I saw video footage the other day from a wedding. The bride and groom are in the middle of the ceremony, exchanging vows with this picturesque lake behind them, it was a stunning scene. Then, suddenly the flower girl goes running by. It’s either one of the cutest things you’ve ever seen at a wedding or a complete distraction in the middle of the most important part of the wedding day. (click here if you’d like to see the clip).
Whether you think it’s the former of the latter, you should probably use that as an indication of whether or not you want to include children at your wedding.
I don’t have children of my own but I have been DJing weddings long enough to know that they are incredibly unpredictable. They often make their mark at weddings by talking during the toast or standing in the entrance way crying (instead of walking in) when they’ve been introduced or cutting in on the first dance. Again, all incredibly cute and adorable stuff (well, maybe not the crying) but also scene-stealing. If you’re the type of bride or groom who wants the entire day to be all about you then having all of your guests turn their attention to the ring bearer who is sliding belly first on the dance floor might upset you. Or, if you’re the type of bride or groom who needs everything on their wedding day to run smoothly and predictably, having a child interrupt the best man’s toast by singing “Let It Go” might also upset you.
Until recently I always assumed that parents of little children would just as soon be invited to a wedding without their young ones in tow. I figured everyone could use an “adult night out” from time to time and getting a baby-sitter was easier than packing up their kid and bringing them to a reception. But I just read a blog on Salon.com that proved my assumption wrong so the decision to make your reception child friendly or child free is obviously an impactful one.
So like most things regarding your wedding, your own expectations have a lot to do with your planning decisions (or they should anyway). Here are a few things to keep in mind:
1 – Inviting some children doesn’t mean inviting all children. There is nothing wrong with having your niece serve as your flower girl or your fiance’s two nephews be the ring bearers but not allowing any other guests to invite their children. And if you are a couple that had a child or two before marrying there is nothing wrong with inviting your own offspring and no one else’s. Same goes for children from previous marriages. You can include your own and that’s it if you choose.
2- Make your decision clear to guests with children. Take the guess work out of it for your guests who have children. A blog I read recently handled this topic and offers a few solutions more delicate than writing “No Kids” or “Adult Reception” on your invitations. You can read that one by clicking here.
3- If you’re including children keep them entertained. I’ve DJed plenty of weddings where they had a separate table for the young ones that was loaded with coloring books and games to keep them busy and entertained. This is not only adorable but practical as their parents can keep an eye on them while having some adult conversations at their table.
4 – If you’re including children include them in the music. As a DJ, I felt I had to add this advice. I’ve been stuck in the middle sometimes at weddings where the couple doesn’t want any audience participation dances but then there’s a dozen young children at the wedding who would love nothing more than to do the Cupid Shuffle or The Nae Nae. As a DJ I am trained at keeping kids busy and entertained (and tiring them out!) and I’m not saying to turn your wedding into a Mitzvah but allowing your entertainment to do a handful of line dances will probably make these kids so happy. It’s something to consider.
5 – Like so much at your wedding, it’s ultimately up to you. I know the title of this blog is “The Answer to the Question: Should You Include Children At Your Wedding?” so it’s a little misleading (okay, a lot misleading) but the answer definitely lies in your hands. Like so much about your wedding day, you need to weigh the pros and the cons and ultimately decide. And as you’re doing that, it’s important to remember that sometimes there is no one right answer. In fact, you may even have parents of young children on your guest list with opposing views on the subject. You may include children and upset a guest who would have preferred to come without their kids or not include children and upset a guest like the guy who wrote the Salon article (which really is funny by the way, you should read it.) I’m often reminding of that every year when I set the date for our annual staff picture. No matter what night I choose, one or two of my DJs will have a conflict. I used to lose my mind over it and try forever to find the perfect date – but not anymore. I announce the night well enough in advance and hope for the best. Ultimately you will do the same at your wedding. Decide whether you want to risk a child running past you in the middle of your vows, decide whether you’d laugh at that moment as heartily as the bride in the video or whether that would upset you, and then stick by your decision.