Everything You Need to Consider About Having Children at Your Wedding
Experts weigh in.
Your wedding is one of the most memorable times of your life, and being surrounded by your loved ones enhances your day. Although you want family and friends with you to celebrate, whether or not to invite children can weigh heavily on your mind. It's no wonder as the decision isn't one to be taken lightly. Ultimately, choosing between a child-friendly or kid-free wedding is up to you and your partner. However, before you make your final conclusion, hear advice from three childcare experts as they weigh in with advice.
Consider the dynamics
If your family is incredibly close or your friend group always has their kids in tow, you may want to consider making your wedding a child-friendly event. "I feel like it's about the dynamics of the family," states Sheri Cannon, owner and operator of Sitters Service of Louisville in Kentucky.
"I love seeing all the little ones running around and enjoying themselves as much as the adults," she says, although giving kids clear instructions can set your event up for success. "Setting the expectations for the children on what is about to happen and how to behave is never a bad thing, and they learn to adapt in many different environments."
Decide if you want kids in the wedding party
If you have your heart set on having a ring bearer and a flower girl, you will need to make at least part of your event child-friendly. "Children should be invited if they're in the wedding party or if a parent is in the wedding party," advises Barb Rubis, owner of Simply Southern Sitters in Charleston, South Carolina. "Assigning them a duty can be a nice gesture by making them part of the event."
Talk to your partner about including kids in your wedding party. Of course, having a few children doesn't mean that you have to invite everyone's little ones. Making allowances for those in the wedding party is a popular option, although you may have to explain your decision to some folks who cannot bring their kids.
Keep in mind the time of the wedding
Children can be very scheduled depending on their age, so the time of day may impact your decision. "It's all about timing in my eyes," says Cannon. "If your child has a pretty strict sleeping or eating schedule, be prepared. Sadly, someone will have to leave or not attend parts of the wedding and reception due to these schedules."
"Feel free to invite kids if you're having an afternoon or small family wedding," suggests Rubis. Children tend to do better during the day when they feel refreshed. But, of course, naptime could also be a factor for infants and preschoolers. Additionally, if you plan on dancing well into the evening, keep in mind that children will need to head off to bed, which means their parents may feel left out of the festivities.
Think about the formality of the affair
Casual events won't be easily interrupted by the occasional crying baby or active toddler. However, children can be a big distraction at formal weddings. Rubis suggests considering the venue itself as some upscale venues, such as museums and historic sites, may have an age limit for children in attendance.
Having a child-friendly wedding lends itself to more of a family atmosphere, and, ultimately, more parents will be able to attend. "Families will get to see cousins and the children of friends they might not have seen in a while," suggests Yvonne Wonder, Managing Director of Destination Sitters, which has locations all over the U.S., including Orlando and Miami, Florida.
There is also the possibility that older children will be disappointed if they aren't invited to your wedding. "Children may want to feel like they are a part of your start to your new life," says Wonder. In addition, setting an age limit, such as including children ages six and up or allowing all children to attend, can help kids—and their parents—feel more involved in your wedding day.
Consider your overall budget
Inviting kids will increase your guest count, which means more setup for your venue. It can also impact other things, such as adding additional menu items to accommodate young tastebuds. "Children may need different food options," advises Wonder. Even a few kids' meals will impact your budget as the kitchen has to order and prepare various meals. Another option is to have kid-friendly options, such as grilled chicken tenders and macaroni and cheese, as part of your overall dinner service.
Let parents be the decision-makers
If you don't care one way or the other, you can leave the decision up to the parents. "Limiting family members is a touchy call," warns Cannon. "I think that children should be invited and allow the parents to decide if they bring them or not." Wonder agrees with this sentiment and feels that guardians may feel left out or unsettled if the whole family can't attend.
Some folks will choose to bring their kids. However, others will welcome the opportunity to have an evening or weekend away. "Sometimes parents want to enjoy an event without children. Especially if they are young children or babies," says Rubis. "Children can get bored quickly, requiring one or both parents to have to leave the wedding early, missing some of the wedding festivities and socializing with family and friends." Letting the parents choose puts the responsibility on them to find a sitter or deal with their children on their wedding day.
Contemplate having on-site childcare
Offering childcare through a reputable service can put caretakers' minds at ease. That way, their kids are close by, which is a comfort, especially for young children and infants. "The best way to handle the situation is to provide childcare on site with age-appropriate activities, snacks, and food," suggests Cannon. "This will allow them to freely enjoy the wedding without distractions and have peace of mind."
Be open with parents about the childcare service and any certifications and references the company has. "When traveling, it is scary to leave your children with someone you don't know," advises Wonder. Therefore, she suggests finding a service with liability insurance that qualifies their employees with background checks and certifications in CPR and first aid techniques. In addition, professional babysitting services will comfort parents.
Additionally, list the childcare company on your wedding website so parents can research the company beforehand and see if they want to arrive kid-free or have their children in tow. "My biggest advice is, provide the families the options for childcare and let them decide," offers Cannon. Leaving the decision up to the parents is a fabulous hybrid option when you are unsure of what to do.