There’s a pretty clear divide between two kinds of bridal couples — those who want children at their wedding and those who don’t.
For those who don’t, it can be very stressful telling your wedding guests (especially family members) that their little cherubs are not, in fact, invited to attend your destination wedding weekend.
If you do have kids at a destination wedding, you need to prepare for them and be accommodating. I have lots of fabulous ideas about that but it’s a subject for another blog. If you don’t want to have kids at your wedding and you’ve invited some people who might consider your wedding a great chance to have a family vacation, you need to nip it in the bud right away with some language in your travel information package that you send out before the wedding.
Something like the following text can send your message in a gentle but firm way:
Vieques is not known as a very “kid-friendly” island. In fact, some of the venues prohibit children entirely. While we wish we could include all the little people we love in our wedding weekend, technical difficulties preclude us from extending an invitation to children. Thank you in advance for your understanding in this matter.
Sure, you’re still going to have at least one person who thinks her child is “special” and exempt from this, but you’ve made up your mind and you have to remain firm in your decision. If you allow one guest who asks to bring a child to do it, then you have to follow suit with the rest of your guests. Before you know it, you’ve got romper room at the beach. The only exception to this is for infants who are still breast feeding. Know before you invite them that most people with children under six months old are not going to leave them with a sitter for the weekend. If you will have tiny ones on the island out of necessity, make arrangements through your wedding planner to have a reputable babysitter on hand for your evening events.
What if you want to have a flower girl or a ring bearer (or both), but you don’t want any other kids? That’s okay. It’s your wedding and those children are members of the wedding party. You don’t owe any guest an explanation for that. But again, be prepared for the irate phone call from your cousin who drags her kids everywhere wanting to bring her little angels to the islands for your wedding.
It helps if you’ve discussed this matter with both sets of parents. If the bride and groom let their parents know right from the beginning that children will not be included, lots of requests will be squashed by your parents before they even get to you. Especially from family members. Ask mom and dad to help with this. Share your feelings and let them know there will be no exceptions.
Yes, there will be somebody who doesn’t come to your wedding if you don’t let them bring their kids. You knew that when you put them on your guest list for your “adults only” wedding. That’s okay. They might be upset, but they will get over it.
Finally, if somebody really gets upset and causes a ruckus, send in your wedding planner to handle it. In Vieques, there really are a lot of venues that prohibit children. So when I get a bride with a guest who is really giving her a hard time, sometimes (with the permission of the bride) I make a polite phone call to that guest to explain that I’ve heard they’re considering bringing their children and I want to explain why that’s not such a good idea. I reiterate the bridal couple’s wishes and I offer reasons why it’s not a “kid-friendly” island. A phone call from the wedding planner usually ends the problem.
It’s your wedding. The bride and groom should have exactly what they want at their reception. And if they don’t want little kids streaking around the beach shrieking at full volume or tormenting the hotel’s house parrot, their wishes should be accommodated. Nobody has ever regretted not inviting children to a Caribbean destination wedding, but I know plenty of couples who wish they hadn’t.