Child-friendly weddings
Should children be allowed at weddings? This dad thinks so.
Scott Dunlop

It’s a few weeks until my wedding, and things are getting rather nerve-wracking. We’ve had to reduce our guest list and change the venue, but we’re pushing ahead with it and hoping everything will turn out alright. My kids are looking forward to it as if it’s the Oscars and they are Hollywood A-listers.

Not everyone chooses to allow parents to bring their children to a wedding. I understand that weddings may not always be appropriate for children- especially if the reception is formal or late at night. This can create tension for family members who have children but may not have babysitters, or parents who insist “invite me, invite my kids”.

I’m in this odd position where I am slightly older (the “slightly” is important) than many people who get married, and my children are older, too. There will be a few children at the wedding which is being held in the most child-friendly place possible - a pre-school - and a couple of small babies. It’s a Cape Town affair, so late winter means indoors is probably the safest option, seeing as getting married in raincoats would spoil the photos.

Unfortunately I have had to restrict my children’s creativity around the wedding. Jonah had to be told that he must uninvite his entire class (don’t ask) for example.

Last year I went to a wedding where the couple had an amazingly catered corner for kids. It had a juice bar and well-thought out snacks. The children were very much part of that wedding, and they all seemed to enjoy the experience. There were no incidents of crying or tantrums, as far as I could see.

We’re not getting married in some lofty cathedral where the slightest niggle would echo off the ramparts, and Karen and I both know that children do raise the noise levels. We’re used to that.

There won’t be easily-broken lead crystal champagne flutes or precariously positioned ice sculptures- just a few friends (too few, unfortunately) and Karen’s family. One of the best parts of having her as a partner is being part of her large, chaotic family.

To me this is more important than colour-coordinated table overlays or mason jars full of fairy lights and dyed sand- having family and friends with children around creates a wonderful context in which to celebrate life. The oldest guest will be 80, and the youngest will be a couple of months.

I mean, having kids at a wedding- what could possibly go wrong?

What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever seen go wrong at a wedding?

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