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‘My sister won’t allow children at her wedding. Should I insist?’

‘My sister won’t allow children at her wedding. Should I insist?’


by Amanda Cassidy
12th Jan 2024

The should-I-have-kids etiquette when it comes to the Big Day can be divisive. Amanda Cassidy speaks to brides on both sides of the debate. 

Let’s face it, having children at your wedding can be a blessing or a curse. There are the wails inside the church, the racing around the floral arrangements, the grubby hands and sometimes inappropriately late nights to consider. On the other hand, can you really imagine celebrating one of the biggest days of your life without those adorable cuties?

If you want to have a low-key, late-night wedding, it may be best to keep the guest list adults-only. In fact, many guests with children might thank you for excluding their offspring so they get an excuse for a baby-free day out. But be prepared for blowback if you decide to blanket ban all kids.

“I didn’t think it would end up being such a huge deal”

Chaos

Ciara is getting married for a second time in October. Both she and her partner’s children are older (the youngest is 14) and they have decided to include ‘adults only’ on the invitation.

And it’s caused problems within the family.

“I didn’t think it would end up being such a huge deal” she admits. “We just wanted our own children and didn’t want to have the day diluted by kids who can be a lot of work especially when they are young. In fact, we thought it might be a nice break for people. Maybe the problem is that the wedding is abroad.”

Emily who got married in February after cancelling it twice during the pandemic knew if she decided to ‘ban kids’ at the wedding there would be problems. “I’d seen it with my cousin who mentioned it after she got engaged. There was a huge contingent in our family that would have taken it really badly. I don’t see what the big deal is myself. I’m sure it would have been less chaotic, but when it comes to family those big days out are usually nicely hectic.”

But Ciara says the main issue is her sister who is also her bridesmaid. “I put it on the invitations but she rang me with a lot to say.  They’d have to get a childminder for the entire weekend, she said, and her youngest is 10 months old which she felt was too young to leave him. I don’t have kids myself but I will hopefully only get this day once. I want it to be perfect and for me, that means no kids.”

Options

Wedding planner Loan Hartley says there are ways around an outright ban that can ensure all parties get to, well, party!

“Set aside some seats in the front row for little members of your bridal party who may need a break from standing at the altar” she suggests.

“Offer kid-friendly food to make mealtime fun, and consider adding board games to your reception tables for quiet entertainment. Or consider a bespoke kids room with movies and maybe a magician or babysitter. That way the parents get a break and the wedding party can proceed without any fidgety wiggles.
Ciara says that for her, clarity was key.

“I knew I also couldn’t invite every single child across the family. After all, they are still taking up space at the tables and they probably won’t even remember it. I explained to my sister that I couldn’t get involved in all the drama of ‘why wasn’t my child invited’ so I stood strong and it was a brilliant day. Afterwards, she told me she was thrilled to have had the break and got to enjoy the weekend off mammy duties.”

Special

Loan says to avoid hurt feelings if you’re having some kids (such as the flower girl and ring bearer) make sure you explain your inviting parameters.

“Parents tend to make assumptions about their kids making the list. They assume their kids are or aren’t, but either way, they often don’t ask. So you need to make it abundantly clear who is included. If you are inviting kids, adding the words ‘and family’ to the invitation envelope indicates as much.”

Emily says that in the end, having the kids there added a very special element. “There was the feeling of a get-together from my granny who is 85 to my cousin’s newborn. The toddlers added some really funny moments too. For the most part, I think the kids really made it, actually. And it was a bonus not to have fallen out with anyone over it!”

This article was originally published in May 2022.