Mum’s the Word: Should children be invited to weddings?

Ahhh summer. Balmy evenings, longer days, no more school run and wedding season. Everybody loves a summer wedding, right? A time for family and friends to come together on a picture perfect day and celebrate love. But is it a day for all of the family or should weddings be a child free zone?

My instinctive response to a wedding invitation with a no children caveat is to recoil in horror. My children are part of my family and as such should be welcome at family events, right? Not to mention you then have the pain of arranging childcare, of deciding whether you can stay at the venue overnight, and, let’s be honest, having to explain to your kids why you’re off to see a family member get married but they’re not welcome. 

I was put in this situation recently and huffily agreed that we would go child-free as requested and, given the distance, that we would stay over and arrange grandparental cover at home. As the wedding got closer I started to get quite excited; I was going to have a day to glam up and get to spend that day with my husband, also suited and booted and extra handsome looking, with no Mum and Dad duties to distract.

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Indeed, when I got to the ceremony and saw two babies present rather than thinking ‘Why are those children here when my little darlings weren’t welcome?’ I silently tutted as I couldn’t hear the vows being said over the baby in front of me crying (the tut was absolutelyquiet as I know what it’s like when your baby is crying in public, and it’s not fun and a little part of me still had solidarity with that Mum and wanted to give her a hug and tell her not to worry). We had a great day, evening and relaxed child-free morning. It was a refreshing break if I was honest.

So was I a convert to the child-free wedding? Perhaps it was a place for adults to get together to toast the happy couple (generously) and to get to reflect on their love for each other. It got me thinking about my own wedding…or should I say weddings.

My first time we had the big full white wedding, all of the family there, children included, it was the typical Irish family wedding and it’s was a pretty good day. I do have a memory of children playing ‘Who can jump on the Brides train?’ as I was dancing, which stopped being cute after about half a song, but beyond that I don’t really remember being bothered by children being present at the wedding, and I hadn’t considered I could have done it any other way. My second wedding was a clandestine affair. The ceremony was just me, my husband and our two best friends; then we had a mini reception with friends we had arranged a catch up with and it was most perfect day of my life.

Do I think that perfection came from it being a child free zone? No. And I don’t think there’s a right or wrong answer to this. Weddings are about the two people getting married and their promise to each other, and however that wedding day looks: white, red, sunny, rainy, with or without children, it’s entirely down to the couple involved. And I promise you it isn’t a comment on whether they love your children or not, it’s just how they choose to celebrate their love to each other.

So, if you have a summer wedding to go to, and your children aren’t invited, please just embrace the time away, the time to be with your other half (or to be looking for a new other half perhaps?) and to celebrate love because love is something to be celebrated.

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