Should I Have a Kid-Friendly Wedding?
It can be difficult to decide if you should invite children to attend your wedding. If you know for sure if you want to have an an adults-only affair we have some suggestions on how to politely say "no kids allowed", however, if you are unsure, please read on...
If you're having an evening wedding, it may be more difficult for your younger guests to fully enjoy the event. Even if your ceremony starts around 5 or 6pm, the reception will likely last until 10pm, which is pretty far past most kids' bedtimes. It really is a long day for them and they are especially tired from all the overstimulation, so you really just want to make sure that the kids aren't sleeping under the table or on the seats. We have seen this so many times and we feel so badly...it's just awful for them.
If your bridal party is full of parents, it might make more sense for your wedding to be more welcoming to children, or at least welcoming of children on-site. Given that the bridal party members will have to find childcare for the entire day and evening if their kids aren't invited to the wedding, when they are already spending hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on gifts, travel and attire to be part of your day. It is also
likely won't be able to use free childcare that is typically available to them such as extended family members as they are likely invited to the event as well. In these cases, providing on-site childcare if the venue has space to permit this or getting a hotel suite with child care provided through a professional service may be the best option to ensure that these guests can not only attend, but can do so with ease.
Destination weddings are difficult for guests of all ages to attend because of the added cost and planning required to get to the event. However, if you invite parents to your destination wedding, they likely won't be able to attend if their children were not also included on the invitation list. It is unlikely that they have a sitter at home that can watch them for three or four days and they can't just leave their kids in their hotel room with no one to watch them during the event itself.
Music plays a big role at the reception. And while blasting "Mr. Brightside" is definitely fun for your adult guests who will most likely be singing along, the children in attendance might enjoy it as much. Depending on the band or DJ, we have seen kids with headphones on sitting at the table because it's just too loudfor their sensitive ears. They are in car seats just sitting there with headphones on to protect their hearing. Truth be told, this situation isn't much fun for most children, so if you're hoping to have a big party vibe at your reception, it might be best to leave kids off the guest list unless you are clear with your band or DJ about keeping it within a certain decibel level so that everyone can enjoy the party atmosphere.
A wedding is ultimately a party, which means you have to pay the costs of putting on large scale celebration. Some of those costs vary based on the number of guests you have in attendance, catering, for example. In 2020, the average catering cost per guest for a wedding meal was about $70, according to The Knot. Providing meals for children at weddings is typically about half the cost of an "adult meal," however, you will still incur the cost for the kid to eat regardless. Plus you have to take into account the cost fo additional chairs, tables, linens, decor, centerpieces, favors, drinks, dishes, glasses, flatware and everything else a guest, regardless of age will be using or coming into contact with at your event which will greatly increase your bottom line.
Kids won't magically stop being kids just because it's your wedding day. They are going run around, they will talk when they're not supposed to, will cry during your ceremony, and they may even knock things down.
These things might not bother you on a normal day, but they can feel quite disruptive during your wedding.
You really don't want fingers in your $5,000 wedding cake. You want people to be a bit more delicate. If you're imagining a more mature celebration, finding an alternative to kids attending is probably your best bet.
Children's temperaments can be hard to anticipate, and if a younger guest ends up in a bad mood on your wedding day, it might be stressful for both you and their parents. They might be so excited to be a part of the whole wedding all day, and then they have a meltdown. Unfortunately kids can be super unpredictable. This unpredictability doesn't mean that you shouldn't invite them to your wedding; it's just something you need be aware of and perhaps have a plan B for...like if your ring bearer or flower girl has a meltdown just before they walk down the aisle, will you be ok if they don't walk at all?
It's rare for a wedding venue to be designed with children in mind, so it's possible the space you are getting married could actually pose a potential risk to smaller guests. This means parents will have to be on high alert throughout the event making it difficult for them to fully relax and enjoy themselves. For instance, if a wedding venue features a lake or pond can be dangerous for children, as they could wander into the water. Fire pits and open flames on heaters can also cause issues. Most venue owners, as well as couples selecting the venue for their big day are not thinking about somebody who might have a 2 year old who's curious about what's going on with the fish in the water and falls in. Couples who are serving plated dinners shouldn't have to worry about mealtime causing issues with younger guests, however, those who opt for buffets or who have food stations during cocktail hour might as many of these stations have open flames. You definitely don't want a young guest running around and poking their fingers. Many of these stations also have large knives sitting out, which can be dangerous for children. Parents can watch out for their kids in these situations but it's hard when there are 250 people walking around and you're trying to keep track of your small child.
For your friends and family, your wedding will be an exciting occasion. They will enjoy and understand the significance of you saying your vows, sharing your first dance with your spouse, and the ceremonial cutting of the cake. Smaller children won't understand the meaning behind much of the hustle and bustle of your wedding day, however, so they likely won't be as entertained. They tend to get bored, which may lead them to throw a tantrum, act out, or cause a distraction. Providing alternative entertainment to keep kids engaged often helps, but, in general, they might not have as much fun at the wedding as the adults. If you prefer to include all guests large and small, consider providing professional child care as an option to help keep little guests entertained and out of trouble so that they can enjoy the kind of entertainment they like while their parents do the same. And if the couple getting married is paying for the service, guests truly can enjoy themselves knowing that their little ones are safe and happy and not sitting there being miserable at a wedding. It's really best for everybody, all around!