The 'no children' wedding invite

Brides and grooms exercise their power to include or exclude babies and children at weddings - occasionally with some ...
Brides and grooms exercise their power to include or exclude babies and children at weddings - occasionally with some fall-out. Photo: Getty Images

"It's her wedding, so the day is all about her, not your baby."

That's what the sister of the bride told me when I tried to plead my case for having my six-month-old solely breastfed son at a gathering for the bridal party the morning of the wedding.

It was the wedding of one of my oldest and dearest friends, and she had invited me to be her bridesmaid. It was quite an honour.

Children were welcome at the ceremony but hadn't been invited to the evening reception. I thought that was completely fair and understandable.

The problem was getting ready at the hotel prior: the hair, the make-up, the champagne and rock and roll. I was expected to be there all day, unencumbered by my cling-on.

It's not an unusual tale of woe. It appears that the topic of children attending weddings is quite a polarising subject, one in which feelings get hurt, tempers flair and friendships are ruined.

But is someone being unreasonable by requesting no babies at their function?

Six years ago when Alexandria Elliot-Cribb married her husband they decided they wanted to celebrate with their friends – without the distraction of littlies.

"We chose to have a kid-free wedding with the exception of babies on the boob and four family little ones," she says. "We had a handful of friends with smallish children and we chose to sensitively approach them and explain that we really wanted them to party with us, as opposed to them chasing after their little ones all day."

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As sensitive as Alexandria and her husband may have been, it still caused umbrage with a couple of friends who decided not to join them on their big day.

"We got an invite to a wedding the following year and it simply stated on the invite SORRY NO CHILDREN," she says. "I wish we had been a bit more like that instead of tiptoeing around so-called 'friends', trying not to insult them or hurt their feelings. It was our wedding and we didn't want it to turn into a crèche."

For some it's a difficult decision fraught with the worry of offending, but for others it's cut and dried. When discussing her child-free nuptials, Lesley Pates puts it simply: "It's my 30 grand, so my rules." Boom, there it is.

On the other end of the decision are mums like Rebecca Felix. When she received the "no children" wedding invitation from a very close friend, she felt sick with stress and anxiety, afraid she would be ruining their relationship by declining.

"My son was 10 months and still breastfeeding – I fed him to sleep so a babysitter wasn't an option," she says. "As soon as I received my invitation I sent her a long email explaining my position. I knew ahead of time that she didn't want kids at her wedding at all, so I had been thinking for a while how I would handle it."

But her friend didn't handle it well at all. In fact, things got ugly, harsh words were spoken and the final straw was unfriending on Facebook, the modern equivalent of friendship amputation.

"She didn't understand where I was coming from at all, and didn't seem to empathise with my situation," Rebecca says.

As for my how my story ended … well, I won't go into the intricacies of how it all played out, but the short story is that I bowed out of the bridal party, went to the ceremony sans child, popped home to put him to bed, then went to the reception for a couple of hours and had a lovely time.

Sadly, our friendship has never really been the same.

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