What should we do about the kids?

It’s Wednesday!  For those of you who aren’t aware, Wednesdays are Kids Day here in France.  Children don’t have school and most parents take the day off to run their children back and forth to their different activities.  I myself currently handle the Parent Association, music lessons and soccer practice on Wednesdays…a light load!

So what about kids at weddings? Should you include children in your wedding invites? How should you handle the “child” question for your wedding.

Today I’m going to share some advice and experience to help you determine what’s best for you and what is important to consider when making this very important decision!

Deciding whether to include children in the wedding invitation can prove to be a real challenge for some couples - and a challenge for their guests with children.  In my experience, I have come across two types of couples.  You most likely fall into the “Of course guests can bring their children” category or the “No snot-faces at my wedding!” category.  Of course the later example doesn’t actually say “snot faces” but I’m a mind reader J 

 I’d like to share my advice as a wedding planner that handles this sensitive subject for almost every wedding I plan.  You’ll see that I’ don’t have a staunch yes or no stance on the subject.  As I mentioned, I have children myself but LOVE leaving them with someone else so that I can really enjoy myself when I’m invited. 

I prefer to focus on the balance of what’s you prefer and what makes your guests most comfortable…

“I’d love to have all the children, but there are almost 40 of them!”

Some couples have huge families or are older and all their friends have children.  They would love to invite all the children, but it is logistically very difficult requiring multiple babysitters, sometimes a separate room, separate dinners, etc. 

In this case, I advise couples to be honest with their guests.  Say “Hey, I’d love for all the kids to be there, but it’s just not going to be possible.  Do you think you could have someone watch your kids?  It would really help.”  Parents can empathize with this, understand and make the best efforts to have their children looked after.  I would grab the opportunity – to do a favor of course J Most importantly, you’re not giving them an upfront ultimatum or restriction.  You’re saying that you prefer to limit the number of children, but leaving the door open if they are unable or uneasy with finding an alternative solution. 

“We’re okay with our guests bringing children, but we REALLY don’t want to see them!”

Ok.  I understand, kids crying during the ceremony, running around at cocktail hour – not everyone’s cup of tea.  The miracle solution here is – BABYSITTER. Hiring babysitters is not only ideal for you but generally a HUGE relief for parents.  Most parents are happy to leave their children with a babysitter who is onsite.  This REASSURES parents.  All parents are different; some are more comfortable than others leaving their children.  It’s important to take this into account.  It’s part of ensuring “guest comfort”.  If you’re worried about what chairs they will be comfortable sitting on for 2 hours, you should also be taking into consideration how they feel about dealing with their little one at your wedding. 

You may have that friend that you know will go check on his/her child 5 times, but it’s important to accept that – the alternative may have been that they didn’t come at all…

   ​​​​“Absolutely no children at the wedding.  Period.”

If you do not want children at your wedding – no exceptions, you need to state that very clearly from the beginning.  You can think of a nice way to say it, but it’s important that the information be very clear and direct from the start – leaving no room for misinterpretation.   In my experience, parents DO NOT like this approach, no matter how much you sugarcoat it, but it’s important to explain your reasoning and be honest with them as well, no matter what the reason.  You also have to be prepared to accept that your guest may indeed decline the invitation because he/she cannot or will not leave their child.

I’ve only ever had this experience 1 or 2 times.  In the best case scenario, the guests brought their child for the weekend, and we outsourced a babysitter to go to their hotel – everyone was happy. 

In the worst case scenarios guests outright decline the invitation because the conditions did not suit them.  I have had weddings where important immediate family members not attend the wedding for this reason.  It’s an important decision that needs to be made and both parties need to be honest and choose the option that is most comfortable for them.

Whatever my couples’ choice, I’m here to guide them through the appropriate process to follow.  When couples absolutely refuse children, I remind them that their guests might not come and have them reflect on that possibility.  I also advise on how to break the news nicely or the alternatives that I can provide directly to the guest.

For couples that are in the other categories that accept children either openly or under certain conditions, I ensure that couples needs are met as well as parents.  I offer the possibility of an open and direct line of communication with parents to explain exactly what they should expect from the babysitting service.  This is reassuring, especially since they are leaving their children in another country.   

Ensuring guest comfort is a thread throughout the entire planning process – and more so for destination weddings where guest are investing time and money to celebrate your big day.  My advice is to be as fair and respectful as possible.  Your wedding day is of course about you, but it’s about those that support and surround you on this very special occasion.