Here’s a wedding dilemma some couples agonize over for weeks, weighing hurt feelings against practicality, and the party spirit against meaningful relationships: Should you invite children? A columnist at Salon wrote an essay encouraging absolutely all brides and grooms to open their events to his little ones. Here’s a closer look at his reasoning:
You’ll Have Kids One Day, Too
“Five years from now, when this union of yours has borne fruit, you’ll thank me,” writes David Andrew Stoler. But let’s look at that: First of all, not all marriages bear fruit, nor do all brides and grooms want to have children. Even if they do, it’s not really up to one of their wedding guests to assume that they don’t want to enjoy every last minute of their child-free existence before then.
“As with anything, I think most weddings are still up to the bride and the groom to decide what type of party they want to throw,” etiquette expert Elaine Swann told Yahoo Style. “The bride and groom have total and complete license to host the type of affair they want to make memorable for themselves, and they should exercise that right.”
If You Love Me, You Love My Kids
“Not inviting my kid is like not inviting my nose just because I have a nasty head cold and might sneeze right as you say ‘I do,’” Stoler argues. This, again, is assuming a lot about a couple’s motivation for not inviting children. But even if it’s because they don’t want their ceremony interrupted by a crying baby, that’s their right, and that is actually something they can control ahead of time in their invitations, unlike your sneeze.
People Think It’s Cute When Kids Act Up (It’s Not)
“When the meltdown occurs — which it won’t! But it might. But it won’t! — when that meltdown, or mistimed exclamation, or loud question during a quiet moment occurs, guess what: everybody’s going to laugh,” Stoler argues. “The wedding will not be ruined. The only person who will mind is you — and me.”
If the bride and groom mind, no, the wedding isn’t ruined, but they will be taken out of the moment that is actually supposed to be all about them, not about your kid making everyone laugh.
“They’re creating their history, but this is just one day out of your life,” Swann says.
Drunken Guests Are Worse Than Kids
“Also, let’s be honest: other guests are going to be way bigger gluten-free pains–in–the–ass,” Stoler writes. This is sometimes very true, but it makes no sense as an argument in favor of children, since the bride and groom could end up with drunken guests plus a kid having a meltdown.
Kids Are Cute
“My kid can, like, light it up,” Stoler brags. “We’re talking total free abandon, and the infectious kind that’ll get the party started — they will literally pull people onto the floor with their hands.”
This is also often true, and most wedding photographers will capture some of this magic. But sometimes it’s the parents in attendance who would like to be partying with such abandon, and they can’t because their child is throwing a tantrum at the table.
Swann has some advice to appease both sides in this debate: “Hire someone that’s not related to the family, but maybe they are a schoolteacher or a babysitter or what have you,” she said. “Have an arts-and-crafts table for the kids, and make sure that there’s a childcare provider onsite. … I certainly encourage families to have something for the children, because kids do get a little tired, a little whiny. If you have something for them to do, it will give the adults and the parents the opportunity to enjoy the affair.”
Drunken Child-Free Parents Are the Worst
Stoler issues this warning: “Far worse than a toddler meltdown is what happens to kid-free parents with access to an open bar.”
Also, sadly, true, but last time we checked, the guests’ self-control is not the responsibility of the couple getting married.
Raising Kids Is Expensive, and Babysitters Are Too
“I’m not saying I don’t love you enough to then pay again on Saturday to go to your wedding — if things are going well, I would love to, of course,” Stoler writes. “But give me the option. Let me take a look at my bank account and decide.”
The time to take a look at your bank account and decide is when you RSVP. “It is very challenging in some instances for parents to have to get a babysitter for their kids,” Swann agreed. “But if you check, ‘Yes, I will attend,’ and you are aware that the wedding is going to be an adults-only affair, then you are also agreeing to the wishes of the bride and groom.”
Being Generous Makes Weddings Better
“Because I will be there with you, we all will, just so full of gratitude for you and your inclusiveness, and because your generosity of spirit will be felt throughout the room, because your wedding will be the kindest, the loveliest, the most caring,” Stoler writes.
It’s great to be inclusive, but weddings aren’t free, and the bride and groom (or bride and bride, or groom and groom) have to draw the line somewhere. Are a friend’s children more important than a second cousin? That is not for this or any other writer to decide.