There is no doubt that children are the focal point and delight of many a marriage. But this is not to say that they are particularly suited to weddings! In many respects a wedding is an adult occasion — which throws up many problems. Rita Gordon reports.
When all the arrangements have been made: the location, cars and festive board booked, and an exotic honeymoon on the horizon, don’t overlook a subject that could make or mar the wedding — children! Or, rather, whether they should attend.
Let’s be honest about this. To the average small child, weddings are a complete bore. They have to spend hours hanging around in unfamiliar smart clothes. All this makes them very receptive to the general air of excitement around them — and this is when high spirits can take over.
With all the reams of advice produced annually about wedding arrangements, you’ll find little or nothing about how to deal with the kids.
You could introduce a ‘no children’ rule, as Jane Phillips did for her wedding.
“Before we were married” she explained, “Mark and I went to a wedding where the top table was completely demolished, cake and all, by children careering around and pulling at the tablecloth. I decided then and there that there would be no children at our wedding.”
Bill Peters was also upset by the antics of children at a wedding he went to.
“Even during the speeches, they ran up and down the hall around the tables, squealing and shrieking. Occasionally a guest — not a parent — tried to stop them. They thought that was part of the game — and got worse. None of their parents made a move to stop them. Nobody could hear a word.”
“The trouble is,” he goes on, “you cannot guarantee parents will be responsible and keep control of their children.
“Certainly, inviting children can cause problems. After all, a church service is not exactly designed as children’s entertainment (after all, even some of the adult visitors find it a trifle boring...)
“The events of the day hardly fit in with their routine (the very opposite of conditions at home); their demands for attention are ignored because people are too busy with the arrangements — or meeting people they haven’t seen in years.
“Of course, you may have to tread on a few toes if you impose a ban on kids.
“I know of one case where a ‘no children’ rule caused bad feelings. However, the bride found that only one couple were offended by her ‘no children’ rule”.
“The strange thing was that the couple in question had two children who were particularly troublesome. They objected in no uncertain terms to the ‘no kids’ rule — and didn’t attend. However, the general feeling was that the wedding went off better without them!”
You must remember that this is your day. True friends will go along with whatever you choose to make the day a happy one.
They will be more understanding, however, if you ring up to explain your decision, rather than merely adding a bald statement to the invitation.
As a parent at a wedding, the responsibility has to be on you to make sure that your child’s behaviour does not cause worry and distress to anyone at the wedding.
So, here are some guidelines which might be useful to distribute to parents — if you can do so diplomatically...
- Decide beforehand, who will be the one to take a fretful son or daughter out of the church.
- Sit near the back so that you can leave with a minimum of fuss.
- Take small, quiet toys or books into the church for a young child to play with.
- Little packets of raisins can be eaten without making a mess and will fill another 10 minutes.
- Find out where the toilet is before the service starts.
- If your child is a faddy eater, then take along a sandwich for him to have at the reception.
- Find a quiet spot so that he can have his usual afternoon nap.
- You can’t expect young children to sit and listen to speeches so take turns to go walkabout.
- Don’t stay longer than necessary if your child becomes tired and over-excited.