T’is the season for weddings, that being said – what is the proper wedding and children etiquette? How do you know if you are to bring your kids or not to a friend or family member’s wedding? In the past it used to be simple: the invitation would be sent out to the family residing at a certain address – it was then understood that pretty much anyone at that address was extended an invitation to attend the wedding. Now in 2015 things have changed. Some people welcome kids, others are selective on how many, how they are related and how old they are. Then there are the adult only weddings.
At my wedding in 2008, we welcomed anyone and everyone. We had quite the variety at our wedding – our youngest guests were 6 months and our oldest in their 90s. A good time was had by all! I didn’t feel the need to exclude the kids as it was a family event. Whether they were part of my family or the children of my friends, we felt that since they were a part of our lives in one way or another, they deserved to come too. Plus, they look so cute all dressed up!
I don’t really know how people decide whether or not they want to have kids, or if in fact there is an actual equation or rule of thumb. I have heard reasons that depend on the age of the couple (we were 21, and 24), the size of the bride and grooms family, the minimum required number of guests etc…
My husband and I have been fortunate enough in the past to not have to attend a slew of weddings all in one year. In the upcoming months we do have a few. One of the weddings is for his first cousin. We recently received their invitation and it did not specify whether or not we were to bring our children. (We have 3 as of May 14th 2015). My mother-in-law had told us previously she believed that children were not invited to the wedding (there was no mention of them on invitation, or nothing stating not to bring them). My husband and I would normally have no problem not bringing our boys (3, and 1) they would usually just go spend some quality time with my Grandma and Grandpa.
Unfortunately, they were invited to a wedding the same day in Northern Ontario – what are the odds? We had made arrangements to have my grandparents watch the boys for part of the evening and then my brother and his fiancé would take over. I emailed the bride to clarify what time dinner would be starting (wedding starts at 4:30) and to verify there was in fact a dinner as the invitation only specified, “Join us for drinks and dancing.” I let her know I was trying to work out care for my boys. She kindly replied with the time of the meal but also informed me my now 7 week old (then 2 1/2 month old) was not able to attend as well. She explained due to the size of the guest list, amount of children on each side and spaces available at the hall, no kids at all were able to attend – with the exception of wedding party.
This was a deal changer for us. We had to decline the invitation -there was no way I was going to leave 3 kids under 3 home with great grandparents in their 80s. Also, my baby is breastfed. She can take a bottle but what about me? Am I to go all night without feeding and pray I don’t spring a leak? I know that weddings are expensive and space is limited, however what space does my baby take up at a table? None. How much food does she eat? None. I let the bride know that unfortunately we would not be able to attend. She replied that they expected that would be the case for some. No hard feelings. I’m glad she understood, but now we are stuck explaining why we are not attending to all the relatives traveling from a far who have yet to meet the baby, without blaming the bride & groom.
Whatever your reason to include or exclude children is exactly that – your reason. But please, if you are planning a wedding in the future make it clear to the guests if children are welcome or not; your guests don’t really want to guess, ask or assume.