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Kids at Weddings: Yay or Nay?

Erin Zammett Ruddy

They look so cute running around in the mini suits and gowns but having little children at the big day can be a bit of a buzz kill, no? Especially if the kids in question are yours.

We didn’t have kids at our wedding. It started at 5 p.m. on a Saturday night and it went until 1 a.m. It was formal. We had 300 people and a kick-ass band and the last thing we needed were adorable little kids taking up any space on the dance floor. Or worse, adorable little kids having temper tantrums because they were tired or hungry or jacked up on Shirley Temples. We had a ring bearer (my nephew, Andrew) and a flower girl (my cousin’s daughter) and after their duties were complete and their photos snapped, they went home to babysitters. (Yes, they got plenty of snacks and hugs and gifts and special attention before they were sent packing.)

For me it was never a question. But then again, I’m kind of a stickler for adult-only time. And, like I said, I had a very adults-only type of wedding. Sure, the idea of gorgeous little kids twirling around in delight, skipping from table to table, passing out in the tux-clad father’s arms is very Martha Stewart Weddings, but those kids still need their butts wiped and their shoes tied and their chicken fingers cut up and someone has to do it. Even when you hire a babysitter to wrangle the kids (like we did at my sister, Meghan’s, wedding*), they still know you’re there. And you know they’re there. You never get to fully go off duty and if I’m at a wedding, I like to be off duty. And if my friends or family with children are at my wedding, I’d want the same for them. Maybe it's selfish because I think the attention should be on the bride and groom and the festivities and the efforts put into that day to make is extra special.

But I also think it all depends on the time and place of the wedding, too. And what kind of vibe you’re going for. And, perhaps most important, the age of the children in question. A few weeks ago my younger cousin got married on a Sunday afternoon. She invited the cousins with young kids to bring them to the festivities, which I thought was a nice gesture. Melissa and I chose to bring only our older two—Andrew and Alex—because, well, we wanted to be able to enjoy the day and celebrate my cousin and not get caught up in parenting. It was a beautiful wedding and having Alex there made it so much more fun—especially since Nick doesn’t like to dance and Alex does. He knew it was special for him to be there and he was so well behaved. He loved the massive amounts of fancy cocktail-hour food (and the Shirley Temple I let him order) and he danced his little butt off. But Nick and I were very aware of not letting him get too carried away—making sure he stayed silent during speeches, making sure he didn’t dance into too many adults, making sure the spotlight stayed where it should—on the bride and groom.

I know a few people planning weddings right now trying to figure out whether to have kids and, if they decide not to, how to delicately tell people to leave their spawn at home. I know some people get offended when their kids aren’t invited to weddings. And some people get confused and show up with babies, anyway. I think it completely depends on the type of wedding you’re having but that said, even if you’re doing it at noon in a field with paper plates and napkins, if you don’t want kids there, you don’t have to have them there. Right? And if you're going black-tie swank and you do want kids there, that's your call too. 

So, did you have kids at your wedding? Do you like being invited to weddings with kids? Would love to hear your thoughts!