Enter to win every day in CTNOW's 21 Days of Summer Giveaways. Click here to see today's prize.
Family Fun
Family Fun

Kids at the wedding? Pros and cons

For many newly engaged couples, a picture-perfect wedding embraces children or eschews them from the guest list.

"At weddings, children can be fun, warm and endearing," says Darcy Miller, editorial director of Martha Stewart Weddings, "but they can also be uncontrollable."

Miller and other experts offer advice on preserving nuptial bliss.

Bride and groom, know thyself. Couples intent on a flawless outcome should limit the number of young guests. "If the thought of a kid screaming during the middle of your vows is unacceptable, you need to know that about yourself before you send out the invitations," says Jeannie Bertoli (drbertoli.com), a marriage and family therapist in Santa Barbara, Calif., and host of the radio show/podcast "I Want a Better Life." "A metaphor that describes inviting children to your wedding would be to think of a scale, where a need for more control equals less children. But if you are the kind of bride who doesn't care if a toddler is twirling around the dance floor during the toasts, you will probably be fine with more children. Either way, you need to know that families can incur resentments at weddings that last for decades."

Parents: Prepare in advance. As soon as you accept an invitation, discuss the event with your kids. "Let them know that some people don't invite children because they can (misbehave), and ask them, 'Do you think you can do this?'" suggests Karen Ruskin (drkarenruskin.com), a marriage and family therapist in Sharon, Mass., and author of "The 9 Key Techniques for Raising Respectful Children Who Make Responsible Choices." She also advises dressing kids in classic outfits with soft, comfortable fabrics, not stiff, fussy formalwear. However, she cautions, even the most well-mannered children (and parents) can be prone to misbehavior when they are up late and overwhelmed by the excitement. "You can't expect them to act like Stepford children," Ruskin says. "And parents need to remember, this is not your special night out. Don't use someone else's wedding to kick back and let your kids run wild."

Parents: Prepare survival kits. At the ceremony and reception, kids are being asked to sit still for what seems to them like an eternity. They'll likely be bored and hungry, a dangerous combination, Ruskin says. She suggests packing a quiet activity, like a book or small noiseless toy, for either event, and treats their kids can enjoy at the reception. "If the bride and groom are not kid-friendly, don't take it upon yourself to ask for a different meal for the children," she says. "This wedding is not about you, so don't be needy."

Bride and groom: Designate a kid's table. For couples who view children at their wedding as a delight, the Martha Stewart Weddings staff suggests asking the caterer for simple meals that kids will enjoy. Paper place mats and tablecloths can serve as canvasses for art projects (but supply crayons, not markers!). Miller suggested giving kids a goodie bag stocked with drawing pads and mini-puzzles to keep them busy. If you can afford it, hiring a baby sitter or two can prevent chaos and keep kids safe, as well as allow parents to enjoy their evening. For more ideas, go to marthastewartweddings.com.

It starts with the invitation

Couples opting for an adults-only wedding must be sure their invitation is clear about which members of a family are invited. For starters, address it to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith, or John and Jane Smith, not the Smith Family, says Darcy Miller of Martha Stewart Weddings.

"You need to be clear about who is invited, starting with the names on the invitation and the return envelope," she says. "But you never want to come right out and say, 'no children allowed.' "

In addition, Miller suggests that if children are not invited to the wedding, and a family has to travel from out of state, couples can offer to assist with finding a local baby sitter for the evening.


Copyright © 2015, CT Now
Related Content
  • Giant Slide The City Slipping Into Hartford

    Giant Slide The City Slipping Into Hartford

    More than 3,500 people will relive a little bit of their childhoods on a giant scale as they slip and slide for 1,000 feet down Trinity Street in Hartford when Slide the City comes to town Saturday, Aug. 22.

  • A Madison Daycation: A Beach, A Bookstore, A Beautiful Hotel

    A Madison Daycation: A Beach, A Bookstore, A Beautiful Hotel

    Downtown Madison, Connecticut, has the feel of a beach town, though the beach itself is nearly 2 miles away. In addition to shops and restaurants, the town has one of the best independent bookstores in the state and a century-old independent movie theater.

  • Caribbean and Jerk Fest Returns To The Riverfront

    Jamaican reggae artist Luciano, Barbadian jazz saxophonist Elan Trotman, the music and dance troop Iroko Nuevo and other Caribbean-style performers head to Mortensen Riverfront Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 1, from 1 to 11 p.m. for the 10th annual Taste of the Caribbean and Jerk Festival.

  • 10 Tips For The Best Summer Runs

    10 Tips For The Best Summer Runs

    Summer is a great time for running in Connecticut — outside of the heat and humidity, the swarms of mosquitoes and flies and the crowds trying to enjoy this short-lived season of sunshine. Besides that, it's great getting a chance to lay down the ear warmers and unearth those tank tops. But once...

  • Sounds Of Mexico Come To Old State House Farmer's Market

    Sounds Of Mexico Come To Old State House Farmer's Market

    The sounds of Mexico, along with dancing, hand-clapping and maraca-shaking, come to the Old State House Farmers Market. Fiesta del Norte, Connecticut's first mariachi band, performs on Friday, July 31, at noon at Connecticut's Old State House, 800 Main St., Hartford.

  • Sunflower Maze Returns To Lyman Orchards

    Sunflower Maze Returns To Lyman Orchards

    Dinosaurs return to the fields of Lyman Orchards in Middlefield when its annual sunflower maze opens Saturday, Aug. 1. This year's maze, approximately three acres, is shaped like a Tyrannosaurus Rex.