“Know what would make my dream wedding complete? A screaming baby,” said no bride ever. When planning the reception, no couple sits at their kitchen table saying, “Okay, so we’ll go with ‘At Last’ for our first dance, ‘Butterfly Kisses’ for the Daddy-Daughter dance, and ‘I’ve Got a Feeling’ for when little Xoeigh-Madissahn pantses Great-Aunt Gertrude.”
I thought that most people shared my view that it’s up to the people getting married if they want kids at their wedding or not, and those wishes should be respected – then I saw an article arguing that all weddings should be kid-friendly.
I had some feelings. Why on earth should people feel obligated to invite your kids to their wedding?
Maybe Frank and Maryann are trying to keep things low-key. Maybe Bob and Tyler’s family and friends have 57 children between them, and they’d like to prevent their wedding from looking like a taping of Romper Room. Maybe Phoebe and Sarah just really hate children, and the sight of your little darling digging for gold during their expensive, catered dinner would be a big turn off.
Or, most often, the couple realizes that while little ones in suits and party dresses are adorable, and they truly love your children, but kids at a wedding bring an element of unpredictability and can take away from the grown-up party they were going for.
Whatever the reason, they are free to do it, and they don’t owe you or your kids a thing. In fact, this goes for anything the couple wants at their wedding. It’s their day; they can do what they want.
Of course, just as they have every right to deny entry to your kids (or, you know, make you dress as Eddie Murphy characters,) you have the right to decline the invitation if you can’t or won’t meet their requests. There are a lot of reasons someone with children would need to bring their children or stay home. If you are invited to a no-kids wedding, and you can’t or don’t want to leave your kids at home, it’s completely reasonable to RSVP no.
But here’s what not do: do not give the couple an ultimatum. “If you don’t let me bring the kids, we won’t be there,” is a shitty thing to say. Don’t say it.
“I’m sorry, I’d love to come, but unfortunately I need to stay with the kids, so I have to decline. I wish you both the best and I can’t wait to see photos!” – Good.
“Well, since you have a no-kid policy, you’ll either have to let me bring the kids, or I’m not coming to your wedding.” – Bad.
And don’t ask them if they can make an exception for you. If they wanted certain kids there, they would have told you. Don’t put them in that position. If they offer when you politely decline because of the kids, great, otherwise, take the hint.
I really thought this would be low on this list of complicated etiquette, but judging by comments I have heard about no-kid weddings, I was wrong. The number one suggested solution for getting around a no-kid wedding? Bring the kid anyway. Let that sink in.
When is it okay to bring an uninvited guest to a wedding? What if you just walked in with some guy and said, “Oh, I met this guy at Starbucks, he’s pretty cool, so I brought him.” No! Now, in fairness, you probably aren’t breastfeeding the guy you met at Starbucks, but the principle is the same. Uninvited guests are uninvited, and bringing them is a jerk move.
Do you really enjoy yourself to the fullest at a wedding when you have your kids with you anyway? The first time I took my then two-year-old to a church service, he yelled “No like it, church!”, tried to blow out the prayer candles, and threw a Bible at a disabled, elderly man.
Kids can be assholes.
So, the next time you get an invite that specifies no children, book that sitter and look forward to your night of kid-free debauchery (hell yeah,) or politely decline and fantasize about that new couple a few years from now holding their screaming newborn, and saying, “Oh…yeah, I totally get why they said no to our wedding.”
At the very least, take solace in the fact that you will be spared being the parent of that kid who nailed the priest with a sippy cup while the couple said, “I do.”