Deciding whether to invite children to your wedding or have an adults-only affair can be an incredibly controversial decision.
From your budget and venue capacity to your family’s expectations, you need to think seriously about whether kids at your wedding is right for you and the impact it’ll have on your guests.
Image: Kristida Photography
We asked two Hitched writers with very different views to go head-to-head over the question, “Is it selfish to have a child-free wedding?” Read their arguments and see if they can convince you to agree with their side of the debate.
If you’re unsure about how you’d even go about handling kids at your wedding, we’ve got some great ideas including nanny services that might be the solution you’re looking for!
Debate: Is It Selfish To Have A Child-Free Wedding?
There is rarely a more contentious point among families than when someone decides they don’t want children at their wedding. Is it a case of “my wedding, my choice” or a self-centred decision that doesn’t take into account the cost and trouble of finding childcare? Here’s what our two writers have to say.
Image: Carousel Creche Company
No! Sarah Allard, Editor at Hitched, thinks weddings can be more enjoyable for everyone if children aren’t invited.
The room falls silent. The bride and groom turn to face each other, blissfully happy and about to exchange the most important words two people can utter.
And then, just before they can say their ‘I dos’, there’s a murmur among the guests. Then a whimper. Then a small cry. Shortly followed by a full-scale screaming fit that everyone else politely pretends isn’t happening as a poor, flustered parent tries to soothe them in tones no less quiet than the screams - before nosily escorting them out of the room and loudly banging the door behind them.
It’s this and several other reasons why the idea of children at weddings is not one I particularly welcome.
Image: Lisa Cowen Photography
READ MORE: How Do I Uninvite Guests From My Wedding?
While I can appreciate that many couples can’t imagine having their special day without including some young guests – perhaps even their own children – I don’t think there’s a child on this planet who wants to sit still through a wedding ceremony, or a parent alive who would enjoy wrestling with them when they decide that screaming is much more fun.
And what about later on in the evening, when mum and dad want to let their hair down with a drink or three without a hoard of small humans crowding the dancefloor? Why miss out on the fun of your friend’s wedding when your little one would far prefer to be at home with Grandad/Linda next door/your sister, watching CBeebies on repeat?
Weddings are special, and can be expensive. If a couple have decided not to invite your child then that’s because they want your undivided attention and the chance to spend more of that precious budget on your enjoyment. And is there really anything wrong with that?
Image: La Belle Bella Photography
Yes! Sophie Jennings, Senior Sales Executive at Hitched, believes that weddings are a family affair.
Since getting engaged in December, my whole thought process behind having children at my wedding has changed hugely. I used to think, “It’s my wedding, I’ll choose who comes and who doesn’t come, where people sit, what people eat and drink, and I don’t care if they like it or not!” Well, how things have changed…
Anyone going through the process of wedding planning will know that it doesn’t quite work out like that. Before you know it, you find yourself trying to please everyone, and the subject of children at our wedding has been the most recent hurdle we’ve had to navigate.
I honestly think that it’s lovely to have the little ones there. From having a beautiful little flower girl in the cutest dress sprinkling flowers before I walk down the aisle to my nephews dancing with grandad at the end of the night, these will be some of the precious moments I remember forever.
Image: Jeff Oliver Photography
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It would be selfish and mean to invite my family and friends and not their little ones. How can I turn around and expect our guests to pay to come to our wedding AND pay for a babysitter for two nights because I have decided to get married three hours away and don’t want their children there?
Some guests might choose not to have their children there as they want to be able to let their hair down and enjoy themselves – and that is absolutely fine with me, because at least I haven’t been the bridezilla that demanded they not come. Doing that puts a sour taste in their mouths before they even get to the wedding, doesn’t it?
How To Decide Whether To Invite Children To Your Wedding
Image: Pauly Wright
Our two writers are both passionate about their point of view, but if you haven’t been persuaded either way yet, we’ve come up with some pros and cons for having children at your wedding. These aren’t exhaustive lists, but they’re definitely thinking points you should consider.
Downsides To Having Children At Your Wedding
1. Budget – There’s usually a discount on children’s meals but they can still be expensive and raise the cost of your wedding quite considerably. You may choose to spend that money on your other guests’ experience.
2. Unpredictability – If you like order, you might prefer a more mature affair. Kids do run around, scream and sometimes cause chaos – if you want a refined atmosphere, it makes sense to have it adults-only.
3. Guest Enjoyment – Everyone wants to be able to have a drink and a dance at a wedding but that can be difficult if nappies need changing, kids are cranky or need to get home to bed. Your guests may enjoy themselves more if they know their children are being looked after safely at home.
4. Venue – Some venues have a limited capacity and you may choose to invite more close friends instead of giving spaces to children. Other venues may not allow children or not be appropriate for hosting young guests, for example there’s no nearby accommodation where guests could leave older children to sleep as they return to the party.
5. Destination Weddings – Guests may not want to take their children along to a wedding abroad, and you might not want to disrupt other guests' child-free weekend away.
READ MORE: How To Seat Divorced Parents At Your Wedding
Image: La Belle Bella Photography
Upsides To Having Children At Your Wedding
1. Atmosphere – Weddings aren’t meant for Pinterest, they’re real life and are meant for making memories. Kids add a huge amount of laughter, fun and atmosphere to a wedding. Those fabulous photos and hilarious (and chaotic) moments are memories you’ll treasure forever.
2. The Wedding Party – You might not want your colleagues’ three under 10s coming, but you couldn’t imagine getting married without your niece there as a flower girl. It can be a lovely memory to share with your close family or friends to have their, or your own, children in the wedding party. In that case, send very clear adults-only invites to other guests.
3. Guests Expenses – Paying to come to your wedding and for someone to look after their children can be an expense some guests simply can’t afford. It might mean they can’t come if the kids can’t come too.
READ MORE: The Ultimate Guide To A £25,000 Wedding Budget
What To Expect If You Choose Not To Have Children At Your Wedding
Image: S2 Images
If you choose to make it an adult-only invite, make this very clear on your invitation. This allows people to start making arrangements for childcare straight away. If a guest is upset, then explain that it’s you and your partner’s decision and you’re sorry they are upset, but you hope they’ll accept your decision.
Be prepared that if you choose not to invite children, some guests will not be able to come. Whether it’s because the child is too young to be left at home or the cost of childcare is prohibitive, some people that you would like to be there - even close family – may not be able to.
It may upset you but you must accept their decision and not make them feel guilty. If you desperately want a certain person to come, you may need to review your adults-only invite.
READ MORE: The Cutest Flower Girl Flower Ideas
Are There Any Compromises For Inviting Children?
Absolutely! If you like the idea of having children there, but are also worried about the atmosphere or parents’ enjoyment, then consider hiring wedding nannies.
Joanna Chavasse, founder of Freckles Child Care, explains why it might be the right choice for your big day.
She said: “The most common reason for choosing wedding nannies is that it frees up the bride, groom and guests to enjoy the day without having to worry about the children and what they might be getting up too!
Image: Guy Milnes Photography
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“We have lots of clients who are the brides/grooms who have their own children and want to be able to fully enjoy the day but also know that their children will be safe and excellently cared for.
"Hiring nannies enables guests who might not otherwise be able to come to attend the wedding and be a part of the day. Finally, it alleviates a lot of stress for everyone and ensures the day runs that little bit smoother - and let's be honest no one wants to be in their wedding dress and changing a smelly nappy!”
Many nannying services will provide as much help as the client wants; Freckles’ Wedding Nannies offer two services.
Image: Carousel Creche Company
Joanna says: “Either an 'extra pair of hands' who are there to support the parents with their children and come equipped with a complimentary goodie bag or we provide a complete 'Little One's Land' which is where we create a land of fun for all the children.
“We have everything from toys for toddlers, to dressing up kits, to fairy lights, stories, a carry cot and sleep stuff. The Freckles philosophy is all about family and we truly believe you can have the best wedding day with a two-year-old in tow!”
Bear in mind the minimum booking time for the nannies – four hours for Freckles, for example – and the legal ratio of children to adults.
If you do opt to have children at your wedding, check out 19 fun ideas for wedding favours for kids and 31 ways to entertain your wedding guests, with lots of kid-friendly ideas!