Regret, no kids allowed.

There is no doubt about it, we have all attended weddings that have been kid-free, as well as weddings that have been kid-friendly. So we have probably seen it all – a few naughty kids, adorable kids, despicably behaved kids, crying babies, sleeping babies, newborn babies… the list goes on.
But, despite having attended both of these types of weddings, I would still not be able to answer the age-old question of “Should I invite children to my wedding?”

All images by Coetzer Photography, from Tom and Cat’s beautiful wedding day we shared in February.
Click here if you missed this beautiful day.

But, what I can tell you, is that having children at a wedding can change the tone of the event greatly and it’s something you really must consider properly before making a decision.

They can be noisy and disruptive, but they also keep the mood light and casual and are often at the centre of the most entertaining moments. Children have the ability to bring people together and initiate laughter from an otherwise awkward or stuffy crowd.

So the choice depends entirely on the ‘vibe’ you desire for your wedding. If you are having a formal wedding at a 5-star hotel where dinner will be served way after kids’ bedtime, perhaps it’s not appropriate. But if it’s an outdoor farm-style wedding with a sunset buffet dinner – why not?  Now, you should also consider the parents and how they would feel about leaving their kids at home.
Some would love to have a kid-free, tequila-fuelled day, while others might not want to leave their children at home.
You would also need to take into consideration the new mommies, who might not be able to leave their babe for hours on end – perhaps you can make an exception to the rule for those friends?

Either way, make sure that your guests know with plenty of warning whether they will be allowed to bring their children or not so that they can make the necessary arrangements back at home. If your wedding is far out of town and requires guests to stay overnight, be mindful that some families don’t have a baby sitter that they could leave their children with overnight. That might affect their RSVP and therefore, lead to them missing the wedding altogether. One thing is for sure – you must make this decision early on in your planning. That way, when your friends ask that awkward question, you and your partner are on the same page and have your answer ready. Ensure that you are clear on the wedding stationery whether or not children are invited. Once the invites go out, I’d advise picking up the phone and letting your friend know whether the wedding is or is not child friendly, just in case she missed it on the invitation. It is also perfectly okay to allow family members to bring their children, but friends to leave theirs at home.

Should you decide that kids will be invited, here are some tips to help your special day run (hopefully) tantrum-free:

1. Try and arrange a special room with a TV, bathroom and beds in it close to the reception area for the children to retire to when things get more serious (read – “boring for a child”) at the reception.
2. Have a babysitter on hand to entertain the kids or watch over them while they sleep. Many hotels and venues offer this service at an extra charge so it’s well worth investigating and offering it to your guests beforehand.
3. Parents should pack a pillow and blanket in the car. There is plenty of space under a table for a child to curl up and snooze.
4. Ask the venue if they are prepared to provide kiddies meals, at kiddies prices.
5. Have an activity pack on the table to keep them occupied. A colouring book, pack of cards, bubbles, stickers, puzzles, crayons etc. would really help keep them entertained before the party starts – we all know how kids just love to dance!
6. Consider involving the children in fun ways, like inviting them onto the dance floor for a specific song just for them or perhaps they could be used in the ceremony somehow, for example, handing out bubbles or confetti to the guests for when the bride and groom exit the chapel. 

There are pros and cons to each side of the coin, and at the end of the day, the decision is entirely yours. Be sensitive to the moms who freak out at the thought of leaving their precious baby with a baby sitter for a few hours, but stand your ground if your decision is to have no children there. Most importantly, should you decide to invite children, be prepared for tantrums, awkward questions at the top of their voices during quiet moments, insane dance moves, and make sure you have a little flexibility in your plans for the day.

Have a look at our Pinterest board for resources on kid-friendly activities and more advice. 

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