Kids or No Kids? Things to Think About When Deciding to Invite Children to Your Wedding.
When planning a wedding, I find that one of the biggest stress points my couples face is creating a guest list! I know this was true for me and my hubby, and we found that this was really a sticky spot for our family, especially when it came to deciding if we wanted to include kids. When you plan a wedding, you'll quickly find that there are a lot of variables that go into decisions you make, and that includes the decision to invite children or not. Sometimes the decision you make will rub people the wrong way but, ultimately, it's your wedding day and you have to do what's best for your wedding. Here are a few things to think about if you're trying to decide, as well as a few tips that can help you handle it gracefully.
One of the first variables that you'll have to consider when deciding if you want children at your wedding is your venue - is it child friendly? If you're getting married at a museum with lots of breakable items, or if you're reception space includes an open pool or is lakeside, it probably isn't the best place to have kids running around (and they will run around). But, if your venue is at an event center, a park (really any open outdoor space), or at a hotel, then it'll most likely be a safe and possibly fun environment for the kiddos.
Also, consider the size of your venue - what's the maximum occupancy, and how many guests are you able to invite? This was the deciding factor for my wedding. We knew we had a limited number of seats and we wanted to fill those seats with adults who we really wanted to be there.
This was another factor that helped me make my own decision. My husband and I purposefully chose a venue that could only accommodate the amount of people we could afford - which is why we were so picky with who would fill those seats. The price of a child's "head" at a wedding wasn't too far off of the price of an adults and we wanted to be very mindful of how we were using our budget.
When I made the decision not to include children, I searched the internet on how to word our wedding invitations with the proper etiquette and how to be clear without being blunt. There are some great ideas out there! One suggestion that I used was to address the invites with the adults names only ( I also included the names of any older teens that we wanted to invite). You can also include a space on the response card with their names and mention it on your wedding website. Don't be afraid to call and confirm with your guests if they didn't quite get the memo. My husband and I made a lot of phone calls to those that we knew would brush off the hint, or who RSVPed for their entire family of 6.
Think Bridal Party:
If there are kids that you absolutely want at your wedding, like your own kids or nieces and nephews, incorporate them into your bridal party. This will make it so that other guests don't feel like you're playing favorites or allowing some kids to come to the wedding and not others. If there are super important kids in your life, give them a role. Obvious ones are ring-bearers and flower girls, but you can get creative. I had a junior bridesmaid and junior groomsman as well as a sign-bearer. You can also give older kids the role of handing out programs, or escorting guests to their seat. Get creative :)
What kind of food are you hoping/planning to serve at your reception? Are you guys a foodie couple who wants to serve a unique kind of cuisine? Is your food buffet or plated? Are you just having a cocktail party with passed hors d'oeuvres? This is definitely something to think about when making your decision to invite kids. If your menu isn't child-friendly, you'll have unhappy parents who will probably leave early to take their kids to grab a happy-meal. If you're inviting kids, you'll need child-friendly items on your menu, or have a separate child's menu.
Don't forget to take your bar into consideration - and those who will be partaking from the bar. If you have a . . . lively bunch who will be taking advantage of open bar or who you know are going to have an extra good time, you might want to re-think having kids around. I've experienced a wedding where the kids were all playing outside, unsupervised and when I questioned the kids about not having an adult around, their response was "they're too drunk to come watch us." All I can say is, you know your crowd - so choose wisely.
Is your wedding an evening affair? Are you planning on a party-vibe where you and your guests will be dancing until midnight? This isn't really something we think about if we don't have kids of our own - but bedtimes are really important to parents. Kids get grumpy or pass out anywhere if they're exhausted. Even if you don't mind kids at your wedding, thinking about the parents of those children is important. If you want them to be able to enjoy themselves and celebrate all night long, the best thing you could do is make your wedding adult-only so they can plan ahead of time to hire a sitter.
If you are planning on having children at your wedding, think about ways to entertain them. There are so many fun ideas out there including printable coloring books, a card-decorating station, back-yard games, or a bounce house if that works with your venue. If your venue has an extra room where a TV or projector can be set-up with some pillows and blankets, you can play a movie and have some snacks for the kiddos to enjoy. You'll want to arrange for someone to watch the kids, but this'll give the parents peace of mind and give the kids something fun to do (or somewhere safe to fall sleep ;)
Think Seating Chart:
When inviting kids to a wedding, many couples choose to have a "kids table". Unless the kids are older and can feed themselves and are capable of behaving themselves like decent little humans, It's probably not the best idea. If the kids are young (7 and younger, I would say) I would make sure that they are seated next to their parents. This will (hopefully) keep children from misbehaving and they'll also be able to have their parents help them with their food.
Well, I hope these little tid-bits of information gave you a few things to think about! Remember, It's YOUR wedding day: YOUR budget, YOUR guest list and YOUR memories. Don't let other peoples opinions or hurt feelings get in the way of your plans and vision. How do you plan on incorporating (or not incorporating) kids into your wedding ?? Let me know in the comments!