Before I had kids, I was adamant that children should not be wedding guests, unless they were about 12 or older. I felt that weddings were adult only affairs and I didn’t believe kids needed to be in attendance just because the parents were invited. Some events are things you grow into, and in my opinion, weddings are one of them. Friends told me that after I had my own children, I’d change my mind.
And in the last few weeks, I’ve actually had the opportunity to test this theory. This fall, my husband and I had the honor of attending two weddings. During the first one, we left our son with a babysitter. During the second one, he came with us. The first wedding was a very formal and traditional affair. My husband and I had a chance to eat a long, beautiful dinner, watch the bride and groom, dance, socialize and go home late. What a treat to parents of a toddler! My son got a good night’s rest with his babysitter and the next day played with his cousins until it was time to go home.
This last weekend, we attended a more informal wedding, and our son was included in the invitation. We made the plan that we would go together and when our son got too tired, I would take him home and my husband would stay and celebrate with the bride and groom. Although we had a good time, my husband and I (mostly me because my husband was a groomsman) were constantly looking after our child and missed a lot of the details of the night. However, there were some really cute perks to bringing my child that I hadn’t thought of until I actually experienced it.
Pros to not bringing my son:
- I got to dance with my husband.
- I got to enjoy a long dinner.
- I didn’t have to leave early.
- I didn’t have to freak out that my son was going to get in the way of anyone’s photographs or videos.
- I didn’t have to leave the ceremony because my two year old didn’t understand that he needed to stay quiet for a few minutes.
Pros to bringing my son:
- he actually loved the swing band and danced for an hour!
- he behaved well during the reception
- It was fun to show him all the special details of a wedding and what people do when they choose to spend their life together
- he loved watching his dad do the sword arch, as is customary at a military wedding
- he really did have a good time.
In the end, it was fun to show my son a wedding. However, it was incredibly stressful. I was constantly worried that he was making too much noise, or not understanding appropriate behavior. He actually did rather well, but my husband and I managed him the whole night. We really were not able to slow down and enjoy the dancing or the dinner.
So, although I am happy to have had both experiences, I can now solidly say that although I adore bringing my son with me the majority of the time, I still truly believe that there are experiences one should “grow into.” When you have a toddler with you, you have to spend your time attending to him. Kids do take away attention, as they should, but there are times and places where, if possible, kids should not be present, so the guests can focus on the purpose for the gathering and not just managing their child’s behavior.
What do you think? Do young kids belong at weddings?