While planning my own wedding at the start of the year I joined an online forum for brides (and grooms) to be. There were debates about wedding etiquette. There were discussions over who should lead the procession down the aisle. There were panics over centerpieces and rants about the rudeness of not replying promptly to invitations or the ingratitude of a bridesmaid in not appearing desperately interested in every aspect of the table layout.
One constant topic that continuously roused strong opinions though was whether children should be allowed at the wedding.
There are of course two extreme viewpoints. On the one hand are those who say that children are the life and soul and heart of a wedding. Weddings are family occasions and children are a large part of that.
The family wedding ensures that children are catered for in every way. There are pretty little flower girls and page boys in the procession. There are gift boxes for the children on the tables, with games and toys and presents and sweets. Some brides plan activities that place the children at the centre of attention. One friend of mine had a balloon race for the children, another had a children’s entertainer.
Of course these ideas are dual purpose. They ensure the children play a part in the day whilst also making sure they are kept occupied. A bored child is a disruptive one.
An Adult Affair
On the other hand some brides who do not want sticky fingers on their expensive dress, or screaming throughout their speeches. The couple who ban children from their wedding face some criticism from others. But are they wrong to do so?
For a start, consider the cost. At even half the adult price, every child is an added expense, especially when you consider they most likely won’t even eat the food.
And add up the bodies. When the venue of your dreams limits your numbers, every child you have to allow is another adult friend you can’t invite.
You can guarantee that one of the little tykes will spill drink on your train, drop a fragile present or knock down the cake. They cry during the ceremony, run about during dinner and throw up during the disco.
Kids are expensive and a risk for the bride and groom to consider. I understand that they may want to exclude them.
However, before making a final decision, there are other considerations. The ‘child free’ bride will tell parents that this is a chance for them to have an adult only night. The parent will respond that finding a sitter for a full day affair is expensive enough. Not to mention that they have to be able to get home to that sitter, a bit problematic for parents who travel a long distance to attend the wedding.
Consider also the flower girls. The bride may want her best friends daughter to follow her up the aisle throwing petals. But now there is one lonely and bored child at the wedding. What’s worse, she is not a ‘family child’! What’s this, your friend can bring her child but your own nephews and cousins are not allowed.
OK, allow family children. Only the children who form part of the bride’s life. Not Uncle Arthur’s second wife’s granddaughter who the bride has never met. Only, where do you draw the line? The possibility of starting a family feud is looming closer.
A Happy Medium
At my wedding I aimed for a happy medium. Of course I invited children. My own kids were bridesmaid and pageboy. It was as much their day as ours, their parents. Well, almost. Close friends and family with children were allowed to bring them, but I did limit my extended family to the one generation, thankfully cutting the numbers of cousins on one side from seventeen down to two. They were keen to agree, having to pay for their own upcoming wedding very soon.
The children had their own table, hosted by my daughter who was very pleased with her position as head of the table. And during the speeches I had a baby sitter arranged who hustled the children out, thereby avoiding the running and screaming during the adult parts. Off they went to their own room, set aside with paper, stickers and other non-staining entertainments.
I made it clear to all my friends, as politely as possible, that whilst I had a sitter for my own children to allow us, the bride and groom, to relax, I was not responsible for the care of the other children. Bring them they could, but they were to keep them under control. As far as I am aware no one took offense. The kids had a great time moving between their own chill out room and the adult’s disco and to be honest I barely noticed them all day.
Are weddings adult only occasions?
I don’t believe there is a right or wrong answer to this question. If a bride and groom chose to exclude children, well it is their day. Surely they have the right to choose. Unfortunately it seems that when you are planning a wedding your every decision becomes a matter for public discussion. Family, friends and colleagues all have an opinion and someone will be offended in the end.
Written for the Weekly Writing Challenge, DPchallenge. Yes, I already wrote one for this week’s subject matter, but I really had more to say, so I went for it again.