Age Cut-Off For Minor-Aged Guests

by admin on December 1, 2011

This is the story of my first encounter with a child who proved to be a bit troublesome when it came to enjoying a wedding.

Myself and my mother recently attended the wedding of a childhood friend of mine (her mother used to watch me after school when I was little; they’re my second family for all intents and purposes) and her longtime sweetheart. It was a solemn, sacred, and overall beautiful ceremony. Although the sermon may have led me to chew my lip at times, I kept silent during the pastor’s rather incendiary remarks that I will not repeat here. That wasn’t the worst part of the wedding, though. The worst part of the wedding was a baby cousin of the bride, probably a two or three year old. I’ll just call her Baby.

All throughout the ceremony, Baby kept making noise and asking her mother for things, with her mother repeatedly responding with a “shhhhhh!” Because of this shushing, I missed more than part of the vows, and some of the not so incendiary talk from the pastor. Having read a number of blogs related to parenting on the internet (I myself am not a parent, but a pet parent) I was of the idea that publicly, vocally criticizing the raising, parenting, and/or discipline of one’s child was heavily frowned upon, so I simply said nothing, sucked it up, and sat through the ceremony, noisy child behind me.

Fortunately Baby didn’t cause too much of a fuss with the receiving line in the church atrium after the ceremony. The bride looked stunning, her mother looked like an old-time movie star (my mother compared her to Rita Hayworth), and the groom looked as happy as any man could be on his wedding day.

We get to the reception hall, and Mom sends me in to get our seat assignments while she has a cigarette before coming inside. I pick up our name card and go to the proper table. We’re seated with our neighbors from across the street and, wouldn’t you know it, Baby and her family.

Throughout the evening, Baby was proving herself to be a liability.

The caterer was nice enough to give every child in attendance a placemat and crayons to enjoy. Baby started off well enough with these, but quickly grew bored of the crayons, instead deciding to play with the favors, which were hand-painted candy pops, left on the table. She’d grab a bunch of them at once and repeatedly bang them on the table as though they were drumsticks. Her mother would take the candies out of her hand, Baby would grab them again, mother would take them out of her hand, Baby would grab them again, lather, rinse, repeat. At one point, the mother tried to encourage Baby to start coloring again, which she did for all of two minutes, before she started throwing the crayons, so the mother had the caterer take the crayons away. So what happened when the crayons went away? Bang bang bang go the candy pops!

An hour or so later, well into the dinner service, and after hours of crayon throwing and taffy banging, the mother finally gets the candy out of the child’s reach. What does Baby do? She gets up and starts running around our table. Her mother calls out her name a few times to get her to come sit down, but never gets up from the table to fetch her child. I didn’t drink as much (soda, the only alcohol I drank was during the toast) as I would have liked since Baby got up from her seat at rather unpredictable times to run around and either bug another adult or just run around, and I didn’t want to knock her down or want her to get hurt. The child seriously could not sit still for any longer than two or three minutes at a time.

Just as dinner was winding down, one of Baby’s parents, which one escapes me, retrieves a stroller, where Baby is strapped in and eventually falls asleep. The only question in my mind was why didn’t they do this sooner, when she was a walking hazard and couldn’t sit still for longer than a minute or so at a time!? At this point, our neighbors leave, and Baby and her parents leave before the cake cutting. After the cake is cut and I have my slice, Mom and I are well tired from the evening, mostly from making sure Baby didn’t hurt herself, so we give our congratulations and farewell to the family before heading out ourselves.

Do I have any good memories from the reception? Oh, absolutely. I nearly wept during the father/daughter dance, and it was only the song’s end that stopped any water works. The bride and groom were quite playful during the cake cutting, although not playful in the dress and/or tux dirtying way. The hors d’oeurves were phenomenal, and the selection of such was vast. The roast beef and pasta were excellent. Even my sodas were flavorful and cold, and not at all watered down. The hospitality provided by our hosts was second to none. However, despite all of this, my enjoyment was significantly dampened by Baby’s running around and noise making.

Baby was far from the only child at the wedding; in fact, there were many many children present, and they stayed on the dance floor with the bridal party. The DJ they hired is another atrocity I will save for another day, although he did eventually get people dancing, but again, mostly the kids and the bridal party.

I didn’t attend my first wedding until I was either 13 or 14; there were children at this wedding too, but they were very well behaved. My maternal cousin’s civil union reception had no children present. My paternal cousin’s ceremony had his daughter, my second cousin, as flower girl, but the cocktails and dinner reception was adults only. There were plenty of weddings that my mother and father attended before then, some of those I’m sure now I was also invited to, but I never attended; I was either left at home with the non-attending parent or a sitter if both of them went. I would have been far more content staying at home watching cartoons or playing video games or eating chicken nuggets while wearing my PJ’s, all while the sitter did her homework, than being stuffed into some dress I hated and being made to “play grown up” for a few hours. I’m sure Baby was of a similar mindset.

Despite all of this, I don’t blame Baby at all; she’s only a toddler and not really accountable for her actions yet, but was it really that difficult to find someone not attending to watch the child while Mom and Dad had a good time? I’m all for involving the next generation in important events like this; heck, when me and my SO decide to finally walk down the aisle, we’ve agreed upon my second cousin, who is about eight or nine right now, to be our flower girl. However, when the child’s too young to even remember anything or too young to sit still for a period? I think it would behoove the parents to get their bundle of joy a sitter.

Which leads me to a question that’s partially influenced by these occurrences: Is there a polite way to invite older children (school-age and up) while not inviting infants and toddlers, or is children an all-or-nothing deal? Neither I nor my SO are good with small children (and we don’t want any children of our own-our kids will have fur, feathers, and fins) and I would love to share the father-daughter dance with all the fathers and their daughters in attendance, but at the same time, I want the adults to enjoy themselves without having to worry about crying babies. (Fortunately Baby herself never cried or screamed!)  1121-11

You can invite whomever you wish to your wedding.  For my own evening wedding, we did not invite any children under the age of 18.  For my daughter’s wedding last year, the guest list did not include children under 16 with the exception of immediate family and even then we assigned their reception seating with other family members with babies or toddlers.  I have seen many weddings where there is an age cut off such as 13, 16, or 18 years of age.

As for attending a wedding where there are toddlers/babies in attendance, I think you just have to suck it up and deal with it.   During the ceremony you could have silently sent a message to the parents behind you that Baby is more distracting than they realize by turning your head to the side to look out the corner of your eye to see who is behind you making the commotion right at the height of Baby’s loudest outburst or Mom’s latest shushing.    I’m not talking about a full turn in the seat or making direct eye contact…merely turning the head to the side, away from listening to the speaker up front, should be enough of a signal to those behind you that their child is louder than they realized and has begun to bother others.  I have used this with great success.

As for the reception, candy favors are not worth getting bothered that Baby is trashing them.   I wondered why you didn’t take possession of your favor at the onset and put it in your purse out of reach of Baby.   It isn’t your responsibility to monitor Baby’s safety other than avoiding hurting her when she interferes with some action you are making such as trying to  dance or carrying a plate of food.   I have three children and it annoys the daylights out of me that a dance floor can be utterly monopolized by small children writhing on the floor, sliding across it and dancing like little maniacs to the exclusion of any adults.  It’s as if the wedding reception has been hijacked into being a children’s party.    But if it is not my party, there isn’t a lot I can do about it other than police my own children’s behavior.

{ 46 comments… read them below or add one }

Lola December 1, 2011 at 12:03 pm

Meh. Normal toddler behavior. Nothing to get worked up about and allow it to ruin your fun. Every wedding reception I’ve been to, people were free to mingle and move from their tables, especially once dinner has been eaten. Then, ensuring Baby’s safety (really? Were her parents so negligent that you were seriously concerned? Or was it just an excuse to complain?) would have become a non-issue.


Chocobo December 1, 2011 at 12:10 pm

The way to restrict children from any event without offending anyone or isolating families is an age restriction — no one under the age of five, twelve, sixteen, and so on. But the caveat is if the nine-year-old second cousin is invited, any other cousin or second cousin older than nine has to be invited too, or you risk being ungracious. You really can’t cherry pick which children to invite to politely, which is why cutting in swaths — all second cousins, all children, all children under ten — is the only way to “get away with it.”


Enna December 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm

I agree with Admin on this one.


Hemi Halliwell December 1, 2011 at 1:07 pm

My personal opinion on toddlers/infants at weddings is no. They are too young to really understand what is going on and most of them do not have the patience that is required for attending such events.
When my brother got married, we traveled to his out-of-state wedding. My children were 7 and 10 at the time. Since there were quite a number of out-of-state guests with children, my brother and future SIL hired 3 local teenage babysitters to keep the children in the children’s room and to play on the jungle gym outside, behind the church, well away from the sanctuary. My kids could have attended the ceremony but they wanted to be with the other children, having a good time. It worked out wonderfully. The reception was hors d’oeuvres, punch and cake so the children joined the rests of the guests in the fellowship hall and that worked out great, too.
I think many people like to have infants/toddlers in/at their weddings because they all look sooo cute in their little tuxes and fancy dresses. But they often fail to understand that children are unpredictable and even though you think they are going to be just fine, try sticking them in something uncomfortable, and expect the to “perform” (ring bearer, flower girl) or be “seen, not heard” and the results are often less than desireable.


Jai December 1, 2011 at 1:47 pm

I’m actually thinking this post could possibly be about me. I don’t think it is – but it’s possible. I’m mum to a beautiful, usually very well-behaved 2 year old girl. We were invited to my cousin’s wedding. He lives a 6 hour drive away.

I couldn’t find anyone to watch my daughter, we had to stay overnight so I didn’t really want to leave her that long, and cousin insisted she come to the wedding anyway. I planned to travel down the day before the wedding, but thanks to very bad car trouble, we arrived at 2am – wedding was at 10am the next day.

Didn’t feel I could cancel at such short notice, and had no one to watch DD, so off we went. Not surprisingly, as she’d had 6 hours sleep instead of her customary 13 hours, DD was not her usual adorable self. I kept trying to leave early, but cousin (and other family members) insisted we stayed as we don’t get to see much of them. They seemed to find DD’s behaviour acceptable, even though I was stressed and embarrassed by the end.

Anyway, eventually got DD to sleep in her buggy, but not before she’d worn herself out a bit more. Apologised (a lot) to cousin and his new wife who apparently hadn’t noticed anything – either that or they were very gracious.

Her behaviour was much like the story told – not particularly awful, just lots of fidgeting, chattering, not wanting to sit still… I’ve seen a lot worse. Couldn’t blame her, blamed myself a lot – but what were the choices? Yes, I should have travelled earlier (we live and learn), but in this situation, I could leave and offend family, or stay and try to calm my DD as best as I could, which is what I went with.

We were invited (along with DD) to another family wedding shortly afterwards, so I don’t think we could have been too awful!

Anyway, I’m sure it was annoying, but sometimes the parents are doing the best they can in a difficult situation. And babysitters aren’t always easy / wanted / possible.


Liz March 7, 2012 at 11:34 pm

Sorry but I have to disagree. You shouldn’t have brought the baby and you should have been responsible and found a sitter.


Erin May 17, 2012 at 9:14 am

No, it sounds like she did the best she could with the situation. If you can’t find a sitter, you can’t find a sitter. No need to be rude to her about it.


Another Laura December 1, 2011 at 2:32 pm

My daughter attended three weddings before she was 11 months old. In the first two she slept through the whole ceremony (at the second she slept through the whole reception, too). But we always sat at the aisle so that if she had made any fuss we would have taken her out of the ceremony area.
One of my favorite moments was my husband dancing with her during the father/daughter dance when she was six weeks old.
Now that she is 16 months old, and much more vocal and moble, I would hesistate to take her to a wedding (although she is very good in church and loves to be around people), but it hasn’t been a problem, since all our (recently) single friends/relatives seemed to get married last year, except a few who don’t even have SOs yet, so we figure we’ve got time.


Mary December 1, 2011 at 3:43 pm

I do not agree that this is normal toddler behavior. The parents should have cracked down on the behavior immediately. But most of this was the parents’ fault.

My daughter was asked to be a flower girl in a cousin’s wedding when she was 20 months old. She behaved during the ceremony (in the pew with books) and at the reception. It’s all in how the parents treat their child.


Michelle December 4, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Mary, it must be nice to have a child who will sit still, however it’s not just parenting that kept your daughter well behaved during your cousin’s wedding, it’s also the child’s nature. I know children in the same family, raised the same way, who would have reacted quite differently due to their natures. One would have indeed just sat in the pew with books, the other wouldn’t have sat still for any amount of time. I have only one child and she is a very active child. Yes, she will sit still for a short amount of time (she wouldn’t have at 20 months, though!) but most of the time she gets bored with doing one thing. Please don’t push your child’s nature on others and say it is your parenting skills alone. It’s a combination of parenting and nature.


Izzy January 2, 2012 at 2:56 am

Nothing stopped the parent/s from stepping outside to calm the toddler.


bloo February 25, 2012 at 12:48 pm

‘Daughter’? Singular?

It’s funny, I know several couples having only one child who feel ‘it’s all in the parenting’. I know several more couples who felt that way ‘TIL THEY HAD THEIR 2ND CHILD!

Michelle is correct that the child’s inherent nature is also culpable.


WildIrishRose December 1, 2011 at 3:50 pm

I had an age cutoff for my wedding–I don’t remember what it was, but no babies or toddlers were invited. The only person who got mad was my own mother, who declared that she should be able to hold her grandson (age five months) at my reception. My sister simply got a babysitter and that was that.

My reasoning for the age restriction was just what OP mentioned–I didn’t want people to miss what was going on at the altar, and I didn’t want to be distracted by crying babies. My MIL tried to talk me out of this (her own brand-new grandson was seven months old at the time) by telling me I wouldn’t remember any of it anyway, but I stood my ground and I don’t regret it for one minute. I might add that I had neither a ring bearer nor a flower girl, either. I know people think little kids are cute all dolled up, etc. but they get bored and fidget or talk or whine or call unnecessary attention to themselves, and that works my nerves. So I just opted not to have them.


WildIrishRose December 1, 2011 at 3:51 pm

P.S. I forgot to mention that it’s not really unusual–at least, it wasn’t at the church where I got married–to provide a nursery for babies and toddlers during the ceremony. There’s usually no shortage of teenage girls who would happily provide babysitting services for a nominal fee. This could be worked out with the B&G or with individual parents.


Shoegal December 1, 2011 at 5:02 pm

I invited children to my wedding – but excluded them from my rehearsal dinner. I have many young nephews and nieces so they all had to stay home. The wife of my cousin did not attend because her son was excluded even though there were ample babysitters available. I really did not feel this was ungracious of me – it was just a dinner – there was no dancing and nothing a small child would enjoy. They were free to whoop it up at my reception the next day and run around and enjoy themselves.

Baby actually didn’t seem like an ill behaved child – it is typical young child behavior. Their attention spans are quite limited and nothing will occupy them for long. Admin is right – the child’s safety is not your responsiblity – so you didn’t need to be overly concerned except to stay out of Baby’s way and it really didn’t sound that unpleasant. The child was gone before the cake cutting. Perhaps the parents did not have anyone to babysit – or maybe they just enjoy having their baby with them.


GroceryGirl December 1, 2011 at 5:08 pm

So, the kid wasn’t crying or screaming, didn’t break anything or ruin anyone’s food…she banged some candy on a table and ran around in circles. On a scale of sweet to hellion sounds like Baby ranked more on the sweet side. I can see how it would be annoying but it really doesn’t sound like it should have spoiled your evening to such an extent.

Maybe Baby won’t remember the wedding but mom and dad will and there will be pictures. Maybe it meant something to the bride that she was there. You have the right to choose who you want at your wedding, but this was not your wedding and it isn’t your place to dictate the guest list.


Nellop December 1, 2011 at 7:25 pm

Personally, I’m all for the no scream-y babies/shriek-y toddlers at a wedding thing. I think that a wedding should be a really enjoyable celebration for everyone there – and I know many people who find that running after or constantly shushing their small child less than enjoyable.
I also agree with previous people who have said that a cut-off needs to be a cut-off. I have a small cousin who is exceedingly well behaved, and a friend’s daughter who is the same. I also have a cousin who is a total brat.
However I wouldn’t want to have the ‘these two are invited, but your demon is not because he ruins everything and kicked and threw his ribena over the bride at the last wedding we were at’ conversation… I’d rather just be able to go ‘no-one else his age is invited, no he can’t come.’

About the comment about the OP putting her favours aside if she was worried about hers getting damaged – I took it to mean that it was a problem because of the banging noise that the child was making with them, rather than the OP being precious about a lollipop. I can see how a child making loud bashing noises would get on a lot of people’s nerves – I know it would have really annoyed me to have a child playing ‘mini drummer’ on the same table as me for any length of time.


Maribeth December 1, 2011 at 8:15 pm

“Baby’s” behavior was normal toddler behavior. I am assuming she was invited to the wedding, thus, the wedding hosts expected normal toddler behavior.

All ages of friends and relatives were invited to my wedding. Now, 35 years later, many of the adults in my wedding photos are either dead or dying. The children in the photos are now in comfortable middle age with interesting careers and growing familes of their own. I’m glad I invited children to my wedding.


Anonymous December 1, 2011 at 9:02 pm

At a wedding I went to, one of the bridemaids had a two year old. He yelled “Transformers, Go!” In the middle of the ceremony and ran up to his mom. No one minded. Because he was a kid. People need to stop expecting kids to be anything other than they are. Your wedding, your choice, whatever. But at someone else’s wedding? MYOB.


Jdbar December 1, 2011 at 10:13 pm

Admin’s first sentence is the key. The couple can invite whomever they wish. As long as no one’s safety is compromised or there’s no ruckus that disrupts the entire proceedings, a wedding that includes children as guests is going along alright. Who knows? Perhaps the couple had good reasons to invite this child along with her parents. When my wife’s best friend got married, she would have been incredibly disappointed if we had NOT brought our 1.5 year old since she is a pre-school worker and absolutely loves kids. She had reasonable arrangements for childcare on site, so while there was a little extra chaos and confusion, it fit with the day she and her fiance wanted.


MeganAmy December 1, 2011 at 10:33 pm

I think this is a situation where the bride and groom need to know their guests. Are their guests conscientious and will the parents of small children sit near the end of an aisle and quickly escort the kids out if they make noise, or will they ignore their kids’ loudness?

We were at a friends’ wedding a few years ago and the 5-year-old in the pew in front of us said throughout the 1 hour ceremony to his dad loudly “I need to pee! I need to pee. I gotta pee.” Unfortunately, the videographer was right next to them, so I’m sure that’s what is on their wedding video too. I didn’t hear a word of their vows.

At my best friend’s wedding, I was the matron-of-honor. There were so many giggling and cooing kids that I hardly heard her vows. And I was 2 feet away from her. But it was her decision.

At our wedding, we didn’t have children under the age of about 11 (one cousin was 11, and the next children we could have invited – children of friends – were ages newborn through age 6).

When our kids are invited to a wedding, we are very honored and if we do choose to bring them, we sit near the back, near the end of the row. And the parent (DH or I) who is not as close to the bride or groom is responsible for whisking them away whether they are crying, laughing or even whispering. We’ve had brides and grooms tell us that’s not necessary. But as I told my cousin at her wedding, “If there are loud kids crying during the ceremony, it will not be my child. If you’re ok with other kids doing it, kudos to you for being a chilled out bride, but I’m not ok with allowing my children to contribute to the noise.”


Ellie December 1, 2011 at 11:10 pm

Children are a tough decision when it comes to weddings. We decided to leave them off the guest list at our wedding this past summer. It wasn’t a fun decision to make, but the parents told me they understood and used it as a chance for a date night.

So I was surprised when I saw a child at our reception that I didn’t recognize. I’ve never quite figured out who he was, but I think it was a child a second cousin is caring for. The child was very well behaved, I would say he was around 6 or 7 years old, but I felt terrible! There wasn’t a place card for him, he had no other kids to be with, and I also felt bad for the other family members who were told they couldn’t bring children.

I got over it pretty quickly, but this blog entry jogged my memory. I wanted to remind everyone that a wedding isn’t something your kid can ‘tag along’ to, if not invited. Or any guest not invited for that matter.


Tanz December 2, 2011 at 2:51 am

I feel sorry for Baby rather than the writer in this one – poor kid sounded as though she was bored out of her tree 🙁

I think that the only tactful way to keep children away from weddings is to either have an adults only affair or an age limit, strictly enforced (no ‘exceptions’). But having said that I do think it’s sad to exclude all children from family events like this. I’ve attended two weddings with twins in tow; at one they were 9 months old and at the other they were 3 and part of the wedding party. At the first wedding I was also the MC! We came prepared to manage the kids but of course there were plenty of willing helpers and when bedtime rolled around the pre-organised babysitter took them home for us. And at the second wedding the HC were aware of the hiccups that can occur with small children and totally relaxed about the possibility that things might not go according to plan (we were also poised to remove the kids if they made a big scene). We bought activities for them to do at the reception but again of course with family there were others to help keep them amused; once they were no longer in good spirits we all took our leave.

While parents need to make sure they have plans in place to manage their children’s behaviour I also think we need to stop looking at weddings as being such long, drawn-out affairs.


anonymous December 3, 2011 at 7:21 am

I agree.

We had kids at our wedding and there was some kid-centric heck-raising, but I was adamant that our wedding be a big, boisterous, love-filled family+friends affair (because to me my friends are like family with different blood) and those kids are my family. The point isn’t whether or not they know what’s going on or care – the rest of the family wanted them there. They made the event more festive and family-centric.


sv December 2, 2011 at 7:24 am

You did state that you are not a parent, right, OP? Although I agree that children should be well behaved in formal settings such as this, it sounds as though you are being a little harsh. The fact that you chose not to drink because of the child is your choice. As soon as the meal was finished you would have been free to mix and mingle with the other guests. I know just how annoying it can be when a toddler is active and demanding attention, and I empathise with you, but you have no knowledge of the backstory. Perhaps Baby’s mother felt obligated to stay, or perhaps she had no choice – or maybe she had just been looking forward to the event for so long that she simply hoped things would get better. Again, I realize ( and have experienced first hand) how irritating behaviour like this can be, but I think you are being a little judgemental and harsh for someone who has never been in that parent’s shoes.

And @Mary- it is NOT all how the parents treat them. Clearly some children in this world are raised without discipline, manners and boundaries, but many others have challenges that you obviously have been lucky enough to avoid. Simply because you have a child who does not have emotional/behavioural/developmental problems that are not readily apparent to strangers you should be careful in making the assumption that all ill-behaved children are acting as such because of poor parenting.


Rebecca December 2, 2011 at 9:00 am

Unfortunately, a parent can not choose where and when their child will behave. New situations always bring out a new personality in children, too… maybe Baby is normally very quiet! It doesn’t really matter anyway, since this behaviour doesn’t even seem all that horrible to me. Children are naturally spontaneous, adventurous, candid, friendly and aren’t usually all that self-conscious about what people are thinking about them. That’s what makes them so wonderful, and makes people (like the bride and groom, I’m guessing) want to have them around.

The ONLY faux pas I can see here is that the mother didn’t remove Baby when she was being disruptive during the ceremony. I’ve always felt that in situations where a congregation (or audience) is involved, any child making a disturbance should be taken outside immediately. I understand that nobody wants to miss the good parts, parents included, but a crying or talkative child completely destroys the atmousphere of any solemn occasion. That goes for regular church, graduations, movies, plays and anything in between. But a reception is meant for everybody to have fun, children included, and it sounds like Baby was trying to make the best of a boring situation.

When we got married I designed and printed up a chutes-and-ladders style game for the kids in the theme of our wedding. The playing pieces were pictures of the attendants (and us) that you could tear from the bottom, and you moved by flipping a coin. They went over great and kept the kids occupied, at least for a while. We even had some grown-ups asking for copies! Toys and books can go a long way, and maybe Baby’s parents should have brought some.


Chocobo December 2, 2011 at 9:43 am

Just as counter-opinion, I’m not sure how anyone expects children to learn how to behave at formal events and places if they have never been taken to them until they’re already adults.


Angie December 2, 2011 at 12:01 pm

I agree, Chocobo. In my family children are almost always included in weddings, but there’s rarely a problem because if a child starts being noisy or misbehaving the parents will take them out. It’s a good opportunity for kids to learn how to behave in an adult setting.

That being said, if you are told “no children” you shouldn’t assume yours can be an exception. My cousin and his wife specified no children at their wedding, and one of her friends brought her two-year-old son, then proceeded to not keep an eye on him. It was an outdoor reception, and the kid was running around eating flowers and getting into things. At one point I saw him standing on the road and I pulled him off… I took him to his mother who didn’t even say thank you when I told her he had been on the road.


WildIrishRose December 2, 2011 at 2:40 pm

I agree here too, but I still think there are some events at which babies and toddlers can be more of a distraction than anything else. Taking small kids to a restaurant is one thing–it’s basically public, and there are sit-down restaurants that are kid-friendly. You can certainly teach youngsters to behave well even at McDonald’s. But a wedding is a private event, and if the B&G specify no children, then no children.


chechina December 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm

Agreed. No one can ever rise to the occasion if they never have the occasion!


MellowedOne December 4, 2011 at 8:33 am

Training begins at home. I believe one poster mentioned how they did that, as an example.

Parents, work with them at home, and in other informal situations. If they are still ‘working on’ their skills (with active parent monitoring) in a formal situation such as a church or reception hall, when they are fussy take them out! Don’t ignore it, don’t provide half-hearted attempts to control it, and for heaven’s sake don’t expect others to put up with it because their little one is’ just acting normal for his age’.

No B&G deserve to have their wedding/reception be the training ground for unruly


Jay December 2, 2011 at 10:12 am

I certainly agree that it was an issue, but some of this was self-inflicted. You didn’t drink as much as you wanted, because the kid was running around the table? You (and the other guests) didn’t simply take your own candy favors and stick them in your purse, or at your place setting?

It’s a shame that the parents weren’t doing what they should’ve been (taking the kid to the dance floor? or out into the hallway or another open area to work off some energy?), but I think you let them ruin your day more than was strictly necessary.


Guppy December 2, 2011 at 12:33 pm

My mother, bless her, taught my sister and me how to behave before we went to any gathering. We had pretend dinners in restaurants. My father was the waiter. We had pretend plays where we started at the car and walked up to the door and handed the tickets to the doorman, Dad again, walked in and were shown to our seats by the usher, guess who? The lights went down and the TV began and so on clear through intermission and curtain. When we were infants we were taught to be quiet at home every day for a while, Mother said. It sure worked. I was never upset when I was at an adult type thing. And, I kept my mouth shut for the most part. Give children a chance to behave. They will if they know the rules before they get somewhere public.


LovleAnjel December 2, 2011 at 1:19 pm

Guppy, that sounds like a lot of fun, aside from practicing being in public.


WildIrishRose December 2, 2011 at 2:41 pm

Your parents were really on to something here! I wish I had thought of this when my kids were young. I’ll have to save it for grandchildren. 🙂


Bird December 2, 2011 at 1:08 pm

I’m a bit torn. Yes, this sounds like normal toddler behaviour as seen by a person unaccustomed to toddlers, but I also think the parents might have handled it a bit better. I’m unclear whether she had something to play with during the ceremony (was she asking her mom for her toys or asking what was happening?). Hopefully it was for quite toys which had been brought so she could have something to do.

What I’m not clear on is why neither of the parents got up and moved around with the little girl during dinner. Generally with a toddle, my friends and I will take the squirmy kid over to a corner or the dance floor to get the wiggles out if sitting is no longer an option. The OP’s language does not make it clear whether the toddler was running all over the place unattended, or just bopping around the table (still under supervision).


Ann December 2, 2011 at 4:29 pm

I love weddings with kids. They have such fun.

It’s best, though, if a couple wants to include children, that they plan a child-friendly event — have a kid’s table or room with hired sitters, crafts, games, etc. Or, have outdoor wedding so the children can run around.


OP December 2, 2011 at 8:21 pm

OP here.

I’d like to re-iterate that I place absolutely zero blame on Baby; she is indeed a toddler and not accountable for her behavior. As for the favors? Yes, it was the noise that was bothering me. Given her position at the table, and where I was seated, my favor was never within the child’s grasp, and it went home with me in one piece; even if it didn’t, no big deal. Whether they ended up totaled or survived her play was never a concern of mine.

Why didn’t I speak up? Well, given that my mother was with me, I didn’t want to incur her wrath, either at the time or afterward, by saying anything about what was going on. She’s of the mindset consisting of “Oh, she’s just a baby!” Okay, but why aren’t her parents not doing anything to try and calm her down and keep her out of trouble? I stayed silent, not wanting to raise my mother’s ire.

As far as the watching out for the child’s safety goes, that’s just how I was brought up. I was taught to be aware of my surroundings and all of the people around me, and to especially be mindful of any small children present at all times. “They’re not my kids” never flew with my folks. This is why I didn’t drink as much as I would’ve liked, because dimly lit room + toddler burning off energy = no need for compromised awareness.

One thing I may not have mentioned in the post was that there was another child at my table, probably a third or fourth grader. Although his parents have joked to me about him being a pain in the rear, he was very well-behaved and even pulled out his grandmother’s chair for her before she sat down.

Above all else though, thank you, Miss Jeanne, for answering my question. I think the significant other and I will more than likely agree upon “School-Aged Children Welcome” on the invitation.


Allie December 3, 2011 at 2:01 am

I think you better be a little more specific than “school-aged”. They start ’em pretty young these days. My three year old nephew, who is a holy terror, is in pre-school, and I’m sure his parents would consider that “school-aged” for the purposes of your invitation. Alas, I am not a fan of kids at parties, and I married into a culture that does not believe in baby-sitters. They take kids to anything and everything except (and I think this is due to a deeply-ingrained cultural superstition) funerals. I know it’s terrible that I secretly enjoy going to funeral receptions. It’s the only time I get to go to a gathering where there are absolutely no kids present.


Hemi December 7, 2011 at 12:22 pm

I also enjoy going to gatherings where no kids are present. I am a parent, I have an 18 and 15 year old, they were taught to behave in public. They are both nice young men and get complimented on their behavior and manners. However, sometimes it’s nice to be with just adults.


whiskeytangofoxtrot December 8, 2011 at 1:52 pm

At my first wedding, we only had one toddler that I recall, and it would’ve been hard to disinvite her- she was my youngest sibling. Knowing that little kids get fidgety after sitting for very long, and knowing that Mom wasn’t going to have the foresight to plan for this, I bought a stuffed toy and gave it to Mom with the strict instruction that she was NOT to give it to her until she started getting antsy; otherwise, she’d be bored with the toy before she actually needed the distraction. I’m happy to say that mom actually listened to me (a miracle in itself), and the ploy worked like a charm!


Ruth December 12, 2011 at 6:46 am

This was not the OP’s wedding, it was someone else’s, who clearly did not mind having children of any age attending. When I was married I had a small wedding. The family were all young with young children. I was delighted that my niece to be, who was 2 or 3, decided to “sign” the book with all the other family. It is still a cherished part of my wedding tale.

I agree that the OP was finding an excuse to complain. She did not have to limit her drinking to look out for the child. That was her choice, not a responsibility. As for why the stroller wasn’t pulled out earlier, it is obvious the child was not tired before.


Leah December 31, 2011 at 2:15 am

It sounds like the child was bored to death, and at dinner (which lasted over an hour) had a choice between coloring or playing with the candy.
This is why I always carry puppets and small toys in my purse.
I get bored too.


Cat January 2, 2012 at 11:30 am

It’s not age-it’s the ability to behave. When I graduated from college at age 22, I had my graduation dinner at home with KFC in a bucket rather than going with my parents to a nice restaurant as I would have liked.

Why? Because my older brother would scream and rant at restaurants if he chose to make a scene. He had flunked out of college (no less intelligent than I am, but unwilling to write papers or study for tests) and was determined to ruin my graduation for me.

I was equally determined that, for once, he would not be in control. I refused to go with them to the ceremony and drove up by myself. I don’t even know if they attended the ceremony as I did not see them until I returned home. I chose what we had and where we went and he could do nothing about it. He was furious.


Kaloola January 12, 2013 at 12:45 am

I went to a wedding with my 3 small children. The bride very thoughtfully provided a small toy for each child to play with during the speeches. Unfortunately she gave my toddler a toy phone that made electronic ringing noises and encouraged him to repeatedly say ‘Hello’. Not sure why she chose that as I had to remove it and he wasn’t impressed with me taking away his new toy.


BMS February 13, 2014 at 3:42 pm

It’s funny, because honestly before I moved to my current state I had never heard of such a thing as a child free wedding. I come from a HUGE extended family. Dad was one of 7, Mom was one of 4, each of their parents’ families had at least 7 kids each – I had 31 first cousins, and I don’t even know how many other cousins. Everyone from birth to old age came to everything – weddings, funerals, first communions, baptisms, you name it. Because we were used to this state of affairs two things were true:

1) Most kids pretty much knew how to behave and
2) Most grownups were pretty relaxed and tolerant about normal kid behavior

It helped that we weren’t by any stretch of the imagination upper class. We didn’t expect picture perfect occasions. I think it’s that image of THE PERFECT WEDDING(tm) that gets in the way of not only being polite, but also enjoying the occasion. My sons were 11 months and 2 years at my sister’s wedding. The cousins were thrilled to get a chance to meet my kids (we live far out of state), my 2 year old had a grand old time jumping around on the dance floor with his cousins, and it was altogether a joyful celebration. Now I fully support folks who want a child free wedding, and I wouldn’t go if I couldn’t find a sitter. But it’s not an automatic disaster if someone under 10 shows up. It the sound of a little kid ruins the whole occasion for you, I think you’re expectations are a little off, IMHO.


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