Planning your big day is one of the most stressful, exhilarating, chaotic and satisfying moments of your life: a big, traditional family-filled affair versus a small, intimate gathering of just immediate family and close friends; a classic roast dinner wedding feast versus tacos by your favourite food truck; open bar versus 'I'm not paying for everyone to get pissed at my wedding!'; a DJ spinning Top 40 hits versus a local band playing rockabilly covers...regardless of your preferences, one of the most polarising and difficult decisions to make is whether or not to allow children at your wedding.
On the one hand, there is seriously nothing cuter than your 2-year-old nieces toddling down the aisle throwing handfuls of rose petals and delighting your guests! Kids provide an amazing energy to the proceedings, they're spontaneous and exhuberant and just so excited to be included!
However the logistics of allowing guests to bring their own children (those not involved in the ceremony) can add complications (and extra expense!): many children can be quite fussy eaters so you must be sure to include a children's food option; generally speaking, once the meal has finished, kids tend to go a bit stir crazy and it can be helpful to provide additional entertainment to occupy them so that the parents aren't spending the whole time chasing after their, let's face it, very bored overtired children.
For many couples, especially those of you with children of your own, having a kid-friendly wedding is a no-brainer and is factored into the costs and planning from the get-go...these weddings are so relaxed and easy-going and can be a great time with multiple generations celebrating your joyous event! I've seen prams lined up with sleeping babies whilst the older children dance like pixies in the magic of disco lighting...it can be so satisfying to know that you have planned a wedding for everyone and put on a great party.
However, for those of you who do not want the added stress/expense/unknown variables that having children included amongst your guests bring: THAT IS A PERFECTLY REASONABLE STANCE!
So many couples spend so much time worrying when taking on the very daunting task of building your guest list, that you lose the excitement of deciding who amongst your nearest and dearest you would like to spend one of the biggest (and frankly, most expensive) days of your lives with. There is hand-wringing over whether or not to invite that aunt and uncle and their four crazy children (plus their partners) even though you haven't seen any of them in ten years but it would make your mom happy and maybe even mend some fences; the idea of whether or not to allow your husband's single mates plus-ones even though that's five extra meals you have to pay for, for people that may not even be part of your lives too much longer after the big day...
After avoiding it for weeks...
You really aren't interested in having them there but how in the world do you make this very delicate decision without at least one of your friends having an issue with it? Will people have enough notice to arrange childcare? If you're not getting married fairly locally, is it unreasonable to expect people with kids to travel so far and potentially have a night away from their children?
Ok, controversial statement time. But bear with me: I am a proud mama of an amazing 9-month-old baby girl and I love spending time with her more than anything in this world. But I am so so excited to attend my dear friend's wedding with my husband, to put on a rad jumpsuit and some crazy heels and earrings that won't be pulled out and to have a drink and a dance and adult conversation, all the while knowing that my little peanut is snugly wrapped up in dreamland with her superwoman Nana watching Netflix downstairs, ears glued to the baby monitor.
Sometimes giving your friends who are parents the option for a bit of a date night can almost be a relief, it gives the opportunity to not worry whether or not my baby is going to stay quiet and still during the ceremony or which of us is going to drive home (early, so that you can still stick to bambino's routine). The majority of weddings are booked so far in advance that we have pelnty of time to arrange for a sitter or an exciting overnight at a grandparent's.
I appreciate that many many parents (including those of you who are single parents, you extraordinary creatures!) do not have the luxury of easy and local childcare. Totally, and it can be a hassle and a stress in it's own right.
As the bride or groom, this is not your responsibility. And it does not make you heartless or selfish or insensitive to your dear ones' needs. This is the one day, literally the ONE DAY that is about YOU. So you get to call the shots. And your friends or family members who truly love you and respect you and want only an amazing and perfect day for you, will love and respect you for making this hard decision. And your very closest friends will of course always move heaven and earth to get there and be part of your day.
So whether or not you decide to have kids at your wedding, make the decision that fits with you and who you are as a couple. No matter what, there is nothing more important or special than a proper kick-off to happily-ever-after.