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Wedding drama: are children included on the guest list?

By Victoria Fryer 

Our weddings may be one of the happiest days of our lives, but the stress and headaches leading up to the big day are spurring more and more couples to elope or have quiet, private ceremonies. My husband and I are about to celebrate our five-year anniversary, and the other day we were reminiscing about all the plans and preparations that went into throwing such a big party. (And compared to some weddings, ours was actually small.)

One of the ways we kept our wedding relatively small is by answering one of the most controversial wedding questions there is: Will you be inviting children? We decided on a childfree wedding—with the exception of his three nieces and one nephew, who were all over the age of eight.

The question of whether or not to invite children to the wedding is all over wedding- and baby-related message boards. “I don’t want kids at my wedding! What do I do?” “I might want some kids at my wedding, but I’m worried about the cost! What do I do?” “I was invited to a wedding, but my kids were not! What do I do?”

I don’t meant to make light of such a serious dilemma. Who to invite and who to leave out truly is one of the most nerve-wracking decisions of the entire planning process. After all, the final guest list could have repercussions long into the future (especially if your people hold grudges like my family can!).

While leaving the children out can change the atmosphere of the party (for better or for worse, depending on your inclination) and reduce costs, it also often offends the parents and other family members. While we had it relatively easy, there was some harrumphing about our decision not to allow children.

I could prattle on about why we made that decision, costs and appropriateness and blah blah blah, but the message I really want to send is that it’s your decision and you don’t have to justify it to anyone. If you want children there, invite them—no matter what your friends or family say. I’ve been to lots of weddings with children, and I can guarantee that they’ll be the most exuberant dancers there. I’ve also been to plenty of weddings without, including my own—and, as far as I know, everyone got over the fact that they had to leave their kids at home.

For anyone who might be struggling with this decision, good luck. And once you decide, stay strong! It’s your party. For those of you who have already gone through it, what did you decide?

Victoria Fryer is a 31-year-old writer and content strategist. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and two pit bulls. You can find her on Twitter @extoria.

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