This Ruthless World

Adventures in absurdity

On Child-Free Weddings

Over at Feministe, there is a discussion on whether banning children from weddings — which is becoming a trend, apparently — should be perceived as offensive to parents who are invited. Lots of virtual ink is spilled detailing children’s propensity for undecorous behavior, the poor parenting skills of people who reproduce (as oppose to the child-free, who frequently emerge in these discussions as the experts on proper parenting), and why whole classes of adults are not excluded from such events based on unacceptable behavior of certain of their members, while excluding children is okay.

In all fairness, an invitation banning children from a wedding isn’t so controversial these days. I once read of a couple whose wedding invitations specified that guests were expected to have mastered classic waltz by the day of the event, set forth instructions on how to twirl properly, warned that incorrect or ungraceful twirling would not be tolerated and contained a request that anyone unable or unwilling to twirl properly refrain from attending. Even that, I am sure, isn’t the most extreme of attempts by marrying couples to achieve a “perfect” wedding.

Incidentally, think of what most people believe makes a wedding “perfect”. The word conjures up images of palacial spaces, billowing pastel-colored dresses, immaculately coiffed hair, fine china and moving, heartfelt pontification. Weddings were once rowdy affairs where children ran around, people danced with abandon, and newlyweds would sneak off right about when the merrymaking reached a fever pitch. No longer. A “perfect” modern American wedding more closely resembles a funeral than a family celebration — hence the growing feeling that it’s inappropriate for children. Often, it’s not a celebration at all, but rather a proceeding, a stilted, highly scripted event, in which a bunch of ordinary yokels pretend to be Marie Antoinette.

Few people get to do this more than three times in a lifetime, and therefore the stakes are very high. The months and sometimes years leading up to the Big Day are full of feverish preparation and agonizing over the most minute details, arguing over tablecloth shades and sitting arrangements, insane diet-and-workout routines designed to make the bride look her most photogenic for that unforgiving (yet absolutely mandatory) strapless gown and ungodly amounts of stress, that threatens to undermine the very relationship that the wedding is intended to celebrate. The proceedings are meticulously rehearsed — the canned, preachy speeches and the obviously choreographed “first kiss as a married couple”. (Bleh.) The modern wedding is a spectacle. The emphasis is on solemnity, order and display — but above all, on creating an impressive, flawless photographic and video record. There is very little place there for actual fun. It is not unlike putting on a full-scale opera, except that relative to means, it represents Mars Rover landing-levels of cost, preparation, and delicacy of execution. Is it any wonder some massively stressed-out couples don’t want kids anywhere near such an important and complicated operation? An untimely yelp from some little fucker at any point during a wedding would be no different than a baby bawling in the middle of a performance of Don Giovanni. Weddings are serious business, people.

Bashing weddings is not unpopular, and I hasten to separate myself from the crowd that always rushes to point out that the money spent on a wedding would be better used towards a downpayment on a home. I actually hate it when people say things like that. (I myself did not have a traditional wedding, but I recall a conversation by the side or a water cooler when a co-worker expressed dismay and outrage that my husband and I would spend money on a trip to Italy when we didn’t even own a home yet.) The American obsession with home ownership for its own sake, no matter the cost or individual circumstances, is almost as ridiculous as the obsession with “perfect” weddings. Moreover, I cringe at the underlying notion here, that it’s wrong to spend lots of money on pleasure, that young married couples should prove their grasp of responsibility by spending money only in “serious” ways, such as by buying a home when they may not want or need one. I think that leading an enjoyable life — within reason, of course, but still — is just as important as investing money (and buying a home isn’t the only, and isn’t always the best, way to do this) and providing for any kids’ educations and one’s old age.

Rather, what bothers me about “perfect” weddings is that so much emotional capital is staked on something so ephemeral, that friendships and familial ties are put in jeopardy for the sake of putting on a show. If people applied the same energy and hard work to their marriages, the divorce rate would be close to zero. It’s not the money that I see as the problem — though the great expenditures are certainly one manifestation of what I believe is the trouble here — it’s the over-the-top tackiness, the haughty showmanship implicit in “perfect” weddings. The latest “no children allowed” trend is merely part of the growing obnoxiousness of that display.

It was said repeatedly in the thread I linked that the marrying couple have the right to decide who does or does not attend their wedding. After all, it’s their day, and the guest list is their prerogative. That is, of course, true. However, there is often a confusion in people’s minds between having the right to do something and having the right to receive only innocuous reactions to whatever it is you do simply because you have the “right” to do it. Of course the marrying couple may bar whomever they want to achieve their own version of a successful wedding, but expecting people never to take offense is a bit much. The Bride and the Groom could just as well send out invitations that instruct guests not to bring significant others who are overweight, because we want only conventionally attractive people at our wedding for the purpose of producing an aesthetically pleasing visual record, and it’s OUR special day, and we have the right not to allow any fat fatties, so don’t feel offended, we have the RIGHT. I’m sorry, but that’s highly unrealistic. Point is, when you invite a relative or a friend to an event that’s meant to celebrate you starting a family, and tell them that a member of their immediate family is not welcome for reasons of elegance, you convey to that friend or relative exactly how much you value your relationship.

Don’t be surprised if she gets the message.

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235 thoughts on “On Child-Free Weddings

  1. Pingback: “in which a bunch of ordinary yokels pretend to be Marie Antoinette” « 520 Chestnut

  2. “Point is, when you invite a relative or a friend to an event that’s meant to celebrate you starting a family, and tell them that a member of their immediate family is not welcome for reasons of elegance, you convey to that friend or relative exactly how much you value your relationship. ”

    Yes, this is exactly how I feel!

    • I agree! Even though my now-husband and I are happily child-free (by choice), we never considered excluding children from our wedding. We chose to focus on the love and joy that family and loved-ones bring to our lives. And though young, we saw our many nieces and the children of our close friends as themselves “family” and “friends” that we wanted at our wedding (rather than unwanted hangers on).. We planned accordingly to create a situation that would be kid-accessible. (Namely, a crying/nursing room set up with a rocking chair, etc., for people with babies and a couple of local teens from the congregation hired to “oversee” the kids’ playroom/gameroom adjacent to our synagouge’s social hall where we held our reception).

      That said, I have also seen many weddings that are held much like very ritzy cocktail parties. If that’s the couple’s desire, I would certainly respect their right to not have kids at such an event. I would really hating going to a cocktail party where kids got dragged along!!! It takes all types. I don’t think it’s necessary to judge people on this. (I prefer to reserve the judgement for the outfit and hair choices – lol!)

    • I don’t know about all this….. I fully agree that weddings are ridiculous… you spend an ungodly amount of money on one single day in your life…. That said, my wedding next month will come in at $10,ooo, it is being held at a camp ground, it is pretty laid back, there will be games, we are sharing our own vows, my dad is doing the ceremony and sharing stories about the both of us. It will be a little quirky.

      Even still, we don’t want children there. We don’t intend on having children and initially the size of our venue would not accommodate the amount of people we wanted to invite to begin with so we opted not to invite children. There will be no ring bearer or flower girl so there are not really any exceptions.

      Now getting our final RSVPs we have some wiggle room and my cousin has replied that he will be bringing his three young children. I can understand where he is coming from, I am sure it is difficult to find a babysitter and when a wedding is at a campsite on a long weekend and your other family is there how convenient is it to visit everyone?

      However, now I am stuck between a rock in a hard place because we do have room for a few children but, sue me, I would be really upset if one of his children started crying during our ceremony. I hadn’t pictured children at the reception but that wouldn’t bother me too much… but the ceremony is the only important part to me. To say that I would worry about his children crying is not to say that I don’t trust his parenting skills…. It is to say that I know kids. Especially little kids. They cry. They cry controllably because they have no other way of communicating. And I think a half an hour where their parents attention would not be focused on them in a situation where it may be incredibly hot and there will be people they do not know around them will increase those chances.

      I guess there isn’t anything I can do if parents think I am selfish for thinking this way… My dad has taken time and collaborated with my mother in law to be to write something beautiful for us that I want to be able to hear. I want to be in the moment when my fiancé says his vows to me, because that is the important part of a wedding to me.

      I really don’t want to hurt my cousins feelings because it seems that for some reason some parents have irrational thoughts about what a wedding with no children means…. but at this point there are other people that have declined the invitation because they could not bring their children… They are the ones that made enough room that these kids could be seated.

      It seems like such a cop out to say “I am sorry, we do not have space for your children due to our tight budget.” but I am not sure that telling them the truth – that we did not have room for children and generally do not want children there and now, although the room situation has changed, there are other guests that have had to decline or make arrangements for their children that would be offended to see other children there – would be seen as polite.

      If you would like another reason to call weddings stupid how about family member holding serious feelings against a couple for things like this, especially when the invitation did not specify the entire family? It makes the whole thing awkward!

      • How do you not realize that you are selfish? You are missing the point of a wedding.
        Your dad tellig stories does not make it quirky. Your wedding sounds uptight, boring and just….. White. Quaker oat white people do not know how to throw a real party.
        You might as well throw a dry wedding.

    • The choice of type of wedding is entirely up to the couple. It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with you. If you think differently, fair enough, but you do not go around saying it’s wrong, or that they were wrong to have this option. It is THEIR wedding. The last wedding i was at was completely ruined by a set of kids who were totally out of control, and the stupid parents did nothing about it. Not everyone thinks that crying babies, wandering toddlers, and noisy brats are fun to have around on a very special day.

      • Well, some people might think fat people are no fun to be around. Would you take a similarly enlightened attitude towards a couple that set a BMI limit on guests?

        Most importantly, you are missing the point, and in a very fundamental way, you are wrong. At no point did I suggest that couples should be prohibited from having any kind of stupid, pretentious, etc. wedding they want. As my standard response goes whenever someone says that people are “entitled to their opinion”, yes, absolutely, you are entitled to your ignorant, misinformed, inane opinion. But to suggest that conduct or voiced opinions should be immune from judgement is, to say the least, unrealistic. Everything you do says something about you. To me, to your relatives, your co-workers, your neighbors. We all form opinions of each other, and those opinions are based on what people do and what they say. Forming an opinion regarding something people do — in public, no less — and their motivations isn’t “taking it personally”, it’s merely how all people react to each other.

        And incidentally, David, insinuating that criticism is motivated by some kind of a personal problem is malicious, underhanded and intellectually dishonest. It makes no sense, either. I mean, I could say the same thing to you: stop taking my post so personally, etc. If arguing this way is a habit for you, I suggest you knock it off; you’ll have more success getting people to take you seriously.

      • Let me gueas, it was a dry wedding. Sober white people are uptight as fuck.

    • Antonia Valassis on said:

      I like to think of a bride as someone who loves children. After all, most people get married and have (or would like to have) children. The thought of a bride refusing to allow children to be a part of the wedding celebration is contradictory.

      Recently my husband and I were invited to not one but two weddings where children were not allowed. Although we could have easily found someone to babysit, we opted not to go because of how insulted we felt that they were excluding members of our family. If you don’t want my children, then you don’t want me as a guest.

      I am a mother of three young children. I work hard at trying to discipline them and in teaching them about manners and setting boundaries. I believe their behavior is decent and yet there are moments when it doesn’t seem that way. Children are unpredictable. We have been to events where one child behaved and the other didn’t and then other events where it was the other way around.

      A couple of months ago, my husband and I brought our children with us to a wedding. Seconds before the bride walked down the aisle, one of my children screamed (yes, out loud!!), “I have to go poop.” That same child ended up leaning over too much on the chair she was standing on (temporarily for a better view) and falling face first right behind the bride and groom as they walked into the reception hall for the first time as husband and wife. As if all that wasn’t enough, the same child came running to me crying that someone tried to take a picture of her all while the maid of honor was making her speech! Not a single person, including the bride had anything negative to say. Some people even found all this amusing.

  3. For my last birthday, a 21st, I asked people not to bring their children – the venue didn’t supply family friendly food, there was an open bar and it was a small room with few seats. I thought they’d be bored, tired and hungry. When somebody did bring along their kids, I was correct, they were very bored. So bored in fact that they melted two whole candles over one of the tables. Luckily at the last minute they agreed to supply sausage rolls.
    But that was a 21st – young person and alcohol central.

    Now a large wedding with family on the other hand, asks for all family to be included, I think. I like your line “when you invite a relative or a friend to an event that’s meant to celebrate you starting a family, and tell them that a member of their immediate family is not welcome for reasons of elegance, you convey to that friend or relative exactly how much you value your relationship.” Summed it all up.
    Small wedding with only 10 or so guests? Alright, no kids. Wedding atop a mountain? Sure, don’t bring babies. But a traditional, safe, large one inviting everyone but the children? Hmm..

    Also, good point on how expensive weddings are, I was always baffled by how much is spent on one despite wanting a really nice one myself. I guess that’s called ‘girl logic’.

  4. I have been invited to a few of these “child-free” shindigs and have promptly declined because I have two children and don’t the feel the need to inconvenience myself with finding a sitter to accommodate the happy couple. Isn’t there going to be a ring bearer and flower girls present? So why not my kids? Humph!

    You are right in pointing out the fact weddings have become a show. Spend more time on your relationship instead of putting on a performance that most likely won’t guarantee long lasting matrimony.

  5. I love this post, because it subtly highlights the hypocrisy of such affairs. I mean, when you ask us to “…think of what most people believe makes a wedding ‘perfect,'” my first thoughts go to the messiness of it all — of love, of families joining together, of people from potentially different cultures or backgrounds coming to a specific point in time and promising a “forever” that may not be yours to promise based on other factors in life.

    The act of uniting is a potentially tumultuous, chaotic, messy thing. And I should know: I’m having my own wedding in the near future. This will be a second wedding, and as such, all the dressing like puff pastries and expecting perfection is out the window. Instead, it will be an informal, personal, intimate affair, with my children (and my brother’s children) front and center.

    🙂

  6. solitaryspinster on said:

    The year I turned three I attended a multitude of weddings with my grandparents. Almost 50 years later and I still delight in the exuberance, the love, the fun, the awfulness of beer (shh, somebody gave me a taste) and the whole family-ness of it.

    As you can probably tell, I’m all for children at weddings.

    gigi

  7. I’ve often wondered what it would be like to be the last free person in America. Now i know.

  8. I love this post. I just got married a few months ago for the second time. I didn’t have a big traditional wedding the first time, so I wanted one this time around. While I must admit I got too wrapped up in the little details, spent too much money and was a stressed out wreck by the time the day arrived, my guests and their comfort and enjoyment were a top priority. My new husband has a very large family, some of them traveling a long distance to celebrate with us. I wanted to make sure they had an affordable room in a nice hotel, plenty of good food and plenty of free booze. We had quite a few children there and I made sure the reception hall had a childrens menu available for dinner, we had a snack at the church after the ceremony, a candy buffet, and chips and salsa were provided before dinner. I also made sure there were booster seats and high chairs available for all children in attendance, and had coloring and activity books for the kids as well. The kids were the highlight of the event! All dressed up and excited-many of them never having attended a wedding before. They had a blast on the dance floor with the light show and I can’t imagine a wedding without them. Brides need to remember that while it is a special day for them, it’s also a special day for the whole family, including children. Many families are far flung and our family in particular has never had a family reunion. The last time they were together was for a funeral, and they were elated to gather to share a happy event. Just my two cents. Thanks again for posting.

  9. I’m torn on this one. As a someone who sometimes photographs weddings, kids make for great photos. As someone who was told by his grandfather almost 50 years ago, ‘Little boys should be seen and not heard’, I now fully understand and appreciate what my grandfather was saying. Today (much more so than 50 years ago) kids are spoilt, rule the roost have very few parameters put into place by parents. When my friend’s four year old wants attention she gets it immediately – she is not told that interrupting someone’s conversation is rude; yes she is old enough to understand what ‘rude’ means. Not the child’s fault! Herein, lies the rub – Parents! They seem to have little control over their little ones. I am afraid it’s that old chestnut – discipline. By saying ‘No Kids’, the couple are really saying, ‘We can’t trust you to control your children’ – this is a wedding not an outing at a creche’.

    • Classic Nutmeg on said:

      good reply!

    • asraidevin on said:

      Oh please, even the most well behaved, disciplined child acts out at times. usually the worst possible moment.
      I try to keep my children from running amok and destroying things, but if you think parents should control their child’s every move, I’m going to laugh in your face. I’m going to guess you have no children of your own judging by your comment.

      • Yes, I have a child – she’s 28 now and recently married. My comments weren’t against children but against parents. I have worked in the education sector for many years and witnessed first-hand ‘parenting problems’. Parents of well brought up children don’t have to ‘control’ their child’s every move. The child knows the boundaries. Interestingly, the more ‘middle-class’ the parent the more I hear, ‘Samantha, don’t do that’ and ‘Thomas, I won’t tell you again’ as the kids run riot and totally ignore their parents attempt to control them in public. Too late – the discipline has not been taught in the home. On a further, wider-reaching point I attribute many of today’s social problems to lack of discipline when the children were being brought up – but that’s another discussion for another day.

      • Well, good for you asraidevin, ‘trying to keep your children from running amok and destroying things’. We wish every parent was like you, and all children were as disciplined as yours.

      • Thank you. I try to be honest and balanced as I see things from my experience.

      • Great response, Tours. Yes, it’s more the parents than the kids. There are parents that won’t so much as say a word in admonishment of their kids.

      • Thank you for your reply. We have many problems in the world today – anti-social behaviour, etc. Kids often get the blame but but the root problem of ‘why they do what they do’ needs serious attention i.e. their parents and role models.

      • The Paralegalist on said:

        This is a great thought-provoking article. I agree with much of what the author writes here about the obsessive focus on “perfection” in weddings these days. However, I would take a slightly different tack about the reasons some couples might exclude children. I had a “perfect” wedding in 2010. I did allowed children at my wedding and it was wonderful. I was lucky enough to have such well-behaved children with sensible parents. They looked adorable and added to the joy of the occasion. In fact, one of the little girls, who was 11 at the time, caught the bouquet and said the most darling unforgettable things about her “future husband.” It was one of the best moments. The inclusion of children gave the feeling of a real family event. However, I would remind the author that some couples may exclude children from their weddings for other reasons not mentioned in the article, e.g. limited seating or cost. I recall how awkward it was for me to have to say “no” to a guest who wanted to bring her grown adult children. I had already rearranged my seating multiple times for others who asked about bring their children, so I had not a single extra seat. The dinner was being served and so I had to constantly add additional meals to the “child’s menu” not planned for. Each time someone asks you if it would be okay to bring another person, which was not planned for, the bride has to rearrange the seating and menu arrangements, which if last minute can be a challenge and source of stress. By the way, I was very naive when I started planning my wedding, with all good intentions for it to be a no-stress experience. It was a rewarding and fun experience and I am especially grateful to my wonderful bridesmaids not to mention the great sense of humor of my saint of a fiance (now husband). However, there were many factors that made for unavoidable stress, including all the things that the “wedding-industrial complex” says you simply must do or have. I say stick to your guns and have the wedding YOU want, not the one that everyone tells you you should or shouldn’t have. Don’t go overboard with the “perfect” wedding, but have one with “heart” and warmth and ignore the occasional naysayer and take only the advice that works for you.

    • I do not know what kind of parents “experienced Tutor” knows and what their children are like. Amongst most of my acquaintance, children are more or less well-behaved. No, please don’t pounce on the “more or less”! terribly behaved children are definitely the exception not the rule.

      It has been my observation that children are in most part excluded from weddings for reasons of expense: organising separate food, booster chairs, activities all cost, and the couple want to spend on making the affair more “memorable” with themselves at the centre of attention. They do not want to fork out on things that do not enhance their “it’s our moment” status.

      I have attended weddings where the adults have behaved abominably, either due to too much alcohol, or because they have issues with other guests. I have also attended weddings where children have run around playing and having fun. I know which one is a more pleasant affair.

      Ultimately, as mentioned in the conclusion of the post, a wedding is a family affair. As much as a Christening, or a Christmas dinner is. I have refused invitations to a few weddings when my children were too young, when they were not invited. After spending a sizeable amount on a decent gift, and on a hairdo, and parking at the venue, I did not also want o spend on child minding.

      • Thank you for taking the time to respond to my comment.
        The parents that ‘Experienced Tutors’ knows are working/middle class – coming from a very class-ridden England, I feel I can safely pigeon hole them like that. Not sure what class they would fall in to the on other side of the ‘Pond’.

        I have taught pupils/students from the those classes in classrooms and continue to teach those classes of people now, on a private tutoring basis – although more ‘middle’ than ‘working’ because of the money. Some that I have taught over the past few decades are now parents of the poorly behaved children that I mentioned – I know because I still have contact with them. The vast majority of those were fantastic to teach. However, their lack of parenting skills and a lack of discipline in society in general has led to the present situation where many of those planning weddings have the dilemma – ‘to invite or not to invite’.

        I think you are correct in mentioning the financial aspect of weddings. This part of the proceedings seems to have got out-of-hand and takes top priority in the event – in my opinion. The classes that ‘Experienced Tutors’ teaches often have to take out bank loans to fund the wedding. So yes, I am sure that inviting children is an important consideration when making up a guest list.

        As you mentioned, a wedding is a family event but it is also the couples ‘moment’. Striking a balance, in this issue, is incredibly difficult. As the saying goes: ‘You can’t please all of the people all of the time’.

        Alcohol and weddings. I have heard it said that if there wasn’t a good fight then it wasn’t a good wedding! Sad but true. One wonders how their children behave. . .

        Wearing my other hat as a wedding photographer – the more kids the better!

    • Very well said. I am a parent myself and my mother runs a daycare business. Children, and childrearing, have changed much in the last 10 years. As you said, many children do rule the roost and it’s not fair to the child or anyone else.

      I understand people who wish to have their weddings child-free. It’s their wedding, they should be allowed to have the kind of wedding they wish.

    • It is obvious how this society of selfish and child free adults got to here..
      Their parents and grandparents told them that “kids are not meant to be heard”. The fuq?

  10. This irritates me. I’m not one to go awww at everything a child does, but I can’t imagine a wedding without children running around—of course, that’s probably because I have attended only traditional Hindu weddings.
    I am vacillating between “But weddings are an occasion for family to get together” and “It’s their wedding, their choice.”
    I think your point can be expanded to many situations—you have the right to do nearly whatever you want, but people have the right to be offended and to hold it against you.

  11. Having been to both children-free and all-people-welcome types of weddings, I will pick the one where children are welcomed every time! They are far more fun to watch — the pure joy, excitement and love they bring to event is what makes the event enjoyable. I would rather watch a bunch of kids playing on the dance floor than a bunch of drunken jerks trying to act like children – who should be the the ones excluded? I’ve also noticed that when there are no children, it is hard to get people to start the dancing — and the laughing! Somewhere along the line, we forgot that weddings are celebrations of love and have turned them into an event to ‘show-off’.

    Congrats on being Freshly Pressed – and for a very good post!

  12. Fabulous post! I have never been a fan of weddings and have no desire to ever have one of my own, but I can definitely see both sides of the childless wedding debate. The bride and groom have the right to want a ceremony and reception where the only crying is quiet, happy tears from family and friends and no one requires a sippy cuy. However, guests, who are expected to shell out both money and time for the happy couple, are now asked to exclude an important member of their family. They definitely have the right to feel miffed and inconvenienced.

    The last wedding I went to, there was only one child–who the bride was very close to–present. I had the displeasure of sitting next to the bored (and clearly spoiled) girl at the wedding. I had to listen to her whine about being hungry and bored, along with the insipid sounds of her handheld game that her mother didn’t tell her to mute. I love children, but this was not my idea of a good time. Plus, I had no one to talk to on my other side because, single girl that I am, I was not in a relationship and therefore not extended an invitation for two because of the need to “cut costs.” Seated next to the only child was the only single person at the event and surprise surprise, we both had a horrible time.

    I guess the answer is to really consider all facts (how many children will be there, who will watch them, how childless guests may feel about their presence, how the children will feel about being there, etc.) when deciding whether or not to request the absence of children from a wedding.

  13. great post! i understand where the bride and the groom are coming from but weddings are supposed to be a celebration of the union of not only the couple but their families as well and some “rules” keep it from being a happy reunion.

  14. This reflects on my own views of those perfect weddings – the stress is really not worth it!

  15. These people are lame. I had a friend that completely forgot that the point
    of the wedding isn’t only to get married (you can do that in a courthouse with two witnesses), but to share that love and union with your family and friends. The party isn’t FOR the couple, but for the people they invite. The couple are the hosts. People forget that they’re not throwing a party for themselves but for their guests, who are certainly not obligated to come. In Poland the tradition is that you go to the whole expense of the weddings up to and including paying for all of your guests meals and lodging. The logic is that they are there to celebrate with you on your day, not to pay homage to you.

    I think we Americans need to start doing the same before we offend each other so much no one will ever go to anyone’s parties anymore.

    This was a great post and I enjoyed reading it. Congrats on the FP.

  16. I really enjoyed this post – I thought it was thoughtful and well-argued, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed! I feel like I’m going to go against the grain here, but my instinct if I were getting married would I think to have as few children as possible in attendence, excepting those who I or my partner had a close relationship with. I would not especially want the children of, for instance, an old friend or a cousin who I perhaps hadn’t seen for a long time, whose children I might never have met or only interacted with a few times, to be at the wedding. I would not invite a grown-up that I had not met or was not close to – why would I invite children that I had not met or was not close to? They’re just people that I don’t know!

    Secondly, having spent several years working as a waitress at a hotel and served at loads of weddings of all shapes and sizes, my impression is that children under about 10 do not enjoy weddings. They have to sit quiet and still for hours at a time, they are often forced to wear clothes that they find uncomfortable and are ordered under pain of death not to get dirty, and they are usually presented with food that they don’t like. So regularly (as I perhaps would in the same situation!) the child gets restless and whiny, if they’re smaller then they cry, which then in turn reduces their parent(s)’ enjoyment of the day – because they are constantly trying to entice the child to eat, or to be quiet, or to not try and pull the tablecloth out from under the plates, etc etc. It doesn’t seem to be a win-win situation for anyone…I do however appreciate that if my partner and I made the decision not to invite someone’s children and said person was offended by that, then they would be perfectly entitled to do so, although I would of course be upset that I had insulted someone we obviously liked enough to want to come to our wedding! One of my very best friends was appalled in discussions I’ve had with her on this very topic that I would even consider not inviting children, so I realise that a child-free/minimal children wedding would not be something a lot of people would want. Thanks again for such a good post!

  17. I’ve been to day time weddings where the receptions were one big picnic and it worked great for kids. I’ve been to weddings where the bride and groom put cameras on every table (single use disposable ones) and parents at tables let the kids use the entire thing and the bride and groom didn’t get a single good photo for their wedding album. I’ve been to formal evening affairs that were not child friendly.

    It the even is being planned that will not have any childcare provided and no childrens’ entertainment, and, in fact, will be very child unfriendly, I think it is okay for the couple to specify it is a child-free event.

  18. Great post. I have never been married, but I am a mother. I suppose on the one hand, it is the couple’s business what they do for their special day and none of the guests’ business. However, if and when that couple has a child of their own, and get a wedding invite saying their beloved progeny is NOT invited, I must wonder how offended that couple will feel.

    My personal opinion is when I see a couple over compensating on all the nuances and details of the actual wedding, I can’t help but wonder if it’s the couple’s way of convincing themselves they’re actually making the right decision to get married in the first place. “But we’re willing to spend all this money and stress on one day — surely that’s a sign we’re willing to be in this for the long haul!”

    Again, great post. Thanks for sharing.

  19. pilgeist on said:

    Those who would ban children from weddings would have to stand their guests up.

  20. Great post. Funny that I found this today. I attended a family wedding yesterday and there were a lot of children, I would say about 12 or so who were younger than sixteen.

    They were all very well behaved during the 15 minute ceremony, but once we reached the reception hall, they took it as their cue to occupy themselves; which they did…very loudly and with a lot of running.

    It is not how I would have wanted “my” wedding reception, but it was obviously what the bride and groom wanted. And in watching the bride and groom work around the room, talking, hugging, and laughing with everyone; the children did not seem to interfere with the wedded couple’s afternoon.

    As you’ll notice, I did not bring up if the children’s activities bothered other guests. The reason for that is…..it REALLY is all about the new Mr. & Mrs. and what THEY want.

    If you are a guest who receives an invitation that request “no children” and you cannot (or choose not to) find a babysitter for one afternoon/evening; or, you understand there will be children at the event and do not feel you can endure a few hours of lively activity; then it is probably best that you properly send a note of your congratulations to the couple and spend your day/afternoon/evening elsewhere.

    • sqeekchair on said:

      I’m a minority- I’ve never been married and I don’t want or have kids.

      However- I “do” want to get married now more than ever.

      There! The evil truth is out there.

      Weddings are about the bride and groom- and the guests are there to share the experience with them.

      Wedding preferences will never please everyone. Chalk it up as an event that has so many variables, the couple is trying grapple with in order to please everyone.
      Try ordering pizza for more than 1 person- or try asking three people one simple question- You will all get different answers.

      I agree- if a guest is unable/unwilling to find a sitter or allow their children to attend an event during the wedding time, then that is your choice as a guest.
      There’s nothing wrong with that- your child may be ill, or have special needs, or maybe you have a newborn, or twin newborns, etc.

      Turn it over to a positive- if you really value the bride/groom friendships, attend the rehearsal dinner or ask about attending the ceremony “aftermath,” or a different event the couple is hosting to offer your gifts and congrats.

      Simply playing the “I’m offended” card is a passive-aggressive tool to ruin a friendship over a wedding preference. It seems an easy, knee-jerk reaction that may have nothing to do with your” mini me’s”, or children in general.

      This is not to say children, no matter who they are will disrupt the wedding, or that they are all incarnate brats. Some children may enjoy the wedding and participate
      a s ring-bearer’s or flower petal throwers.

      Would I want people I barely know with their kids? Nope.
      Would I want kids or adults to disrupt or ruin my wedding? Nope.

      I think lumping in cold, formal, no children allowed, orchestrated weddings with shallow lumps of lace and tux walking down the isle is a stereotype. Look at the shallow Kardashian wedding last year- that had plenty of kids and it was the most disgusting frivolous spending spree.

  21. I have reached that age where it seems all my friends are getting married. I am happy to report that the two or three weddings we attended in the past few months have been large, family affairs full of un-choreographed dances (I think we did do the hokey-pokey at one point though) with kids running around and joining in the fun. I had an incredible time at these celebrations because they were just that: celebrations shared with the couple’s family and friends. Casual and not extravagant because the couples were not wealthy but wanted to make sure all the people they loved could attend.
    I did have two cousins who got married a few years ago who deliberately had small weddings (one got married in Hawaii at Christmas and at a location which only held 50 people). While everyone was happy for them, I think quite a few people did feel slighted that they were not able to celebrate with them. It is well within the couple’s right to do what they like and invite who they like, but I will always be of the opinion that the wedding is for your family and the marriage (and honeymoon) are for you.

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!

  22. pilgeist on said:

    On second thought, we wouldn’t want children witnessing some sad ass adults defiling marriage. Frank Sinatra would have had their legs broken. I miss ‘ol Blue Eyes.

  23. I honestly don’t know if kids have any fun at weddings anyways.

  24. Having once been a child who had to attend weddings, I’m all for banning children from weddings if they are going to be what you describe as “proceedings.” They are simply awful.

    The best weddings have very short ceremonies, a lot of good food, good music, a lot of dancing, and tons of children underfoot. But if you aren’t going to have that, the kids should stay at home.

  25. I think by suggesting people only do this for “reasons of elegance” is missing the big reasons it actually happens… one is that limiting guest lists is hard. We cut kids from our wedding simply because it was more important that our friends and co-workers be there than our cousins children. And you can’t pick and choose, inviting some kids and not others, without REALLY offending.

    And, in all honesty, some kids are just brats. After two years of having every holiday ruined by one family member’s screaming, tantrum throwing kids, I really didn’t care if mom was offended. It was kind of an added bonus.

  26. There needs to be a happy compromise. For immediate family, ie. siblings who have children, one should invite them all. They are part of the whole family tree.

    There is also a cost to a wedding. So for far more distant friends and 2nd-3rd cousins removed, then just the couple.

    But culturally, I was always fascinated why some people wouldn’t even invite children of their siblings.

    I agree that the very least the bride and bridegroom request: quiet in church, no cellphones, etc.

    It would be good to have a children’s corner at some point in the reception dining area. Just a suggestion.

    From someone who is child-free, but is the eldest of 6 children. I’m used to happy pandemonium /noise of children and occasional brat.

  27. I’ve been to at least three weddings in the past couple of years, including where my dad remarried, and I was surprised to read about this growing trend. In each of the weddings I went to, children were an essential part of the ceremonies and the receptions. In fact, at all the weddings I went to, I was one of the oldest children, and I was 17 at the last one. One wedding I went to, it was the marriage of my synagogue’s youth director, and she wouldn’t have heard of excluding children.
    I guess maybe I haven’t been going to the right weddings.

  28. Very articulate article full of great little gems of wisdom. ” If people applied the same energy and hard work to their marriages, the divorce rate would be close to zero.”

  29. Congrats on a well-thought out post and being Fresh Pressed. And from my perspective, congratulations on understanding many finer points of life, including the pressure to be a homeowner. It can be a very confining state of existence.

  30. I can see both sides of this.

    When my husband and I got married, we had kids attending our wedding with their parents (our relatives). Our wedding wasn’t perfect, but it’s the imperfect moments that I remember. My flower girl and ring bearers stopped halfway down the aisle when they realized everyone was looking at them. When their grandmother (my aunt) gestured for them to continue down the aisle, they RAN straight to her. But that’s one of the things I remember.

    That being said, I can see where the couple getting married would be upset by a guest who refused to take their crying child out so not to disturb others. I’ve been at weddings where this happened. It’s very distracting not just for the bridal couple, but for the other guests as well. I don’t attend weddings to listen to your child scream, so get up and take your kid out.

    I think the “no children” trend has come about because many parents can’t (or won’t) make their children behave. Frankly, if the bride and groom don’t want kids there, there’s probably a pretty good reason why. Perhaps their friends are the kind of parents who are oblivious when their child is acting up.

    Whatever the reason, I think it’s less about having a “perfect” day and more about wanting everyone to be able enjoy themselves.

    • We were “blessed” with SEVEN flower girls for our wedding. (We couldn’t bear to pick just ONE neice and slight all the others, lol!) And, I must say, they created some of the sweetest memories from our Big Day….

      As I was in the back room having my hair done, my cousin bathed her two girls (4 and 7) in preparation. The whole time I sat getting primp and prodded, there was a constant background of splish splash splish….. “Guess what!” “What?” “Chicken butt,” heeeeeheheheee!! It was hilarious and adorable! Memorable too (and a great tonic for wedding day nerves!)

      • I know what you mean! My flower girl (my second cousin – her mom was one of my bridesmaids) was in the room after I had gotten into my long-line backless bra and the first thing out of her mouth? Was about my boobs. It made me laugh.

  31. Weddings are supposed to be about bringing two families together, so kids should be invited! But there are so many problems with kids being there, leaving early so there in bed on time, crying babies, children running all over the place…

    I’m still very un-decided on whether I would want children at my wedding.

  32. It really does seem like the first thing people love to point out is how much money was spent on the wedding AND what that money could have been used toward. How about this day only (sometimes) happens once in a lifetime and any money spent is money spent well!

  33. I have five children. I don’t think that any bride or groom should pay for me to drag my children to a wedding, especially when they are paying by the plate which includes alcohol that the kids won’t drink and may include food they won’t eat.

    The last wedding I attended the mother of the bride told me before the invitations went out that they wouldn’t be able to invite all the kids. These were close friends, but not relatives and I assured her that she shouldn’t feel badly, that if it was okay I might bring the kids just to the ceremony so they can see the dress etc. She said that would be great. I didn’t want her to give it a second thought. Point is, they weren’t trying to be snobby or exclusive and it was really okay. There were some kids there (closely related to the bride and groom I think) and it was a beautiful wedding. “I Went To A Wedding Alone” http://wp.me/p1sXPw-en

    Except for very close family members, like children of the siblings of the bride or groom, I think it’s okay to exclude kids and I am not offended at all. And, especially for small children, it’s okay for the parents of said children who receive the invitation to say, thanks for inviting the whole family — but I’ll get a baby sitter. All of this may depend on the type of wedding, and there are some very family friendly receptions and many that are not.

    I guess there is a trend of having themed weddings and very formal weddings. All I know is what I see on TV. To each his own, I guess.

    I think that the invitations should absolutely exclude bitter, jaded, wedding-hating adults like me — heh heh heh.

  34. When I got married, we opted for the “adults only” wedding. I wouldn’t have minded having kids there, but my husband was against it, and we also had to take into account the cost. In the end, I didn’t miss any of the kids, since I wasn’t really close to any of them anyway, and the parents were able to enjoy themselves the whole evening without worrying about keeping an eye on their kids.

  35. My sister in law asked us not to bring our kids to her wedding. She said the venue was small and only out of town children would be coming. Bullshit! Every other kid they knew were there but ours! And we spent most of the night trying to explain away (nicely) why our kids weren’t there. Given a choice we might have left one or both at home anyways. I just didn’t like that we were only ones restricted. My husband almost said we weren’t coming as protest.

  36. I love this post!

    We brought my son to many weddings over the years, and it taught him to behave properly at formal functions! We were irritated when close family asked us not to bring him, because then they’d have to invite all their cousin’s cousins, too!

    You’ve hit a nerve here, for sure!!

  37. My wedding in 2001 symbolized the start of my new married life and was the ending point of my career as a social worker in that I was to be moving out of state after the wedding and going back to school.

    Most of the guests were from out of town in that both my husband and I were not from the region we were being married in. Knowing that people would be traveling with children, I couldn’t ask that children not be present, but most of the children present were under the age of 5. And there were a LOT of them. Seeing massive meltdowns and bathroom issues as part of the evening (and they were,) I thought ahead and paid two of my social service aids a generous sum to act as babysitters at my wedding. I had a separate room of the country club set up as a playroom (games, videos, coloring books, etc.) The kids could eat down there, giving the parents a kids free meal, and they were right downstairs if there was an emergency.

    Frankly, I thought it was one of my finer moments. I was able to keep the wedding family friendly and still give the parents a break from an already stressful out of town trip. And to be fair, one of the parents was somewhat offended (my sister-in-law, who brought all three of her children plus three or four foster kids.) And one of the other parents was ecstatic that she was actually going to be able to eat dinner by herself for a change. It went over beautifully.

  38. ocnlvr83 on said:

    Being a kid who went to a wedding once, I only ask that the people who invite kids realize kids have bed times and all night parties into the break of dawn is not a good idea. My aunt and uncle did this and there were several kids who were falling asleep around the reception site. And since it’s bad form to leave the party before the bride and groom, we were all forced to wait until my aunt and uncle decided to leave. So if you plan to party into the early morning hours, by all means ban the kids. But if you plan to be sensible and love kids, invite them.

  39. Love. This. I mean, I’m iffy on kids, haven’t been around them much, so I don’t always relate to them well. Even so, were I to have a big wedding (which just seems horribly unromantic to me nowadays, seeing what stilted, staged events they’ve become) I’d never have the cojones to tell people not to bring their kids.

    The thing that makes me chuckle and roll my eyes at some weddings is the habit of lining up 20+ attendants. Do you really need to prove how awesome and popular you are by asking every woman you’ve ever spoken to to be a bridesmaid? Alternately, have we all gotten so weird and touchy about friendships that women need to worry about offending all these women if they don’t ask them to be part of the wedding?

    • megstar73 on said:

      Excellent point regarding excessive attendants. I only had one, my sister, and definitely would have been perfectly happy getting married without her assistance.

  40. I don’t think child-less weddings are a new trend. I remember not being allowed to attend a wedding with my parents when I was a child in the 1980s, however I believe the reasons have changed; the blatant debauchery and adult conversations were the reason for the NC-17 rating when I was a child.

  41. Great post, I usually like to get a babysitter and enjoy a date with my husband. However, your article really resonated with me because I do always feel irritated when I get the ‘no kids’ invitations.

  42. I think people spend a lot of money on weddings and I think it is their day, so if they told me not to bring my son I would not be offended, even though he is very well behaved. Not to mention the fact that there are some people out there with very poorly behaved children. A few days ago I went out to dinner with a group from work and our clients to a very expensive restaurant. There was a couple in there with a very small baby that cried through 90% of our dinner so loudly we could not hear each other talk. I love babies but I was annoyed. When I have been invited to weddings I have always called the bride or groom for details if the invation did not specify.

  43. Loved this post.

    I got married, not long ago, and we had a handful of children, which we provided laptops and movies for, goodie bags at their tables with lollies and craft activities (as their favor) and encouraged them to be involved. They were so much fun to watch and they even asked eachother to dance, and they did little “couple” dances which made for adorable photoes and video footage. They made the day even more special because they showed the true reality of love, family and what it is to be free and innocent. It made me even more aware of the beauty, of the family I was starting.

    P.s Cograts on FP 🙂

  44. I am so happy my wife and I decided to have a low-key wedding/reception/honeymoon. In total we spent less than $5000 on everything, had plenty of booze left over (not bad booze either), and it was an amazing and awesome experience. All we did was leave out all the “traditional” wedding bullshit, and kept it to a gathering of family and friends for a special occasion. Great blog!

  45. It’s not a totally new concept. I remember planning my wedding 17 years ago, and the bridal magazines all offered advice on whether or not to invite kids.

    I don’t take it personally if people don’t invite my kids. There are five people in my family, and with costs being what they are, it’s understandable to leave the kids off the invitation. Come to think of it, I rarely get invited to weddings at all. Maybe I should take THAT personally?

  46. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed! I couldn’t imagine a wedding without kids! Kids are meant to be enjoyed and a wedding is supposed to be a party celebrating a new family. What better occasion to let the kids out. The wedding you described as a “perfect” wedding sound so boring, I wouldn’t want to go as an adult!

  47. Always had a good time at weddings when I was a child and yes my sisters and I behaved. my parents expected that and we always lived up to their expectations at social functions. Weddings should be family affairs…celebrations. Today’s cultural norms get on my nerves! You are inviting people to share in your happiness…not impress them with expensive centerpieces or over-the-top decor. Geez, when I was a kid the table’s centerpiece was always the bowl of coleslaw!!!

  48. I loved this post. A wedding without children seems sad to me since, as you said, weddings celebrate the beginning of a new family (whether or not the couple chooses or is able to have children).

  49. LOVED this post!

    I wouldn’t have minded kids at my wedding which was nearly perfect, but it was really a non-issue.

    Most people are horrified when they discover that my ‘perfect’ wedding was 10 minutes with a JP, the vows between my husband and I completely spontaneous and no less heartfelt for it to be followed by dinner at our favorite restaurant. My ‘dress’ was a nice blouse and long skirt. I think it shocks them even more when they truly understand that even as a child I didn’t want the big wedding in a flower strewn, packed-to-the-rafters cathedral with a dress as costly as some new cars to be worn only once. The only thing I could wish for is that family could/would have attended, but his family disapproved and mine couldn’t afford the time off to travel overseas.

    I still remember my wedding day with a smile and teary eyes as the best day of my life. Just the way I wanted. No stress. Only joy.

  50. Miss Molly on said:

    I caused a raucous 20+ years ago when I requested that children under 12 not be present in the sanctuary during the wedding ceremony – If I had the option at the time I would have also requested that the majority of my now x-husbands family not attend as well. Maybe it was because I knew the children and the parents and knew that I didn’t want that kind of distraction…

    It was not that children were not allowed at the wedding, babysitting was provided in the annex and children were invited to the reception, the more the merrier, I love children – I just didn’t want them in the sanctuary during the ceremony.

    When my soon-to-be mother-in-law caused a scene insisting that my fiance’s 2 year old niece had waited “her whole life to see her uncle walk down the isle” – as if she knew what an isle, much less a wedding, was – I couldn’t help but chortle – out loud. Really?!

    I offended more than one relative and they chose not to attend at all. Perfectly okay with me…

    There are numerous occasions where I have been to weddings with children present – some great, some not so great. My favorite experience was when my younger brother announced at my cousins wedding “I can’t believe he drank the whooooollllllleeeeee thing” right after the priest finished off the wine in the cup after communion. It was right about the time the Alkaseltzer commercials were running the same line… this was also the same ceremony when the priest said “you are the captains of your own ship” to which my brother shouted “what ship, I don’t see no ship.” My mother just about sunk under the pew but my aunt and numerous other attendees thought it was hilarious.

  51. Funny that I find this post very timely for the reason that we are actually working on our wedding preparations for next year. In our case, the only kids “invited” to our wedding are those members of the bridal party (i.e., flower girls, ring/Bible/coin bearers).

    My fiancé and I are lucky that we no longer have younger siblings/cousins who may be “obliged” to come to our wedding.

    Great post, and congratulations on being Freshly Pressed!

  52. Really enjoyed reading this – I think when it comes to weddings, there seems to be more focus on putting on a good show above all else. It’s made me and my bf talk about eloping if we ever get married!

  53. I recently got married and my husband and I decided not to invite children to the reception. They were more than welcome to the ceremony just not to the after party.

    To begin with all of the children in our family our aged 4 and under, by the time the main meal were served most of these children would probably be in bed! I love my niece and nephew but I also wanted my sister and her husband to be able to relax and enjoy their evening together.

    I understand some people may be offended, and I indeed had one family member who was and showed their displeasure by not showing up on the day. But if the shoe was on the other foot I would not be offended in the slightest. My children may be the centre of my universe, but it doesn’t mean that the bride and groom feel the same way.

  54. My flower girls had to be bribed with $1 each to sit still for wedding pictures, they were beyond the point of listening when the ceremony was over. That said, I still wouldn’t exclude them, or anyone else’s kids from our wedding. Kids have limits, and need limits as well. It’s up to the parents to take them home when it’s bedtime, take them outside when they are screaming, and DISCIPLINE them when they are just plain naughty! Nobody should expect them to sit perfectly quiet, but they do need this exposure to understand how to behave at these events too. I would probably feel offended if I received an invitation that excluded my children; I likely wouldn’t attend. But that is my take on the situation, I feel weddings unite the families… which include children. When you get married, the choice is ultimately yours; just keep in check what’s truly important on that day… everybody knowing how to dance the waltz, or everybody having fun doing whatever it is they do.

  55. Wow, this post went off on a crazy tangent. I don’t disagree that there are limits to what you can can’t request of your wedding guests, but if a person’s name is not on the invite, they are not invited. A child is a person, and if they were invited their names would be on the invite.

    I have been to weddings where children have ruined the vows by running up on stage and throwing massive tantrums because of the length of the ceremony. A wedding is a celebration, well it is still in Australia, and if the kids must come, bring them to the reception. Keep them out of the chapel or church and allow these two people who are crazy in love to have just one perfect moment. If you have uber well behaved, appropriate aged children, then by all means discuss them being there. Be fair to the couple you are lucky enough to be invited to share their special day with

    Mums and Dad, get a sitter and take a grown up night off, they’re kids. They’ll get survive without you for a night. Have some fun and have a date night out with your husband where everything is paid for! 🙂

  56. Im planning my wedding and am only inviting the children in the immediate family(which is more than 10% of the guests). If my friends with children are unable to make it because they cant get a babysitter – then bring the kids, of course. Im sure most of them will be glad to have a night off and enjoy themselves….

  57. Children were not invited to our wedding. Firstly there was the cost– we weren’t spending all that much and adding another 30 meals would have been ridiculous. Secondly, while some of the kids would have made it through both the ceremony and reception without causing any drama, some of them would have been misbehaving before we even started.

    As for the wedding being a celebration… Of course it is, but I’m quite capable of having a good time without needing to be shown how it’s done by a four year old (who will probably be screaming in about ten minutes).

    And finally, if you are a parent who is incapable of spending one day, evening, whatever without your children, should perhaps start thinking about how they will fell when their children leave home.

    I now have 3 kids, who I love endlessly and who are generally well behaved, and even if they were invited to a wedding, I’d probably take the opportunity to have some time with just my wife.

  58. The fire regulations on our ceremony venue (a castle) were extremely strict and we could have only 60 guests – quite a small number to restrict a guest list to. As even a new babe-in-arms counted as a guest for fire regulations we said no children at the ceremony, but they were welcome (and catered for) at the reception. I think that went OK – we only had one decline because of it, so I don’t think much offense was taken.

    The bottom line, for us, was that we wanted to be able invite the adults that matter to us to the ceremony rather than have their places taken by our friends’ children, some of whom we’ve never met. If there were children in the family that we were close to we would have had to do this differently but, as it was, an adult only ceremony worked well for us.

  59. When someone gets married in our church, a nursery is provided for children under 5. It seems like no one ever thinks of doing this!

  60. I got married a little over a year ago and the one thing that bothered me the most was how everyone seems to have an opinion on how your wedding SHOULD be….according to them. I very politely told them all to shove it and save it for their own weddings. As far a child-free is concerned..I don’t really believe in banning well behaved children from weddings, restaurants, etc..but as far as whiny crazy children are concerned, I feel no guilt in a non invite.

  61. Good post… agreed how weddings have become a complete show for people..its crazy business…
    I live in Pakistan, and here the trend is a three day event generally… which has been extended by people to a 7-8 days event now… 1st night is usually the ‘mehndi’, where there are prepared choreographed dances for the show, and then we put henna (tattoo) on the bride’s hands… and the next day is the reception (Baraat), from the bride’s side and the real ceremony takes place.. third day (Walima) is a celebration from the groom’s side when the bride has settled in with him…
    On my sister’s wedding, there was a no child policy from the groom’s side on the third day, which we had to communicate to all our family members… it was the event from the groom’s side anyway… but since then many of our family members have kept a sort of a grudge against us, because many could not attend the Walima event because they wouldnt want to leave their children behind, which was not really any fault of ours too….
    so as much as i agree with you, its true that one can not make everyone happy also, no matter how much you try…

  62. Interesting…

    My sister in law wanted my then 18 month-old daughter to be her flower girl, which I refused. About 2 years later, my husband’s cousin made the same request and I said no again, even though the groom’s niece, who was younger than my daughter, was allowed. And I was right: not only was the child completely restless the whole afternoon, but by 6pm she was so worn out they had to leave.

    The thing is, I refused because it’s not the kind of event kids have fun at. I mean, why drag them along in pretty clothes they won’t be able to mess around in and expect them to behave like statues knowing they just can’t, no matter how much they want to sit still.

    I guess it has more to do with being practical and knowing that’s there a place for everything…I would never think of bringing my child to a wedding unless the invite specifically stated I could. And even then, I’d think hard about it before going, because if there really is nothing for them to do, the meltdown will happen at some point, and then you’ll end up having to leave (earlier than you wanted, in most cases) to avoid further issues…

  63. Great post! Congrats on the freshly pressed!

    We have a young child and I think it is perfectly ok for him not to be included in an invitation. We simply decide whether we want to accept. He is a great kid and we enjoy attending affairs both with and without him. However, we would not think of taking him anywhere that he would not be totally welcomed.

    There are lots of places where he can enjoy himself and learn new things. He has also been to events where he has been the only or one of only a few children present and has not been a problem. On the other hand we have sometimes left early because he has become restless.

    Bottom line, hosts can decide whom they want at their affairs. Their reasoning is all over the map and I won’t spend a lot of time trying to figure it out or get upset about it. As my child grows up I will teach him that there may be lots of things to which he may not be invited or included and that it’s fine. I’ll tell him to throw his own parties and have big fun.

  64. Excellent and timely post.

    I’m getting married in June. My fiance and I don’t know many people with children, but at least two couples will have children by the time June rolls around. One of those couples have said that they already have a babysitter booked as our wedding will be the first time they’ll make it out of the house since the birth of their as-yet unborn baby.

    The other couple has asked if they can bring their older son and baby who will be nine months old in June.

    As for the guests traveling great distances, some are leaving the kids at home, some are bringing their kids as the …and Guest

    My fiance and I want kids of our own, and therefore would feel bad telling our friends not to bring their children.

    The point is we want to share our day with these people. How they choose to spend that time, either with their kids or as an excuse for a break, is up to them.

    We would hate to think that somebody couldn’t make it because we ‘banned’ kids, and they couldn’t find a sitter.

    We have however, kindly asked people not to wear hats!

    Lorna

  65. People get ridiculous about weddings. People, you are NOT royalty. Yes, make it a big, fancy party if you like, but weddings are meant to be for family and friends. Not an affair of state. If you turn it into something it isn’t meant to be, then you cheapen it at the same time you’re throwing money at it.

  66. I agree completely with your sentiments that most modern weddings are spectacles rather than celebrations. It seems like the strict format of the perfect wedding is not child friendly with too formality. Even a well behaved child is going to be bored.

    I take your point about people being free to spend their money how they iike, but I get extremely irritated when friends tell me that I’m lucky to own my own home when they have just spent thousands on a wedding. You make your choices in life.

    Great post!

  67. Sure, kids can be a bit of a nuisance when they (inevitably) get bored and start playing up, but you hit the nail on the head when you describe the wedding as being one big “perfect” bit of ostentation in front of your friends and family. A lot of couples would do well to just relax about the whole thing. I certainly hope I’m not that stuffy about it when my turn comes around!

  68. Isn’t there a point where it can be considerate not to include young children? My fiance and I, when asked if our 2-year-old niece was invited, suggested that a sitter might be a better option, considering that both her parents were in the wedding party and the reception runs past her bedtime.

  69. I got married recently and my husband and I had a black tie wedding. We did not invite any children. We had 2 options, invite children in which case there would be 5 one year old children attending, or not invite any children. Please note that these are cousins children and we have never met these children. I have never brought a screaming one year old to a wedding, and never will. It is unfair to expect me to deal with your children who are too young to behave at a black tie affair. Yes, we did have people throw fits about us not inviting their children, but in the end, my husband and I had a elegant wedding that was exactly what we wanted.

    I strongly believe that the bride and groom get to decide who is invited to celebrate with them on THEIR day. So many people forget that the wedding isn’t about them, it is about the bride and groom. If you want to attend, be cooperative. Otherwise, you do not have to attend.

  70. “Point is, when you invite a relative or a friend to an event that’s meant to celebrate you starting a family”
    This makes it sound like weddings celebrate that a couple is about to have children. Weddings celebrate a committment made by two people. Those two people are not necessarily “starting a family” – unless you meant to imply they are a family of two.

  71. Great post and you totally hit the nail on the head. Sure, they have the right to ask whatever they want for “their” day, just as we have the right to our reaction.

    I’ve recently been involved in a similar debate around baby showers. People want them to be child-free. It’s hard not to judge someone a LITTLE bit if they don’t want children to ruin their BABY shower…

  72. “Weddings were once rowdy affairs where children ran around, people danced with abandon, and newlyweds would sneak off right about when the merrymaking reached a fever pitch.” — I LOVE that this is still the norm in my corner of the world.

  73. Let me start off by saying I love children. I’ve been a nanny for 5 years. This doesn’t make me a parent, but I definitely know children. These are my thoughts/reactions:

    1. Kids will not enjoy themselves unless it is a kids affair.
    2. Most adult guests (parents or not) would like to enjoy themselves without worrying about caring for or watching a child.
    3. I don’t know about everyone else, but the weddings I’ve been to have had their fair share of drama (fights, drunken idiots) and that’s not a good environment for a kid.
    4. A guest is a guest. That means every head has a cost. Catering, rentals, decorations and favors don’t come cheap, and you need more for more guests.
    5. I was just MOH in a wedding that had a strict no kids policy and by no means was it a stuffy, choreographed affair. It was lovely and and laid back.
    6. I recall being bored out of my mind at the weddings I attended as a child.
    7. When I get married, the flower girl/ring bearer will be invited. That’s it. I don’t know how much of a trend the no kids rule is because my family almost always has a 16+ age rule. My parents always left us with a sitter when our whole family was invited.

  74. What’s even worse than banning kids at weddings is inviting one son to attend as a page boy and asking that we leave the other one behind. It actually happened to us, and I was accused of blackmail when I said none of us would go if we had to leave Sam behind. It took about 8 years to get over that apparently selfish invite.
    In response to the last reply we had fantastic family occasions when our kids got married. I even bought a 4 lane Scalextric track to make the kids feel wanted. Weddings without kids, is perhaps understandable for those getting married in their twilight years, otherwise it would be shame to be without them.

  75. Spot on…great post and observations. Your right that many highly planned weddings end up becoming just ‘proceedings’. We lost, (though if we really lost something of value?) some friends, because unable to find a babysitter, we couldn’t then attend their child free wedding….I love children at weddings they bring that infectious joy and remind us why we get married in the first place…..

  76. I think anyone has a right to say they don’t want children at their wedding. Just don’t get mad if some of the parents aren’t able to come due to not being able to find/afford a babysitter, etc.

  77. Many weddings I’ve been to seem so impersonal – like there’s an ideal which everyone is trying to reach, and the more flawless it is, the better. My wedding involved family from Iraq, Morocco, Finland and England (who couldn’t talk to each other, so they danced to bad Finnish and Arabic pop instead), a sauna, the sea, karaoke and everything was just as it should because it hadn’t been planned to the last little detail. It was clearly our party, and that was what was important – friends and family celebrating with us, the way they know us. Not the way they expect weddings should be.

    I don’t have children, but I can certainly understand that it might feel bad to be invited to a wedding where not all your family members are welcome, because they might be a bit of trouble. Nice article, well argued.

  78. Great post. I would never exclude kids, in fact I didn’t exclude them from my wedding — and we survived! And we’re still married 25 years later! I think it’s up to the parents to decide if they want get a babysitter if they want to stay later at a wedding. It’s a good point, tired kids are not having fun and no one with them has fun either, so I don’t think a bride and groom necessary have to state that they BAN children which I think is offensive as hell. Most reasonable people either get a sitter or leave early if they have kids so…I wouldn’t risk offending my family and friends with a snarky “No children please.” on a fancy wedding invite.

  79. As a kid, I went to every wedding my parents were invited to. Why, because the concept of leaving your kids with a sitter wasn’t invented yet.
    Going to weddings as a child taught me a lot about social norms, and customs. I learned to dance at weddings, and I got to slide across the slippery dance floor in between dances.
    Weddings taught me table etiquette. That was because my parents would knock me in the back of the head if I did something stupid at the table. Weddings taught me how to be nice to my parent’s friends. I learned to address them by Mr. or Mrs. So and So.
    Yes weddings are a big show, but in my day it was a celebration of love too. The majority of couples whose weddings I attended were having their first night together, and that deserves a party. The guest were all rooting for them to have a great life together.
    Great post, it brought back some fantastic memories.

  80. Being from Nepal, it is hard for me to even imagine that something like “Do not bring kids” to be printed on a wedding invitation. In our part of the world it is highly disrespectful not to invite the children or elderly of a close relative. Our weddings are a huge affair with 500+ guests so chaos is a part of the ceremony and what is a wedding without kids running around and teenagers making noise 🙂

  81. I think it’s reasonable to ask that children don’t attend, but it makes me sad that anyone would want to exclude them… If our culture valued and celebrated children more, then people would collectively watch over the children and revel in their participation. The first time I was a flower girl at age 4, I ran back to the collect the petals I had tossed when the basket was empty and then tossed them again. I think everyone had a good laugh.

  82. Hey WordPress, I was linking to this blog before it was cool!

    …said my inner blog hipster. Congrats on the FreshlyPressed

  83. Marriage itself is an unusual construct – one the province of royalty and landowners who had titles and property deeds to protect from ‘bastards’ and other neerdowells.

    Common people marrying is just a cargo-cult – the one day when they get to wear a dress fit for a princess, ride in a carriage, be the centre of attention, have a honeymoon and so on. A friend of mine has just spent £50k getting his daughter married and he’s just a working stiff like me. That’s half a house FFS!
    Mind you it was an amazing affair – his wife spent 3 years planning it.

    So if aping our betters is a good thing then let’s do it, but should we not be getting on with life instead of spending obscene amounts of money, time an effort in something so ephemeral?

  84. A great commentary, and one that can be applied to so many other social situations/issues. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed!

  85. The last wedding I attended the Bride and Groom’s kids were vastly disruptive. I just think kids get bored at weddings. If I were two years old I’m sure there’s a million things I’d rather be doing. I guess it’s that whole ‘different strokes for different folks’ thing. At the end of the day if it’s perfect for the couple, then it’s perfect for me. Kidless or not.

  86. Your point isn’t lost. People get ridiculous about weddings. And it’s sad just how many folks have engagement periods that last longer than the marriage. That said, I really don’t think weddings are for kids. Personally, I’d rather not have my kids invited because they’ll have more fun at home with the babysitter… and so will we!

    Basically, all anyone tells us about our wedding (ten years later) is how much fun they had. It helped that we didn’t have a videographer and that our photographer was extremely laid-back; an annoying photographer can come damn near ruining what’s supposed to be fun.

  87. I love this post… mostly because I just enjoyed my wedding a few months ago and it was nothing like the tight-assed, kid-less, fancy pants ceremony you described. Then again, our 2-year-old son and all of his toddler cousins were the guests of honor… and I let my blog readers plan everything from the menu to the music. At the end of the little Big Day, we had FUN, didn’t go broke, and shared the good time with everyone despite their age or ability to twirl. When it comes to modern weddings, most brides could stand to just chill the hell out.

  88. danicastyle on said:

    So maybe this is why Bloomingdales in the Beverly Centre in Los Angeles doesn’t have a Children’s department… ha ha! Love your writing, well done! From a Mom who got so fed up with being asked the illegal question: “do you have children” during interviews and being told by a CHRISTOFLE Silver colleague “you want be considered because you have children” when inquiring about a position I was MORE than qualified for. SO fed up that I moved back to Denmark where MOTHERS and CHILDREN are VALUED! My heart goes out to those without this option! xo xo xo

  89. Different strokes and all that, I’ve been to a few childless to a couple of kids only weddings and that was specified as everyone intended to get extremely drunk, the parents of the kids were thankful for that too, it’s not often many of them got a chance to let loose that much – one was an Irish wedding so no one that drunk should be in charge of kids for the day if they can barely manage to work out the fly on their trousers such was our inebriation 😉

  90. I went to a wedding recentlyish that was a evening wedding, I think it started at 7 or 8. 30 or so minutes into the reception it became a no kids zone and the kids were shuffled off to a prearranged location with 3 or 4 college girls who were the babysitters in a room stocked with kid friendly stuff.

    Of course, if parents/kids wanted to go to the kid room right away, that was also an option.

    It worked marvelously. Breastfeeding mothers still had easy access to their young ones to breast feed as normal. No one had to find a sitter. And most parents left after the first half an hour anyway because it was getting quite late for their children.

  91. I was recently in my best friends wedding as a bridesmaid. My husband, not in the wedding party, was going to be in charge of our 6 month old daughter for the weekend…until the news struck us. NO KIDS ALLOWED. what?
    Our family can’t come. I’m not going to lie, I was a bit disappointed in her. I know SHE doesn’t have kids yet and probably doesn’t understand, but it was a HUGE turn off.

  92. euphoranyc on said:

    I actually thought about this when I was at a wedding 3 days ago. During the church ceremony, the flower girl (maybe 4 years old) refused to walk to the altar because she got scared. Then, her younger sister (about 2 years old) cried the entire ceremony. Now this is all being video taped. I would imagine that it’ll be hard to hear their vows through obnoxious crying. I could just see the bride and groom getting frustrated through their fake smiles. This is a tough one. I feel like the solution is to not bring the tiny ones. They’ll get bored, tired, cranky, and there will be wet fireworks. Older kids that can handle it, however…why not?

    • In that situation, isn’t the responsibility on the parents to discretely take the crying child outside until they can console them?

      • euphoranyc on said:

        Well that was certainly the first reaction. She kept leaving to console her and as soon as she would come back the kid would take it from the top. However, I’m assuming the mother of the baby was a close relative and didn’t want to miss the good stuff. Either way…awkward.

  93. I myself are getting married in a couple of years and will be inviting children, only because I love children and want them to to be part of the occasion.

    However I can see the other point of view, kids do get bored and they can play up and the cost involved is quite high.

    Great subject though

  94. I need to print this out and throw it into a few mailboxes.

  95. I think the bride and groom get to do whatever they want, it is their wedding! People should not be offended. I loved it when you wrote, “Few people get to do this more than three times in a lifetime.” Loved that! Cracked me up! My son is getting married and I keep telling my “daughter” that she can do whatever she wants. People put so much pressure on the bride and groom, we need to just support what they want. Great post!

  96. We had been to too many weddings spoiled by babies crying (and parents who didn’t have the sense to leave the room) and screaming toddlers. We hired a babysitter to watch babies and small kids (under 5) during our wedding ceremony and then had all the kids/babies at the reception. The parents were glad to have a break for an hour and thanked me for it. But the real reason we did it was because of one cousin who had a bratty child who was always screaming and totally spoiled rotten. I knew this child (and his mother) would want to be center of attention – we’d seen it happen before. And they didn’t even show up at the wedding!

  97. Fantastic post. I love your comment about how if couples put as much energy into the marriage as they do the wedding, the divorce rate would decrease.

    It should be about having fun and inviting others to share your joy in marrying your spouse, not about the impression you want to create.

  98. I like the idea of a ceremony without kids there (no kids want to sit still for 2 hours anyways, and why people bring tiny babies who just cry is beyond me. I wouldn’t bring a whining puppy, I’d find a pet sitter for those 2 hours or opt to skip that part) and a dance afterwards where people can go a little crazy and the kids can run around. I’ve had a couple family members do this and I think it worked great!

  99. ayearinthecaymans on said:

    i love my kids, but you wouldn’t have to ask me twice to leave them at home for a couple of hours while I enjoyed a nice quiet sit (wedding) and some good adult fun/conversation (reception).

  100. So well written and to the point.

  101. I think many people are far too easily offended. I don’t feel like asking children to stay home is a personal dig, it is just a preference.
    My husband and I did have kids at our wedding, but there were many people who were left out. Not because we don’t love them, but because we don’t have limitless resources. We set a $3K limit on our wedding (including honeymoon and wedding bands) because we had purchased a home the year before and still had excessive student loan debt. We both come from very large families (parents, siblings, spouses and nieces/nephews equaled 50 guests), so we did not invite cousins and beyond. My dream wedding has always been outside and intimate, so that is what we did. We found a small Castle with beautiful gardens and had a small catered afternoon wedding.
    My sister had a $50K wedding in a formal setting, she did not invite kids. It was a beautiful, formal evening wedding. Kids would have been bored for one, and would have added several thousand dollars to the cost of the wedding. That was her dream; I loved every moment of her wedding!
    I also understand not being able to leave children, I nurse my kids. The younger will not take a bottle, even of expressed milk – so I cannot be away from him for more than a few hours. Anyone who invites me to a wedding knows this, and would understand if I decline a child free wedding. No offense taken on either end. We all lead different lives and have different wants and needs.
    What I don’t understand, how is telling someone they should have a certain type of wedding so children will be happy (and afforded by the bride and groom) any different from the bride and groom executing their own vision? If you are close enough to be invited to the wedding, you know the bride and groom well enough to understand a request and in reverse they know you well enough to understand why you would or would not attend.

  102. I have to throw my 2 cents in here. First, it’s up to the bride and groom to decide on whether they want and intimate formal affair or a family-friendly bru-ha-ha. I have children (so I’m allowed to say this)…parents who bring their kids to an event such as a wedding must be responsible for them at all times. Period. At the same time, we have to expect kids to have fun and they aren’t going to have fun at a super formal event where they are expected to be quiet and still for hours. So leave them at home. Why is that so bad?? Besides, I think a wedding is a fantastic opportunity to have a night out with my friends and husband.

    Bottom line is assess the event first; a backyard wedding is a far more suitable venue to bring kids than a black-tie affair in some swish hotel. And I sure as hell wouldn’t want the stress of watching my kids in a kid-unfriendly environment. That’s no fun for anyone.

  103. God, I am a bridesmaid in a wedding on Friday, actually running late for my dress fitting to type this comment..the debate on to invite children, significant others, just husbands but no boyfriends, or boyfriends but not random dates, had been an epic ongoing convo within my group of friends. We all have we want out of our weddings, in the end it is the couples choice and their decision, whatever it may be, is the right one because it is their wedding and it is right for THEM

  104. I agree that it seems there is usually so much stress and agony over all the preparations of the wedding and getting things “perfect” that it misses the whole point. People always say weddings are really for the family and friends — i.e. you can’t expect it to be stress-free and solely about having a lovely, enjoyable day for the bride and groom. This seems really sad, in my opinion. I don’t understand why weddings should be like, as you say, scripted processions.

    As for the not-bringing-the-kids issue, I would say that it’s in the end up to the bride and groom.

  105. I really enjoyed reading this post, because honestly this very thing has been an issue in weddings within my own family. I come from a large extended family. 1 brother, 1 sister, mother is 1 of 4, father is one of 5 and they all have children and most have the next generation well underway. My cousins are more like siblings… in fact many I speak to many of them more than my own sister. And every wedding (3 cousins, 2 aunts, my parents remarried, my sister) we have had in this family has been carefree, with the kids and some garage band playing some fun-spirited, old-school dance all night music. Many were elegent and expensive, others more laid back and modest, but all had thier own personality and still worked to accomidate the crowd they wanted to share the big day with, many having 150+ people in attendance.
    Then came my Uncles 2 kids who grew up very much out of the whole family connection and both were married without kids allowed to attend the big day. Being a single mother and the 1st wedding being on Mother’s Day weekend, 6 hours from my own home… I chose to reject the invite to spend the weekend with my daughter, age 6. The hailstorm to follow was incredible. My mother did not want to attend knowing I wouldn’t be there and she had medical issues I would usually help her with. This news also pissed off my brother, who had 2 kids and therefore he didn’t want to go. Then came my sister who would rather spend the day with us.
    When cousins found out, they didn’t want to go either… My 3 closest cousins and my younest aunt, all had 2 and 3 small kids that, like me, didn’t trust anyone but family to watch our children. It left them all at a huge loss as to what to do. Many wanted to go but couldn’t just grab a sitter they didn’t know and drive 6 hours for an entire weekend. We would all normally rely on eachother for this type of occasion…. I’ll watch your kids so you can go to your In-laws anniversay party and you can watch mine so we can go for a romantic weekend in Vermont.
    My uncle caught wind that his sisters (my mother and my aunt-the youngest with a son under age 2 and very pregnant) would not be attending his first born and only sons wedding, which started fights amoungst him and his wife, seeing it was her who wanted no kids. All in all we all attended, with the kids…. but not without alot of tension and discomfort. Many left the reception early due to the stiffness of the event.
    Their daughter was married a few years later, also without kids. The same people refrained from attending and this time it stuck. This wedding was also 6 hours from home, but this time on Valentine’s weekend. I am told half the guest list attended and it was “a very nice ceremony”. Frankly, spending the weekend with my daughter and our new puppy was so much more rewarding than a stiff wedding for a cousin who would others wise, forget I existed.

  106. I’m hesitant about this issue for many reasons. Because I feel you would need to draw the line somewhere on who can bring their kids. My goddaughter/cousins who are younger? Sure. They’re family. Should my 2 best friends have children, absolutely. Should all of my sorority sister’s kids come? Um. No.

    First, it’s another out of pocket expense for the bride & groom. Yes, it would be an out of pocket expense for the guests, but the bride/groom now have to provide a place for the children to sit, some small form of entertainment, and the food & beverages.

    Personally, I would draw the line when it came even to sorority sisters. I have a lot of friends, some of them have children but I don’t want them all at my wedding. I certainly don’t want them at the ceremony. I’ve been to weddings where there have been children & they’ve misbehaved or, at the worst one, spilled juice on the bride’s dress.

    I agree to a point with what you’re saying. Child-free weddings today just aren’t going to fly with a lot of people. But guests also need to be aware that, unless you’re family with the couple or are considered one of their best friends, you shouldn’t bring your children to the wedding. When I was a kid, the only weddings I went to were my uncles & aunts. Friends of the family? Nope. Neighbor across the street babysat.

    Bottom line: you need to draw a line. You can’t have 30 kids at your wedding. It just gets out of hand.

  107. I thoroughly enjoyed your post.

    I got married last year (older bride) and it was my third marriage but my first large wedding (okay maybe not that large 60 people but compared to the other two…huge!) and it was important to me that children be a part of our event.

    When I was a little girl I attended weddings with my parents that have provided me long lasting magical memories. There was no way I was going to rob these kids of (hopefully) a similar experience. I also notice that it is normally something a child says or does at the most inappropriate moment during a wedding, that breaks the tension and gives everyone a shared experience they remember for a long time.

    I too, am not fond of the cookie cutter process they seem to run couples through these days. Not a lot of individuality present in those scenarios. We chose to mix it up a bit with ours, but bucking the system wasn’t easy…takes a bit of grit and you have to know what you want.

    Loved your part about how couples spend their money and how they can be judged on not being responsible. I agree with you. My thoughts are that marriage is serious and spending money to create a lovely sacred ceremony, however the couple sees that happening or going on a fabulous trip is their business and responsibility. They don’t need permission or approval.

  108. I agree, it’s stupid to exclude kids for the sake of “elegance” and expect people not to take offence. But some couples simply want to have a party for adults, the kind of party that’s not suitable for kids. Maybe they want to keep things a little more simple by not having to provide child friendly food and entertainment for the kids so they won’t get bored? Maybe they want to let their hair down without worrying about setting a poor example for the relatives’ kids? Nowadays people are very conscious of the fact that even moderate alcohol use can make kids feel uneasy. To some kids, even slightly tipsy adults can be frightening.

    Traditionally weddings have been a family oriented celebration but some couples just aren’t into that kind of thing. They want to have a party for adults. I think it’s their right to throw the kind of party they want. It’s their party, after all! So I guess I’m saying that it all depends on the motive for excluding kids. If it’s to achieve the maximum amount of pomp, I agree with you. But if it’s because they want to throw a great, raucous party for adults, I’m all for it!

  109. I love this. Having a “perfect” wedding is so overrated, sometimes it seems as if people are actually forgetting the essence of having a wedding at the first place. 😀

  110. Great post! Totally agree.
    I would personally prefer a small wedding: family, close friends and their kids. And I don’t really want a wedding dress. I don’t need to look like a princess. A beautiful, elegant dress will do. And then I’ll spend all the money on the trip of a lifetime 🙂

  111. This is why I eloped. The only people we had to impress at my wedding were my husband and myself, and I think we managed.

  112. People bring children to weddings?

    Just kidding. A wedding is one of those rare times that you (and your spouse) get to throw a party that completely and selflessly revolves around (the both of) you, so it’s a very personal choice. If you enjoy raves and 1,000+ ragers, invite everyone in your apartment complex and give them a +1.

    I prefer a party where, when one conversation ends, you turn around and are faced with another old friend. Small, personal wedding seems best. On the fence about kids being there though….

  113. In a way I understand wanting your wedding to go the way you want it to, but you shouldn’t expect people to go along with your outrageous expectations on the matter. Forcing people to learn how to dance seems to be a disgusting request to ask of guests who want to be there to support your marriage and to witness the joining of families.

    It’s saying “If you can’t dance, we don’t want your there!” Talk about leaving people out. What if your own mother can’t perform the “perfect twirl”. If someone broke their leg, would they not be allowed to attend your wedding? Would you kick out your best friend’s husband/boyfriend because he has no rhythm? Are there judges tapping people on shoulders saying “I’m sorry, you’re just not good enough to be here, sir. I’ll have to ask you to leave.”? How infuriating!

    Now, about the children…I understand where people are coming from. But there are ways to go about that. It seems that no one wants to see kids running around like maniacs with their sticky hands and runny noses, no one who attends the wedding (their parents included) wants to look after them, so why not find someone willing to look after the little ones? Even if they attend the wedding and the reception, there can be arrangements made so that the young ones can remain entertained without being left to their own mischievous ways. Children are family too.

    I guess I could go on, but this is turning into a rather long comment. Thanks for your post! I enjoyed reading it 🙂

  114. Is the real problem the wedding planners or parents’ egos?

  115. I absolutely love this post. As an Episcopal priest, I have to concur with the ridiculousness of the spectacle that it has become.

    One thing to consider is that in the church, we don’t actually believe it is their day, but our day. We are celebrating together the binding of two people in our community. This tradition is found all over the globe, as you point out in the ruckus that weddings used to be, but also in the processions that would weave through the town and the collecting of the entire community into one big party. Though we gather to honor the marriage of two specific people, and it is only fair that they get some reasonable control, it is only a very recent phenomenon that weddings became only the property of the couple, and not the community in which they are wed.

  116. I requested that no children be brought to my wedding back in 1991. I had no negative responses from the 100 guests that were invited, including my husband’s 7 brothers and sisters who have large families of their own. It was very freeform and not “stilted” at all (we nearly had a giggle fit when the officiant said “true love” since we’ve watched The Princess Bride far too much). The parents enjoyed having a reason to be away from their kids that they didn’t feel guilty about.

    I’d also like also say that no, marriage is not just or only an “event that’s meant to celebrate you starting a family”. It means you’re joining your true love and that is to be celebrated, no matter if you will or *can* start a family or not.

    • You’re so right!

      A wedding or celebration of marriage is not “an event that’s meant to celebrate you starting a family.”

      There were no children at my wedding either and none in my marriage. By choice.

      The author is certainly entitled to her opinion, though. Congratulations on FP!

  117. I don’t consider myself a wedding photographer but have second shot numerous weddings and been the lead photographer for several. I have seen brides have melt downs but it seems the worst is often the mother of the bride. My favorite weddings are where they are relaxed and someone in the wedding party (being the minister, bride or groom) “goofs up” and causes everyone to laugh. You can see the entire group relax and begin to have fun.

    I agree with the fact that so many people try to make it too perfect and the expense is out of control. When putting out so much money one wants it to be perfect and it seldom happens that way. Perhaps that is the reason for parents melting down, they are forking out the dough.

    I second shot a wedding two weeks ago and after the ceremony the kids were treated to a fun babysitter who took them to a location that would be more entertaining for them. However, some of the older kids stayed. When the dancing started they were out on the dance floor with the adults having a great time. There is nothing much sweeter than seeing a little girl of about 10 dance with her daddy.

    I also agree with the comment that in requesting no children it possibly means you can’t be trusted to control your kids. It takes work to do so and many parents these days don’t want to go to that much effort. They want to enjoy their time and I guess they hope the kids will take care of themselves.

    All in all, I too wish everyone would just relax and celebrate with the bride and groom on their day. As with so many other things, the media (wedding magazines) have pressured us into believing that we have to have things a certain way to be happy or have a good time. Just relax and celebrate and I can guarantee everyone will then have a good time! Isn’t that what we all want anyway?

  118. deflowering on said:

    If i were invited for a child free marriage function i will never attend it in the first place.

  119. This is a great post and fantastically written. I got married last year, and what we wanted more than anything was for the wedding to match us as a couple – that translated into a small simple wedding with family and close friends and all kids were included. I have some young cousins, and kids of cousins and I would never exclude them from a day that is meant to be shared with those you love. Everyone has different views of what their wedding day should be, but in my opinion it’s a day to rejoice, to reunite families, to laugh, to dance and to just be happy. Kids add to all of those aspects, and it makes for a beautiful day! Chaos is part of the fun, in my opinion 😉

    Great post and congrats on being freshly pressed! 🙂

  120. Brilliant point. I don’t go to a lot of weddings because none of my friends are old enough to be married, so it’s not something I’ve come across particularly, but I can see that people would do that sort of thing, and I think your post explains exactly why they’re wrong.

    And I agree about putting that much effort into the marriage itself rather than the wedding would be a better use of your energy 😀

    Congrats on Freshly Pressed 😀

  121. I’m one of the evil-doers who asked people to come to our wedding sans enfants. My husband and I had already decided that we were taking the child-free path in our lives and we wanted to let our dearest friends and family know that from the very start. The only protest, although faint, was from my brother. But after the wedding was over, my brother and his wife thanked us profusely for allowing them the treat of a childfree night. It was the first time that they had an evening out as a couple since their children had been born.
    Thank you for your post and for expressing the side that I hadn’t considered all those years ago. Congratulations on being freshly pressed!

  122. thebelligerenthousewife on said:

    With weddings {generally} being an adult oriented affair, I always assumed {unless stated/worded otherwise} that children were not to attend. My husband and I made arrangements for our children to be cared for while we attended a close friends wedding this past August. This is a friend that I’ve known my entire life, and I was not offended that our children were not on the guest list, had they been it would’ve meant that the whole event would’ve been very stressful and tiresome for my husband and I in attempting to entertain our two small children. When my sister in law got married two years ago, our son {then 5} was the ring bearer, and wanted no part of it. Our 5 year old managed to behave well during the event and found playmates with the flower girls. However, our daughter at the time had just turned one, and she stayed with my parents.

    At our own wedding we provided a child sized table with color wonder markers and papers to entertain the kids as well as a kid friendly menu, however we had a afternoon wedding, evening would’ve probably been too challenging with bed times etc. The children that attended our wedding were actually in our wedding, so we were prepared. I think it’s important to be prepared for kids and have reasonable expectations. It was a great day and having the kids there made it special for us 🙂

  123. Thank you to all who read and commented. I read every comment.

  124. Weddings are overated

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  127. We’re gearing up for a family wedding at the end of the month, and while the BTB is obsessing over a few details she’ll probably end up scratching from her to-do list in the next week or so, she has a fairly good perspective on the event itself. Not only are kids welcome, she’s accommodating them with tables and activities geared specifically to them at the reception.

    And because it’s a Halloween-themed event – costuming strongly encouraged, a buffet-style meal featuring tailgate party foods, and a whole lot of DIY on the decorations, favors, etc. – there’s no expectation of any level of perfection. It’s really just a huge party with a wedding ceremony at the beginning of it. One venue for everything, and no professional anybodies other than the officiant and security guy we’re required to have on hand.

    It’s going to be the kind of rowdy blast you talked about in your post, and we can’t wait to get our wobble on.

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  130. I’m having a wedding of about 50 people – I chose to have no children and I actually didn’t even couples who were expecting or had very, very young children. This wedding is also a couple of hours away for most people and involved getting hotel accomodations. I did not want nor expect my friends to shell out money for a wedding and tug along their children. Not that I’m doing them any favors, but it’s just not right.

    And, yes, I like wedding that aren’t riddled with kids running around. But to say it’s obnoxious or selfish is a bit much. And if I had friends who were “offended,” then they really aren’t my friends to begin with. A true friend understands and wouldn’t get upset over something so petty. Also, a true friend would do whatever it takes to be at the wedding no matter what.

  131. Argh forgot the word *invite – typed too fast. Also, our party will still be rowdy. I’m much more comfortable serving alcohol in a kid-free environment where adults are allowed to act a-fool.

  132. Wow! Obviously this topic will always generate a lot of controversy, but I feel the need to point out some misgivings in this post. The first of these is that “Child-banning,” as you provokingly labelled it, is actually traditional, not a new modern trend. Yes, sometime in the last 50 years people decided to start inviting kids, but nowadays couples who choose not to invite them are not doing anything new; rather, they’re moving back toward traditional adult-only celebrations (perhaps because of the economy). Or should I say, “child-banning celebrations?” (“You are cordially invited to shun all children with us on the evening of…”)

    While hubby and I were struggling with the decision whether or not to invite our 50 some-odd young cousins to our wedding at the expense of inviting one third of our adult guests (no children’s menu or discount, so one guest is the same as any other), my grandmother said to me, “I can’t understand what all the fuss is about. When I was growing up and even when your parents were growing up, if you expected your children under the age of 16 to be invited to a wedding reception, YOU were the rude one.”

    I told her that people were saying it was rude of me to expect them to pay for a sitter after paying for something to wear that night and a gift for us. She replied, “But they think it’s not rude to expect you to pay twice as much to invite their kids?” and laughed. The woman has a good point.

    It’s not a bank transaction wherein one of us owes the other one anything, and if you really do want to look at it that way, then you’d better know that etiquette states you should be bringing a gift that matches the amount you believe the couple paid for your entire party based on the formality of the event and the venue. Supposing a moderate $100/guest (depending on where you live), for you, your spouse, and your three kids, that puts your gift in the range of, say, half the couple’s china settings.

    So let’s just have done with this whole “it’s rude to expect me to pay a sitter” nonsense, because in that line of logic, no one gets out unscathed: someone’s always labelled as “rude,” and someone’s always going to end up spending more money than they want to or possibly can afford.

    In the end, we decided not to have the kids at our wedding– not because we’re perfection-obsessed nutcases who wanted our photos to look a certain way or wanted a “spectacle” to be perfectly orchestrated, but because we couldn’t invite everyone had a choice to make. It’s much easier to go with an old tradition and set an age limit– especially with open bar and other events down the hall that kids with a reputation for taking off (and parents with a reputation for not watching them) could easily slip off into– than it is to just not invite 50 of your adult friends and relatives, whom you really want to see there and who will be much more likely to enjoy it and furthermore not to inhibit anyone else’s ability to enjoy the evening.

    It had nothing to do with film-making, elegance, money, or even with the cruel-hearted thrill of “child-banning”. What it was for us, was a decision to enjoy one worry-free night with our adult family members. It wasn’t easy telling the kids (it was harder telling some of the parents), but it was the best decision we could have made, and so many parents at the end of the night told us that it had been forever since they’d been able to enjoy an event without having to watch their kids, and they’d had a great time.

  133. Enjoying the debate this topic sparked! And there are several arguments; now, on whether or not your guests should be offended if you have a “no-child” invite: It’s definitely there prerogative as with anything else. I have no qualms about that, but regarding the other argument, I have to side with allowing the bridge and groom (or whoever is footing the bill) to make the “very personal” decision about whether or not children should be invited to ceremony and/or reception.

    I will say that our wedding formula was as follows: Ceremony – children/teens allowed. Reception – no guests under drinking age allowed as alcohol was flowing very freely. Result – Wonderful ceremony/reception; all invited guests enjoyed themselves, and the bridge/groom were very pleased! Aside: Out of all 125 guests invited, 125 attended, and 1 person crashed, 126. So, I guess there were no hard feelings (or we just have really great friends and family who forgave us for our “youthful prerogative”)…either way, we’re blessed! 🙂

  134. I’m planning on prohibiting children from my wedding. In all honesty, I think it is a little unreasonable to be offended by someone doing so. Keeping children out of it isn’t a direct slap in the face to your family. It’s more of a precautionary measure.

    Because, yes, we are spending a lot of money on this one special day. Yes, this is a grown-up,elegant, mature, and un-kid friendly event. I want the day to be about me, this is my (and my future husbands) very special day. I don’t *want* children running around. I don’t want attention going to children and away from me. I’ve spent too much time on dresses, hair, makeup, and other things for that to happen. I’m setting a certain mood for this event, for my wedding, and children will detriment the mood. I am also an extremely anxious person; therefore having children at my wedding will make me more nervous for fear they will ruin my wedding (which they very well may).

    Your opinion about weddings is valid, we do spend a lot of money on weddings, it is a procession, and it is less of a party and more of a stuffy event now-a-days. But this isn’t anyone else’s day. And I don’t want children. That’s my prerogative. It’s my wedding. If you don’t want to come: it is your prerogative not to.

  135. “Few people get to do this more than three times in a lifetime, and therefore the stakes are very high… snort laugh! Thank you this was a great post!

  136. I found myself thinking about the wedding of a colleague of my husband’s. We were invited and my son was two months old. I was still breastfeeding. The ceremony and reception were held on a boat that cruised around San Diego harbor for the entire length of the venue which I think was 4 hours. So there was no way we could go and leave our new little one with a sitter (breastfeeding), nor were we willing to (emergencies). I was unsure about what to do, so I called the bride. On the surface, she was friendly but there was an undercurrent of annoyance. One other friend had a baby the same age and an older toddler, and they were evidently getting a sitter (her mother). I suppose we could have just declined, but this was our social group at the time and that would have looked weird. So we went with our baby, which others in the group had done years before, at our wedding in fact, but we were the only non-relatives with offspring. It was uncomfortable.

  137. Ah weddings and bridezillas…because the day is about “them”. I always thought weddings were about family and friends celebrating. I’ve been to a few weddings, and honestly…I don’t understand why every woman I know that has thrown a huge weddings gets so damned crazy about it all.

    Weddings should be about fun and celebrating love with people you care about, not about selfishness.

    If you want it to be all about YOU and YOUR DAY, go get married at the court house and then have your honeymoon. Don’t throw a wedding if you don’t want others to celebrate it (with or without kids). Why waste that kind of money? Save it for the honeymoon!

  138. There will be no children at my wedding for practical reasons. First, the venue will be in Las Vegas and it is not kid friendly, or friendly to anyone under the age of 21. Second, limited venue space which means the wedding is going to be small. Third, it will not be a seated dinner, so the kids will have no place to sit. Fourth, with no seats, they’ll be forced to run around a crowded room knocking into waiters, guests, us, and possibly breaking things that we don’t own and will have to pay for. Fifth, my fiancee and I are young professionals, but we’re not entirely on our feet financially yet, so while we can barely squeak out a decently priced Las Vegas wedding, we can’t afford the extra overhead from having to feed both parents and children. Plus, sixth, the food (and drink) will definitely not be kid-friendly. Finally, seventh, our families are small and there will be more people there our age (who are childless) rather than family members with children.

    The fact that people would get offended for not being allowed to bring their kids has something more to do with – in my personal opinion – this odd obsession we have with valuing our children to the point we stop seeing their obvious unpredictable behavior. It has nothing to do with whether the children’s parents can control them or not because sometimes you just can’t. I mean, they’re small children after all.

    In applying this phenomenon to this particular situation, a wedding, what we’re looking at is a variant of child-worship. If parents refuse to see or hear their children doing things that would detract from a special occasion, then that’s ok and everyone else should act accordingly. If anything, YOU’RE the one with the problem if you don’t want their children at your event. Therefore, if you don’t invite their kids to your wedding then you’re being rude and unaccommodating. I can assure you this is a complete delusion. If you don’t want children at your wedding, then don’t invite them.

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  140. There is no way I would go to a wedding if my children were not allow to attend, ok now days my children are all adults and mothers themselves so I am refereing to when they were little. Children are a big part of a family and weddings are about the start of a family so children should be part of the celebration…………

  141. gghousewife on said:

    I’m getting married in very soon and fast approaching eleven days and the subject of whether or not children will attend quickly became an issue with my mother, she was on the ‘child-free’ side of the debate, and it shocked me!

    Our wedding is going to be reasonably small, less than fifty people and most of it is family. But of our very dearest friends Most of them have children. We also have 5 nephews, 2 nieces and one non-denominational god-daughter between us, whom we love dearly. So when my mother said ‘I think that if you want to invite the nephews and nieces that’s okay, they’re family, but I don’t think you should allow any other kids, including your friend’s kids.’ Meaning my god-daughter and her 3 month old brother.

    This very nearly inspired my one and only ‘bridezilla’ moment and I told her very plainly that I love our friends and their kids and that I’d she didn’t want to put up with them in a very laid back wedding in a rolling country venue where they’d even have a dog to play with, that it was her problem more than anyone else’s and she was welcome to not attend. She quickly shut her mouth and there will be a happy group of at least ten children, the oldest being ten, at our celebration.

    I can’t comprehend the justification for a childless wedding because it is a celebration of family. How can you celebrate family when the family isn’t there?

    and besides, there was some confusion with our invites and my eldest nephew was distraught and worried that he wasn’t actually invited. Even if we had opted for child-free that moment broke my heart and I would have caved and told everyone to bring their kids anyway. The ‘perfect wedding’ is ridiculous. The perfect marriage, now that is something to strive for.

    Totally agree with your post ❤

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  143. Congrats on being Freshly Pressed for this month! I also congratulate the many, varied cogent comments that I’ve seen. The only reason I wish to contribute is to offer an alternative to people who are “doing it for themselves” whilst involving a cast of hundreds. When my partner and I were thinking of getting married we had long, long discussions on how we could possibly fit so many people with different views and family values together for a ceremony. So we made the decision we couldn’t and didn’t.

    We went off to another country by ourselves, having prepared the legals beforehand, and we had the marriage *we* wanted. When we came home we had two specific wedding celebration meals for those who wished to join us. That was sufficient for everyone who wanted to wish us a happy life together.

  144. Congrat on being FP’ed. You have really driven home a stake. People all have definite “feelings” on this subject. My wedding was 40 yrs ago this month. I don’t have to many memories on who was invited or why. There were people there that our parents wanted…payback for attending all the other weddings or what ever.

    I have had a daughter & son both married over the past 5 years. What a stressful event. The cost is astronomical. All the guest’ personal views & personal values need to be checked at the door or politely decline the event. There is no need to rant or rave to the hosts. (talk about ranting. I just cut out two paragraphs of issues that must still bug me…just need to work it out)

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  146. For those soon to be wed that are reading this and are undecided on child policies – I just wanted to add that I went to weddings as a kid too. I loved them. I got to pretend to be a lady, try my first prawn cocktail and other fancy food (we ate what was in front of us, not horrid processed ‘child-friendly food’), see my cousins that I hadn’t seen for years, be a flower girl, do silly dancing on the dance floor and like Grumpa Joe above said, learn social graces, customs, etc.
    I think its wrong to assume all kids will be bored and misbehave.
    I run adult dance classes that are parent friendly. I simply write “well behaved children welcome” on the flyers and when they arrive I explain that if their kids start screaming or disrupting classes, they take them outside and settle them down. I haven’t had any problems. The parents realise its their responsibility to keep the kids happy with colouring ins, books, dvds, etc. Perhaps this simple phrase may work on wedding invites too????

  147. Wow! I wish I had read this post back in 1995 at my first wedding…sadly, I didn’t realize at the time that I was ‘putting on a show’. I thought I was merely trying to create an elegant day (which in fact was but also very boring!). Sadly, I also banned children, including my sister’s small kids (they were 3 & 5). I used the excuse that she was my maid of honor and that I needed her to be there for me and if the kids were there she would be stressed trying to be there for me and them at the same time. You have no idea how much I regret that decision! I adored those kids but my husband to be was a perfectionist (so was I) and I followed right along with his idea that having kids there would have been too stressful. I fought with my sister over it too and this also caused me anguish and stress and something I can never change. The marriage ended in divorce. Is that a surprise? I doubt it. Ironically, we tried to have our own kids for years and were unsuccessful. Now he is remarried and has 2 kids!
    I am also remarried and am childless but not by choice. My second wedding was a backyard affair, casual attire and anyone was welcome 🙂
    Some lessons have to be learned the hard way I guess. Thank you for writing this post and congrats on being freshly pressed!

    All future couples out there should read this post before the wedding invitations go out.

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  150. For me, weddings are about hospitality. We also wanted to be sure our guests–many coming from out of town–had a great time. We would have our great time later 🙂

    Also, some of the best times our kids have had have been at weddings because of one word: dancing! If a wedding is boring for kids, it’s because there is not enough dancing. And, by the way, if it’s boring for kids, it’s probably boring for everyone. Not everyone wants to sit through a day-long spectacle without some dancing.

    I was an exchange student in France and went to a wedding. The reception began at 7:30 pm and went to about 5pm the next day. I begged my host family to take me home at 3 am, and my host sisters mocked me for being lame. After every dinner course there was dancing–and there were many courses.

  151. I’ve always believed there must be a mathematical formula showing that the amount of fuss and money spent on a wedding is in indirect proportion to the length and health of the marriage.

  152. This is so true. It makes you think

  153. Reblogged this on Save the Mermaids and commented:
    I could not agree with this more. I recently got married myself, and went out of my way to ensure it did not become a high-stress and calculated event. It sums up my thoughts perfectly on this modern desire for the flawless wedding.

  154. Absolutely fantastic post. Weddings have taken what should be a celebration of a union and become ridiculous, overpriced correographed events that only look good in video. Kids would probably not want to be there. I don’t think I woulod either.

  155. My mother, being old school, felt weddings were adult affairs and children should not, under any circumstances, be included. I’m a bit on the fence and think it depends on a wedding. For the more formal affairs, I could see how what would be a night of enjoyment for adults could be hell for a child. For the more informal weddings, it could be fun.

    What shocks me most here are all the posts passing judgement on the people who have chose to ban children. It should be the brides choice. Really.

  156. I think it comes across as slightly unkind to position people who don’t invite children as hypocrites as weddings are about an ‘intention to have a family’. For some, as demonstrated in this debate, the decision is purely financial. In this current economic climate, people are scrimping and saving to get married, and inviting children (most of whom you don’t actually know) is an expense that you simply can’t afford. I love children, but simply couldn’t afford to pay £3o a head for people’s children. The only child that attended was a baby and the mother was still breast feeding. I felt that it would be unreasonable to expect a breast feeding mother not to bring her baby. I only had a guest list of 100 (due to our budget)and therefore couldn’t invite my first cousins, let alone people’s children. In no way was it about elegance, pomp, or about children’s behaviour ruining the day. That, I had no concern over at all.

    A few friends asked me whether their children could come. I explained it was purely financial and if I said yes to one person, I’d have to say yes to everyone. I hope they understood, but by reading this thread, it would seem not! That makes me feel very sad that some couple’s decisions are perceived in such a unkind way.

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  158. No kids…I don’t go. Saves me some money and then you can have someone take my place…no problem. I’m so bad at dancing I’d even turn down the twirling invitation.

    Let’s remember it is an ‘invitation’. You are not obligated to go!

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  160. sicntired on said:

    I posted my reply on the 5 things article by mistake,so,I’ll just say that #1this sure brought out the comments#2I am officially now so old that the younger generation annoys,befuddles,frustrates and sickens me so much that I’m a grumpy old man now.#3People who don’t allow kids to attend their wedding are missing the reason that marriage was made an institution in the first place.These are the same people who pay surrogates to carry their children to save their figures,i presume?Truly a lost generation.They want to save the planet but don’t care about anyone but themselves and whatever they can grasp with their grubby little hands.Drive smart cars but can’t do simple addition without a palm pilot.I pray(without expectation of a second party to the conversation)for sun spots and solar flares.

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  162. I like kids. In some events I’ve attended, they were better company than the adults. At my own wedding there were kids. Since we’re all complaining here, my complaint is that the kids at my wedding were too quiet. I would have liked some boisterous kids in the midst. Kids are funny. Adults have baggage. I went to a kid-free wedding for two English professors. Everybody at the reception was an English professor except me. I was a student in the class taught by the bride. I was bored. I attended another wedding of friends of my ex. The male relatives of the groom had a knock-down, drag-out fist fight IN THE LADIES ROOM! My brand new camera was stolen off my table, and an elderly relative of the groom had a heart attack and was laying on top of one of the tables. Fortunately there were no children at the reception because I would hate for kids to see such violence.

    Weddings are like life: unpredictable.

  163. Wonderfully written! And thanks for dropping the eff-bomb, you made you laugh right out loud! A great piece! I agree with every single point you made! Imagine that! lol xoxo

  164. Kids add (on average) 37% to the wedding budget…. All this for them to: wear scratchy/uncomfortable clothes, fail to eat “yucky” food, and be entirely too bored for their little attention spans.

    It’s the BRIDE’s and GROOM’s day. They should spend it as they would like to…even if that includes spending time with you while you aren’t responsible for supervising your child/ren.

    • Thank you! I couldn’t agree more. I’m not going to criticize whatever the bride and groom decide as it is THEIR wedding and THEIR day.

    • U Miami ‘Canes: I generally don’t argue in the comments, but since this issue has come up several times in this thread, I feel I want to add something here, even if it takes me somewhat on a tangent.

      I am puzzled by this idea — held by many, it seems — that children are fundamentally incapable of enjoying adult interaction or adult food. As someone who grew up in a different culture, I assure you, this is neither self-evident, nor actually true. I was a child once (hard to believe, I realize, but still). As a child, I actually enjoyed wearing those “uncomfortable”, impractical clothes, “fancy” food and grown-up parties. And, as can be seen from a number of comments here, my experience is far from unique. Moreover, I assure you that disruptive, destructive behavior isn’t some integral part of childhood that can’t be avoided except by keeping children safely confined to the playroom. Children who are included in “grown-up” events early and often not only know how to behave properly, but to enjoy themselves, as well.

      On an individual level, it IS the bride’s and groom’s day — and I believe I said as much in my post. On a societal level, however, I think it’s both obtuse and very harmful to pursue this philosophy of obsessively segregating children from adults and limiting them to strictly children’s activities until … what, fifteen-sixteen? What you end up with are poorly behaved children, of course — because they simply aren’t familiar with any form of entertainment that does not involve running amock. These children then become neurotic, maladjusted teenagers who don’t know the first thing about functioning in the adult world, not the least because they have been reared exclusively on activities that catered strictly to them, activities that revolved around them and only their needs and preferences. In other words, this is a recipe for raising spoiled, entitled and socially maladroit young people who have to go through a world of unnecessary hurt and angst before they get better.

      (And, I daresay, this is also the recipe for raising fussy eaters with the most mind-boggling food-related idiosyncrasies. Nowhere in the world have I met as many people with wild hangups about food as I have in this country — a consequence, no doubt, of being required by law to eat nothing but pizza and chicken nuggets until the age of majority. Believe me, this “wisdom” that children can only enjoy a certain very limited range of foods is far from universal.)

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  166. Congrats for wonderful article. It was nice to read your article as also the interesting responses.

    Cheers 🙂

  167. Does anyone ever ask the CHILDREN if they want to go to the wedding? 😉

    But Seriously, I’ve been to four weddings, one as a young child and three as a (relative) grown-up. My conclusion: nobody should expect a child, in essence, not to be a child for an entire day. If they can be well behaved and sit quietly for the actual ceremony, they should be allowed to let off steam during the reception. In fact, at the last wedding there WAS one baby that cried most of the way through the hymns, and the world, incredibly, did not cave in on itself as a result.

    Further to that, I agree with the comments about “processions” and making everything perfect. It’s the same at Christmas – the more you feel it just HAS to be perfect, the higher the stress levels and the more you can find that can/will/does go wrong. And the cost! Depending on where I read, the average wedding this year will cost over £15,000! I genuinely can’t see myself spending more than a fifth of that, and my girlfriend would agree – but then, we’ve always been masters of thrift. Humbug to big, showy, superficial weddings!

  168. Actually, I could have skipped the first three. The fourth was over 19 years ago and stuck.

  169. “A wedding is a family affair” is an opinion, not a fact. Please don’t let this opinion govern your thinking about weddings. Some couples may want children at the event, and other couples may not, for various reasons. It is not anyone’s place to sit in judgement on a couple trying to enjoy the day they have planned meticulously. If your children are not invited, and that is made clear from the get-go, be respectful. How can you consider yourself a friend if you are anything but?

    • I don’t dispute that my statement is an opinion, and not fact. Hell, my entire post is an expression of my opinion.
      But so what? We are not in a court of law, and the distinction is not relevant here. An opinion is not fact, but it’s not necessarily speculation about facts either — in this particular case, it’s analysis. You may agree or disagree, but an opinion isn’t automatically valid OR invalid just because it’s an opinion.

      I really don’t care if someone planned their day meticulously. As I explained in my essay, the freedom to do as you like, just because that’s how you like it, runs both ways. If couples who declare their friends’ children unwelcome don’t want to be judged, they have to be prepared not to judge those friends who choose not to attend, or who henceforth exclude them from their families, lest they be inconvenienced by the presence of children. Plan your special day all you want, but your hundreds of invitees don’t have to cooperate exactly to your specifications.

      Also, I suggest you rethink the popular talking point about not judging people. People judge each other all the damned time — which is fine, except when some folks get just a tad disingenuous about it. When they say “don’t judge”, what they mean is, “I’m the only one who’s qualified to do any judging here, everyone else should just back off.” You judged my post. I assure you, my post is very special to me, and I prepared it meticulously. Who are you then to rain on my parade? This is sarcasm, of course, but I’m sure you can see my point.

      But there is one thing you brought up with which I agree — for some people, a wedding isn’t a family affair. I realize there are those who can say, “My wedding is just about me and all the money and status I’m getting, I couldn’t care less about marriage making a family.” Or, at least, think it to themselves. To those people, I convey my deepest apologies for mischaracterizing their marriages.

  170. A wedding can be a family affair without necessarily including children. It’s not necessarily all about the money and status. Not everyone marries simply to have children. A family is made the moment two people marry; children don’t make it so.

    For someone who took it so personally that another poster said “don’t judge”, you certainly did your part on judging people and how you believe people who don’t choose to include children in their weddings view marriage.

    • Lori: Another poster said “don’t judge” for the same reason that you speculated that I took “it” personally: because that’s just the kind of facile shit people reflexively say in response to statements they don’t like, when they are too lazy or incapable of articulating a meaningful, intelligent response. It’s talking points. As to your accusation that I unfairly judge people — none of whom, incidentally, are identified by name (aren’t you taking it a bit too personally?) — I suggest you reread what I wrote about judgment. Because you seem to be lacking reading comprehension, which is not particularly surprising in someone who relies on well-worn, meaningless formulae like “you took it personally” and “don’t be judgin'”.

      Second, nowhere in my post or comments did I say that every married couple is obligated to have children. But excluding children is excluding people’s close family. Excluding your (not personal “your”, just a generic “your”) nephews and nieces is excluding YOUR family. Family that probably hasn’t done a thing to you to deserve this exclusion from what is probably one of the most important and joyous occasions in your life. If a person does that, that tells me display is much more important to her than actual relationships, and that the guests at her wedding are more like set pieces in a courtly masque than friends and relatives whose presence is appreciated, warts and all. That’s why I pointed out that excluding children for reasons of decorum is no different than excluding family and friends who are too fat, too ugly, too disabled or too old to make the event an “elegant” one. As I said, the bride and groom are in charge of the guest list, that’s for sure — but their motivations are what they are, and it’s perfectly reasonable for those affected to reassess their relationships with them. We are all judged for the things we do, all the time. That’s just life. When a person does something that reveals her true character, it is completely unreasonable and unrealistic to expect that none notice it, or ignore reality. You know, the reaction you refer to as “judging”.

      • Amused, I can assure you I do not lack reading comprehension. You can say write all you like about how you do not judge but assuming that I am lacking in reading comprehension and suggesting that I am too lazy and incapable of articulating a meaningful, intelligent response is nothing short of judging and you seem to be doing so because I don’t agree with your points.

        Deciding to exclude children from a wedding hardly seems the same to me as excluding people deemed “too fat”, “ugly” or “old.” (And have you ever heard of such a thing? Because I certainly haven’t). I have been to a wedding or two where it has been requested that children not be brought, either because the couple is young with no children and their friends generally don’t have children or the wedding was at night and the couple wanted just adults. Many parents appreciate a night to get out and socialize without worrying about caring for their children. I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with these couples’ choices but it is their choice. The same way that some people plan parties and getaways and don’t want for people to bring their children. I just don’t take it personally when my son isn’t invited. There are some occasions where it’s just not appropriate. I don’t consider such a request a reveal of someone’s true character and I don’t think it makes someone shallow or makes their event (wedding, party, etc.) a chess game with players.

        In any event, it’s their choice and if you don’t like it, don’t go. It’s that simple.

      • Lori: Clearly what I said didn’t get through, so let me make it real simple. I judge, because everybody judges. Including you. I don’t deny that I judge, and I stand by my judgment.

      • Amused, if all you meant to say is that everyone judges (which they do), then why not just say that from the get go?

      • Because I do not believe there is a need to say that. I don’t pack my entries with disclaimers of that sort on the assumption that I need to preempt non-arguments such as “you are being judgmental” or “you are taking it personally”. I said what I wanted to say, and if you don’t like it, that’s alright. Perhaps I overestimate my readers, but I don’t believe their average intelligence is so low that they are in danger of taking what I said to be palpable, objective fact provable in a court of law according to applicable rules of evidence — any more than it’s a provable fact that bakhlava is outrageously sweet or that a pebble in one’s shoe is annoying. Nor would I expect an idea so wild to actually occur to readers — though clearly, there are exceptions.

  171. I have 2 children of my own and I have no problem having a little time off from them. If the Bride and Groom want an all Adult event =then why not. Everyone acts like they have never went on a date night before leaving their children with a baby sitter. I don’t get to go out often but when I do I can make the necessary arrangements. I think people need to grow up and respect the wishes of their bride to be. Another thing people don’t think about is the fact that you have to pay per person for each meal and the caterer does not care if it is a child or adult..same price applies. If you have kids then you know that money is tight and these 2 people getting married usually don’t have alot of that to start with.

    A L L FOR NO CHILDREN AT A WEDDING!

    • @Debbie: Given that your standard American wedding is an obscenely lavish exercise in showing off with no lasting value, I am baffled as to why people who don’t have a lot to start with have one at all. Because it’s not a “real” marriage without a pre-rehearsed spectacle of a ceremony, some bad poetry and a few hundred servings of veal alla francese? A wedding — that is, one with a caterer, a custom-made dress, a videographer, the whole nine yards — is a luxury, first and foremost. If you have one, playing aristocrats on a budget and complaining about money being tight strikes me as a tad disingenuous.

      As for respecting the wishes of the bride to be — I discussed that idea in my post, so I will not go over it again. Suffice it to say, respecting the bride’s wishes is easy if those are wishes with which you agree. If the bride’s wishes were that you are invited on condition that you lose 20 lbs by the wedding day, your reaction might be a bit different.

      • Wouldn’t the lasting value be the marriage?

      • No, because the marriage does not need a lavish wedding in order to occur or to last. In other words, a lasting marriage isn’t the logical outcome of a lavish wedding; no causal connection there. I am not aware of any studies on the relationship between the opulance of a wedding and the divorce rate, but for for what it’s worth, while divorce rates have been leveling off, that decrease has not nearly kept up with the increase in the expense and lavishness of weddings. So — assuming that thinking logically is a requirement on this blog — I do not believe you can say that marriage is the “lasting value” produced by the “obscenely lavish exercise in showing off” that I was referring to in my comment.

  172. I think you are short-sighted. You chose to only acknowledge one side of the argument without addressing the other side. You trail off of the original subject which is about kids at weddings and go on to rant about how America is falling apart because of how people choose to conduct their events. America is not falling apart because people chose to have an adult event, it’s nothing new, and it’s not a “trend.” The real problem here is your disrespect to those who are being bound together as husband and wife. To quote, “the canned, preachy speeches and the obviously choreographed ‘first kiss as a married couple’.” What joy have you been deprived of to turn a couple’s unique, individual, hand-tailored event into a “funeral.” The only gloom I see is in the words of your distaste.

    • Mikkel Phillips:

      I have considered the view of the other side and find it unpersuasive. Moreover, if you fail to see the connection between the desire for a highly scripted, choreographed wedding (i.e. prioritizing performance over having a good time) and the perceived need to keep children away, the problem here is your own lack of comprehension, rather than my supposedly unwarranted distaste for obnoxious display.

      If you think that someone’s failure to derive joy from color-coordinated chair covers and uniformly dressed bridesmaids is a sign of a broken person — well, there’s nothing I can do about it, but by the same token, I find that claim ludicrous and of the kind that confirms everything that I said. In any event, why don’t you practice what you preach and accept all points of view. Some people derive joy from tchotchkes and ceremony. Others derive joy from more substantial, less superficial things. And if the sanctity of someone’s veal-shank-and-Photoshop-sanctified marital bond has been imperiled or profaned by this here little obscure blog, I’d say the couple has far deeper problems than merely failure to command respect from every corner of the blogosphere.

      But seriously, cool it with insinuations about my personal life, if you please. That shit doesn’t work on me. If this kind of concern-trolling is your preferred method for putting someone on the defensive, you are SOOOO barking up the wrong tree. Take your wares somewhere else.

  173. “image manipulation” is a ubiquitous human activity which often develops early in life and frequently lingers till just before death … some weddings seem to elevate the activity to an art form … in my opinion … children at weddings offer the opportunity to turn a masquerade into a celebration

  174. I’m offended that this author chose to pigeonhole people’s choices as simply being too full of themselves to want children to mess up their event. My ceremony, where children are welcome, ends at 6pm and the reception is going until past midnight. It is an evening affair where there will be plenty of alcohol served and adult music (some of which will have curses because that’s how we get down) that I don’t want children (including our own, who is our ringbearer) exposed to. We went to a wedding one time with my fiance’s niece, who ended up drinking an adult’s rum and coke and being very bored the entire time. I don’t see how asking you to be respectful of my wishes means I don’t value our relationship. CLEARLY I do, otherwise I would’ve have invited you to share in the joy of my wedding if I didn’t. However, if someone chose to write me out of their life because their brat couldn’t come and waste my $100+ a plate, I say good riddens.

    I am a parent and I would never think of bringing my toddler to someone’s wedding without their permission, nor would I be offended if they asked me to leave him at home. That’s why we have grandmas, aunties and babysitters. If I couldn’t get one of those folks, I wouldn’t go, plain and simple.

    • Dear pinkslehuit,

      First of all, I really don’t give a hoot that you are offended by my post. I don’t owe you an endorsement of your choices, I don’t owe you blanket respect, and I don’t have to take into account the vulnerable feefees of countless people who may come across this blog. I think this life is full of just mind-bogglingly horrible things to get worked up about, so if you are offended by THIS, my take is that you are in sore need of some perspective.

      If you think the proper way to raise children is to shield their impressionable eyes from the sight of people consuming alcohol (the horror!) and fence them off from much of adult interaction (because having children around is just a waste of good food, seeing as children are basically just pets) — hey, that’s your business. I personally think this view is both idiotic and harmful to children, but you are free to stick to it. Just like I’m free to say it’s idiotic (for reasons that I’ve explained at length in one of my comments above). And that, based on what you’ve said, it’s not really that you invite people to “share in the joy” of your wedding as much as to feed your massive ego.

      But whatevs, by all means live as you choose. After all, it’s not like I’m calling for armed goons to force you good folks at gun point to let children out of the playroom.

      Love and kisses,

      Amused

  175. We have been through this now on several family weddings, one was a cousin that lashed out when we said we simply couldn’t go since our son was not invited. This was an out of town (actually out of country) wedding. She did not understand and lashed out at us, wanting us to bring our son and take turns in the hotel with him, he was old enough to understand being left out…

    The next was my own brother-in-law, my sister-in-law fought very hard to not allow our son at her wedding. She actually admitted it was because she was afraid he would steal attention from her. We knew this all (it was obvious by the way they were acting) but it wasn’t confirmed until after the wedding when my mother-in-law was bragging that she was wrong and that she admitted she was wrong and it was nice to have our son there.

    To clarify our situation even more, we adopted our beautiful baby boy out of foster care when he was only 1, we don’t even get sitters at home. At first this was because we couldn’t (he had separation anxiety) and now it is because we don’t want to. We have a wonderful time together as a family and do everything as a family. When my husband and I need some time alone to say see an R rated movie 🙂 we simply take the day off of work and go while he is at school.

    One more thing: Our son has been to 2 wedding so far, one he was in (my cousin) and has always been wonderful at these weddings.

  176. My well-behaved ten year old wasn’t invited to a family wedding recently. They had too many people to invite, we were told, so they weren’t able to invite kids. However, they WERE able to fly 300 chairs in because the venue’s chairs weren’t fancy enough for the black tie affair. That’s pretty much all you need to know about this wedding.

    Love, love, love your post!

  177. This is the best article I’ve read in a while. It’s like the author took my thoughts and laid them out in an articulate, and enlightening manner.

    This new no-children at weddings trend is terrible. Some of my best memories as a child was attending weddings.

    People are more and more controlled by their ego. Get over yourselves. The beauty of life is that it’s not perfect.

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