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For some brides a sudden burst of tearful protest from an infant is just a reminder of the familial love surrounding them on their special day. For others and their guests, even soft cooing from a baby is distracting and annoying. Your wedding guests want to hear the vows you and your new partner in life will recite on your wedding day, so what to do?
The decision whether to include children on wedding and reception guest lists is a tough one. Undoubtedly, you will offend someone with either way. Aside from disruption of the ceremony, children can also interfere with photographers and the wait staff at the reception. Indeed, some reception sites have restrictions regarding children in attendance. And let’s not forget that being stuffed into a tiny suit or itchy, flouncy dress and asked to behave like an adult for a full day is pure torture for antsy youngsters.
Therefore, if you are planning not to allow children on your guest list, let your guests know as soon as possible. So that this request isn’t interpreted as a statement that the bridal couple doesn’t like children, don’t make an announcement that children aren’t invited on the wedding invitation. A telephone call is more personal and a better opportunity to convey regrets that you are unable to accommodate little ones. You may also be able to offer suggestions or a solution.
Help for parents
First, remember the guest list is up to the bridal couple, not the guests. However, if a couple on your list RSVPs with names of uninvited children, approach the subject with understanding. Some parents may not have childcare options. The problem of allowing small children during the ceremony is easily solved if the church offers a separate area where families with little ones can observe services without disturbing others. Request that it be available for your wedding guests. Sometimes a close, experienced family friend will volunteer to babysit.
You can also offer a list of numbers for recommended baby-sitting services that you’ve personally reference-checked. Better yet, anticipate which guests might appreciate assistance with child care help for the day and look into sites (the church nursery, hotel, preschool or other) and qualified care givers (licensed, insured and bonded) who can care for and entertain children during the ceremony and reception.
Should you decide to have children at the reception, consider having a kids’ table with special decor, crayons, books, favors (no noisemakers) and pizza, chicken nuggets or spaghetti. Be sure the photographer gets pictures of this table early on. Consider hiring a nanny to watch over and help entertain them in a separate room with a clown, magician, puppeteer, games or videos. It’s ideal if the children can stay in one place from ceremony through reception. For such a long day, provide a place for very little ones to rest.
Still another option for children attending the reception is to have someone take them to a care giver’s home after dinner. The parents can pick them up or someone can return them to the reception at an agreed upon time.
Consider options carefully
If you aren’t going to hire a nanny or arrange to have children entertained, I urge you to reconsider inviting them to the reception. Halfway into the reception, adults tend to ignore rowdy behavior and it is unfair to everyone else for the children to be left to their own devices. After a period of time the boredom will lead to irritability or mischievous behavior.
Every couple grapples with this hot subject in the course of planning their wedding. It is an individual decision I encourage you to deal with directly. I wouldn’t kid you about that.
“Stress Free, Leave the Details to Me,” is the tried and true philosophy of Robbin Montero, California Wine Country wedding planning expert and owner of A Dream Wedding. Robbin is the premier wedding planner in the Northern California Wine Country, transforming any vision into the perfectly designed wedding creation. Robbin and her weddings have been featured in The Knot, Brides, Elite Magazine, Your Wedding Day and Vine Napa/Sonoma magazines, and ImportantOccasions.com. Travel & Leisure magazine calls Robbin, “The expert wedding planner in the California Wine Country.” www.a-dreamwedding.com
Robbin Montero is a wedding coordinator and special events planner in Northern California.©2006 Robbin Montero
This article cannot be reprinted without Robbin Montero’s expressed written permission.