Thursday, July 16, 2015

Why Your "No Kids At The Wedding" Policy Needs To Be Flexible

My friend Nicole Skyped me eight or so months before my wedding. She was asking how planning was going and I went on an incredibly long rant about how difficult dress shopping was, how I tried on 50 dresses in three towns -- including an overnight trip in Raleigh -- to find my dress.

"How is the hotel you booked?" she asked.

And then I went on an equally long rant about how we were trying to book a hotel and the person helping us was impossible to reach, and then she ended up not even working at the hotel anymore ... because, well, that's how conversations go when you're planning a wedding. You don't mean to be completely self-absorbed, but that's how you basically become.

"Oh my gosh, stop talking a minute," Nicole's sister Mallory, who was also on the call, laughed at me.

"Does the hotel you booked have cribs?" Nicole asked.

And then I flipped out. Like a crazy person. "Oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my gosh, oh my GOSH," I screamed. "You're pregnant?" I was quite possibly more excited about that than anything else at that moment and felt really bad about monopolizing the video call with talks about dresses and hotels when we could have been talking about sonograms and how she told her parents.

She told me something that made me feel sort of bad. She said as soon as she found out she was pregnant, she thought about how she really wanted to come to our wedding and knew we weren't inviting kids, so she started brainstorming how to come from New York to North Carolina with (but without) a three-month baby. Before I could even say anything, she said that she and her husband would take turns holding the baby outside of the reception all night.

"Oh that's so silly," I said to her. "Of course the baby can come to the reception."

And that was the first bend in our "no kids at the wedding" policy.

Why Your "No Kids At The Wedding" Policy Needs To Be Flexible

I originally said no kids, no exceptions. This was an adult-only affair with an open bar and a (provided by us) shuttle service so that adults could enjoy themselves and not have to worry about how they'd get home.

And then I realized that nearly all our guests would be driving from New York to North Carolina. They'd be bringing their kids with them, sans a babysitter. So I thought about hiring a babysitter for the night so the parents could enjoy their night -- and so could the kids. But then our RSVP's started coming in and no one asked about their kids coming, so I scratched that idea and decided we'd be flexible on a case by case basis. And if you let yourself be just a little flexible, you might be better off.

Why Your "No Kids At The Wedding" Policy Needs To Be Flexible

If you have kids in your bridal party, you have to invite them to the reception.
It's really poor form to ask a friend or relative to buy a dress or suit for their kid, then have them behave at the rehearsal and the wedding, then not say thank you by letting that same child come to the reception. If you think they are mature enough to walk down the aisle, they're mature enough to sit at a table with their parents at the reception. Just be sure to ask your venue for an alternative kids meal because chicken fingers will go over much better than Chicken Oscar for the little ones.

If the parents are traveling alone and one parent offers to miss the reception to watch their kid.
We actually had this happen with two of my family members. My aunt was going to stay in the hotel to watch my cousin's daughter so my cousin could enjoy the reception. My other cousin's husband was going to stay home to watch their son so my cousin could go to the reception. Both options sounded silly to me. How could I ask my aunt to travel a dozen hours to get to my wedding and be in our ceremony, but then stay in the hotel during the party? And same with my cousin's husband. If the difference between him celebrating with us or not was their one-year-old son, then the son was getting on the guest list.

For local weddings, your friends can probably find a friend or babysitter to watch their kid(s) for a few hours. But for a destination wedding, or one where they are traveling across state lines, you do have to be a little more flexible.

If you like some kids better than others.
Maybe you really want your friend's daughter to come to the reception because you basically raised her but you don't want your other friend's son to come because he always fights with you. That's okay. Just because you invite one kid doesn't mean you have to invite all of them, just like if you invite one friend from college you don't have to invite your entire graduating class.

Or maybe you have young cousins and want to invite them because they're family, but you don't want to invite your friends' kids because they're not related to you. That's okay too.

Maybe you have kids.
If you have your own kids, you probably want them at your wedding. So there's that too.

How Do You Communicate Your "No Kids At The Wedding" Policy

This part is easy. When you are addressing your invitations to people with kids that are not invited, address them to Mr. & Mrs. Smith. Don't add the kids. Don't address it to "Smith Family." Adding family implies that the whole family is invited.

BRIDAL BABBLE: Are you inviting kids to your wedding?

Planning on inviting kids to your wedding?

Check out our How To Entertain Kids At A Wedding post.


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