My husband and I were invited to two weddings this fall and our 6 year old son was not invited. One of the weddings is the day after Thanksgiving, a holiday that I plan on being with my son and husband. My instinct was to either decline the invitations or to just have my husband attend alone (the weddings are for his family members). However, my husband feels strongly about both of us attending and leaving our son behind with family friends. My issue is not with whom or where I am leaving my son, my issue is more of inconvenience, insensitivity toward parents of young kids, and exclusivity.


The bride and groom are planning their entire wedding day, from the light fixtures right down to the petals on the floor. It is entirely up to them if children are on the guest list. When my husband and I got married, we did not invite children to our reception. Sometimes kids can be a distraction to the formal event, the cost per guest can be expensive, venue space can be limited, and if you invite one then you should invite all. I would like to think that if a guest at my wedding felt that they wanted to bring their child and asked me about it, then I would have said ok. We’ll never know because no one asked. Is it unacceptable to ask the bride or the groom if a child can come to the reception?


The most common answer I have gotten on this issue is to just arrange for a sleepover or leave him with a sitter. Some moms are great with doing this, but I am not one of those moms. My son has not had a sleepover yet. In fact, in his entire 6 years of life, he has not slept more than 20 feet from one of us (on most nights he ends up in our bed). So the idea of leaving him to spend the night somewhere other than with us would be traumatic for him and a long night for whomever had him. That’s not worth it to me.


The holiday wedding becomes a little more tricky. I do not plan to spend Thanksgiving without my son. I also do not plan to attend Thanksgiving with my son in a strange place and then leave him with people he does not know in order to attend a wedding reception. The wedding venue is only a few hours away and travel is an option, but we have traditionally traveled as a family on this weekend. Are holiday weddings inconsiderate when they don’t invite the whole family? I’m not sure how I will handle this one, but declining the invitation or contacting the bride or groom seems appropriate before we decide. What do you think?


If you feel uncomfortable in asking the bride or groom to allow your child to attend the wedding reception, then here are some alternatives:

  1. Decline respectfully. Send a generous gift in a timely manner, wishing them a lifetime of happiness and a memorable wedding day. I would leave out that you are not attending because your child was not invited.
  2.  Depending on distance traveled and time of event, leave child(ren) with a friend or relative for the afternoon/evening and pick them up before bedtime. This is the option we will be using. Even though the reception starts late and we will be picking our son up after midnight, at least he will wake up at home with both of us with him. Thank goodness we have close family friends (thanks Ela and Kevin!) with whom our son is completely comfortable with. It will be more of an exciting evening with them instead of watching Modern Family all evening with us!
  3.  Only attend the ceremony and decline the reception. This is a great compromise, especially on a Friday afternoon wedding. While your child is in school, attend the ceremony and come home before the reception starts. This way you can see the wedding ceremony (which is the whole point of the day), pay respects to the newly married couple, and not have to worry too much about a sitter or daycare or traumatic sleepover.
  4.  If your child is good with a sleepover, then schedule a sleepover! Win, win for everyone!
  5.  Travel with a babysitter. If you are staying overnight in a hotel, bring someone that can babysit in the hotel while you attend the wedding reception. Most hotels will have pools, arcades, movies, and other things to do that a sitter can distract your child with while you are out. Depending on the time, they could also get room service and put your child to bed. If you are lucky enough to have that, go for it!


No matter what you decide to do, be respectful of the bride and groom’s wishes. They are planning the most important day of their lives and want it to go perfectly. If they do not have children of their own, they may not have thought about what parents of a child, especially a very young child, are going through. If none of the above options are reasonable, then I suggest contacting the bride, the groom, or one of their parents to let them know of your concern. Hopefully they can remedy the situation, but keep in mind that the day is about the bride and the groom, not you or your child. Do not be offended if they say no children or adults only.


What are your thoughts on this matter? Do you have any tips to share parents whose child is not invited to a formal or holiday wedding? Comment and let me know!

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