I got married 15 years ago, before everyone and their mother seemed to have an opinion about every aspect of modern life thanks to social media. So decisions about what kind of wedding to have, what the décor would be, and who to invite were made through discussions with family and friends rather than scouring the internet for advice from strangers — which, sadly, is at least part of how I’d do it now, in all honesty.
We ended up having a very homegrown wedding. We rented a very simple hall, decorated it ourselves, and my amazing mother-in-law and aunt made a ton of food, enough for 200 people. My parents bought the desserts, the booze, and the flowers. My father-in-law set up a sound system which played CD mixes my husband and I made. Entertainment was supplied by our family and friends who are all talented singers and musicians.
The whole thing was done on the cheap and was a total blast.
And yes, kids were invited to our wedding. It was something I didn’t think twice about at the time. I certainly wasn’t having a black tie wedding. My husband’s youngest sister was 8 years old at the time and was obviously invited. My husband also had a million cousins, from the ages of 6 months to 16 years, and it didn’t even cross our minds not to invite them.
I didn’t think about any of this until I had kids of my own and started to get invited to weddings. Then, I began to notice whether or not kids were invited because sometimes it meant me going to the wedding or not. Was it too far away for me to leave my baby overnight? Could I afford a babysitter for that many hours? I’ve made it to most of the kid-free weddings I’ve been invited to over the years, but I’ve also had to miss a few.
Having had to deal with my own kids at big events, I totally get why people don’t want to invite kids to their weddings. Kids are loud and destructive. I took my 2-year-old to a wedding once (that he was invited to) and he ran up to a beautiful display of cupcakes and stuck his thumb and face directly into one before I could even get to him. The bride saw it and just laughed her face off, thankfully.
I think everyone should do what works for them when it comes to whether or not to invite kids to their big day. And if they decide on a no-kids rule, people with kids should make an effort to be there, sans kids.
But let me make a case for inviting kids to a wedding — and I’m not just pressing the case because taking my kids to a wedding is a whole lot more convenient for me. I’m saying this because having a huge swarm of kids at my own wedding was absolutely the best choice for me and was one of the most memorable aspects of our wedding day.
Our wedding was big, loud, and sometimes a little chaotic. A group of cousins did a dance performance to “Put a Smile On Your Face” that was darling and definitely a little bit awkward. I think a few babies made cooing sounds and cried some during our ceremony, but nothing that distracted us. I think most parents will just take their babies out of the room if they become disruptive at moments like this.
But the sounds and sights of kids made the wedding feel like home. It felt like family. And what strikes me looking back is that family, home, and kids were part of what marriage represented to my husband and me. Starting a family together and linking our families together — all of the parts of them, including the kids — was one of the reasons we got married, and why we brought everyone together to stand witness to our marriage.
Obviously, not all couples who get married set out to start families together, but even in those cases, the joining together of family and friends in the moment that the knot is tied is certainly part of the point of a wedding, in my view. And as loud and unpredictable as children can be, they absolutely symbolize family in all its glory.
So have your kid-free wedding if you choose to do so. I know it will be quiet and there will be a much lower likelihood of something breaking (unless someone gets totally drunk and trashes the place). But if you have an inkling to invite kids to your wedding, I don’t think you’ll regret it.
Kids add noise and mess to any event, but they also add wonder, light, and a lifetime of awesome memories.