Should You Invite Children To Your Wedding Or Not?

Okay, realistically I’m sure the more accurate question a lot of brides feel like asking is “should I feel obliged to invite children to my wedding?” Perhaps I speak only for myself here, but as much as I might actually take great pleasure in seeing my niece or nephew have their own special role in the wedding, I just don’t feel the same way about my mum’s cousin’s daughter bringing her baby too. Especially if they are just going to sit and cry through my vows and run raucous during the speeches. I’m planning on having a seriously white and flawless wedding, and sticky children crawling around with cake on their face just doesn’t fit into my vision. I’m not hugely maternal, I’m not sure whether you can tell?

And that’s not to say that children actually do this at weddings. Some kids are absolute little delights and are quite content to sit there quietly, in their tiny pressed chinos, and behave. But do you want to take the risk, and the extra expenditure that it requires, to invite little ‘uns to your wedding?

Let’s discuss.

On the one hand, children can change the dynamic - they don’t usually eat the same things as adults, especially if there’s seabass on the menu - and often require some additional entertainment options. In all fairness; it is a long time for them to sit and listen during an hour of speeches when they just really want to be running around outside instead. If the children are really young then you also risk some of your friends wanting to leave the reception early to honour their children’s well-regimented bedtimes. They’re also probably going to spend a lot of the evening craning their head towards the kid’s table to make sure it’s not their child who is crayoning on the tablecloth, rather than relaxing.

However, if you don’t include children on the invitations and make it quite clear that they’re not invited then be prepared for some people to get a little bit aggy about it. Naturally, some people will find it hard to find childcare for your wedding day and will then usually have to leave their other half at home to look after the kids. That’s one way to whittle down the guest list. Some people take it rather more personally and forget that it’s a honour to be invited to the most important day of your life, and take umbrage with the fact you don’t want their children to be there. My advice to you here: if being with their kids means that much to them then let them stay at home with them on that day, it’s not worth you feeling upset or guilty about. It’s their choice to attend your wedding sans kids, or not at all, so let them make it.

The problem is, it’s very hard to be selective in terms of children. You cannot easily invite your sister’s children and your best friend’s kids who are practically like family, and ban all other children from attending. That is, unless you are very thick skinned and you don’t care that people will probably have a moan about it on your wedding day, when they find out that some other children are present.

If you want to put a blanket ban on kids altogether, then there are ways and there are ways. Wedding etiquette experts like Debrett's would say that it’s rather rude to just write “NO KIDS” on the invitation and have done with it, and I’m inclined to agree. But there’s nothing wrong with just putting “adult reception” on the invite, or “we have reserved [x] number of seats for you” and just putting in the number for how many adults you are inviting in that family, to make it clear.

I’ve definitely been part of weddings when the bride and groom have simply addressed the save the date and invitation to the couple, omitting the names of the children, thinking that this would be clear enough to suggest that adults alone are invited. Cue numerous phone calls to the bride and groom to clarify whether the children are invited, whether they are sure the children are not invited etc. You have enough to think about in the run-up to your wedding to be bombarded with calls, so cut out the nonsense in the middle and address the issue straight up, in the politest way possible.

 What tends to work really well is to ring up the couples who have children in advance of the invitations going out, to tell them that the reception will be adults only. This means they won’t be left in any uncertainty when the invitations arrive, and they have plenty of time to arrange child-care for that day. Common courtesy and all that.

Now, if you have decided to invite children to your wedding then here’s how to avoid what I envisioned at the very start of this post: pandemonium. The number one best way to stop children wreaking havoc is to keep them busy. Firstly, sit them all at a kids table together so that their parents can enjoy their meal unencumbered. Just make sure that the table is littered with fun stuff to do - crayons, colouring books, puzzles, games, ipads with pre-loaded videos on, the works. Trust me, you’ll be glad you went to the extra effort when they’re all sitting peacefully and no-one is crying (apart from your dad, obviously).

There are so many kids activity packs and boxes designed specifically to keep children entertained at weddings. I have even designed and made some myself which will go on sale next week (shameless self-promotion as always). But if you want to go bigger, and you have the budget and the means to do so, then what about hiring a magician to keep them all enraptured? And it’s not just the kids who will love them, adults go crazy for magicians too! As you can see from this picture of me bloody loving this magic trick below! And if you want a suggestion: Mark Waddington is amaze.

What’s more, why don’t you just hire a babysitter to look after all of the children on the wedding day? This will take a large amount of responsibility off any parents, who not only know their kids are being kept out of trouble with a whole lot of fun, they’re also being well looked after too. Leaving you able to dance the night away with all of your friends.

Just keep in mind that kids can be fun too. Who else is going to start a reception-wide conga at 11:00pm at night? And they can remind you of all of the moves to macarena when it’s inevitably time for the DJ to crack out the cheesy tunes. Just remember, if you are going to invite children then baby-proof your venue like crazy! Nothing says a ruined wedding like the angry parent of an injured child, and that’s something that even a wedding planner can’t sort out!