I’m getting married this September at a semi-destination event (it’s about a 2-hour drive away for most guests). My parents and my fiancé and I are paying for the wedding together. We all agreed that children would not be invited. The only exceptions are our 6-month-old nephew, a bridesmaid’s newborn and my two first cousins who are 11 and 12. We have several family members and friends who have toddlers and kids under 10 years old, and we simply do not want that many children that age at our wedding. There’s going to be lots of drinking, dancing, a pool and an after-party that goes til the wee hours in the morning — not the best place for young kids! When we sent out the invites, we specifically addressed the invites to Mr. and Mrs XX. I haven’t had any problems/questions from any couples with children, except one.
I just received a response card from a couple who replied that, yes, they would come but, “We may have to bring the girls if that’s okay.” The girls are a newborn (wife is pregnant now, will be giving birth a couple of months before the wedding) and a toddler. I completely understand that newborns, especially if they’re nursing, need to be with their mommies, and I have no problem telling her that the newborn can come. But their toddler, I have to say no to. I have first cousins with kids who are 2 and 5 who aren’t coming, another couple with a 9-month-old who wasn’t invited, another couple with a 3-year-old, another with a 6-year-old…the list goes on. I sent invites out early so people could arrange for travel, hotels, sitters, etc. if they had to.
Is it wrong of me to want to say no to the couple bringing their toddler? I feel bad, and I understand that when you are a parent, kids come first, but I feel like my fiancé and I need to stand our ground on this one. I know if my cousins or other friends/family see their toddler there, they will not be happy that their own kids couldn’t come. I haven’t even mentioned it to my family, because I know they would freak out a bit if they heard someone asked! — Wants Kid-Free Wedding
Oy vey. I wish you wold have written before you sent out the invites and asked how best to deal with having a destination wedding that you don’t want kids to attend. I would have told you to consider one of two options: provide babysitters for your guests with kids (one babysitter for every 3-5 children), or include a list of local babysitters/babysitting services in the invitations to parents of children. Because the fact is, you are having a destination wedding — one that’s going to require at least one overnight stay in a hotel, and for many parents of young children — which seems to describe a lot of your guests — it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to plan such a trip without bringing their kids along. Not everyone has family or flexible friends or babysitters that can watch their kids for 24-48 hours at a time.
I’m also a little concerned that since you’ve sent invitations out to your destination wedding without specifying that kids weren’t invited, there may be some families who just assume they are and don’t bother to double check with you. Of course, you know your friends better than I, who doesn’t know them at all, so maybe you know you don’t have reason to worry about that. If, however, you think there’s a possibility your wishes and intentions may have been misunderstood, you could still send out that list of local babysitters or babysitting services in the area. Have you booked some rooms at one or two of the local hotels? If so, those hotels may even have a babysitting service or one they can recommend. Then you can send that info — email would be fine at this point — with a little note saying something along the lines of, “In case you’re having trouble finding babysitters to leave your children with when you come to the wedding, here’s a list of recommended local babysitters at [name of the town where you’re getting married]. Really hope you can make it!” That way you make your message clear — no kids, please — while being helpful in the process.
As for the friends who have outright asked you if they can bring their toddler, you cannot allow them to bring their kid if you aren’t allowing any of your other guests to bring theirs (newborns and family members excluded). The best way to handle this situation is to call your friend, apologize for the inconvenience, thank them for understanding that you’ve decided not to have children at your wedding, and then give them the list of recommended babysitters in the area. Just be prepared that they may not come. Travel and hotel expenses will be high enough that babysitting costs on top of that may be more than some young families can afford. If you’re asking people to travel out of town for your wedding and you aren’t providing babysitters for their kids whom you don’t want in attendance, you’ll have to accept that some guests may decide not to come. This is one of the drawbacks of having a destination wedding — not everyone will be able to afford or arrange to make it (especially those with children).
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.