Little kids are often the cutest things at a wedding — but only when they are dressed to the nines, carrying rings or flowers down the aisle, smiling for the camera, and legitimately part of the matrimonial ritual itself. Beyond that, I’ve come to believe after more than three decades of wedding-going that, if you actually want to enjoy the wedding yourself, it’s usually best to leave the little ones at home. That goes for even when they are officially invited, though I’d also advise those about to take the leap that it’s perfectly all right and probably best to leave the kiddos off the invite list, as well.
Only when I became a parent myself did this kids-at-weddings situation become more of a quandary. When it first struck, with cousins getting married at a palatial estate in South Lake Tahoe where kids were not welcome, I was a tiny bit offended, even though they offered day care in a guest house just behind the party. Our son was still very young, and we weren’t comfortable leaving him with a teenager we didn’t know, especially with a dozen or so other kids to watch. So my wife stayed at our rented pad instead. (Hey, it was my cousin!) But later, when we were allowed to bring our son to a college friend’s wedding north of Truckee, it was a mostly miserable experience — mainly for my wife, who wound up with most of the hassle (hey, it was my friend!), but that translated to a less-than-ideal experience for me. There were other bad times, too, with a major exception being my brother’s wedding, when my son walked the aisle with a ring, smiled for the camera, and was the welcome star of the dance floor.
Aside from those official roles, though, the reality is that even the best kids need attention constantly. But weddings should be all about the couple getting hitched. When you bring your kids, you wind up missing a lot, arguing with your spouse about who’s on duty, and bringing a lot of that usual family-life drama into what’s supposed to be a magical experience. (I can’t honestly remember if our daughter, now nearing 4 years old, has ever been to a wedding.)
Perhaps more importantly, if that couple in question is thinking about having kids themselves, why ruin their dreams of perfect parenthood so early?