BRIDES and grooms to be, admit it, how many of you would like to have a 'No Children Allowed' rule at your wedding but do not know how to approach such a touchy issue or if it is in good taste to do so?
Martha Stewart says "it is appropriate to not invite children, especially if the wedding is in the evening or is very formal."
So how do you express to your guests that children are not allowed?
Invitation etiquette suggests that if you are inviting a child/children, the envelope should have the parents' names "and family" or the child(ren)'s name(s) listed - unless, of course, the child is over 18, in which case, he or she should receive a separate invitation. As such, if Mr. & Mrs. Mendez have kids but the invitation is only addressed to "Mr. & Mrs. Mendez" this should be their first indicator that their kids are not invited.
However, we know that here in Trinidad and Tobago, some people may not be familiar with invitation etiquette or simply pay no attention to it. So the next step would be to give the guests who have children a call personally, after the invitations have been sent out and explain to them that the wedding is not 'child friendly'. The sooner the better to make this dreaded call. As it should be before your guest calls to RSVP for his contingent of 5 and you then have to break the news that only him and his spouse are invited. Also, earlier forewarning would allow guests to make appropriate babysitting arrangements.
Remember you must set a standard across the board, as you cannot invite some children and not others, to avoid your guests from thinking "why wasn't our child invited?” Exceptions to the rule are of course, if the kids are part of the bridal party or are immediate family member to the bride or groom.
What to consider:
Overseas guests – Do not forget about your family or friends who may be coming from abroad to be a part of your special day. They may probably want to make a family vacation out of it. In this case it might be difficult to ask them to travel for a few days without their kids.
New mothers - To ask a new mom to be away from their baby for almost half of the day would be difficult especially if the baby is still nursing.
Activities for kids
To those of you who will not mind having young ones at your big day, here are some things you can consider to keep them out of trouble or to make the day more fun for them.
- Have a kids table, preferably at the back of the room, where all kids can sit together and do fun activities. Download this Printable Wedding Activity Book for Children HERE. Have older teenagers or a young adult, manage the younger ones and ensure that everything remains under control to not disrupt the proceedings of the wedding. This will be more appropriate for children over age 5.
- Kids get bored easily. Give children a role at the reception by handing out programmes, walking around with the guest book or even handing out wedding tokens with the bride and groom to keep them occupied.
- Arrange a sitter. Contact a reliable childcare provider who can watch the kids in another room and do various activities like watch movies, do arts and craft or play board games while the wedding is going on. That way, the parents can enjoy the wedding and the kids can have fun with other children and will not be too bored waiting for the wedding to be over.
- Prepare a Kids' goodie bag with various items for them to use throughout the day such as crayons, play doh or puzzles.
Adapted from Marriage & Bliss Issue 11