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From One Bride-to-Be to the Next: Is it Rude to Not Invite Children to Your Wedding?

by Katherine Callaghan

I’ve been told by other married friends, that one (if not the most) stressful parts of wedding planning comes from putting together your wedding guest list. This, unfortunately, was the case for my fiancé and I. We didn’t butt heads when we were trying to figure out if we should invite co-workers or friends to our wedding; we had a disagreement over whether or not to invite children.

When I started my initial wedding plans (aka the day after I got engaged) I had very strong opinions as to how I wanted our wedding to unfold. I didn’t want a black tie wedding, but I definitely wanted to host a formal and elegant affair. I wanted to get married in the church I grew up in and host our reception at an upscale ballroom. I wanted the evening to be filled with exceptional drinks, delicious food, and fantastic music. What I didn’t see in my vision were children.

Now, before you think I’m heartless, I’m the first person in my family to get married in approximately 25 years. Growing up, I never attended weddings with my parents. It wasn’t that my parents wanted a kid-free night, it was that I was never invited. I don’t have any young cousins or relatives. My fiancé, on the other hand, comes from a much larger family and has over 20 younger cousins, all ranging from teenagers to infancy. In his family, it is unheard of to not invite children to a wedding. He’s been invited to all his older cousins wedding and attended every last one.

So what do you do when one partner wants to invite children and the other doesn’t?

Another piece of advice I received from my married friends is that wedding planning, and even to some degree, your marriage is all about compromise. I was really firm with my no children rule for months. We would fight about it constantly, and after months of bickering and hair-raising fights, you can probably say I had a major realization.

I didn’t back down and I didn’t compromise. What I realized was, fighting while planning our wedding wasn’t how I wanted to start our new life together. A wedding is one day, but it’s the days, months and years after your wedding with your husband that matter. I also knew if we did decide to move forward with no children at our wedding, it would cause a lot of drama with my new in-laws. I would never want to disrespect their feelings, and to me, a five-hour event wasn’t worth the uncomfortable feelings with his parents and the rest of his family. Trust me, I know it may be hard to give in on certain aspects of wedding planning. You’ve been dreaming about this day for years and you want everything to unfold perfectly, and guess what, it will. How do I know? Because you already found the love of your life and you’re both committing to spending the rest of your lives together. I think that’s pretty perfect.

If you do decide to not invite children, there’s nothing wrong with that. Here’s how I suggest you handle the invites. I’ve done a lot of research and have spoken to a lot of family and friends about this, so there are a few key things to keep in mind.

To keep the confusion to a minimum, be sure to address your invitations properly and make it clear who is attending. In order to do this, proper etiquette would be to fully list the children’s names if they are invited on the invitation envelope and to omit their names if they are not. It may also be wise before your invites go out to call family and friends with children and explain that you have decided to not invite young children and that you wanted to kindly give them advance notice.

If you decide to invite or not to invite children, keep the rule consistent across both families. Don’t pick and choose. The only exception to the rule is if you have young children in your bridal party. If so, they, of course, take priority and will be invited to all wedding day festivities.