This is something we come across a LOT as wedding professionals, couples struggling whether to invite children, and it always comes with some contention. There are some couples who want everyone to share their day, others who want to invite some children but not others; and there are those who don’t want any kids there at all…but which category do you fit in to?

Child Free

The first thing you need to decide between you is if you actually WANT children at your wedding, no-one is going to judge you if you don’t…well some will, but you can’t please everyone. Let’s face it – weddings aren’t the best environments for children and, personally, I err on the side of no-children.

Weddings are boring for kids unless you cater for them with entertainment and food. An open bar doesn’t bother a five year old, but if they get bored you’ll know about it!

If you decide you don’t want children there, that’s perfectly fine as long as you make it perfectly clear. This means actually writing it on the invitation! Whether diplomatically “whilst we love little ones, we kindly request a child-free wedding” or bluntly “adults only”, just ensure there is no ambiguity. I know some of you may think only writing the adults names on the invite is enough, but it’s better to be clear from the start. It will potentially save you from awkwardness later.

Some – But Not All

If, however, you would like some children there but not all then you’re going to have to be more diplomatic. When it comes to their kids people can get defensive, especially if they feel singled out. You need to work out who you want there and who you don’t, and you need to be able to convey this clearly on invitations.

For instance, at my wedding I wanted my nieces and nephew there, but not all family/friends’ kids as most were under the age of 7 at the time. So, what did I do? I made my nieces and nephew part of the bridal party and put an age limit on the rest! We clearly stated on the invites “no children other than the wedding party” and added the symbol for no under 16’s. Simple.

Choosing to invite some, but not all, children will get people’s backs up; but hold firm – it’s your day and you are entitled to invite who you like!

If you fall into either of the first categories and don’t want to tell the parents that you simply don’t want their children there, you can always say there is an age or capacity limit at your venue and it’s out of your hands. Or you could say that it puts you over budget and make them feel a little awkward in return…

On the plus side, there will be some secretly praising you for a whole day and night without the kids so they can really let their hair down!

The More, The Merrier

On the other hand, if you would like to open your invitation list to all children then crack on! Just bear in mind that you will need to provide some sort of age-appropriate entertainment for them. Whether that’s giving them their own special favours that will keep them busy (books, games, bubbles etc) or going all out and hiring an actual crèche, you will need to do something. As well as factoring in kids prices for food and drink throughout the day, and ensuring your venue is child-friendly.

Keep Them Happy…

It is a long day and there are lots of boring parts in the eyes of children; ceremony, sitting down nicely, photos, speeches etc – so all routines for children go

 out of the window at weddings; to avoid boredom tantrums here are some ideas I have seen to keep the kids happy:

  • Hire a crèche company to look after all the children, all day! Normally, they use a signing in/out system so it’s safe if your venue isn’t exclusive, and they provide all toys, equipment and staff to keep little ones entertained. Perfect if you have lots of younger children on the invite list.
  • Keep costs down and create your own ‘kids corner’ – include colouring books, reading books, puzzles, small toys and some cushions to sit on.
  • If your venue has a side room and the kids are older, ask if you can turn it into a cinema/games room for them.
  • Providing each child with their own favour, tailored to what they like. I have witnessed that Lego and colouring books go down well!

Whatever you choose, just be clear on the invitations so that there are no assumptions one way or another; and stick to your decision once you have made it.