Monday, January 17, 2011

Help! How can we scare away the kids?

Hey Lady,

I need your help if you have the time. My future husband and I are not interested in having kids at the wedding, but there are over 30 kids from 0-18 in or combined families. The thing that makes this tricky is that my entire family lives on the other side of the country and every aunt or uncle has at least one under 4 year old that can't be left at home. I know that we can't afford the nanny fees for 32 kids, but, I would hate to ask my entire family to fly to our wedding and then figure out something to do with their kids.

Is there some alternative solution that I can offer to our invitees in order to encourage grown-up guests but discourage the under 18 crowd?

--Kids are expensive


Let me get this straight.

You don't want kids at your wedding, but you "would hate to ask" your aunts and uncles not to bring their kids?

Why don't you tell them you're doing an S&M themed reception? Then maybe they'll choose to leave the kids at home.

(Photo by Julie Blackmon via Bliss)


  1. Stop feeling guilty. What they do with their kids is their problem, not yours. The fact that there are 30 extra mouths to feed alone is a staggeringly valid reason to omit the under-18 crowd.

    They're adults. They'll figure it out. Or they won't come (which is, of course, one way of figuring it out). The only burden on you is to not hold that decision against them.

  2. If I was asked to fly across country to attend a wedding, but my (hypothetical) kids weren't invited and no alternative was provided, I'd send a nice gift and stay home that weekend. If you're okay with the fact that a lot of people won't attend your wedding, then just say, no kids allowed.

    The alternative is to hire a few babysitters. People coming in from out of town will not know any reputable babysitters in the area, obviously, and as a result won't have any way to "figure out what to do with their kids". You could ask around and hire two high school kids for $10-15 an hour and call it a day.

  3. what does everyone have against kids? refusing to perform their ringbearer/flowergirl duties, laughing/crying/farting through the ceremony, streaking buttassnekkid across the dancefloor.. they're funny as hell!

    the cost of kids at your wedding ISNT that much. rent a short table & mini chairs that everyone can "aww" over, find some cool activities for them to do (my friend had the kids take her guestbook polaroids in front of her homemade photobooth backdrop and then washi tape the pics into an album)

    oh, and pull the stick outta your ass

  4. Prac, many of us don't find the juvenile and disruptive behavior you detail hilarious. Personally, I find it engaging, and the reason small children do not belong at formal events. As a bride, I want the attention. I don't want to have my spotlight stolen by some jam-faced hellions bent on total destruction.

  5. Hahaha. S&M wedding! Woot!

    We just got a venue that had a room adjacent to the reception area and stuck the kids in there. I literally never even SAW kids, or babysitters, the entire night.

    Well, except for the ceremony. And then they're just cute and not tired yet, which is good.

    Total cost: get two-three sitters (or recruit some of the teens to help you). $10/hour (or a little more depending on where you live) is, what, $120 total? Not that much, at the end of the day.

    Oh, also: our venue let us bring kids meals (PB&J in cute shapes, oreos, and goldfish crackers). Don't pay for adult meals for anybody under ten.

  6. I think 18 years is a little old for the kid cut off. I would be a little irked if I was your 17 year-old cousin and I wasn't invited but my parents were. Just something to think about.

  7. I think the couple should be free to invite who they want to their wedding without feeling guilty (or being made to feel guilty) - if they dont want kids there that is their call and people either come without their offspring or dont come at all. Not everyone finds kids endearing or entertaining. It's the couple's day after all.

  8. Except, not everywhere is lucky enough to have a venue that will accommodate "kids meals." A lot of places have a one size fits all price tag. Or maybe it is a space constraint? 30 extra people is 30 extra people, no matter what age they are, and fire codes don't discriminate based on age.

    (Unfortunately, a lot of times, neither do open bar fees for the over-12 crowd, because they assume the teenagers are going to drink. Because they are, unless you put someone on Teen No Drinking Police duty ... this is something else you have to worry about if there are kids there.)

  9. Anna D, I agree with you, but I think that the cut-off point could be a little complicated. Since there are so many children in the family, someone (or many people) are bound to be offended if the cut-off age is, for example, 16. There's a huge chance that at least a few people will be within 1-2 years of age 16, and they could feel like they were singled out for exclusion.

    If this isn't the case, and there are two major age "camps" - say, mostly 0-12, with a handful of older teenagers, the letter writer could consider drawing the line at a point that would allow the oldest kids to attend without offending the younger children.

    The safest thing to do is say "no children at all," and stick to it.

  10. You know, the other option is to put the older kids in charge of the younger kids ...

    ... of course, this backfires if the families with older kids don't come for other reasons.

  11. Prac, 30 kids at $20/plate = $600. And let's face it, $20/plate is very cheap in most places.

    For my wedding, we're inviting the kids if they are our nieces/nephews or first cousins. Also, international guests (yes, we're inviting 60 international guests) are welcome to bring their kids. That means we should have no more than eight kids at the wedding.

    If anyone complains, I'll just tell them, "Look, your kids are wonderful and I'd love to have them there, but I simply can't afford to invite everyone's children."

  12. As a parent of two kids under age 4, I can tell you this much based on my own experience:
    1. Most parents with little kids will decline the invitation (and some will feel really bad about it).

    2. Those who really, really want to come will try to figure something out. This likely means:
    a. Hiring someone. In this case they will need your help to recommend reputable* local babysitters. Be grateful to guests who do this because as a parent it is HARD to leave your kids with someone you've never met, even if they come recommended.
    b. Bringing a babysitter along. This likely means buying a plane ticket for Grandma (or the nanny) and booking a suite or an extra hotel room. Be grateful to guests who do this because it is insanely expensive for that many plane tickets, plus lodging and rental car to fit everyone.
    c. Trading off with a spouse. In this scenario, Mom and Dad take turns running between the wedding and the hotel room. This likely means each parent gets to attend about 30% of your wedding, possibly more if your wedding is in the hotel. This option sucks for the parents, especially because it's a lot of effort to haul the whole family across the country, but they'll do it if making an appearance at your wedding is important to them.

    3. Parents will wish longingly for this ideal scenario: on-site child care with reputable babysitters. Parents don't really want their kids at a wedding with them; they'd rather eat and drink and dance and have conversations while making eye contact with people, rather than glancing around at what kind of mayhem their kids may be causing. But having the kids on-site means they can check on them and deal with issues without missing half the wedding. (As a mom I'd pay good money for this option, actually, but asking your guests to pay for that is probably like asking them to chip in for a shuttle between the ceremony and reception.)

    *Random high school kids are not reputable. The sitter should be experienced with kids of that age and recommended by someone you trust. If you don't have nearby friends with kids, ask a local preschool (sometimes teachers also babysit) or mother's club for recommendations.

  13. how much is $600 in the scheme of your wedding?

    too much? ok, how about when the attendance of your close friends and family depends on that $600?

    and, for the record, not everyone buys into a reception hall with set prices.

  14. We had a no kid rule. That meant that one couple from my Mum's family opted not to come as they didn't want to come without the children.

    That said, my 17 year old cousin was extremely welcome.

    There's a world of difference between 15/16/17 year olds and toddlers. I think you need to be more specific.

  15. Well, I've bought into a reception hall with set prices. Like irisira said, my reception place won't discount children's meals. And since my mother refuses to cut down our guest list, I'm going to need that extra $600. The only people who are being asked to attend without their kids are the ones who live within a few hours (driving distance).

    And while the attendance of my friends and family is important to me, I have to take my budget into consideration as well. If that means some people need to stay home with their kids, I will absolutely understand.

  16. without getting into the cost of having kids at your wedding, what is considered appropriate child behavior (i'm starting to think the kids in my family are little saints), and the whole "who gets the attention" thing, here's the bottom line...

    if i was invited to a friend's wedding where kids were not allowed, i would gladly leave my kid with the grandparents for the weekend and go have a blast. however, if it was a family member's wedding where all of my family members were invited and there were no kids allowed, i would just skip it. a) i don't think most people would want to, or could even afford to fly their kids and then have to pay for child care to attend a wedding, and b) i also don't think most people feel very comfortable leaving their kid(s) with a non-family member for a few days so that they can get out of town.

    it's your wedding. if you don't want kids there, then by all means don't have them. just know that there will be hurt feelings, and a fair amount of family members that just won't be able to make it under those circumstances. if you're cool with that and it's worth it to you, well then, there's your answer.

  17. i too will have 30-35 under 12 kids at my wedding. when i was first doing planning, my initial thought was to say "F no, that's way too much money!" But then I remembered when my cousin John got married and I was 11 and confimed to the babysitter's room with a magician and hot dogs. I remember crying and crying and crying because I wanted to be out with my other cousins and family dancing and celebrating. To this day, 15 years later, I really remember the lonely feeling of being "left out of the club."

    At my wedding, kids are coming, even if it's expensive (we did get it down to $11/plate for kids under 12). Kids are part of family. One of the big reasons I'm throwing a wedding and not eloping is for my family, kids included. Oh, and behavior? I trust my family members to raise/discipline their kids, there is a park down the street where little ones can run around if needed, and with the billion aunts/uncles there, they can swap out babysitting duties, should kids need to go the hotels soon. My ceremony is about family and the growing and changing nature of it. I don't need a fucking spotlight on me. Oh, and the awkward middle school kids? I am SO pumped to welcome them to be adults and eat and dance and get down with the rest of us. I think that's imperative to raising good/well socialized kiddos.

    You don't have to invite kids to your wedding. Your choice, 100%. This is just how I arrived at the choice to invite them and why I feel A-OK with it.

  18. i've seen that photo floating around pinterest and LOVE it. excellent pick.

    also. i'm kinda with her though...i would hate to be the one to say "don't bring those little rugrats i love so dearly...i just want you guys to be able to cut loose! do some cocaine! make some mistakes!" yikes..not the cocaine part.'s scary to be confrontational sometimes...but if you really don't want the kids there, you have to ball-up.

  19. I had an extensive conversation with my boss, a long time family friend, and parent of two boys under 5, about this exact matter. His bottom line argument: don't make parents choose between their children and you. Hire childcare, put one hour into thinking up games for them, and it will pay dividends all night.

    I too have 25+ children under 10 coming to our wedding next year, and my cut off for kid's plates is 7 or under. Everone else eats what the grown ups eat.

    ps. I love my caterer.

  20. We decided that we'd have no children under 8, and to severely limit the number of kids in the 8 & up range. I don't want my ceremony drowned out by high-pitched whining, crying, or incoherent babbling. I don't want the servers put in danger while trying to do their jobs by miniature maniacs running around unsupervised, bashing into people carrying heavy trays of hot food. No matter how many adults/relatives will be there, trust me, they will be too invested in having themselves a good time than to play nanny nursemaid to someone else's kids. Toddlers are plain impossible to control, and until kids hit school age, they have no concept of "sit down and shut up." After watching tons of bored, miserable kids at weddings get hurt because they want to "play" by running around and getting underfoot, I still don't see why it's so impossible to just leave them home or somewhere else. They're not enjoying themselves. They're not happy. And chances are, if they're under 6, they're not even mentally present - no better than an extremely drunken guest. Don't make anyone force you to include those you feel would change your wedding into something you don't want.

  21. I had to "ball up" (as Lizzie put it) and inform guests that we were having an adults-only ceremony and reception. Almost everyone understood and made arrangements. However, this caused MAJOR friction with my then-fiance's sister (i.e. now, she's my sister-in-law) about her two kids, since they were traveling from out-of-state. Our "no kids" request created A LOT of drama and tension between us; and we'd always been close before that. She came to the wedding sans rugrats, and she put on a happy face, but if I could do it all over again: I would've allowed her kids at our wedding, just to avoid controversy.

    It's a sticky situation. I hope everyone is understanding about the "no kids" thing. If not, you're gonna have to be OK with dealing with drama AND/OR the possibility of the parents not coming, since their kids can't come. Best of luck!

  22. THE TRUTH - this will NOT end well. I have been here and the result was a cancelled wedding, a wedding dress given to charity and my relationship with my sister (she of 5 kids) ruined, I will never forgive the bitch.
    In the end my fiance and I flew to NY and got married (we live in the UK) and had a party when we got back, kids invited. We had a great day but as unfair as it is (and it is) if you don't want kids at your wedding you must be prepared for the shit storm or getting married alone a long way from home.

  23. just a quick and slightly devil's advocate question...

    Isn't it the parent's job to ensure their children behave well in any situation? Why is a wedding different? I don't see any reason you can't talk to the parents in advance and explain that you don't want any bad behaviour and that they will have to take their kids away if they misbehave.

    I also think it is a bit odd to suggest someone under the age of, say 12, isn't a full member of your family! You would never suggest that you weren't going to have anyone over the age of 65 as they cramp your style, so sorry grandpops you can't come to my wedding. At the risk of sounding like the mafia family is family. Just accept it with good grace and have a fab time...everyone will be looking at you regardless of how cut the kids are. and if not just tuck the back of your dress into your knickers!

  24. It just comes down to how badly you want the relatives there. If your wedding won't be the same without them, then you need to accept the kids and figure out a solution. If you're okay with them missing it, then you can just make it a no kids wedding. You really can't get it both ways. Flying across country and leaving your kids behind is a major inconvenience and most parents will probably opt out.

  25. i wouldn't go to my own best friend, brother or sisters wedding if they excluded my children. its just so fucked up, there's no excuse except that these women are blinded by a self-absorbed bridal fog.

  26. I think the bigger problem here is that you have 30 kids in your family!? wow. are these all kids of immediate family? or are they your friends' kids? second cousins? If you wanted to save a little cash by cutting down the number of people you are inviting, consider instead eliminating families altogether that are more distant relatives (such as, no cousin jimmy and his 3 kids), or friends that live far away (that might not have spent the money on 4 plane tickets anyways)? That way, there may be a few kids in attendance, but not 30 from the ages of 0-18.

  27. i mean, it makes a little more sense to people if you say "only our closest family" is invited rather than "anyone and everyone is invited, unless you are a kid." you know? If you are inviting your effing sister, but not her kid... there may be a problem.

  28. i think its NUTS for some ppl to not include their or their fiance's neices or nephews. those arent "just kids"

    bahhh. i was so strong NO KIDS until my brother had a kid, no way will my big day not include him. with that said, we did cap it by allowing only family-kids (neice, nephew and cousins) and no friends-kids.

  29. Couple of good points about kids. it makes a little more sense to people if you say "only our closest family" is invited rather than "anyone and everyone is invited, unless you are a kid." - gotcha. We did my husband's nieces and cut it off there - though, I did *almost* invite my cousin's two kids whom I adore and are like a niece and nephew to me, until my cousin's wife gave me an easy out by saying she and cuz wanted to leave them home so they could cut loose!

    The question becomes - are you excluding them for space/money reasons, or are you excluding them because you don't want kids there? If it's the former, you can probably come up with some reasonable cutoffs. If it is the latter, that's legitimate too, but be prepared for some gnashing, and be prepared to be gracious if people decline the invitation.

  30. DON'T pay for a babysitter. That's not your job. They're not your kids.

  31. although it was slightly cheaper to not have them there, it definitely wasn't the deciding factor for us. I just honestly never pictured kids at my wedding. ever. as cute as they can be, I've never planned on having any of my own and I would never expect/assume if I did, to tow them around to EVERY invite.

    just say no. srsly.
    we did and we don't regret a thing.

  32. Hey, Anon - is the self-absorbed bridal fog anything like the self-absorbed mommy fog that causes a woman to think that her kids must be included in everything, and must go everywhere, despite whether it's fair or appropriate to anyone else?

  33. Well said Sharon!!!

  34. We had backlash also for an "Adult Reception to Follow". That was the exact wording we used. Someone actually had someone else question us about not inviting their kid, and actually crossed out the #2 on the rsvp card and wrote "3". So yeah, be prepared. Can you maybe pay some of the older kids to act as babysitters for your wedding?

  35. "Self-absorbed bridal fog" srsly? Are you the person who also shows up to cocktail parties with their little angels in tow because you can't imagine leaving them home? The people hosting the wedding get to choose who is and is not invited. If you do not like their choice of who is invited you get to decline the invitation. Why is this so hard for people to understand?