hile inviting children to your wedding is a personal decision, there is some sensitivity around it that requires tact and serious forethought. The style of your wedding, your budget, family size and venue may all be important contributing factors to whether or not you will or should include children as part of your celebrations.

First, you need to discuss the matter with your future spouse and gauge what he or she thinks about the matter. Taking both of your feelings into account, decide on whether you actually want children there or not. If you do not want children, this needs to be communicated clearly on your invitations. This can be done in various gentle ways:

  • Address the invitation only to adults (i.e. not “To the Callaghan Family” but to “Grant & Ester Callaghan”)
  • Insert an “Adults Only” at the bottom of your wedding invitation
  • Request that the person responsible for receiving RSVP’s be prepared to ask tactfully that guests not bring their children along. This has to be polite and can be along the lines of “Cheryl will be so excited to hear that you and your husband can make it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy an evening that doesn’t involve changing nappies!”

Some of your wedding guests may be travelling from another town or country, bringing their children down with them. In these cases, they may be offended or hugely inconvenienced if they cannot have their young ones at the actual wedding reception. This presents a major challenge to those couples that have decided not to include children. You have the following options:

  • Reconsider your stance on having children at your wedding
  • Hire a trusted babysitter to look after their children at their hotel room
  • Hire a babysitter to attend your wedding and occupy their children
  • Allow only their children and try to communicate to other parents through word-of-mouth why this had to be done

If you have decided that you would definitely like children to feature in your big day, it is wise to consider the theme and style of the wedding you want to have. A beach wedding or country-style affair in the garden is great for the young and energetic, while a formal sit-down reception may become tedious for them. However, it is possible to get a very formal celebration right, even with children present. This can be achieved by:

  • Involving the kids – give them important tasks, such as handing out chocolates to guests, singing a song to the wedding guests, taking a photograph of every person at your wedding, collecting confetti, passing your guest signing book to each table, and so on. This will help them to feel valued and will occupy some of their time and energy.
  • Hire help – hire a babysitter that is not part of your friends or family members to look after the little ones during the wedding reception. They can be at their own table or in a separate room. They should have games, snacks, music etc…
  • Parental participation – ask those of your wedding guests with children to ensure that their progeny sit with them at all times and be kept busy. This, obviously, requires tact and diplomacy.

If children are a welcome part of your day, it is important to feed them different meals to those enjoyed by the other guests, especially the younger children. They will not likely enjoy any sophisticated flavours, and will almost definitely prefer hotdogs or pizza.

Some additional points to consider:

  • Have your circle of friends included children in most or all of their weddings? If so, you may need to do the same in order not to offend or annoy these ones.
  • You may choose to have only children under the age of two years or over the age of 12 (for example). This allows you to limit yourself to a specific bracket within which you are comfortable.
  • Try to include children in the celebrations by inviting them onto the dance floor, giving them a champagne flute of apple juice for the toasts and so on.
  • If you are still unsure, why not invite all children to the ceremony and not the reception? This allows them and their parents to feel their involvement and you will likely feel that you could enjoy some kiddie company while not putting them within an inappropriate setting.
  • Provide toys and a specific, safe area in which children can (and probably will) choose to sit during the speeches and toasts. In addition, try to organise some cushions and blankets for the children that become sleepy.
  • It is perfectly acceptable for the children of the bride and groom to attend an otherwise “adults only” wedding.
  • Regardless of whether children are invited to your wedding or not, your flower girl and page boy / ring bearer are still expected to attend. It is wise to provide these tots with games, blankets, food and so on to make this event more enjoyable for them.



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