Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Will my friends with kids come to my wedding?

Dear ESB,

My partner and I are planning a wedding for next summer at a lovely state park about an hour and a half outside our city. We'll be renting an isolated barn-type building in the park for the ceremony/reception and there's camping allowed on the grassy lawn outside the barn as well. In addition the park has rustic cabins AND there's a retreat center with nicer accommodations for parents, grandparents, and others who need their own bathroom and other comforts.

This sounds like the best of all possible worlds (we get our rustic, camp wedding and the family will be comfortable as well), but I'm getting freaked out that my friends with kids won't come. I have a number of friends who have young kids, are pregnant now or trying. Do you think they'd drive 1.5 hrs to come to a wedding in a state park where they might have to stay in a cabin or camp? Some of these people are very close friends and it's important to me that they're there and feel comfortable/taken care of.

Thoughts? Any other tips for making a wedding attractive/doable for families with young kids?


Since I'm no expert on kids (THANK GOD), I passed this one off to Kristina, of Lovely Morning and 100 Layer Cake and mom-of-Dashiell fame.

Here's what she had to say:

Your wedding already sounds perfectly attractive/doable for families with and expecting kids! My totally unprofessional opinion is that you're way over-thinking this. It's super nice that you want to make your friends with babies feel welcome and taken care of, but don't stress that they won't come. It's not like you're asking them to fly to Italy so you can be married in an ancient Tuscan farmhouse four hours from the nearest airport. You're asking them to drive 90 minutes up the freeway. We haven't attended a wedding that close to our house in at least 3 years. And we're the friends with the baby. Next year we're flying to Costa Rica and Florida for good friends' weddings because regardless of the effort it takes to schlep our little dude and all his stuff with us, we wouldn't miss their weddings for anything. (Plus how cute is 1st birthday in Costa Rica!?!)

Your BFFs will be there no matter what. People with newborns aren't going to be fired up about bedding down in a tent for the weekend, but like you said, there's a nice option for those who are feeling less adventurous.

Check this little piece of stress off your mental list, lady. You're good!

(Photo of Nye and... is that Ella or Amelia? by Peonies and Polaroids)


  1. [i believe that's ella, but i'm clearly going to be wrong sooner or later.]

    i agree with kristina, both in that this scenario sounds eminently do-able and that your BFFs will be there no matter what. i would add that the sort of parents and parents-to-be who are discouraged by unusual circumstances are going to be discouraged no matter what; once you've done your best to be a good host (as you have), realize the outcome is out of your hands and let it go.

  2. as a parent to be it is our biggest goal in life NOT to become the kind of person who skips on something like this. it sounds PERFECT for older kids, and more than doable for tiny ones, too.

  3. "as parents to be" or "as a parent to be it is MY"

    sorry esb & lmo & all you grammatically correct people.


  4. your wedding sounds like its going to be amazing. i say worst case scenario they come for the ceremony and reception, and don't stay the night ...which is the norm for any other wedding, no?

  5. and p.s. i drive 1.5 hours each way to get to the nearest movie theater, chain grocery store, or civilization. not to mention 3+ hrs each way to find a mall.

    they wont stress over 1.5 hours, you shouldn't either.

  6. I think Kristina is spot on. And it sounds like you picked a great location, since traditional camping *and* cabins are available for sleeping.

  7. Where is this wedding at? I'd really like to know, it's exactly the kind of place I've been looking for.

    An hour and a half from the city is not a big deal at all. I think your friends will be fine, and like the commenter before me said... if they don't feel comfortable staying the night they can just drive home.

  8. If it's important to you, it's important to them! They will come, easy peasy.

  9. As long as your people are camping people to begin with, you are golden! My friends do a massive camping Thanksgiving every year and this year there were both babies and bumps! And if they aren't campers, 1.5 hours is an easy trek to make for a wedding.

  10. lordy ... I am just trying to figure out how I can ge everyone to leave their kids at HOME! *this is me being honest*
    No kid reception and we already have friends trying to get their kids into the reception. what a mess.

  11. @Jamie I know! Though it's actually sometimes kind of nice to hide behind the kid thing when you don't feel like going in the first place. Hello auto-excuse! (works well for pregnancy too).

    @Laurel - Just stick to your plan, lady. We had a no kid wedding and there was a decent amount of drama leading up to it, including people who didn't come because of it... even though we provided all sorts of babysitter options. BUT, ultimately, tis your day so if you don't think the reception is appropriate for kids, then it's not! And now we're the parents flying thousands of miles for weddings that are not kid friendly, and we're happy to find a babysitter for the night. Okay, not happy. It's a pain in the ass and a little nerve-wracking, but it's just part of parenthood. And the parties will be way more fun without bebe in the ergo on top of my floor length bridesmaid dress.

  12. This was exactly our wedding and there were tonnes of kids in attendance, of all ages. The parents actually found it convenient to have a wedding where one parent could take the kids to bed, onsite, while the other could continue on. Also by having the whole weekend you have much more kid appropriate hours to mix and mingle. It prob depends on your friends though, all ours are let the kids play in the dirt type parents. Helicopter parents might not dig it.

  13. This wedding sounds so kid friendly! I love it. I agree with Kristina that it sounds like you're over thinking it.

    The only additional advice that I've got is that IF you have it in your budget, you could hire a babysitter (or two) for the reception. Maybe set up a covered area just for smaller kids or just have a quiet place children can take naps when they need to. Remind parents that they're welcome to bring sleeping bags & blankets for the napping area. If you're unsure of who to hire as a babysitter, ask one of the friends you're planning on inviting if they have a regular babysitter or two that they'd recommend. Some parents will love this option and some parents will rather watch their own kids during your wedding, but this way no parents will feel like they *have* to leave when it's nap-time.

    Still, if hiring a babysitter isn't within the reality of your budget, you could just set up a nearby cabin to be a quiet zone for kids to nap or take a break from all of the excitement. This space could also be a nice refuge if you have friends who may want to breast-feed their otherwise easily-distracted little ones.

  14. I have 2 points to make about this:
    1 - at my wedding the babies and kiddies loved all the attention, danced in a stupid yet adorable way and then conked out in a corner or their push chairs until their parents took them home.
    2 - my brother had his first birthday in a tent taking his baths in the washing up bowl. And every summer for our childhood. He loved it, I loved it and our parents loved it. They will be fine and it is workable if your friends want to come.

    Good luck, it sounds awesome and I would love to be invited to a wedding like this!

  15. It's Ella (you guys are the best, there are people who've actually met them who can't tell the difference)

    And it sounds like the perfect wedding for peoples with children, I'd go.

  16. i'm with jamie. we're planning a trip to hawaii in august with what will be our 4 month old baby. there's no way i'd miss a best friend's wedding just 90 minutes up the road.

    p.s. we had a similar wedding to yours and there were about ten kids (under the age of seven) in attendance. ;)