Wedding Etiquette Forum
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Unavoidable kids...

I've never been too keen on the thought of having kids at my wedding (other than those that are in the bridal party, or are children of bridal party members), but it's become pretty unavoidable, and I've come to terms with it.  Many of my cousins have kids that will be attending, and whenever they get together are completely out of control.  One cousin, in particular has 4 kids, 3 of which are under 7 and don't behave well in public.  

Is it acceptable to put on our wedding website that we would appreciate if everyone could keep their kids under control during the ceremony?  Obviously, worded nicely and assuming everyone visits the site.  We plan on having a quick ceremony, probably no more than 15 minutes.  I'd like to think this is an acceptable amount of time for kids to sit still and behave, but I'm worried that won't happen. 

I know it's popular to have a child-free ceremony and only invite them to the reception, but I really want my cousins at the ceremony as well.  Some of my older cousins have kids that are in high school and are plenty capable of looking after the younger ones, but they're pretty immature and I don't see that working out.

Any advice?

Re: Unavoidable kids...

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    There is no nice way to say that. It's implied at a wedding ceremony. Sorry.

    It definitely is possible to have an adults only except bridal party children, and your cousins would just have to deal with it. Why are you so sure it's impossible?
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    Previously Alaynajuliana


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    It's actually not acceptable to invite them to just the reception. They are still guests. It's rude to basically tell a guest "You can come celebrate me and possibly give me a gift later, but you can't come to the reason you're celebrating in the first place."

    And putting on your website that the children need to behave is insulting to the parents that are smart enough to already know that.
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    Putting something like that on a website comes across as controlling or sanctimonious or some other bad adjective and I KNOW that isn't your intentions, so please don't do that.

    As far as I'm aware, it's not universally popular to invite children to only a portion of the wedding. I mean, I know they're just kids but they're guests and should be invited to both, along with all the other guests. Not to mention it's annoying for the parents to have to go and get them or to have them dropped off or what ever.

    What you need is a plan. Is there someone at the venue that can play Mean Cop to the parents if the kids are outta control? Is there a way you can have a child-free wedding? Would subtle signs work? "Children must be accompanied by adults at all times." This way, you can blame it on the venue. Although, I doubt careless parents would care enough to follow a sign. What are the issues keeping you from having a child free wedding?

    Definitely don't ask guests to look after guests, unless it's their own kids. If the cousins' teens are guests, they shouldn't be doubling as baby-sitters. And if the parents can't control their own kids, can you assume teens even want to try?

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    I've never been too keen on the thought of having kids at my wedding (other than those that are in the bridal party, or are children of bridal party members), but it's become pretty unavoidable, and I've come to terms with it.  Many of my cousins have kids that will be attending, and whenever they get together are completely out of control.  One cousin, in particular has 4 kids, 3 of which are under 7 and don't behave well in public.  

    Is it acceptable to put on our wedding website that we would appreciate if everyone could keep their kids under control during the ceremony?  Obviously, worded nicely and assuming everyone visits the site.  We plan on having a quick ceremony, probably no more than 15 minutes.  I'd like to think this is an acceptable amount of time for kids to sit still and behave, but I'm worried that won't happen.  It's come to be understood that anytime you feel need to word something "nicely" ("cute/fun" is another popular phrase for it), it's because you know that what you're trying to say is not nice to begin with. Telling people how to parent is rude. You are probably over-thinking the worst case scenario re: kids at the wedding and you're stressing yourself out.

    I know it's popular to have a child-free ceremony and only invite them to the reception, but I really want my cousins at the ceremony as well.  Some of my older cousins have kids that are in high school and are plenty capable of looking after the younger ones, but they're pretty immature and I don't see that working out. Whoever you invite to the wedding comes to whole thing, not just the ceremony and not just the reception. If your cousins tell you they won't/can't come without bringing their kids to the ceremony, don't tell them "Well we'd love for you all to join us afterwards at the reception then!" That's essentially tiered inviting based on children and it's rude. You also seem really judgmental about your cousins' high-school aged children. Whether or not they're too immature to watch the little ones during your ceremony is irrelevant, you can't put your guests to work at your wedding as babysitters.

    Any advice? If you don't want children outside of the bridal party to attend, you address the invitation to the parents by name and if they RSVP with their kid(s), you call them and politely say "I'm sorry for any confusion, but the invitation was for you and John. We are only having children of the bridal party, so we won't be able to accommodate little Susie. We certainly hope you'll still be able to join us!" If they threaten not to come without little Susie, tell them that they will be missed.


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    First, it is NOT popular to have kids only at the reception. It should be treated as one event and it is rude to invite guests, even the little ones, to only the second part. 

    Have you sent save the dates yet? I don't know why you think it's unavoidable. If you don't want to invite second cousins, don't. Invite in circles so there are clear cutoffs and don't make exceptions.
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    I don't understand how inviting kids is unavoidable. Are your parents paying and they insist kids be invited? If not, and you're paying, you have every right not to invite everyone's kids. Will there be some hurt feelings if you don't invite them all? Probably but that's life.

    Don't put anything on your website and don't invite the kids to only half the wedding. But, if you already sent save the dates and the kids' names were on them, they need to be invited to the entire wedding.

    After 6 years and 2 boys, finally tying the knot on October 27th, 2013!

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    AddieCakeAddieCake member
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    edited August 2013
    alisonmarie658 said: If you knew that these kids were poorly behaved, why did you have to invite them in the first place? It is completely acceptable to have a kid-free or kid-light wedding. This.  If you don't want kids there, don't invite kids. Since that ship has sailed, no, it is not ok to "nicely" tell people Please keep your demon spawn under control at my big event. It's not ok to invite them to one and not the other, either. You're just going to have to deal with whatever happens at this point. 


    What did you think would happen if you walked up to a group of internet strangers and told them to get shoehorned by their lady doc?~StageManager14
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    Add me to the list of people who has never heard of a child-free ceremony while still inviting them to the reception. Putting a note like that anywhere (website or otherwise) is going to come off incredibly condescending. 

    Could you give them things to do? Like coloring books and small activities? While ideally it would be up to the parents to keep them from misbehaving, if you can give the kids something to focus on, maybe it will help prevent them from misbehaving. 
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    Unless you've already invited the children, there is no reason why you have to include them. It's perfectly acceptable to have no children outside the wedding party.

    Don't put anything like that on your website. It's rude and people who don't make sure their children behave during a wedding ceremony won't suddenly keep their kids under control because of something on a website. Parents will either control their children or they won't. Nothing you say or do will change that. But saying something will likely insult at least some of your guests with children, probably the ones with kids who always behave.
    Don't worry guys, I have the Wedding Police AND the Whambulance on speed dial!
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    As others have stated, I have no idea how you would put "keep your kids under control" nicely. I think it's just something that you are going to have to deal with if you want those guests to attend.

    One option that I have heard about but never seen, is hiring a sitter for the kids to keep them occupied. Like have them in a separate room with a movie and a responsible adult to watch over them. I know that my daughter's daycare teachers freelance and have said that they would be willing to help wrangle kiddos at my wedding should I choose to have one. It'd be an added expense but it also would put your mind at ease and help the guests who have kids to relax at the wedding instead of chasing after the wee ones. I would just make sure that the caregiver is tipped and paid generously for their time. JMO.

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    Unfortunately, no, there is no polite way to indicate to guests that they must parent their children.

    And if you do invite the children to any part of the event (ceremony OR reception) you need to invite them to the whole thing.

    If you really don't want them there, don't invite them at all...even if it means that their parents won't come.
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    My aunt hired a sitter for her friends kids, the kids were not invited to the adult reception and were instead kept in the basement and entertained. Me- I have a no kids rule. No kids in the wedding party and not kids at the wedding. If they can't get a sitter that is not my problem.
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    Have invitations actually gone out?

    If they haven't...don't invite the kids. Only invite the kids in the wedding. There's no need to invite kids of people in the wedding party....unless you've done it verbally.

    Otherwise, give the kids something to do while at the wedding.
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    My aunt hired a sitter for her friends kids, the kids were not invited to the adult reception and were instead kept in the basement and entertained. Me- I have a no kids rule. No kids in the wedding party and not kids at the wedding. If they can't get a sitter that is not my problem.


    You can't force your guests to leave their kids in a basement or with a sitter they don't know. You either don't invite the kids at all or invite them and let the parents decide if they're okay leaving them with a sitter at the wedding. If you don't want kids there you don't invite them.

    Your advice really doesn't fit on an etiquette board. Seems like you could care less about your guests with all the recent posts you've made throughout the board.

    After 6 years and 2 boys, finally tying the knot on October 27th, 2013!

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    You can't tell the parents how to parent, even during your wedding ceremony. 

    However, you can try to head off any problems. Perhaps talk to the officiant that there may be some unruly kids, and that if they are being loud and disruptive he should pause until they are calm. And have a couple close relatives who are aware of your concerns and who may be able to help wrangle a kid and ask them to be quiet, or send them back toward their parent, if the parents aren't doing their job. I think it would also be appropriate to have some type of generic "We ask everyone to remain seated during the ceremony, so as not to interfere with the photographers or the wedding processional" type of statement in the beginning.
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    Thanks for the advice, everyone!!!  I was leaning toward not putting anything on our website anyway, just wanted to get some input on the subject.  No save the dates have gone out yet.  I wanted to give this issue some thought before I finalized the guest list.
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    Based on what you've said, I think you should just go with a kid-free wedding (you can still have a flower girl/ring bearer and just not invite any other kids). Additionally, you don't have to invite ALL kids just because you invite SOME kids. If you invite your own nieces and nephews, or your first cousins (I have a lot of first cousins who are under the age of 10), there's no rule that says it's rude if you don't allow cousins to bring kids, or friends to bring kids. You don't even have to invite children of the wedding party members.

    I'm not sure how it would be impossible to have a child-free wedding, but it sounds like you might be in a similar boat to me. My partner wants all of his first cousins at our wedding, and the youngest cousin is 12 years old. I was hoping for a no-under-18 rule, and having a no-under-12 would be much harder to implement without it looking like I'm just trying to keep my poorly behaved little cousins from coming. So in that case, it's "impossible" for me to have a child-free wedding.
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    I didn't want children at my wedding and neither did my fiance but since my parents are paying for the reception, I was told that they had to be invited or certain family members would not be attending. Since it upset my mother, I agreed to the family bringing kids.

    I talked to my wedding planner about what we should do about the kids (bc weddings aren't necessarily the most fun for them!) and developed a game plan that includes setting up some toys and coloring books for them to play with to keep them happy. Maybe you could do something like that as well? That way everyone wins; kids are happy, you and your fiance are happy, and the parents of the children are happy.
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