Kids, Coworkers, And Significant Others, Oh My! Part 1
When you’re deciding who makes it onto your guest list, there are 3 categories of people who cause the most stress: kids, coworkers, and significant others of other people you intend to invite. Do you invite them? Do they get their own invitation? What’s the etiquette here, and do I have to follow it? It can get messy, and there’s no one right way to go, you just have to take a deep breath and dive on in.
Clarify why you don’t want them there (or why you’re not sure if you want them there). Are you worried about the young ones screaming through the ceremony? Slightly older ones causing trouble at the reception? The sheer number of them? If you’re worried about a certain age group, set a blanket age limit (no kids under 12 for example). The only real rule for this approach is that you can’t split up kids within families. If you’re inviting a family where part of the posse is under the line and part of it is over, that’s a major no-no (for example, I couldn’t set an age limit of 12 because in one family 2 of their kids are older and two are younger). If you’re ignoring kids because of the cost (I have 16 cousins, the oldest of which is 16, so I feel your pain) then you have a more easily defensible reason for the no-kids rule. If your concern is more about your friends’ kids than ones you’re related to, you can also go with a “no kids outside of the family” rule. Regardless of your reason, and regardless of if you’re allowing kids over a certain age or none at all, STICK TO YOUR RULE. Do not make exceptions for anyone. You may get a phone call asking why little Sally wasn’t invited. If you are going for a certain age limit or no kids at all, you can say that your space can’t accommodate children (this is one of the few instances where I think a white lie is okay). If you are doing something like a “family only” rule, you can use a variation of that and say that you don’t have enough space to accommodate everyone. Try to avoid using the budget as an excuse. Some people will actually offer to pay the added cost so they can bring their child which puts you on the defensive very quickly. Be aware that restricting kids’ attendance can cause some people to be unable to make it. Some will use it as a guilt trip. If you get a phone call saying so-and-so can’t come if little Billy can’t come, express your regrets, repeat your rule, and say “I’m sorry that you may not be able to make it. If you can find other arrangements, great! Otherwise, we’ll find a time for all of us to get together afterwards!”
If you’re inviting older kids (obviously over 18 at a minimum, though some people say the cut off is 16), they typically receive their own invitation separate from their parents (even if they live in the same house). Anyone younger can be lumped in with the heads of the house (you could simply address it to The Campbell Family).
Originally Tim and I said no to kids. Well, I said no to kids. We’re young enough that none of our friends have children, and he has a small family and only has 2 cousins. I, on the other hand, have 16, ranging in age from 16 to 7. Part of my reason was the budget. We had decided that we could afford to have 120 guests, and adding the kids either meant adding 18 people to that list (and the amount that would have cost was scary…) or having to cut out 18 other people from our list. It didn’t help that I would put about half of them in the “completely nuts” category. A certain grouping of them are just straight up out of control and are usually nightmare-ish in any social situation that lasts longer than an hour. I wasn’t exactly keen on having that circus at my wedding. But then there was the other half of the group, the half I actually enjoy spending time with. As I thought about it, I realized that the sadness I was going to feel about missing out on sharing this with the “good” group outweighed my fear of what would happen if the “completely nuts” group was there. So I backtracked, and by the time people had started asking me if their kids were going to be invited I had decided that yes, the cousins would be invited. We’re employing the “no non-family children” rule, which won’t be too much of a hassle considering I think there are only 2 kids to worry about.
That’s it for handling the whole “inviting kids” situation. Part 2 will address one of the more awkward situations: coworkers.