Whenever wedding season rolls around, the issue of inviting children becomes a hot topic, with tons of opinions rolling around the internet. I've read a good number of both pro and con pieces, including an essay written last year on Refinery29 that convincingly argues against spending the entire ceremony holed up in the church lobby for fear your 1-year-old will become disruptive. And I've still concluded that children are more than welcome at our August wedding, including the tiny, rambunctious flower girl and ring bearer, both barely 3, who will most certainly need parental help getting down the aisle.
Because, you see, not all kids are unpredictable 1-year-olds who make it impossible for the parents to enjoy the grownup festivities. Very young babies, for instance, can be worn in a carrier and might just sleep through the whole event — so easy. Then, there are reasonably well-behaved 5-year-olds whom the parents might like to bring rather than shell out for a babysitter. There are 12-year-olds who might actually be excited to attend their first wedding and sulk if you decide to leave them at home (I was one once).
Some of my favourite wedding memories are kid-related, like getting pulled out on the dance floor by someone's 4-year-old, who got the party started well before any of the adults had nearly enough drinks to do the Electric Slide. This joy is pure. When was the last time you danced without being fuelled by alcohol or making when-is-Uber-going-to-get-here calculations in your head? I have a friend whose baby had been to five weddings by the time he was 6 months old, and when I see the photos of her, her husband, and their son hamming it up in a photo booth with their cowboy hats and moustaches, I think... How is this NOT the best way to have a wedding?!
I've had many a conversation with family members who don't agree with me. "It's inappropriate to have kids at an evening event like this," they argue. I don't understand this. What is inappropriate about a celebration that includes all generations? Why are we not treating children like...people? And, if we're going to be honest with ourselves, there are plenty of adults who act like children after a few signature cocktails.
Let the parents make the call. They know their children's proclivities for tantrums, or lack thereof — as well as their own chances of finding a babysitter — better than you. If you have major budget restrictions, perhaps having a child-free wedding is the way to go (though don't forget that adults make a much larger dent in the overall bottom line). But if you're planning not to invite kids because they are "annoying," maybe you're the annoying one, hmm?
If we're going to be honest with ourselves, there are plenty of adults who act like children after a few signature cocktails.
Speaking of annoying: "Kids are not suited to sitting still and watching a couple talk about being together for better or [worse]," writer Ellen Scott opines in an article on Metro U.K. "They don’t understand the significance of these big, grand vows, and they won’t appreciate all the emotions going down in the room."
I feel like this doesn't give kids enough credit. People don't magically sprout the ability to understand love when they turn 18; children are growing human beings, so there's nothing inappropriate about exposing them to the full range of emotions shared and enjoyed by other human beings, rather than being ostracised. Besides, they will be adults someday — adults who are part of your circle, whom you would want to have in your life.
Scott continues by saying that if she were getting married, she would only want people "who actually give a shit about my relationship to be in the room (or in the overgrown garden decorated with twinkling lights, whatever). People who might cry a little. People who are really glad to have been invited. Young children of my friends and family are not those people. They do not give a tiny shit about my love life."
I hate to burst your bubble, but do you really think your friends' random dates or your great-aunt you haven't seen in 10 years really give a shit about your love life? Or are some of the adults there because they feel a sense of obligation, or because people run to open bars like moths to a flame? Come on.
I've also had conversations throughout our wedding-planning process about ways to trim the guest list, and I would never consider not inviting the child of a close friend. If you're important to me, your offspring is important to me. You know who I would rather not have there? Some guy a distant "aunt" has been dating for three weeks. I have every doubt in that guy's ability to truly give a tiny shit about my love life.
Finally, Scott writes: "Having children at a wedding means that all the adults have to be on their best, kid-friendly behaviour, going light on the booze, skipping the sweary anecdotes, and always keeping an eye on your table while you’re dancing in case your child finishes their book and decides to knock over the cake."
So, I ask this writer, are weddings just a place to get drunk and tell dirty jokes then? Or is the point to celebrate your friends' new union? Which is it? Because a celebration of love is an all-ages kind of thing.