Children at Destination Weddings — to Invite or to Exclude? That Is the Question.

Hello Brides and Grooms! My blog has been a bit behind this past week or so because my webmaster, Cathy Wilson, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl just a few days ago. Congratulations to Cathy and her husband Ben on the birth of Sarah Elizabeth Wilson, 6 lbs. 14 ounces. Both mother and baby are doing well, but it’ll probably be a few days yet before she gets back to posting my blog for me. I think this is why she wants to teach me to do it myself.

So thinking about Cathy and her new baby got me thinking about the subject of whether to invite children to your destination wedding. Cathy was supposed to be one of my bridesmaids, but she got pregnant shortly after I got engaged with her first baby. He was born a couple of weeks before our wedding in Vieques so she couldn’t be in our wedding party.

We had two children at our wedding in Vieques, a flower girl and a ring bearer who were the children of some of our very close friends. They both looked adorable, but the 3-year-old ring bearer spent the ceremony having a meltdown with a babysitter in a hotel room, and the 4-year-old flower girl only agreed to walk down the aisle if she was holding her mother’s hand. We got some really cute pics of the kids, but if I had it to do over again, I’m not sure I would have asked the tiny ones to be in my wedding party.

Vieques is not the most child-friendly of islands. Several of the hotels are “adults-only” and most of the restaurants don’t have highchairs or booster seats. Although a few hotels will make an exception to the no kids policy if you book the entire hotel, it does severely limit your options. You can get around these obstacles, but if you’ve been thinking you don’t want children to travel to your destination wedding, go with your instincts and make your wedding weekend an “adults-only” invitation.

Let me make one point absolutely clear — you do not have to include children in your wedding invitation. Not even family members as close as your nieces and nephews. This is your day, and you get to do whatever you want to do. If your vision of the perfect Caribbean wedding weekend doesn’t include the occasional outburst or meltdown from a little person, think carefully before inviting any little ones to your wedding. Make apologies if you must, but stand firm. Explain that it wouldn’t be a “child friendly” event and as much as you like children, you aren’t able to include them.

If you want to invite children, be prepared to keep them entertained. Greet each child with a large goody bag filled with games, puzzles, coloring books, pencils, and as many other quiet toys as you can think of. Get them a floaty toy and a sand bucket for the beach — both items that are difficult for the parents to bring with them. Make arrangements to have a babysitter on hand every evening that you have planned wedding activities. Your wedding planner should be able to arrange this for you. Kids won’t make it at a long, drawn-out dinner with lots of toasts — you have to have a backup plan or their parents will definitely have to leave your event early to take them home to bed.

Finally, there are several children’s books on the market about being a flower girl and being a ring bearer. Buy them as special pre-wedding gifts for your little attendants, and ask their parents to read them with them frequently. It helps get the kids more comfortable with their role in the wedding. Maybe your ring bearer will actually attend your wedding!

Sandy

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