meal were done.
    That said? I look forward to weddings where I have to find a sitter for my children and leave them at home. If it’s an evening affair esp with open bar, I would exclude children. You certainly have enough to worry about with people drinking and driving. Throw children into that mix and you are adding absolutely uneccesary stress.
    My two cents!

  • Michele Horne

    October 2, 2009 at 1:27 pm

    I am floored by the response here. I did not even know that there was a big issue over this subject. Who the heck do you wedding guests think you are to dictate if your children should be guests at someones wedding? How selfish and rude of you! I have 3 children and would never even consider bringing them even if invited. It is the couples one and only very special day, not mine. There is no way that a bunch of kids is not going to alter the air of the wedding… they will be boisterous, lively and playful. And a wedding is not a place for that… a park is. We are adults and all chose to have children and are responsible for said children- which also means responsible for finding our own child care to attend events. Are you people trying to tell me when you are invited to an adult event (Not a wedding) say some work function- that you get insulted that you can’t bring your kids??? Give me a break, how dare you try to impose yourself on somebody else’s special day.
    Editor: whoa, down tiger. We love you for sharing your passionate views, but understand that in some cultures a wedding is a family event, not an “adult event” and that in fact your comment/views may be seen as the disrespectful one. It’s important for everyone to be able to share his/her opinion but making a blanket statement that the wedding guests who are responding here are rude is not appropriate. I will leave this comment in, but insulting commenters is not going to further the discussion.

  • Alpha Mom

    Alpha Mom

    October 2, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    Here are some responses from Twitter:
    @yummymommyseyes I did not even know this kids/ no kids debate existed! Some people have quite a sense of entitlement!
    @mublogger If you’re asking people to come from faraway, then it can be hard, but local, I don’t expect my kids nor do I really want to bring
    @MrsLoulou I would be offended if other children were invited, and not mine.
    @rookieheather I radically prefer not to have my kids at the wedding.
    @queenvanna only if i’m coming from out of town…. if it’s a 1 day deal, no biggie.
    @TheChefsWife it depends on how many of the close friends and family have kids.. i understand a no kid wedding if the majority don’t have kids

  • Christy

    October 2, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    It’s up to the bride and groom. Period. Everyone else needs to get over themselves. Yes, it might mean that you can’t attend, and that’s too bad, but it’s not about you. We had my nieces and nephews at the wedding and no other kids. We had friends who had a newborn and we talked with them about it. We told them that we’d prefer no babies, but that it was more important that they attend. They found a sitter.
    And, I’m sorry, but how is it rude to invite related children, but not friends’ kids? The bride and groom decide who they want to celebrate with, how many people they can accommodate and what type of environment they want to have. It’s up to the rest of us to graciously accept their decision and then decide how that works for us.
    Oh, but I do agree with Jodi. In an out-of-town wedding, either make accommodations for a sitter or find reputable suggestions for your guests. That’s good hosting…

  • Joceline

    October 2, 2009 at 2:43 pm

    I know this probably isn’t helpful to just have MORE OPTIONS, but another way to explain who you did/didn’t invite is to only include nursing babies. One of my husband’s cousins did that, and I thought it was a good way around having kids who are running around, eating, whining, but still gives parents with really little ones who can’t be left a way to go to the party. Anyone with kids older than that can leave them (even if they don’t LIKE to they still CAN), and you can hook out of towners up with babysitters (not pay for one, just connect them with someone) if necessary. That’s probably what I would do in your situation. That way you show some sensitivity to parents (you don’t totally hate kids!) but you still don’t have a ton of whiny kids there.

  • Maria

    October 2, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I’m with E on this one – when I got married, were there small children and babies there? Huh. I can’t even remember the GROWNUPS who where there, never mind kids! Brides and grooms are in such a (justifiably) self absorbed haze that most likely they won’t even notice who’s there and who’s not, who’s dancing with who, and who had to slip out of the ceremony because their little one needs a boob, bottle or change.
    That being said though, I am going to a wedding tomorrow and leaving my 3month old at home, both sets of grandparents are taking turns with the little guy. He wasn’t invited, no I’m not offended – in fact, I planned on leaving him at home not for the bride’s sake, not for mine, but for HIS. Waaaaaay too much stimuli for a wee baby!

  • Velocitygrl

    October 2, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    We did not invite anyone younger than 18 to our destination wedding, and we were quite happy with that choice. It was kind of a big deal, because both my BIL’s had 4yo daughters, and their wives are kinda crazy. I did call a couple friends from OOT with young kids, and let them know that we could help arrange babysitters through the hotel. I also made clear through word of mouth that while kids were welcome to be there for the weekend, the wedding/reception was intended for adults only. I know that there were some guests that didn’t attend because of it, but I was fine with that. Also, our wedding was small (45 people), and I definitely saw and talked to everyone there. Go with your gut- if you want kids there, have them. If you don’t want kids there, then say so (nicely), and let people know that you can help arrange child care, but you are under no obligation to pay for it.

  • Megan

    October 2, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    This is the worst sort of issue. This wedding is about YOU and YOUR HUSBAND, not everyone else. I wish that folks would take a step back and realize that brides aren’t going to be devastated if you can’t come to the wedding because of childcare issues. There are a million reasons that a person might not be able to attend and an unworkable situation due to childcare is a totally valid one.
    Like you mentioned, your guests are going to say one of the following: “Fine” and then make appropriate arrangements, “This doesn’t apply to me” and bring their kids anyway(just cross your fingers that they at least let you know beforehand), or “Hell no” and get angry with you. All of the above happened at my wedding nearly five years ago and I have an aunt and uncle who did not attend the wedding and still won’t speak to me or my parents because their six GRANDCHILDREN (all under the age of 6 at the time) weren’t invited (although we offered to find and pay for a babysitter). We also had folks RSVP for two and then bring their 11 and 9 year olds anyway.
    Basically, if you really want certain people to come, by all means make concessions to make that possible for them. But, at the end of the day it is the fact that other people feel like their feelings/special situations should take top priority at one of the biggest days of your life that is truly mind blowing. Honestly, no matter what you do people are going to end up irritated about something. With all the stress that goes into wedding planning, I would say that you should just bite the anger bullet, say no kids are invited, and save yourself the massive headache of trying to please everyone else on a day that is supposed to be about the two of you.

  • Jenny

    October 2, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    On kids at weddings—if you don’t invite them (and you are obviously within your rights if you don’t) chances are you might offend someone. If you can live with that, cool. If not, you should probably invite them. I’ve been to few weddings without kids present and in my opinion its more likely that some drunken cousin will cause trouble than a little kid running around. And there is nothing quite as cute as a bride dancing with a bunch of kids at the dance 🙂
    Something else not entirely related to the topic, but I’ve seen coming up in the comments. There have been a lot of comments along the lines of “it’s your wedding, not anyone else’s, do what you want, people should understand that”. And I get that idea, I really do. But I also think it is up to the hosts of a party (which is what the reception is—a party) to be considerate of their guests. I hate, hate, hate when a wedding is held at something like 3:00 and food isn’t served until 7:00pm and there is nothing to do until then. I hate when the wedding party doesn’t show up to the reception for several hours. It is YOUR wedding, but the guests at said wedding also deserve some respect and some flexibility from the couple.

  • Kate

    October 2, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Oh, Kelly. I am am right there with you. My fiance and I are in our 30s, and most of our friends and families have children – many of them small children.
    We decided to invite children for two reasons: 1)Because we’re locked in to a huge F&B minimum so adding kids into the picture really just helps us meet our F&B min (I know that sounds coarse).
    2)We love kids and love the kids of our friends and family and see them as part of the big circle of love.
    We have included a “children’s info” tab on our wedding website, and I’m leaving it to the parents to decide what they want to do. It’s pretty obvious that our reception venue is not very kid-friendly (, OMG fire hazard, anyone?) and there will be a band, etc. Via the website, I’ll provide contact info for sitters but I won’t be paying. (Because I feel that paying $100 per person for F&B is enough.)
    I figure some parents will be like my bridesmaids, who all have said “we are leaving the kids at home, period”. We’ve heard from a ton of people who will be treating it like a date night. There are some who won’t want to drive four hours with infants. There are others who will bring the kids along and leave early.
    There is part of me that hopes that parents recognize that our reception isn’t Kid-Fest-2010 and leave the kidlets with grandparents. But I know that’s not feasible for some, and leaving them with a hired babysitter in the big city isn’t an option either. There is part of me that hopes the kids will jam out and eat pasta until they get pot bellies and sugar binge on cupcakes and basically remember having fun 20 years from now.
    I really don’t have patience for parents who see their children as direct extensions of themselves and take the “no kids” thing personally. Seriously, the goal for your day should be “GET MARRIED”. Not “accommodate every guest to the nines”. You do what’s best for you, and stick to your guns.

  • kakaty

    October 2, 2009 at 4:46 pm

    FWIW: here is what we did since I knew there was no way to get around the kid thing (and we were only going to have 6 kids, tops). We invited them, asked the oldest, a 10 year old girl, to keep an eye on them after dinner (paid her like $25 bucks). The other kids ranged from 2-6 years old and there were dozens of aunts and adult cousins on hand to keep an eye on them.
    At the tables we gave each kid a dollar store coloring book, a 4-pack of crayons and a matchbox car (total investment of under $15). Our actual wedding was in another country so the reception had a TV tucked in the corner with a DVD loop of the wedding ceremony. After the cocktails and dinner one of the parents had a few DVDs in their car and brought them in and that killed about 2 hours for the sleepy kids…genius! I honestly only noticed the kids when they were busting a move on the dance floor. I‚Äôve been to weddings where there is a TV with a Wii tucked in the corner or in a nearby room for older kids. Again ‚Äì genius!!
    So, if you do invite them…just have a handful of kiddy things for them to do. Enlist a relative who is a parent to help select the items. If you don’t invite them, don’t sweat it but have some sort of assistance ready for out of town parents (again, get a relative who is a parent to help you with this). As a parent of a 3-year old (who has been to 3 family weddings) I echo everything she said about what she would do.
    But the bottom line is it’s your wedding, invite who you want!

  • Stillie

    October 2, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    I DO hate kids, and I’m the first one to be selfish about weddings, too. It’s YOUR wedding, and if you don’t want kids there, so be it. Yes, it’s true that one of the best parts of a wedding is sharing it with friends. Yeah, yeah, whatever. You want it to go perfectly, and it’s about you and your new hubby. If someone gets all @ss-hurt because they can’t bring their gremlin, then too bad. They should realize that not everyone thinks their darling is such a treasure, that a wedding really isn’t a place for most children, and they need to remember what ‘appropriate’ really is.
    I kinda feel like the risk isn’t worth the reward. You won’t remember how good Martha’s little boy was, but you sure will remember it when he screams out “NO!” during the ceremony at TOTALLY the wrong time…

  • Catherine S

    October 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

    I am of the school of thought that most people won’t remember who attended the wedding, and especially not the kids. I worried way too much about this issue when I was getting married and it ended up being absolutley fine. Some people brought kids, some didn’t and in the end, there was no drama and I wasted time worrying.
    I also kinda feel like people put a lot of stipulations on wedding guests… dress a certain way, must purchase gift from specific registry, no kids, they want you to stay at a specific hotel, and add another list of things if you are in the bridal party. Yes, basic rules of politeness(no kids at a late reception, etc) should apply but really?????
    Most of these replies make it sound like guests are just there to be an inconvenience. If you really feel like guests and their children are just there to ruin your day, I say don’t have a wedding. Kinda a craptastic attitude who are supposed to be there to love and support you. Just sayin…

  • jodifur

    October 2, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I actually want to add, I wasn’t so mad that no one (including people that lived in the out of town location) helped us find a sitter, but that people gave me crap for not going to the wedding when I had nothing to do with my 4 year old.
    I totally respect people’s right not to have babies at weddings. Hell, I didn’t. I had a black tie evening affair and it would have been inappropriate, but, if people can’t make it because of it, don’t give them flack.
    Ok, now soapbox REALLY OVER.

  • Brie

    October 2, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    I was married almost a year ago- I am very family centric. I have 20 first cousins- the youngest who was about 10 months old at the time of my wedding. My 2 year old nephew, 2 year old and 1 month old daughters of a married bridesmaid/groomsmen, the minister’s 3 kids, plus some of my other cousins who were 6-14 years old. My ceremony was at 6 PM, with a reception afterwards.
    A friend of my sister-in-law’s kept the small kids/babies during the ceremony (I paid her). I did not want crying babies/kids during that time. I invited the parents of my bridesmaid/groomsman (whom I adore) so they were able to help my friend out with her kids.
    All the kids had a blast at the reception, dancing, playing. And some of them even took naps (my nephew included) during the party.
    I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

  • Karen

    October 2, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    This horse is pretty dead, but I want to chime in too. I come from a large family and we had around 20 kids between 18 mos and high school at our wedding.
    It was a hoot. They all behaved, even the two Hellraisers that I figured would probably knock the cake over. I assigned my sister to keep an eye on them during the evening. The dance floor was packed all night and these kids still talk all the time about how much fun they had at our wedding. The photos are awesome. Kids really have a great time at weddings, unlike adults who mostly look forced and constipated in photos. And as for my concern that the high schoolers would be sneaking peach schnapps? I had plenty of adults who ended up acting less mature than teenagers so obviously my concern was misdirected.
    Now I am a new parent of a 6 week old, and a cousin of mine is getting married soon. No kids. As a result, my out of town relatives are choosing not to attend, why travel when you have to spend extra to pay for a strange babysitter? And one of my cousins has a special needs child who cannot be babysat by some random person so my cousin is attending solo while dad stays home. My husband and I will attend the reception (but not the ceremony as I am nursing and it’s too complicated to manage bottles and pumping all day.)
    My cousin, the bride, remarked that I must be really excited to have a night out with my husband but as a PP said, a wedding is hardly my idea of a hot date.
    Another cousin had a no kids wedding two years ago and it was the most boring wedding ever. Blah. And her DJ was terrible. That ruined the wedding. Kids would have been a cakewalk compared to that problem.
    Kelly – make your life easier. Invite the kids. There are so many other things that can doom a wedding.

  • Kirstie

    October 2, 2009 at 9:52 pm

    Not too much to add, because the above commenters are all right – do what makes YOUR DAY right for you and your soon-to-be-husband. All this talk of little ones makes me hope my best friend has kids before I get married though! (She got married in May, I’m not planning to get married for 3-4 more years since I’d like to graduate first, lol).
    I just wanted to respond to Amy’s comment about the 14-year-olds stealing from the bar and getting drunk. Having working in a catering hall since I WAS 14, I can tell you that any halfway decent bartender will not let that happen, because should someone get into a car accident/die in some other alcohol related manner (like a 14 year old wandering off down a busy street and getting hit by a car while intoxicated, for instance), that bartender can be held personally liable for it. The bartenders we have at my job have always been very careful about blatantly underage kids trying to get near the bar, and they should be everywhere.
    If you’re going to have a lot of kids who are under 21 but old enough to be trying to sneak it, consider getting bracelets for them so that they’re easily identifiable, even at a distance, as not being servable.

  • ECB

    October 3, 2009 at 12:56 am

    We are headed to a wedding in DC next month. Our daughter will be 6 months by then. She will be staying with my sister and BIL near by. Sis is thrilled to be watching the kiddo. Husband and I are excited to have a a night out and a trusted baby sitter to watch her. The bride and groom have made it clear kids are welcome but I’ve only got two hands – one for a cocktail and one for a stuffed mushroom. 😉

  • Two Wishes

    October 4, 2009 at 1:02 am

    I began life as a wedding blogger and still follow my old group blog, so I have seen many generations of this discussion.
    Basically, the “correct answer” is:
    1. It’s your wedding and you can shape both mood and guest list in any way you wish. If people disagree with a “no kid” rule, stand firm and let them know you will miss them (the parents) if they can’t make it and you hope to have some other opportunity to catch up with the whole family soon.
    2. Most former brides say you should be consistent about either kids or no kids. Any attempt at categories (beyond your OWN progeny versus the rest of the world’s) just makes people mad.
    3. If you haven’t yet nailed down your food options and your concern is cost, consider a buffet meal or food stations. You won’t be stuck paying catering costs for a 3-year-old who only eats the dinner roll.
    4. I believe etiquette says family invites include either the children’s individual names or “and family,” while adult-only invites list only the parents’ names. This may be too subtle for those who expect their children should attend. And yet it’s almost impossible to come up with additional wording that does not sound either tacky or bossy.
    5. And one from my personal perspective, don’t undervalue what children might bring to your day. Most kids see brides in the same category of fairy princesses and are utterly awed by such a big party. A few of my favorite wedding-day memories, not to mention cute photographs, were thanks to the little ones in attendance. Both are here:

  • Becky

    October 5, 2009 at 10:40 am

    I’m not a mom, so I can’t really chime in on what I would do.
    But I will say that I’ve seen a lot of people here worrying about the children’s behavior or how it might disrupt the “tone” of the wedding. In all the weddings I’ve been to, I can honestly say that none of the children really stand out or that I can remember any particularly incidents. (That’s not to say it probably doesn’t happen…) But in most cases, parents kept a watchful eye on their kids, left early if there was a problem or left the kids at home to begin with.
    I can say I remember guests who got falling down drunk, the bridal party members who made raunchy or rambling toasts or family members who got in public arguments.
    If you choose not to invite kids, that’s entirely your decision. But just keep in mind — if you’re doing that to try to control how your wedding goes, just realize that some things are out of your control and adults can behave just as badly (and don’t have parents keeping an eye on them!)

  • YetAnotherAmy

    October 5, 2009 at 4:53 pm

    I just got married last month and had to deal with the same issue. I’m 35 – one of the last in my peer group to get married, so most of my friends have 2 kids now. Even though we had a morning wedding with a luncheon reception, the number of kids was really alarming – more than 40 out of 175 total on the original guest list, over half of those under the age of 6. (Our goal was a reception for 125) My Mom was terrified the lovely reception we planned would end up being a big kid party with at least half of the guests doing kid stuff (being a kid or watching a kid). So we ended up inviting kids of family and bridal party only. Most of our out of town guests were coming from about 2-3 hours away, so could easily drive in for the wedding and go right home again. Two came without their spouses because neither has a regular sitter at home. One complained. But the vast majority of people understood and called their sitter. Absolutely NO ONE expected us to find a sitter for them. And by taking some kids off of the guest list we had room to invite other adults we really wanted to have there. For the youngest ones, we put together goodie bags with coloring books, washable crayons, bread to feed the ducks and a little toy. For those over six we had a communal bag with a pack of UNO cards, MadLibs, yes/know quiz books, etc. I figured if the kids had something to keep them from being too bored, their parents might stay longer. I think they ended up playing together outside for most of the reception. Making the decision really, really sucked, but it worked out for us. You just need to figure out what decision you can live with and go from there. Like everyone has said, it is YOUR wedding 🙂

  • Lana

    October 5, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    What does your fiance think? When I brought the issue up with my (now) husband, he couldn’t imagine a wedding without kids.

  • Ashley

    October 5, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    We had kids at our wedding, never really considered not doing it. The little one were fine, very cute on the dance floor. The teenagers were the problem. They all managed to get trashed and one came very close to alcohol poisoning. So if there is alcohol you might want to have a chat with the reception site about strictly monitoring who is served.

  • Becky

    October 6, 2009 at 11:55 am

    My husband and I had the same issue. We decided to “split the baby” at our destination wedding. We had a small adult-only ceremony/short reception (only finger food, about 2 hours long) at night, but the next afternoon we rented out a nearby park and invited everyone to come. We just bought a bunch of cold cuts and chips and had the cake there instead. It cost us about $250 or $300 for the food and pavilion and everyone had a great time running around and no one was offended that someone was excluded.

  • Meghan

    October 6, 2009 at 3:41 pm

    I have three children and am absolutely not insulted if my kids aren’t invited, although I do think an exception should be made for nursing infants who can’t go more than a couple hours between feedings.

  • Nicole R.

    October 10, 2009 at 3:19 pm

    When I got married ten years ago, we wrote a mission statement for our wedding. High on our list of priorities were “comfortable” and “family-friendly.” So we invited kids, had an afternoon ceremony, and chose an in-town venue that shared a parking lot with a playground. Know what YOU want, I guess I’m saying.
    Some of my fondest memories are of attending my aunts’ and uncles’ weddings as a child, so my feeling was that family-friendly weddings link us together and make family and relationships stronger — what every marriage needs to succeed.
    Now I have two kids, a four-year-old son and a nine-month-old daughter, and we just attended my brother’s out-of-town wedding. The ceremony was outdoors during the day, but the reception started at 7:00 pm at a karaoke bar. I have NEVER taken the kids out so late at night, but it seemed worth it to make an exception.
    At 9:30 pm the baby was awake but resting comfortably against her dad’s shoulder, and my son was staring with dazzled eyes at the beautiful bride as she sang Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker.” He will never forget that moment! 🙂 They were the only kids there, and they were a huge hit. My son took the mic and said, “Happy wedding, everybody!”
    But if it hadn’t been a very close relative’s wedding? None of us would have gone at all, even if the kids had been invited. We just don’t do stuff at night, especially 3000 miles from home.

  • Nic

    October 19, 2009 at 12:45 pm

    As a former wedding planner, I say stick to your guns. A wedding that’s family friendly and has a lot of kids is very different from an evening affair with no kids. Both are great weddings, but it has to be what you choose. My preference is actually not having kids at weddings (I know! Scandalous!) because I’ve seen one too many things go wrong like a parent who keeps a crying child at the wedding ceremony because they want to see the ceremony, not paying any attention to how distracting and disruptive it was.
    If you don’t want to have kids, that’s perfectly fine. Anyone who says anything to you about it is actually extremely rude. People will say something, though. Hold your ground and say that since you weren’t able to accommodate all of the children, you’ve decided not to invite any children. If people continue pressing, offer the name and number of a reputable babysitter. You are in the clear here with whatever you decide.