Bringing kids to a wedding is not always as enjoyable as the movies make it out to be...but there are exceptions. Check out Modern Manners Guy's 3 rules for kids at weddings.
As the son of the Wedding Maven of South Florida, I often bounce my ideas on wedding etiquette off my Mom. With more than 30 years in the business, she knows everything there is to know about every aspect of planning, executing, and attending a grade-A wedding.
So when a Modern Manners Guy Twitter friend named Blake DM’d me about the rules for bringing his young son to his brother’s wedding, I asked the maven. She said: “No kids! Use that night for the adults to have fun and enjoy the event stress free.”
Having been to weddings with and without my kids, I’ve learned there are several factors to take into consideration when deciding to bring your kids to leave them with a sitter. So grab the diaper bag and box of Cheerios and let's take a look at 3 rules for kids at weddings:
Rule #1: Timing Is Everything
In an earlier episode called Can You Bring Kids to Restaurants? I talked about the do’s and don’ts of dining out with children. One thing that I kept pointing out in that article is the importance of timing. From when they eat, sleep, play, etc., when it comes to kids, timing is everything It's the main difference between, “I think we should have another baby,” and “That’s it! You’re getting a vasectomy tomorrow!”
So if your child's bedtime is typically 7:30pm, bringing him to a restaurant at 7pm and expecting anything other than an embarrassing meltdown is just plain foolish. The same goes for deciding whether or not you're going to bring your kid to a wedding. You must take the timing of the wedding into consideration.
For example, Blake’s brother's wedding is scheduled to start at 8pm. Not the cocktail hour, not the party, but the ceremony. Now, as a father of two small children, I only see past 8pm when my wife wakes me up to take the dog out at 9pm. I mean, my kids can stay up past 8, but it would be pushing it. Does Blake really want his son to flip out during the “I Do's”? Probably not.
As yourself: “Is my child able to make it all night?” And be honest with yourself when you answer.
Remember, the wedding will not (and should not) adjust to your schedule. As a guest, you have to work around the couple's plans. It’s rude to ask the bride and groom to bend to your timeline (“Is there any chance you can bump up the ceremony by an hour or so? It would really make my life easier.” Not cool.)
You may really want your child by your side that night, but it’s very hard to eat, dance, and socialize with a kid snoozing on your shoulder…or screaming like a madman escaped from an insane asylum. The thing you want to remember – and every parent can attest to this – is that a wedding is not the time to “test” your child’s tolerance thresholds. "Maybe he will want to go to sleep later tonight" is not a good strategy.
Rule #2: It's a Very Long Day
As we said in Rule #1, timing is everything - and that goes not only for the ceremony and reception, but for the entire day. Anyone who has ever been in a wedding knows that your experience doesn’t start just a few minutes before the bride walks down the aisle.
If you're part of the wedding party, there’s hair, make-up, pictures, waiting for the late groomsman, talking the bride or groom off the ledge, and then more pictures. When I was the best man at my brother-in-law’s wedding, we arrived for pictures at 12pm and the actual wedding started at 8pm. That’s a loooooong day!
Now, if you add a hyperactive child to the mix (maybe it's a flower girl or the ring-bearer), and you get a whirlwind of, "I’m bored," "I’m hungry," "When will this be over?" "Why can't I jump into the pond?"