When I started planning my wedding last year, I was certain of a few things: I wanted to get married on the beach, I wanted my son to be my ring bearer, and I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle. As far as I was concerned, the rest of the details were just no big deal. That was until I actually started planning my wedding and I quickly realized that I was a slave to my own cause — it took over my life.
One particular detail that I got pretty tangled up in was the subject of inviting children to the wedding. Most brides have a strong preference on this topic and it can be a tricky one to maneuver. I personally understand both sides of the coin. On one hand, you have a growing guest list and limited seating. Excluding children opens up the opportunity for extra adults to attend or cuts costs all together. On the other hand, you have a single parent who doesn't have a babysitter for the night. Is it really fair to blacklist her or him because they have a child? There's also the added issue of the fact that children are rambunctious. Some brides don't want to risk a crying baby interrupting their handwritten vows; who can blame her? But from another point of view, children can liven up the party. They love to dance, they love to eat cake, and they love to have a good time. And they can add a sentimental touch to the evening. As a wedding guest, I've attended both types of weddings and I enjoyed them all for very different reasons.
When it came time for my fiancé and me to make this decision about our own wedding, we struggled with it. Our predicament was this: our reception space was made up of two rooms — a larger and a smaller room. We had enough space to seat all of our guests in the larger room if no children were invited. The rooms were conjoined but they were separated just enough to cause anyone sitting in the second, smaller room to feel like an outsider. If people were willing to spend their Saturday night at our wedding, I didn't want them feeling cast aside.
Our only option was to either exclude children all together (besides my son) or to seat the children in the second room. But the second room came with a safety issue, as both rooms were upstairs and the second room was right by the staircase. I could see headlines reading "3-year-old falls to death at local wedding." Knowing my own son, he would be down those stairs before anyone could say "I do." In the end, we decided that we didn't want to exclude any invited guests and we also wanted my son to have some kids to interact with, so kids would be welcome.
We devised a plan to address the invitations to the adults, but include an option on the response card that read "number of children attending." With knowing the exact number of children, we could create a kid-friendly zone and order kids meals (which saved us $15 a head). But we still had the safety issue in mind, and since my own son would be sitting at the kids' table (likely causing a stir), I decided to hire a nanny for all of the kids.
I'm sure you're probably thinking, "But that costs money, too." And while it did cost a little extra, she was worth every penny. She protected the kids from hitting each other, choking on food, falling down the stairs, and any other horrible scenario that might occur while adults are downing Champagne. She entertained them while speeches were taking place and we happily avoided screaming tantrums while everyone was tearing up over my maid of honor's speech. She got out on the dance floor and boogied with them — making sure they didn't get trampled by any drunk groomsmen. And last but not least, she gave me peace of mind. A bride is stressed out enough, and I felt calm knowing I had one fewer thing to worry about.
We spend so much money on other things that don't really matter at weddings. Does anyone really remember the wedding cake or the party favors? How many flowers are thrown away at the end of the night? It might have been a little bit of a luxury to hire a nanny for my kids' table, but she didn't really cost THAT much. In the end, my husband and I both agree that it was one of the best decisions we made for our special day.