Whether or not to invite kids to your wedding is one of those polarizing First World problems that can end friendships, divide families, and ratchet up couples therapy bills. Your time can be better spent deciding what desserts will be at the Viennese table or which Billy Joel song will be your first dance. There’s really no need to get defensive about the whole kid thing.
We can only invite a certain number of people.
The caterer doesn’t have chicken nuggets.
It’s a late ceremony.
We think kids are spawns of Satan.
Let me stop you right there. There seems to be a common misconception that I want to spend every waking moment with my children (probably because I spend every waking moment with my children). Don’t tell me why my kids aren’t invited to your wedding; just don’t invite them. It will be magical. Here’s why:
It’s your day. If you want circles of doves, bridesmaids wearing Indonesian tapestries or the Electric Slide, do it. Who am I to dictate what your special day looks like? Kids create a certain, shall I say, atmosphere that is not everyone’s cup of tea. I completely understand if you want the joyous union between two adults to be an adult-only affair.
I get a rare night out. You are literally forcing me to leave my house, put on an expensive dress I’ll only wear once, dance with my husband, and socialize the night away. This hasn’t happened since my own wedding.
I don’t want them to upstage you. I’m not going to lie; my 3-year-old looks smashing in tulle and sequins. Plus, she’s a boss at throwing things on the floor, so tossing petals down the aisle will be a snap. Once we curl her hair, put her in matching bejeweled shoes, and turn her loose on the dance floor, all eyes and cameras will be on her. I mean, you. It’s totally your day.
My kids don’t want to be there either. It combines all the fun of sitting still, being quiet, and not undressing in public. What kid wouldn’t love that? I’ve been to an occasional wedding where I’ve seen kids having a blast, boogie-oogie-ing up a storm, twirling in circles. But most of the time, I see them sitting in the coat room, looking surly while playing Angry Birds on their parents’ phones.
Nobody really wants to supervise them. Relatives love to tell us: “Bring Junior, we will totally entertain him during cocktail hour,” or “I can’t wait to dance with little Nancy.” Next thing we know, the bar opens, and everyone scatters to chase down the server with the mini-hot-dog tray. Friends and family always swear they’ll help us out, but really, no one wants to babysit my kids at a wedding. Everyone is too busy having fun. It’s impossible to hold a writhing toddler and a whiskey sour at the same time; one of them always falls. And those kids always eat all my mini hot dogs.
It’ll keep your guest list in check. At this point in our lives, a lot of us have children—many, many children. If you let us each bring a “plus-4,” your head count will spiral out of control, fast. The dance floor will begin to resemble the ball pit at Chuck E. Cheese’s, and forget about being able to hear the vows over the cacophony of little voices asking if it’s “almost up to the food part”—not that my kids will eat any of their $100-a-plate dinner anyway.
You will save a ton of money for me. Forget my own dress, hair and makeup; now my 3-year-old needs an outfit, matching shoes, hair accessories and jewelry. We need to pack crayons, coloring books, toys, an alternate meal (the infant isn’t into prime rib these days) and a larger hotel room. And I suppose we should probably give a nicer gift.
Mommy needs a drink. I’m not a raging boozer, but I do enjoy imbibing the odd glass of wine, or six, at a wedding. Hey, it’s celebratory! Nothing kills a buzz faster than having to be responsible for the welfare and safety of small children in a room filled with innumerable safety hazards. I also have no desire to explain to them why Mommy has a lazy eye and “New Year’s breath.”
My children have no plans to reciprocate. There is a strong likelihood that my daughter will not invite you to her 4th birthday party—something about “limited space in the bouncy house” and “pizza only serves eight.” Since no invitation is forthcoming, feel free to save the space at your wedding for your mom’s second cousins or that co-worker whose wedding you were B-listed to. Everyone will have a much better time.