Afternoon Quickie: “How Do I Tell Our Wedding Guests Their Kids Are Not Invited?”

It’s Wedding Week on Dear Wendy! This week will be chock-full of wedding columns, gift guides, dollar dances and an open bar. If you love wedding content, this is your lucky week. If you hate wedding content, this is your lucky week because–-open bar! But just kidding about the open bar.


My adopted brother (i.e. not blood-related, but he calls my parents Mom and Dad and his children call me Auntie) and his wife are invited to our very small wedding early next year. They have three beautiful children, ages 6, 2, and 1 month, whom I love very much. I’m fine with the youngest being at the wedding because he will still be breastfeeding at that time, and I thought that we could discuss with the parents whether or not they want to bring their other two children. My fiancé isn’t too keen on the idea of children at the wedding. Any suggestions? They are traveling from Alberta and we are in Ontario, and arranging child care may be very difficult for them although there also may be available grandparents to watch the kids. Plus, as I stated earlier, she will most likely still be breastfeeding at that time and will need to bring the youngest with her. Any thoughts on how to navigate this situation? — No Kids, Please

You say that you will discuss with the parents whether or not they want to bring their older kids to the wedding but that your fiancé isn’t too keen on the idea of children at the wedding. I think you and your fiancé need to get clear on your general stance before you go approaching guests about what they want. If you decide to not invite children to the wedding, which is fine and valid, then provide some kind of childcare assistance for your out-of-town guests (and don’t just assume grandparents will be able to watch the kids). At the very least, get the names and numbers of babysitters recommended to you by people you know and trust. If at all possible, consider providing childcare yourselves, either on the premises of your reception site (most convenient if you happen to be having the ceremony in the same place) or at a hotel where you have blocked rooms (or where know the majority of your guests with kids are staying).

Finally, be clear on your written invitation, as well as verbal invitation if you plan to discuss the issue with guests over the phone, that you love their kids but have decided to keep your wedding adults-only with the exception of breastfeeding babies (and any other exception there might be) and that you hope they understand and that they are still able to attend the wedding as their presence means so much. And if they can’t come to your wedding, which is a potential consequence of your not extending an invitation to the entire family, try not to take it personally or harbor a resentment against them or your fiancé. There are good reasons to not have children at a wedding, just as there are good reasons to skip an out-of-town wedding if childcare is too much of a challenge.


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  1. ArtsyGirl says:

    I had a very large wedding (100+ guests) and many of my family had to travel to my home city. I was able to reserve an upstairs room at my venue for no additional cost and hire two certified nannies for the evening for a nominal fee. I also spoke with the cater and had a special kids menu – chicken fingers, french fries, and green beans. They were able to come down for some of the dancing and the cake but mostly had fun upstairs watching movies, coloring, and playing with the other children in their age group. Everyone appreciated the thought and the nannies made out like bandits because all the parents were so grateful they tipped extra. If you are having the reception in a hotel, there is often staff on hand who can be hired for the event.

    1. Clementine says:

      You did it exactly right! Well done.

    2. FTW! You are SO considerate.

    3. Crazy_Pug_Lady says:

      I just learned that venues will provide this type of service, unfortunately i found out after I wrote Wendy. It’s good to know that it works really well.

    4. I wish, like Siskel and Ebert, I could give you two thumbs up.

  2. RedRoverRedRover says:

    I agree with Wendy that job #1 is sorting this out between your fiance and yourself. But honestly, if one of my siblings invited me to their wedding across the country, and didn’t invite my small children, I would feel like they didn’t actually want me to come.

    1. This baffles me. How on earth would a couple deciding they want a kid-free weeding translate to you thinking that they don’t want you personally to attend??

      1. Well, if she had travel across the country, with a one month old plus two little ones, specifically mentioning no kids and not providing any help with childcare leads would make, I think, most parents feel like it wasn’t an overly warm invitation.

        I can understand a child free ceremony, sort of. But a lot of people have kids. It’s part of life. If you are inviting a parent, I’m assuming the kids are invited. Especially if cross country travel is involved.

      2. Seriously? Seriously! says:

        @_s_, totally agree. Don’t understand any of it. Of course its a warm welcome, you are inviting them to your wedding! Sure, people have kids, it is part of life, but so are babysitters.

      3. snow.angel says:

        @_s_ & @Seriously?Seriously!….I agree completely. My parents went to plenty of weddings and other events without me and my siblings when we were little. There are some places that just aren’t appropriate for small, rambunctious children. I don’t see how not wanting small children at your wedding means you don’t want your friends, relatives, etc. there. Obviously there are exceptions like breastfeeding newborns or having to travel across the country or something where it might really not be feasible to manage the trip without your children, but in general I don’t see the issue with a typical wedding being “adults only.”

      4. RedRoverRedRover says:

        I know a lot of people disagree with me on this. But in my opinion, it’s your job as host to make sure your guests are comfortable and that it’s enjoyable for them to come. Even if that means not getting it necessarily the way you want. I don’t really get the whole “no kids” thing anyway, so I guess that’s part of it. I did actually consider it for my wedding, but then the more I thought of it, the more it didn’t make sense to me. It’s a family celebration. Why would I leave part of the family out of it?

      5. Maybe it is the age most of my friends got married. But, I’ve never been to a wedding with kids other than the flower girl and ring bearer and they usually left early. Most of my friends got married in their twenties. And I don’t think anyone had kids at that point. The friends who got married later have had evening weddings with receptions that started at 7 or later. I don’t know it’s funny, this issue has never come up with any wedding I’ve gone to. I guess maybe if I had friends getting married now that we’re in our mid-30s it would come up? I’ve only ever seen this come up on DW!

      6. I agree. And it’s her “adopted brother” and his breastfeeding wife who are traveling far to their wedding. It’s family. I don’t get it either, RR. A wedding is a family event. Kids, adults and olds are all family. I went to a lot of weddings as a kid, when I was in the wedding party and not. its funny this is such a hot button topic.

        Yes, if I got an invitation which stated “No kids,” but they expected me to travel across the country, I probably wouldn’t go. But I don’t think any of my friends or family would ask me to attend without kids.

        Maybe these “no kids” people are anti-kid in general.

      7. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        We didn’t invite kids to our wedding. I didn’t think of it as a “family celebration” so much as I thought of it as a party. Some parties are fun with kids, but lots of parties are more fun without them. I don’t really get the argument that as part of your job to make your guests comfortable, you should extend an invitation to their kids even if that means not necessarily getting the wedding you want. What if it were a 40th birthday party or a NYE party or some other type of celebration that isn’t traditionally a “family celebration”? If I’m throwing myself a birthday bash and inviting friends who have kids, am I really supposed to tell them to bring their kids along instead of getting a sitter and enjoying some adult downtime? No. As a host of a party, which is what I consider a wedding (at least the reception portion of the event), you throw the party YOU want and hope your guests enjoy it, even if their every wish and preference isn’t completely catered to (because how on earth could you possible please EVERYONE?).

      8. Avatar photo kmentothat says:

        Totally agree Wendy! When I was a kid, my parents made it very clear that there were times where we’d be coming aloing and times we would not. As such, they went on vacations to Hawaii, weddings, and parties all without us. And I had a distinct sense that my parents had their own lives and that while I was a part of that, I was not the center of it. I really think that’s a big reason why I’m as independent as I am now and have a healthy adult relationship with them. I just don’t get the people who have kids and think they are automatically invited to every little thing (and NO, I am NOT anti-kid in general, I love being around kids). But I do think it’s important to set boundaries and carve out occasional kid-free spaces, particularly when kids get highly stressed at big loud parties with lots of strangers that runs late at night, like a wedding.

      9. Rangerchic says:

        Totally agree! My husband and I have made a life for ourselves outside of our two girls. I do have friends though that didn’t do that. The mom keeps saying she just doesn’t know what she is going to do with herself after her kids are gone. I don’t get that either! I, for one, am looking forward to when we are empty nesters!

  3. Is the wedding so small that these are the only children that might be there? I could see that being a reason you would want to speak to them directly instead of making general decisions, no need to make them if they are the only kids attending. Before talking to them I would work on finding childcare though, as a back up. You say it’s very small so it’s hard to gauge what the venue would be like. That really will dictate what you decide to do. Having a baby-sitter watch the kids in your home might be an option if there are only two and the venue isn’t large enough or able to accommodate the kids being watched there.

    1. Crazy_Pug_Lady says:

      Hi, Yes they will be the only children, the wedding is 17 people (excluding the possible children). Thanks for the great suggestion, The venue we have decided to go with has a small adjoining room that can be used for this reason as well as a list of recommended sitting services so we can arrange for Child Care that way. We just looked at this venue this weekend after I sent the question into wendy, I didn’t know that places even offered that type of service.

  4. Planning a wedding is full of all these little opportunities to practice your marriage skills. What I mean is, you and your fiance have different opinions here, and so step 1 is to discuss your different opinions, your reasons, and come to a compromise. I think you are thinking that if you just call and talk to your brother-type-person here, and find out that he doesn’t even want to bring the other two kids then hey, problem solved. Which, sure, this problem is solved… but the bigger problem is that you needed someone else to help you out of what is essentially a marital dispute.

    Having children at a wedding is ok (I had a bunch of kids at my wedding and I loved having them there– they made it more fun!). Not having children at a wedding is ok. The key is to come to an agreement on it with your future husband before you start involving the guests and their opinions.

    As for breaking the news to people… I would put it on the website, and also call them up and say it verbally. It should be understood when the invite says “Mr. and Mrs. So and So” but a lot of people don’t get the message so it’s best to follow up with telling them explicitly.

  5. judge sheryl says:

    Anyone else think the ‘adopted brother’ clarification was weird and a little loaded? Curious if there are other kids (especially blood relatives) that could be coming…

    Maybe I’m just extra cynical today, but that kinda rubbed me the wrong way. I’d be pissed if my sister doesn’t invite my kids to her wedding. I would still go, but I’d be lying that even if there was a general no kids policy, I wouldn’t be offended if they weren’t made the exception.

    1. I don’t have kids, so I don’t know for sure how I’d feel if my kids weren’t invited to a relative’s wedding. I also invited a bunch of kids to my wedding and it was fine.
      I was a kid once, though, and if me and my sister had been the only kids at a fancy party full of adults, I would have been bored as hell. So I don’t know if it would do these kids (or their parents, because bored kids act out) any favors for them to be a special exception to the “no kids allowed” rule.

    2. I read the adopted as not actually adopted but treated like family? Like if he was actually adopted I would have imagined she would just call him her brother? I wonder if the LW could clarify that. I can see both sides and have friends with kids who each fall in to different camps. Some see a wedding invite and immediately say yay no kids for the night and others who want them there with them and won’t go if they aren’t invited.

    3. Crazy_Pug_Lady says:

      Hi, I’m the LW. There are no other children that are possibly coming. When I said small, I mean 17 people including the bride and groom.

      By adopted brother It’s kind of a loose type of term, he was not raised with me nor has there ever been any legal contract. He is my brother’s best friend. He had a extremely hard time as a teenager and ended up living with my parents for a period of a year and a half while he completed his electrician’s apprenticeship in my hometown, I was already in my first marriage when that happened. Nevertheless we are close, He and his wife are great people and we try to see them as often as we can given that they are in Alberta and we are in Ontario. He and his Wife are really, really good friends and we have a close family type relationship with them.

      1. That’s pretty much how I read it… that he was super close to your family, but not tied to you legally or by blood. My BFF is basically this way and goes (even travels) to just about all family functions. Her children call me aunt ktfran. She’s like a sister to me and my sisters and a daughter to my parents.

      2. I mean if they’re really that close, why doesn’t he want them at the wedding? I still think you need to hash this out with your future husband… its not a logistics question, its a matter of different visions for the wedding.

      3. judge sheryl says:

        Yeah… adopted bro comment addressed, but now everything else really makes me wonder what the big deal is to have them there if it is more convenient for the parents. Its a second wedding, which is typically more casual and less ‘traditional’, and the small guest list implies its not a super formal stuck up affair where the kids would know everyone and evrryone would want to see them. It seems like they are in that close ‘family’ category, and kids vs adults shouldn’t even be an issue. Ultimately, if your husband doesn’t want kids there though, that is what needs to be discussed.

      4. Crazy_Pug_Lady says:

        I agree that we need to discuss it further between ourselves, at the point that i sent the letter we didn’t know that we could arrange for child care services through the venue and we were trying to come up with some options ie. no kids or breastfeeding baby only, or that maybe it wasn’t an issue at all because they would leave the kids with her parents because they wanted a night off.
        My Fiancee was mostly worried about possible disruptions during the ceremony more than anything. The reception itself won’t be heavily scripted so of the kids want to run around and dance and their parents are fine with it, so are we.

        The venue we chose, we looked at this weekend, let us know that it was possible to arrange for a room with a sitter which is a fabulous idea that other’s the thread have shared and if our friends want to bring their kids, this is probably what we will do.

      5. judge sheryl says:

        One more thought..unless the ceremony is a super long religious ceremony, how much can they really disrupt? Sure.. You might have an extra loud comment on how the middle child has to pee, but so what? Isn’t that what makes a wedding memorable?

        The babysitter in another room is a good suggestion, but it seems to go above and beyond for such a small, close knit group. Maybe they do want an adult night out, and the debate is pointless anyway.

      6. I agree. The idea that an outburst from a kid can ruin a wedding ceremony is generally silly. Its not ruined… it adds character.

      7. Clementine says:

        Responsible parents will sit on an aisle and exit the venue if a disruption begins brewing. And ify ou’re providing care during the ceremony, that’s a plus. No parent wants to sit through a ceremony feeling tense about a possible dropped-toy noise; they may appreciate the break. It sounds like you’re doing the right thing–let parents know that you prefer an adult-only ceremony, then inform them about the care options, asking for care-RSVPs for the kids. You don’t want to overwhelm your sitter or have him/her unprepared for a certain age group. Still, don’t be offended if someone chooses to leave their kids with their own sitter or with grandparents. I’ve had friends provide “care” at weddings that turned out to be someone’s overwhelmed 12-year-old, so my default is to find my own care. Plus, there’s always the bliss in an adult night out in fancy clothes and coming home to the kids already asleep. 🙂
        The key is letting people know what to expect ahead of time. If you choose not to have kids, be consistent, timely, and up front about your policy. No kids, no care? Spell it out, but be prepared to help find highly vetted sitters in your area for parents who travel. Care provided? Provide details. Only family-of-origin can bring kids? Be prepared to explain that to people who made expensive childcare arrangements but have to spend the ceremony with a three-year-old staring from the seat in front of them. We were recently invited to a wedding where the no-kids decree was not clear until we’d RSVPed with kids. At that point, we’d already told the kids and made progressive and non-refundable travel plans that revolved around the wedding weekend. The couple had made no arrangements for care–not even providing names of vetted sitters with whom parents could make individual arrangements–which was totally their prerogative to do or not do. The problem was not the adult-only event–the problem was that things were unclear and the couple was unhelpful.

    4. See I never invited my brother’s children to my wedding. Granted they were older but we had an 18+ venue which suited us. If my brother was annoyed he never said anything about it, just like I never said anything when I travelled 6+ hours to his wedding (on a university student’s budget) that he also got to arrange with no input from me. It was his day to call the shots, just as it was mine to do the same.

  6. for_cutie says:

    I understand you are trying to be sensitive with the “breast-feeding baby” distinction but for a mother I think it is very hard to differentiate or pick between your kids. I breast fed both my kids and when I went somewhere it was either both kids or none. I went to a wedding without either kid and pumped in the break room for the band! If they are the only guests with children I would have a candid conversation about the childcare situation and not differentiate between the children; it could be very hard for them to bring just the baby and treat the others separately. Plus if your fiancee is concerned about mostly the ceremony, then it is moot because the mother can plan to not have to breastfeed during that one part!

  7. Seriously? Seriously! says:

    I feel like I’m on a different planet than almost everyone else here. When a family is invited to a wedding, the invite says “Mr./Ms. and Mr./Ms. Smith and Family.” When just the parents are invited, it says “Mr./Ms. and Mr./Ms. Smith.” I don’t understand assuming your children are invited to a wedding if they aren’t invited to the wedding.

    I also don’t understand why people are so down on child-free weddings. Wedding ceremonies are long and boring (to a kid) unless they are in them, children cry, distract and run around, which can be cute if its your kid but is almost always annoying when it isn’t and when they are pulling focus from something that focus should not be pulled from. Wedding parties are also long, and not especially kid entertaining; they have speeches and toasts, and slow dancing, and such. But even if they were super duper fun for kids, I don’t see why it’s so insulting or “I don’t care if you come” to ask parents to leave the kids home for one night. (More on weddings that you have to travel for below.) Most people I know with babies will bring an inlaw with them so that they can enjoy the night, because who wants to bring an infant to a loud, super fun party? (Though not everyone can afford that, which I get, and more on below).
    And when there is travel involved, I agree that it is very helpful and almost obligatory for the wedding couple to help arrange for appropriate people to help watch children, because not everyone can or will want to leave their kids home with a nanny or family. And I think paying for it is amazing (I want to do that in my wedding coming in the Fall). I just don’t get being insulted that you want to spend time with the parents on that particular night, and not their children, or how people don’t see that kids can totally change the feel of an event and that some people would prefer an event to be different than it would be with children. Or that they don’t realize that if you have ANY children, you basically have to invite all children and that can add a huge amount of people taking up more space with a hefty price tag, especially if the venue would charge by the person. (In fact, I’m sad I can’t have flower girls because I think my soon-to-be cousins would love to be flower girls and I would love them to be, but I know I can’t invite them to just participate in the ceremony and then go upstairs with a sitter, and everyone else will mutiny if they came to the party, but their kids weren’t invited.) Or how weighing these issues and realizing that you don’t want kids at the wedding makes you selfish and inconsiderate and clearly don’t care if those people come to the wedding.
    My wedding is coming up in the fall, which we have decided we don’t want kids at, and I want to basically set up a freaking nursery onsite (its a venue within a hotel) with nannies because like half of my friends will have newborns then (born over the summer) and I want them to be able to enjoy the wedding without worrying about their babies too too too much. But I can’t imagine them being INSULTED that I didn’t want infants at the ceremony or party, or think that by inviting the parents, I was actually inviting their infant to both events. To the weekend, sure, but not the events.

    1. You sound like you are insulted that two whole people in these comments have a different opinion then you do. I stuck to the letter- it’s cross country travel with a newborn. If the invitation simply said mr and mrs or No Kids, I wouldn’t go. I am a brand new parent of a one month old. If you are my adopted sister and want me to come, you’ll probably include some local sitters or have some help for me written in there. It’s fine if you want a kid free night, but if I’m family and I’ve just popped a baby out, if you actually want me at your wedding, you’ll probably help me find a solution.
      But really at the end of the day, great that’s your opinion and you are entitled to it, just like I’m entitled to mine.

      1. Seriously? Seriously! says:

        Fair enough; the way you put it there sounds totally reasonable. And I see your point that with a 1 month old, if your sibling didn’t mention childcare or your baby, then it would seem like they didn’t really care if you came or not. I didn’t see it like that, probably because I’m coming from the other side. And I think that the sibling part, which you were focused on, does matter a lot, while I was generalizing to all invitees. It seemed a stretch to assume that a couple didn’t care about you attending merely because they didn’t address children, but it’s different for a sibling.

        But I have to ask, you say that you wouldn’t go if it was “no kids”, or just addressed to you, but would you want to bring your infant to the ceremony and party, if there was competent childcare available onsite (or in the hotel)? Or did you just mean that if they were like, “please don’t bring your child this weekend”, you’d opt out, but if it were “please don’t bring your child to my ceremony, but Mary Poppins who is trained in CPR is upstairs ready to take care of your bundle for the next 6 hours, and there is a lactation room with a live feed of the dance floor”, you’d be all in?

        I didn’t mean to sound insulted from 2 people’s opinions; I just read a bunch in a row and it seemed like people were all like “of course weddings should have children whether or not the hosts want that type of party, and not having them means you don’t love your guests”, and I just didn’t get it.

      2. Honestly, if it was my sibling we would’ve discussed it beforehand. I’d go if there was some form of reliable childcare… That’s what I meant. But if I had a one month old, I’d really hope it was on site or close to the wedding. Mainly, a one month old is completely different than a year old. And I’m as attached to him/ her as much as they are to me. An older child is totally a different thing. And if it wasn’t a family situation.

        If there were absolutely no childcare options, I probably would have to bow out. I’m a hands on mom. And a one month old is teeny tiny. I wouldn’t travel across the country without him/her. But if my sibling didn’t have options, I’d look into to and really try to make it. And to me, a wedding is very different than like, a party. I mean, I get the party aspect, but with a newborn I probably wouldn’t be into the late night festivities anyway.

    2. RedRoverRedRover says:

      I might not have been clear on this, but it was mainly for family that I would allow kids. Not for every guest at the wedding. I don’t want it overrun with kids, but I want my siblings to be able to have their kids there, because for them it’s generally a whole-day thing. For people who are just going to the ceremony and reception, yeah, it’s a night out, they don’t need their kids there. But my family would be travelling and I couldn’t ask them to leave their kids at home. Especially since most of the people they’d normally count on for babysitting would also be at the wedding.
      For this letter, for such a small wedding, for a couple traveling so far… yeah, I would be insulted in this situation if my sibling just said to me that my kids couldn’t come. With no discussion and no other options. I wouldn’t go, and I would think they were a jerk for not talking to me beforehand and trying to figure something out.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        I agree with siblings being allowed to bring kids, especially if they have special roles in the wedding (ring bearer, flower girl, jr bridesmaid, etc.). We didn’t invite other kids to our wedding, but we included Drew’s niece and nephew (who were our ring bearer and flower girl). And luckily, in our small wedding, only a few other guests even had children and the no-kids thing wasn’t really an issue.

  8. tbrucemom says:

    I’ve been married twice and neither time ever thought about requesting no kids. However, I don’t necessarily have a problem with someone wanting that for their wedding. The problem I would have is having kids there and their parents don’t have basic manners when kids end up doing what kids do. You know, removing a crying baby, disciplining an unruly child, letting them roam around unsupervised. I honestly think the whole kids thing should be left up to the guests attending. If they want some adult time then they (or the host) should make child care arrangements. Some people are very uneasy leaving their children with people they don’t know even if they have recommendations. Besides seeing little kids dance at a wedding is the cutest thing ever!

  9. I’d expect, that when I send out my wedding invites addressed to a couple or a person +1, that anyone with kids would be like “Sweet, an excuse for a night out!” and be thrilled to attend without kids. How often is there a reason to dress up and drink and eat for free and enjoy a night of kid free fun? A wedding should be fun for everyone attending, and kids don’t care and parents I think have more fun when they don’t have kids in tow.

    I get that people who have to travel may need child care, but don’t you already have a sitter? Can’t leave the kids with a sitter for 36 hours? Can’t invite the sitter (or another family member/friend not invited to the wedding) to accompany you out of town and stay in a room with the kids during the party? There are plenty of great reasons not to have kids at a wedding and SO so many options to handle childcare!

    1. it’s a cross country trip with a newborn.

      It’s really funny how judgey this is getting, from people who obviously do not have children, let alone a newborn.

      1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

        Traveling with young children, especially long distances, can truly be a nightmare, and one that most people don’t/can’t fully appreciate unless they’ve experienced that particular hell themselves. But I will say that probably the easiest time to tote young children on a the plane for a long distance is around 3 1/2-6 months, when their immune systems have strengthen a bit but they’re still immobile, and pretty easy to transport. Of course, it’s all relative to the kid (and family), and you can’t know what kind of traveler your child is going to be until you actually travel with him or her. At 3 1/2, Jackson is getting better (better than he was from 10 months to 2 1/2), but now he gets motion sickness and throws up on every single flight, which is its own version of great times. And regardless of a child’s behavior/ travel tolerance, there’s always so much gear to transport. I’m dreading our first flight with two kids under 5 (2 car seats, extra luggage, a travel crib, etc., etc….. ugh!!).

      2. snow.angel says:

        Obviously the circumstances are different when it’s such a long trip with a teeny-tiny newborn who is still breast feeding. I think that any reasonable person will make special accommodations in that case, especially for an immediate family member. I’m personally just having trouble with the idea that an invite to parents = an automatic inclusion of small children. There are some events in life that aren’t appropriate for young kids, and it’s not meant to be disrespectful or a commentary on how much the host values the relationship with the parents. I agree with the posters saying that it’s a boundary thing, and it’s not the worst thing for kids to learn that some places are for grown ups only and they aren’t going to be tagging along everywhere with mommy and daddy.

  10. Seriously? Seriously! says:

    Another thing that hasn’t really been addressed (though not entirely relevant to this LW) is the “one kid = all kids” problem. Maybe it’s just my family, though that seems unlikely from past LWs, but family members, especially non-sibling family members, seem incredibly easy to offend when it comes to invitations and weddings.

    And the easiest way I can think of to do that is to have some kids and not others. So your sister’s 2 year old is allowed at the ceremony, but why not your second cousin (who you have met 3 times)’s 9 year old? Your best friend’s adorable 6 year old is tearing up the dance floor, but your first cousin’s 3 year old is relegated to the room with a babysitter? Mutiny, I tell you, and whispers and hurt feelings, that linger for YEARS! I agree siblings can be a little different, but if it isn’t siblings, then all bets are off.

    And it gets even more complicated by what you mean by “kids.” Some people break it down generationally, and some by age, but either way, someone is going to be offended. No kids under 10? or under 15? or under 20? Only first cousins, but no first cousins once removed? What if you’re really close to one side of the family’s cousin’s kids, but not the other? But they don’t know that! And that just means you weren’t trying hard enough to stay in contact with one side’s kids!

    I’m dealing with this nightmare right now, and so is my sister (getting married this summer), and it is really really hard. So I apologize if I seemed like I was jumping on anyone above, but the idea that not inviting someone’s child, as a blanket policy, means you don’t care if the parent comes or not, or that you don’t really want the parent there, just seemed lacking in ability to see it from the host’s perspective, absolutely ignoring all the other crap that the parent KNOWS goes into trying to figure out the guest list.

    Even if I wanted some kids at my wedding, with the one=all issue, we are ignoring how many people it can be, if you have to invite ALL kids. My wedding is unnecessarily gigantic (around 200), but it is one of those weddings that there is a “mandatory” list of like 50 family members per side, before you even get to start thinking about who you actually WANT there. And i am very lucky that our parents are paying for it, but to be fair, if they weren’t, I wouldn’t be inviting nearly as many second cousins, and such. And we are at the top of our budget trying to fit in the people we have to, plus the few people we want to. But adding in kids, even of just family, would add at least 25 people, who would all need to be fed, and seated, and entertained. And at least half of those would want “adult meals” because they are over age 12. Plus, we wouldn’t have fit in most venues we looked at with those numbers.

    Kids at weddings are super complicated, especially when everyone has to travel, both for the parents and for the hosts. It is almost never personal.

  11. simonthegrey says:

    When we got married, my husband and I were 30. All our friends (well, most of them) had kids, and I knew I couldn’t have the people I wanted without some accommodations for kids. I had always wanted a child-free wedding because I wanted something very sophisticated. When reality and the budget changed that, we decided not to make it child-free. Instead we had a room set up off the hall with coloring books, and one of the family friends brought a box of toys out from the church, things like building blocks and trains. I’d asked a couple of teenaged kids of guests if they would be willing to keep an eye on younger ones in exchange for some money, not as official babysitters but just to have someone in the room. It worked out great. No fussing and mess out in the dining area, and the kids weren’t bored out of their minds.

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