I love a good Internet controversy, and as we’re in the heart of wedding season, here’s a controversial topic that’s right up my alley: Is the adult-only wedding invite totally rude or totally appropriate?
I recently read a piece that claimed it was rude to not extend the invitation to children. The author, though she very much enjoys a no-kids wedding, has kids (by choice, we assume) and finds the cost of a babysitter plus a wedding gift plus travel an inappropriate burden on wedding guests. We can assume that the author thinks that a wedding is about the community of guests and therefore the bride and groom should make the guests’ conveniences (and finances) a priority.
On the flip side, I found a rebuttal on the matter which focuses on the fact that a couple should do whatever they damn-well please on their wedding day, because it is their wedding day. The idea is that the buck stops at the bride and groom. They should have everything they want on their day. Also, no one is forcing people with children to attend the wedding. And another thing: Maybe the guests could just buy a less expensive gift to account for the babysitter costs?
My take starts with a confession: I don’t enjoy the presence of certain children at weddings. I don’t like when they are too loud. I don’t like when they hog the dance floor. I don’t like when they photobomb. I don’t like when they eat all the cupcakes. So, basically, I don’t like poorly-behaved children at weddings.
And yet I had children at my own wedding – lots of them. I am incredibly close to many well-behaved children and I couldn’t imagine them not being at my wedding. I also just attended a wedding where there was a child present and her dancing made my night.
So my point is this: I understand and support the no kids policy. First, a child’s behavior can’t be predicted at all times. Second, they factor into the budget. When a budget is very tight, the 2-year-old that will remember nothing but still costs something is an easier cut than your mom’s cousin Barb who is never going to let you forget that you didn’t invite her. And at the end of the day, it’s my wedding not your fun and fancy party where I happen to be getting married.
But I also understand the argument people with children make, especially re: babysitting expenses. A year ago my husband and I decided to adopt a dog. Every time we travel for a wedding we have to board our dog, which is very expensive. (Maybe as expensive as paying for a babysitter for one night? I don’t know.) While I realize dogs and human children are not the same, they are both additions to one’s life that involve money. If we could not afford to get a dog and still attend weddings, we would have simply not gotten a dog. Even now, if we’re feeling tight on money, we either ask a friend to watch our dog or we don’t attend the event (because dogs are never invited to weddings— maybe because they don’t dance? I’m not sure).
To fully hash out my argument for an adult-only wedding, here are 4 final points:
1. Some to be married couples actually pay for a babysitter for the wedding. As part of their wedding expenses, they cover the cost of a babysitter for the wedding because they understand it is a significant burden on some of their most valued friends/family members. This is an incredibly kind gesture, but it should by no means be required or expected.
2. How do you define “kids”? You reach a gray area here, because “kids” is a loose concept. I get that a 12-year-old can still cause trouble, but if you’re not inviting your 16-year-old first cousin because he’s not 18 yet, that’s a bit much.
3. You can’t plan a wedding without offending someone. It’s sad but true: We all make decisions about our weddings that offend certain people. I got married on a Saturday which made travel difficult for a friend of mine who is a rabbi. She had to travel a day earlier and stay in a specific hotel, walking distance from the venue, which cost her more money. You can’t accommodate every single person.
4. Not everyone likes kids. At their wedding or otherwise. If a bride and groom are vegetarians, they shouldn’t have meat at their wedding. If they hate DJs, they should have a band. If they aren’t into barns, they’ll have the wedding at a hotel. And if they do not enjoy the presence of children at a wedding or otherwise, then they definitely should not feel obligated to include them in the event. This doesn’t make the bride and groom rude, heartless, insensitive or inconsiderate: They just don’t enjoy a party that involves children.
I wish all the brides and grooms this year the best of luck, because wedding planning isn’t easy from any angle. The best thing I can say is, would you rather have a guest or two grumbling about your no-kids policy or would you rather be grumbling yourself all night long? You deserve to have it your way when you get married.