AOW A-Z Of Getting Married – K is for Kids

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K is for Kids by Roz

I’ve found when it comes to discussing the subject of kids at weddings people tend to have an opinion on the matter, either feeling strongly that children should be part of the big day or that they should not, no sitting on the fence with this one.  Clearly people have their own reasons for why they feel like this but for those of you thinking about this issue at the moment I wanted to share my thoughts.

Images in this post by the wonderful Lucy Stendall, except the final two.

Perhaps I should start by letting you know that we decided our wedding would be an adults only affair.  I’m pretty sure that we decided this before we even started looking at venues, but once we found our venue this decision was cemented due to the nature of the venue and its capacity.  There could be a number of you reading this thinking that you would never pick a venue that meant you could not include family or friends children and that’s fine but for us there were not many youngsters in either mine of the boy’s immediate family and we were happy at the thought of an adult only celebration.

Whilst ourselves and the majority of our family were going to be unaffected by a no kids policy, the same could not be said for our friends.  One group of friends alone, 5 couples, have 10 children between them and in all honestly we didn’t really want so many kids running about and needing to be entertained, fed etc.  So how did this go down with them?  The answer is surprisingly well!  As soon as we decided that we would not be inviting children, we spoke to our friends in person to explain that we wanted them there to share our day with us but that we were planning on only inviting them and not their children.  I’m pretty sure we used the age old ‘that means you can let your hair down / have a few drinks / not need to leave early / put the kids first’ chat when we first brought it up.

None of my friends had an issue with this.  Maybe my friends are just ace?  But actually I think they all appreciated me discussing it with them and not simply receiving an invite addressed to the adults (with no mention of the kids) and just a paragraph in the additional information explaining that there would be no children invited.  These were discussions that we had early on, to give our friends a number of months to plan the logistics of attending our wedding and sorting out babysitters.  I should point out that the majority of our friends with kids travelled from the Southampton area to Glasgow for our wedding, so had to arrange childcare for a whole weekend.  We will be forever grateful that they all understood and all came to share our day with us.  We did not have a single friend who voiced a concern or asked if we would change our mind.  If you are challenged by someone and they don’t see things from your point of view then I guess it comes down to whether you are happy for that individual to bring their kid/s or you to stick to your guns and they may decline your invite to the wedding.  We still have no children of our own but in the future if we do and they are not invited to a wedding I hope I will respect the bride and groom’s decision they way our wonderful guests did.

So clearly there were no kids at our wedding?  Erm no!  My bridesmaid had her first baby Jessica about 10 months before our wedding and she was guest star at our wedding as our almost flower girl.  I say almost as she couldn’t actually walk at 10 months let alone scatter petals, but she did look exceptionally cute in a purple dress to match her mum.  Clearly given the part Clare was playing in our day and how young Jess was at the time of the wedding we didn’t even consider her not being there.

Super-hot Roz and the adorable Jessica

I also became an auntie for the first time 3 months before the wedding!  And despite my mum already telling my brother that kids were banned from the wedding(!) we would happily have had him there but his dad and mum were quite happy to spend the day celebrating with us, having a few drinks and a long lie without him the next day.

Gorgeous wee Jessica.

If you are planning a day that involves a number of children then I think it is important that you think about what the day will be like from their perspective.  Let’s be honest, weddings can be tiring days even for us adults!  The service itself can be challenge for younger ones, with most of them keen to run about and let off some steam afterwards (especially if they’ve been told to sit still or shhhhhhh! repeatedly through out the service), potentially this will be when you are having photos done, so knowing in advance where the kids will go to play might help your ushers locate them and their parents for any required for pictures.  To prevent too much boredom during the day try and provide some games or activities, these don’t need to be expensive or fancy.  I’ve seen some great goodie bags made up for kids at their tables which included bubbles, paper aeroplanes, masks etc.  I also think it’s a lovely idea to provide a blank card and some crayons and ask the little ones to make the bride and groom a card, providing not only some quiet time but a lovely keepsake (perhaps save this for during the speeches?).  Or if you are having a photo booth, perhaps include some kid-sized / friendly props so that they can have a bit of fun too and you don’t need to worry about the adult props being too big or getting broken.

In conclusion, I think the key is to decide early on if you want your day to include children and if so make sure you plan certain aspects of the day to include your child guests and make it fun for them too.

Categories: A-Z of Getting Married
33 interesting thoughts on this


  1. Zan
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:48 am | Permalink

    Yay – was hoping for a post on this. This is a discussion we had very early on. Both me and the Mr are old enough that most of our friends are married with children, usually more than 1. So to invite all of them would significantly increase the size of our guestlist. After a lot of thought and discussion with some of my friends (and taking into consideration the type of venue and the lateness of our ceremony), we decided to opt for children from the family and bridal party only, with exceptions for two friends who will have very small babies at the time of the wedding.

    It’s actually gone down quite well – most people have been pleased to have an excuse for a weekend away from the kids! We deliberately (as you did Roz) let people know well in advance to give them time to plan childcare etc.

    I guess we’re lucky, a friend of mine who married last year and requested no children at the wedding (for cost reasons and also the venue wasn’t really suitable) had quite a few complaints. It’s such a personal decision and while I can understand why some people would find it awkward to attend a wedding without their children but she did get a really hard time from some. Which was very unfair I thought.

  2. Cheri
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 8:55 am | Permalink

    We decided at first to have no children at all, and ended up with 25! We couldnt invite his family from up country and tell them not to bring the children as all the babysitters would also be at the wedding, an I couldnt imagine not inviting my cousins children as they are part of the family. We did tell some close friends at the beginning that we werent having children at the wedding and they all replied with ‘We wouldnt want to bring them anyway, its a chance for us to have a day off!’ In the end the children we fantastic, they bought real fun and innocence to the day, and I dont think it would have been the same without them.

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:44 am | Permalink

      We had a similar thing. M;s brother and his wife were very keen for a weekend in London with no kids, but my cousins children on my Mum’s side came as their babysitters were in London with my cousins. They were ace though, rnadom hugs from my seven year old second cousin throughout the day were ace, as was seeing a toddler in a kilt running across the dancefloor.

  3. Becca
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:06 am | Permalink

    I guess we’ve compromised.

    Whilst our friends would maybe have been OK without travelling with babies, one side of my family made it perfectly clear (to put it bluntly) that it was expected children would attend. Its not nice to hear “congratulations on getting engaged….don’t you hate the idea of weddings that don’t have children at’ll invite them obviously”. It was that blunt. Our response was a firm “thank you but we need to discuss it together”.

    In the end we discussed it and decided that children could attend. So solved my pet hate of running children up and down the aisle and screaming through the ceremony by hiring a creche for 2 or so hours over the ceremony and part of the drinks reception. We are lucky that our venue has the space to have them in the old stables adjoining the house. For dinner, we’re hitting up our local toy library to hire in some toys for the corner of the marquee. I’d totally recommend this….50p to hire a mat and those dinky cars for the week? Yes thanks!. My aunt also runs a playgroup and is volunteering some of their toys.

    We’ve asked that local guests (outside of family) don’t bring children under 12 months because they can’t be looked after by the creche. We don’t feel comfortable asking close friends travelling from Scotland and Bristol to not bring their tiny babies for a whole weekend. The quotes we received (all the same staffing levels) ranged from £150 to £700 (yes really….). We found a local creche that had just started to offer the service and hadn’t cottoned on to the fact that, as it involves weddings, they are able to quadruple their prices. So obviously we booked them.

    Most people have been OK but there have been a few raised eyebrows, mainly from people who didn’t have children at their own wedding but now that they have children, are really precious about it. I had thought they would understand!

    • Becca
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:09 am | Permalink

      I should add that we have TWENTY FIVE children. In for a penny….

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:52 am | Permalink

      Totally stealing the idea of a toy corner! Job for my mum me thinks.

  4. Carly
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    We’re the same as Zan. No kids except family and bridal party. So many of our friends are excited at the thought of an evening away where they can let their hair down.

    I had a conversation with a colleague last month who was going to be a best man that weekend. I asked him if his wife was looking forward to it and he told me that it was just him going. He explained that this wedding was adults only an as they’ve got three kids they thought f**k them and decided that only he would attend. He then launched into a rant about people who don’t invite children to weddings, only pausing for breath at the end to ask what we had decided! I know it’s mean but I took quite a lot of pleasure in telling him that we were also not having many children. It didn’t really bother me as I’m not his biggest fan but I felt really sorry for the couple he was being best man for – how rude!


  5. Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Interesting opinions and strategies here… We are only 22 and none of our friends or other members of our family have children (the youngest being my 15-year-old cousin) so this was really a non-issue for us.

    However I do find it interesting that so many of you have made a compromise with inviting only some children. I would have thought this would go down badly/people would think it unfair? I suppose you all must have super awesome friends!

    • Zan
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:51 am | Permalink

      Maybe we do! :) I think most people are aware enough to know that children count as a head when looking at capacity for weddings and that means also paying out (sometimes the full cost of an adult meal) for them too. It’s not always just about cost,but it was a factor for us – if we’d invited our friends’s kids, that would be another 25-30 on the guestlist, so that many extra meals, ways to entertain that many kids (most are under 10) etc. We’re not in the kind of venue where you can set up a creche or playroom.

      I admit we did umm and ahh about various ways of ‘where to draw the line’ and decided our way was fairest for our families and friends. Most of the Mr’s family are travelling from Ireland, which was also a big deciding factor.

  6. Fee
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 9:44 am | Permalink

    We had only immediate family children and young babies at our wedding also – it is one of the very trickiest things about weddings I often find. Everyone has an opinion and mine was that I didn’t want to have to exclude adult friends (we had space issues) in order to invite children (who would all have been 3 or under) who wouldn’t care that much if they were there or not.

    Plus, none of our friends wanted to bring their children so it all became moot (drunken revellers that they are!).

    Just to confuse things, I’m not sure how i feel about parents being asked not to bring very young babies as according to friends of mine, breastfeeding is kind of a tricky obstacle to negotiate!

    • Roz
      Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:35 am | Permalink

      Totally agree with your last point, I had a friend who was best man at a wedding and was told that his week old son was not welcome.

      Do any of you remember weddings you attended when you were a child?

      • Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:31 am | Permalink

        Oh yes a family wedding when we were five. It was very hot & I vaguely remember the synagogue but nothing else. My grandmother made our outfits & the photo of us is lovely & probably is what I remember most.

      • Zan
        Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:49 pm | Permalink

        I remember a couple – well what I remember is being very dressed up and being a bit uncomfortable about it, not really understanding what’s going on and being a bit bored. Also wondering why the bride was crying (because that’s what you do at Asian weddings – cry!) and why everyone was pinching my cheeks :)

        • Roz
          Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          I’m not sure if I remember the weddings I attended as a child or not, only really remembering the bits in the photographs! I do remember being a young teenager at weddings and feeling very awkward when adults wanted to dance with me :D

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:47 am | Permalink

      Absolutely Fee – totally agree on that last point.

  7. Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:10 am | Permalink

    We aren’t having any kids come to ours, it was something I didn’t want from the start and as only one set of friends has kids at the moment and the only others who would possibly come are my cousins kids that I barely know it doesn’t seem unreasonable. My Dad is telling the cousins and our friends have already organised a babysitter and are looking forward to the night off. I wonder if it would be different if we were at the stage in life where lots of friends had little ones.

    I also really really hope when it is our turn to have kids I will be understanding on the issue.


  8. Lynsey
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:36 am | Permalink

    I have to say I’m really looking forward to our friends bringing their kids to our wedding – though there will only be 2 babies (both under 6 months) and a toddler, so I’m not having to negotiate meals and seating plans to accommodate them. I just think they will be really cute, and I’m secretly hoping one will be giving me a horse shoe – I love seeing that at weddings. I’m possibly just being a sap though, and I’m sure I would have other thoughts on the matter if I had to contend with a herd of screaming children :) x

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:53 am | Permalink

      At my friends wedding last year one wee boy (about 3-4) piped up with “Mum, Mum look a Princess”!! So cute and what an ego boost!! xox

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:50 am | Permalink

      All the kids at our wedding gave us horse shoes – as they were all from the same part of the family I think it was agreed in advance (all were my Aunt and Uncle’s grandkids) – it was so sweet but as neither of us had seen it in the past we were really overwhelmed, also one of the twins did NOT want to give us the horse shoe as she had decided it was hers!

  9. Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:48 am | Permalink

    We’re having quite a lot of kiddies to ours. There are my 2 young cousins who are my flower girls, a group of tweens/teens who are kids of one of James’s colleagues and a whole bunch of friends kids aged 0-7. As we’re just big kids ourselves we were never going to have a sophisticated ‘do’!

  10. Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:51 am | Permalink

    I loved having children at our wedding. We invited all our guests children – if someone is close enough to you for you to invite them as a guest, then surely they’re close enough to you for you to want their children to be there too? I hate the idea if exclusivity but I do understand that often budgets can’t stretch to loads of kids etc etc – we were lucky as our wedding was cheap so whether the children came or not it made very little impact. In the end we had a kids table complete with party bags and a kids menu – great fun!

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

      PARTY BAGS! Yes, we did those but they are so HARD to do fcheaply for kids under three. Fortunatly my sister found a three for two on plush toys at the Disney Store…

  11. Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Ps. Great post Roz!

  12. Posted October 31, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

    Great post. We didn’t even have a conversation on kids, so I guess we are lucky. We don’t have any, are the first (and oldest) of all our friends to get married and so they don’t earlier, and all our family had their children years ago. I would say the youngest in attendance is about 18/19.

    I think that there is no wrong or right answer, you have to go with what is right for you and your guests. As you say, I’m sure some guests are grateful to live littlies with a sitter for a night of letting their hair down, but then others with tinies wouldn’t be so keen. You can only really know by talking to people and not making assumptions/dictating to people!


  13. Posted October 31, 2012 at 11:28 am | Permalink

    We counted that if we’d invited all the children there would have been 77! We spoke to friends before hand & also shared this information in our wedding details. My niece & nephew were there, cousins children & one six week old. In someways being a teacher meant that I really didn’t want our wedding day full of lots of children, & knew I’d have had to really control myself not to turn round and give a look if there were noises during the ceremony. We had a blanket & large whicker basket with games, bubbles & disposable cameras for the reception. One of the loveliest memories is of my nephew falling asleep in the corner at the end.

  14. Katielase
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    Great post! We had kids at our wedding, it was never actually an issue we discussed, within our families there were 10 kids already, none of whom could have reasonably been excluded. So we figured 20 kids running around is much the same as 10, when it comes down to it, and invited all the kids. I loved it, but our day was always intended to be highly relaxed and chaotic, and many of the moments with the various children actually made my day (favourites = my 5 and 10 yo cousins dancing to I’m Sexy and I Know It, which remains the funniest thing I have seen ever, and the adorable daughter of Gareth’s friend who genuinely believed I was a fairytale princess and even now refers to me as Princess Katie and writes me letters, which are too cute).

    In terms of activities, most kids just need other kids and a bit of space and are happy to entertain themselves (have some immense photos of a small tribe of children using one adult as a human climbing frame), but we did also have a drawing table, which cost us about £10 altogether from Wilkos, kept many children (and, okay, adults) happy and resulted in a lot of drawings of me failing to throw my bouquet (the kids found that part of the day highly amusing).

    One main other thing I would recommend considering if you have kids coming… the timings of the food. Kids get cranky when they’re hungry (actually, so do I), so we made sure we had food spaced out throughout the day to keep little tummies as full as necessary. Obviously parents are likely to bring their own supplies, but it’s nice for them to feel that the kids have been considered. For us, at least, the kids were as important guests as their parents were, so their needs were important too.

    K x

  15. Pickle
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    I’m with Lynsey and Frankie – we both loved having kids at our wedding to the extent that we were (a bit) disappointed when one friend decided to leave hers at home to enjoy a night off! We didn’t have vast numbers of kids though (under 10 of them) and there was loads of space for kids to run around/play with the dogs/have a snooze etc.

    We completely failed to think about high-chairs (if you’re having kids do think about this one) so the parents had to improvise seating to prop them all up; food was also served a little too late for some of the younger guests and we failed to provide any games but it worked out fine…

  16. Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    This is a great post about a sometimes tricky subject.
    We invited children to our wedding last year and ended up with about 7 altogether, all family as our friends preferred to come without their kids and party the night away.
    I had originally placed the kids at the tables with their parents but our caterer suggested having a smaller children’s table and serving their food earlier which worked out really well (they also had a simpler meal then the adults without all the sauces etc). To keep them busy I went to the local 2€ shop and bought about 50€ worth of toys, games, stickers, crayons and bubble wands which kept them going all night inbetween dancing with us and making glo-stick bracelets for themselves! We also got some lovely drawings of the wedding which they gave to us during the evening and some fantastic photos of them playing with their giant bubble wands in the sunshine outside! :)

  17. Lara Blue
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 1:09 pm | Permalink

    This is great thanks Roz, I like all the comments that it has inspired too.
    At our wedding, We viewed kids the same as partners- if we knew them then they were invited unless it wasn’t necessary (e.g. older children away at University) or desired by the primary guest. For instance, a close friend had an 18 month old daughter but when I asked if she wanted her daughter there, she said that it would be less stressful to come without her.
    We ended up with my niece (3 and a half), nephew (10 months) and cousins (ages 11-18) for the day. The youngest cousin did insist that I was a beautiful Princess all day as well as calling me “Queen of the World” which was pretty cute. Apparently my niece started singing Twinkle Twinkle during the ceremony but I didn’t notice as she was doing it quietly and my sister managed to distract her fairly quickly.
    The only issue we had was that some people couldn’t come to the evening reception due to having toddlers and not wanting to get babysitters. But they knew that they had been invited and were welcome which was the important thing.
    As with any slightly contentious issue, I think the best approach is to discuss your reasons with the people involved (where appropriate) beforehand as this generally results in them being more understanding and you feeling more comfortable as well. :)

  18. Frances
    Posted October 31, 2012 at 2:28 pm | Permalink

    A really interesting post and a great range of viewpoints in the comments too – thank you.

    We are planning on having children but this is mainly because there will only be about 5 and they are mostly all children of family and close friends. We might think differently if there were 25 involved!
    It is important to us though that we make their parents’ lives easy in terms of entertainment, food, seating etc – does anyone have any suggestions for entertaining 1-2 year olds, e.g. toys, games etc?

    • Posted October 31, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Hi Frances! My main advice on entertaining 1-2 year olds is seating them and their parents at a table with guests who love children (someone like me!) That makes parents lives easier so they have people helping entertain the kids – and at that age parents will prob bring toys/books for them but they need constant interaction so yeah just child-friendly fellow guests really.

      • Frances
        Posted November 1, 2012 at 8:57 am | Permalink

        Great idea Frankie, thank you! We haven’t got as far as seating arrangements yet so child-friendly table neighbours hadn’t even crossed my mind but will definitely bear that in mind. Who knew there was so much to think about!

  19. Lucy
    Posted November 2, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Great post! We decided early on that we didn’t want kids at out wedding. Fortunately most of our friends have already said how much they’re looking forward to a night off.

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