Although weddings are meant to be about celebrating love, they too often bring up old family disagreements and differing opinions. And none is more contentious than who makes it on to the guest list.
Cathy Ranson, editor at ChannelMum told HuffPost UK: “For better or for worse, children at weddings can be a divisive issue. While most cultures openly welcome children as part of the celebration, in the UK some families choose not to, to preserve a more adult atmosphere.”
Whether or not you think there should be a minimum age limit, here are seven things that all parents should be considering before agreeing to do this.
1. Was your child’s name included on the invitation?
If they weren’t listed alongside your names, it might be worth considering that this wasn’t just a clumsy oversight by the printers. Avoid conflict down the line by asking the bride and groom as early as possible.
Ranson said: “Go with what the invite says. It’s the bride and groom’s big day and the invite will set the tone. If there’s no mention of children, check and ask what their policy is.”
2. Are you willing to not go if they don’t want your child there?
Before you go ahead and ask the soon-to-be newlyweds about the invite parameters, ask yourself if you still want to go regardless of the answer. Especially if you are a breastfeeding mum who needs to be with her baby.
3. Are the bride and groom likely to make kid-friendly considerations?
Even if they were included on the invitation, make sure you think about the provisions laid on for non-adults. This includes entertainment (to stop them embarrassing themselves throughout the speeches), food they will eat, and company.
“Some brides book crèches or children’s entertainers to keep kids occupied. If you know the bride well and want to help and bring your own kids, you can always offer to be the official childminder for the day so she can relax and cut her costs,” said Ranson.
4. Will there be other children around?
See above. Even if you manage to win the battle of the invitation, are there going to be other people your child’s age at the event, and if not, will they really enjoy themselves or do you just want them there?
5. How long can your child realistically be quiet for?
Even with all the colouring pencils in the world, how long are we talking here?
Ranson said: “Consider your child’s age. A tiny baby may do not much more than sleep and feed which is easy to cope with, but a toddler in the midst of the terrible twos could be bored and much harder to handle. Teens often love weddings and the chance to dress up and dance.”
6. Are you willing to miss the ceremony if you have to step out?
If your child decides to throw a tantrum mid-way through the vows, would you be okay with stepping outside and missing the nuptials so that everyone else can enjoy them in peace? If you’d be heartbroken to miss them, perhaps consider leaving your child at home.
“If you do take your kids, be responsible. Young children can often get either overexcited or bored, which may lead to tears and tantrums. Look out for warning signs that they are ready to leave or go up to bed. Weddings are long events and can take it out of them,” said Ranson.
7. Do you want to get drunk?
Because if you do, you might not want to have to multitask with childcare. Take it as an opportunity to let your hair down for once. And besides, surely there is someone who owes you a babysitting favour?
Ranson said: “Consider if you really want your kids there. If you’d like a night off, a catch up with friends, a drink and a dance, it’s probably much more fun without children to worry about.”