Children add whimsy and wonder to weddings. They can also be unpredictable and, at times, uncontrollable. Deciding whether to invite them is tough—do you have an adults-only wedding, and risk offending your parent friends? Or do you allow your love of family to transcend other considerations? We can’t make the decision for you, but we can list all of the pros and cons of inviting children to your wedding. By the end, we bet you’ll know just how and to whom to address those gorgeous invitations.
Pro: Children lighten the day
If you are feeling stressed on your wedding day, children can lighten the atmosphere. No one will be as free with her compliments as your littlest guests; no one will warm your wedding day preparations quite like your flower girl. She’ll want to use your powder brush and she’ll stare, wide-eyed, as your mom pins your veil into your hair. Children can help you remember that once, you were that little, just imagining this day. Anxiety will dissipate as you see the wonder of your wedding day reflected through their eyes.
Con: Weddings are, by nature, less-than kid-friendly
Weddings are formal, meticulously planned events. Children—especially when placed in such an adult environment—can be unrestrained. Crystal, fondant, and silk just aren’t found at many children’s birthday parties, with good reason. If you can’t tolerate much uncertainty or the thought of an uncontrollable guest, then be honest about what you can handle, and plan your guest list accordingly.
Pro: You (maybe) won’t offend your friends
Of course, if you don’t invite children to your wedding, someone is bound to get their feelings hurt. There will be some who find the decision a little bit haughty. Extending the invitation to your friends’ children can calm the waters and is, at least ostensibly, the least divisive thing to do. However—there will likewise be other guests who are annoyed by your decision to include children.
This is the most liberating truth you will discover during wedding planning: you cannot please everyone. You can be kind and tactful and considerate, but you are not responsible for your guests’ reactions (and letting go of that undue responsibility feels like freedom.). So, make the decision that’s right for you, because in the end, those who want to be offended will find a way to be, no matter what.
Con: Venues pose challenges
Maybe you’re dreaming of a vineyard wedding, all fine wine and farm-to-table fare, and long hours spent ambling through fields and lingering long at the table. Maybe, instead, you’ve always loved the ocean, and can’t imagine your wedding without it-- the nearness of the water, the cocktail hour on the dunes, the freedom to walk the beach. If your tastes run more opulent, you could be imagining an old chateau or private estate, a grand and historied setting. But can you imagine children in these contexts? Keri of Always Yours Events concedes that “some locations [create] a challenge,” for example, “waterfront locations where children could venture to the water.” Other locations are just so formal and imposing, it may feel more respectful to the owners and to the property to have an adults-only celebration. Use your discretion, and consider whether your venue really is a good fit for children.
Pro: Children add spontaneity to the wedding day
Children may not heed the planner’s timeline or perfectly comply with the photographer’s requests. But they may, in their free-spiritedness, add joy and spontaneity to the wedding day. It is the unpredictable nature of children—ironically, the very trait that causes some people anxiety—that makes them so capable of experiencing and giving joy. A group of children may run barefoot through a garden, looking like Midsummer fairies with their flower crowns. They may take to the dance floor (just to see how much their skirts can twirl) or find a little patch of grass and play ring-around-the-rosy. Their presence can remind you of unbridled hope and time unbound. You just won’t get this level of uninhibited joy from any other wedding guest.
Pro: Family is Important
Weddings are, essentially, all about family—about honoring the people who raised us and loved us, and stepping into and creating a new family. Inviting children is one way of stating that family is important to you. More important than minor disruptions, little details, and even, at times, your own private experience.
In the end, the joy of including others can outweigh a ‘perfect’ day that goes according to plan. A wedding could go flawlessly, according to schedule, without interruption… and yet leave you cold. Maybe weddings need the life and the liveliness that children provide. We all long for family, communion, belonging, and love, and children can provide us with all of these heart-warming, life-giving gifts.