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You couldn’t have made it clearer. By virtue of just the couple’s name on the outer and inner envelopes, kids aren’t invited to the wedding. Period. Case closed. Except for some guests, for whom the case is definitely not closed. They just have to bring their kids to your wedding. The reasons are many, and here are the most common ones:
—“We never travel without our kids.”
—“We don’t have a babysitter.”
—“We haven’t left our baby alone before, and we’d never be able to have fun.”
Then, there’s the play for your sentimentality, which would make you a terrible person if you still say No:
—“We live so far away, and none of the relatives have ever seen our baby!”
—“It would be just heartbreaking if Great Aunt Hilda never got to meet our little girl…you know, we considered the name Hilda while I was pregnant…and Aunt Hilda is getting up there in years….”
—“But we already booked our plane tickets, for four, not two…”
—“Your flower girls are going to need someone to play with, or they’ll have a terrible time.” (Oh, really?!)
Simply put, certain types of people who want to show off their kids at your wedding are going to pull out all the stops. They’re going to try to play you, and they’ll keep at it until you give in. They may even go to the mothers to play on their sympathies and get them to work you. That’s Diabolical Tactic #1. So what can you say when these guests call in to say they’d like to bring their kids—or write their kids’ names on the response card in the classic “Don’t ask permission or you could hear No” manipulation?
TIP: Have a response prepared for everyone who pushes: “We wish we could invite everyone’s kids, but that would triple our guest list and we just don’t have the space for so many people. Even little ones. Even little ones who are relatives.” This person will not laugh at your joke. “We’ve already had to say No to several relatives and friends in your same situation” Ha! You’re not unique, sister! “And we simply can’t make exceptions for anyone.” This pushy parent will launch into how rarely the family gets together, how Aunt Hilda is on her last leg, how your flower girl is going to be bored out of her mind and hate you forever, etc.
Here’s your rescue: “The wedding weekend itself will be filled with lots of opportunities for the entire family to mingle, such as at the hotel pool. We’ve heard from other guests who are planning to bring their kids and their own parents out for the weekend. While they’re at the wedding, the kids are getting quality grandparent time at the hotel. Maybe that’s a solution you can use, too.” Ball’s in her court now…she can share the hotel room with her parents and kids, and get that “meet my kids” time at the pool, at the welcome cocktail party and at other events she might plan for all those kiddie-toting parents on the guest list.
You could also plan a babysitting room, with lots of rented Xboxes, movies, snacks and great sitters, if you wish. That’s a popular notion for couples who want an adults-only reception but still want the weekend filled with their cousins’ kids and their friends’ kids. We’ve seen brides set up this babysitting room at either the hotel OR even at the reception hall. But if you do the latter, be sure to see those kids running in to find their parents on the dance floor, even if you give the sitters strict orders to let NO ONE out. You can bet that at least one mom will wrangle her kid out of the room and into the party, so if you insist on an adults-only night, leave the babysitting room back at the hotel!