Wondering how to decide if you should invite kids to your wedding? Read on.
One of the passionately debated topics when it comes to weddings is the question “should you invite kids to your wedding?” For some, the idea of bringing kids to a wedding evokes a fun, laid-back vibe to a wedding day. To others, they may see them as more of a distraction.
Maybe you’re wondering whether you’ll need to offer up a babysitter, if you should include them in the formalities of the day or perhaps you’re just on the fence entirely. I’m here to tell you that it absolutely doesn’t have to be an added stress to your planning!
Today, I’m going to talk about how age plays a big role in that decision, the ceremony-only option and how to keep them happy if you decide to invite them along to your big day. So if you’re wondering how to decide if you should invite kids to your wedding, read on!
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Should You Allow Children At Your Wedding?
As a photographer and father of 2, I know how much of an impact children can make at a wedding. It’s understandably a huge decision and one that’s often very difficult to make, especially if you don’t have kids of your own. It’s important that you choose what will work for you. There’s no right or wrong answer, it’s your day.
I'm want to outline my thoughts on children broken down into ages. This is from over 100 weddings photographed, many of them with children in it. I can hand on heart tell you that sometimes they can be a HUGE distraction, but they can otherwise be the perfect addition. Read on!
0 to 6 Months
A little child development refresher to start us off, particularly if you don't have any screaming bundles of joy yourself. 6 months of age is the recommended age to start introducing 'solids' or 'real food' to your child. Think babies with avocado all over their face as they explore the wonders of food! Prior to 6 months of age a baby is 100% reliant on either breast milk or formula.
If a child of this age is therefor exclusively breastfed, that will mean they have a complete reliance on mum. "But, can't they pump, hand off their little one to a grandparent and enjoy our wedding for a night?" Not always.
There's no black and white way to raise a child and some parents (I'll raise my hand for our family here) have never done a bottle. We haven't felt the need, my wife loves breastfeeding and fortunately has had the opportunity to do it exclusively and that works for us. The idea of pumping, storing and trialling bottles on our baby just doesn't interest us as a family.
I can almost guarantee that by deciding on a strict ‘no children policy,’ for your wedding, you’ll lose those guests in that situation or make it incredibly hard for them to make arrangements to have their baby cared for. There's often no rhyme or reason to feeding times at that stage too, particularly when they're a 'boobie monster'.
Other parents of children this age who have introduced formula or bottled breastmilk may be more inclined or happy to have someone else care for their child for a night, in which case they will hopefully still be able to join in the fun.
Will a child that age ruin my ceremony?
My honest thoughts are no. It’s worth mentioning that children at this age are the quietest out of the lot. Getting fed, or having a sleep, they’re satisfied. No need to put on any entertainment for this kid-friendly wedding! It's very unlikely a sleeping baby will wake up crying and they're 'generally' easier to keep satisfied. There is ALWAYS a chance that they will cry though. In which case they're an easy size to be whisked away, so yes, there is a chance of a little bit of a disruption there.
Will a child that age ruin my reception?
I'm quite a resounding no on this one. They'll be sitting in a pram, on a parents lap or a doting grandparent will dare not let them leave their hip. A child under 6 months is quite simply an extension of an adult at that age. They're not going to be running around and tripping anyone up, there's no need to organise activities and the parents will take full responsibility. I bet you wouldn't even notice they were there! Except if you want baby cuddles.
Oh, I'd always recommend hearing protection for a child this age too! I set of ear. muffs like these from New Junior will help to reduce any long term hearing damage
If the parents of that child are people you REALLY want at the wedding, speak with them directly. Ask them if they think they could organise a babysitter for the night, or another way you could work together that everyone is happy. If they are exclusively breastfed and the parents cannot see a way for it working you may be happy inviting them and you'll avoid the awkward (but my child couldn't come) because you spoke with everyone directly.
6 Months To 5 Years
Now we’re looking at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. The children who fall into this age category will often have a tendency to be loud, fidgety (a polite way of saying there’s no chance they’ll stay still!) and potentially difficult to control. From 6 months they're going to be eating (and making a mess), and generally from 12 months they'll be walking. A child this age required the most amount of 'man power' when it comes to supervision as they're not simply stuck to an adults hip.
Will they ruin my ceremony?
ahhhhhh..... It depends on what you mean ruin? Will they disrupt it? Quite likely. You're going to want some kind of distration (30-45 minutes is a long time for a child to sit still and concentrate on something that they'll find pretty boring). Iphone, Ipad, or some other entertainment will likely be a must. If you're going to invite them it'll be a good idea to nicely ask the parent to bring something.
In my experience, this is the age of children that will often not be invited to a wedding. Of course, it’s all down to you, but this is probably the age you’ll need to consider most carefully. There are also lots of positive reasons to have a child this age at your wedding. They are fun, they bring smiles to everyones faces, you'll have beautiful photos of them (something we truly never get enough of) and the memory of them being there.
There's one scenario in particular that I LOVE with children this age and that's if you're including them as a ring barer, page boy or flower girl. Pre-ceremony there is a natural sense of anxious anticipation. When you turn around and see a cute kid coming down the aisle, it's amazing how everyone relaxes, smiles, coos and simply melts at the sight of it. It makes for some beautiful memories and photos. The alternative at this point though is the child gets to the end of the row and freaks out..... They might runaway, or turn really shy. Believe it or not, this also makes your guests (and yourselves) more relaxed as everyone has a giggle or a laugh. Both are winners in my books!
My top tip is giving the groom (or the partner that's already down the aisle) a motivating toy to give to the young child. Tell them in advance that "john" has a toy car and he really wants to give it to you, you've just got to get to the end of the aisle first.
Will they ruin my reception?
Unlike a baby (under 6 months), you're going to notice they're there. They're likely going to be LOVING the dance floor, running outside, and generally having a great time (in their eyes). As I mentioned before, they'll certainly require a lot of supervision so they are likely to be more distracting for people.
I personally would choose not to invite them. It's a pretty easy age to have a babysitter organised and parents of children this age are likely looking for a nice night off! There is of course a massive consideration to be made if they're family members. If they are and you couldn't imagine your wedding without them, then add them to your guest list!
5 Years +
At this age, children are likely to generally behave and give you the time to enjoy those precious moments. Think about why you want that child at your wedding and you may have an easier time deciding. If you think that neither they nor the parents will have a good time, then things might be a little more clear-cut. If it would end up making your day more special, and you know they’d have fun, then absolutely invite them!
On the younger spectrum of this age they may still need something to entertain them during the ceremony, again sitting for 30 - 45 minutes is a long time for a kid. Being school age though has likely taught them some patience and how to sit and wait when asked.
If there are no other children the same age as them for them to play with, then they will likely get really bored. So you'll have to think about why you'd want them there. You'd probably find they're going to have a better time staying over at a friends house, or again, a babysitter and given access to Netflix for a night! (Best night EVER!).
Palming them off shouldn't be a problem and giving their parents a night off likely sounds pretty appealing.
The Ceremony Only Option
One alternative you might not have considered is inviting children to the ceremony only. That way, they’re a part of your special day and will also be a part of that memory for a lifetime. When the reception rolls around, they’ll stay back home or at the accommodation with someone. It might seem unusual, but it’s actually a fairly popular option I’ve seen a number of times.
Immediately after the ceremony is when we get family portraits done. You can then capture some gorgeous smiling faces (it CAN happen and i've got tricks up my sleeve for that!) then off they go, on to enjoy their night and you and your wedding guests can enjoy a kid free night away.
Tips For A Kid-Friendly Wedding
If you’ve decided that children will be invited to your wedding, it pays to make sure they’re as comfortable and happy as possible. By understanding how to manage children at weddings so both they and you have a great time, you can ensure it runs smoothly for everyone.
Music, dancing, singing and hundreds of voices can get incredibly loud. Constant exposure to such sounds risks causing hearing damage for the younger ones. As such, I’d recommend getting a set of headphones for them to wear during the reception even if it’s only for a few hours. That way they’ll be happier, the parents will be happier and so will you. And happiness is what we want on your wedding day!
Got more than a few children turning up? If it fits with the vision of your day, I would consider organising some sort of entertainment to keep the children happy. That way you can ensure they have great memories of your day too, and actually enjoy themselves rather than twiddle their thumbs.
While deciding on whether to invite children to your wedding is a big choice, like most things in wedding planning, the decision doesn’t have to be an added stress! By taking the points I’ve mentioned today into consideration, I’m sure you’ll be able to arrive at the decision that’s best for you. Need a hand? Or maybe even a photographer? Send me a message and I’ll help you out.