Married With Children: A Discussion Post About Children At Weddings

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While I may have envisaged serenity and deep contemplation for my last moments as an unmarried woman, my son Jesse had other ideas.

I pretended I couldn’t hear the piercing screams emanating from his mouth as he flailed about on the floor. I did my best to concentrate on what the softly spoken, middle-aged woman opposite me was saying. Even in my dazed state I knew the questions she was asking were important.

My bridesmaids hurried about in their long, flowing dresses, tottering in towering heels and clutching their bouquets while desperately trying to calm my feisty toddler. I frowned, inwardly wondering why various relatives inside the ceremony room hadn’t done more to keep him entertained.

‘This is why people wait until AFTER they’re married to have children’ I thought. I may even have expressed this feeling out loud as one of our photographers led the way down the hallway towards the ceremony room…

Images from Franky's wedding. Below, her son Jesse…
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, Eliza Claire


Then, as quickly and inexplicably as my son’s tantrum had begun, it was over.

The music started up and the heavy oak doors of the ceremony room were flung open in anticipation. My little boy’s tears had been replaced with a playful look of curiosity. He grinned as he took in the scene before him. There were lots of smiling faces, some familiar, some less so. His Daddy was waiting patiently at the other end of the room.

The temptation to career down the aisle in front of such a captive audience became too much to resist. Jesse hurtled in ahead of the bridesmaids, his converse clad feet thundering along the polished floor as he let out an exuberant shriek of joy. ‘Daddyyyyyyyy!’ he cried.

Franky's Daughter Izzy…
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, Eliza Claire


A few paces behind, his elder sister trod delicately down the aisle. She gripped my own sister’s hand tightly as she took each carefully rehearsed step. The older bridesmaid was rushing, but Izzy’s every movement was weighted with importance. She stifled a grin before her face fell naturally into a look of perfect serene beauty.

Izzy was five and a half and Jesse had just turned one when Carl proposed. We were on a family holiday in Bali when he booked a babysitter and told me he was going to treat me to all-you-can-eat Chinese buffet. Instead, he whisked me off for a candle-lit meal in the grounds of our hotel and proposed under the stars. I can vividly remember wanting to wake the children the moment we crept back into our hotel room that night, so desperate was I to tell them our news. From the very moment of its inception, the wedding was about the four of us.

Having children impacted greatly on the sort of wedding we had. For obvious reasons, our social circle overflows with people that share our tendency towards pro-creation. Our original guest list featured the names of around 25 children, with an age range that extended from mere months to the daunting precipice of the teenage years. Their entertainment and enjoyment was always a primary concern during the planning process.


We invested a great deal of money in an Artful Splodgers crèche so our younger guests wouldn’t have to sit through boring speeches or a lengthy wedding breakfast. In turn, we hoped their parents might be able to relax a little and enjoy the day free of the usual demands that go hand in hand with bringing a small child to such an event. I secretly hoped having the children eat in another room would reduce the risk of my son wiping his hands and face on the train of my dress!

I knew we wouldn’t have a peaceful ceremony. Our vows were never destined to be spoken before a silent crowd of onlookers. Jesse took up residence in a corner of the room that happened to feature a metal grate underfoot. He jumped on it wildly at various points during the proceedings, revelling in the great din it created. Children played in the aisle as readings were orated and one toddler settled herself on my lap for a few minutes while her Mother stood and spoke at the front of the room.

From here on, Images from Annabel's wedding.  Below, her daughter Eska…
Love My Dress Wedding Blog – Photography Copyright (c) 2012, Karen McGowran


The formal photos were similarly chaotic. Even my enthusiastic daughter quickly tired of posing for the camera. Jesse simply refused to even entertain the notion. It took a loud rendition of ‘Old MacDonald had a Farm’ by all that had assembled outside on the terrace to produce the handful of photos that feature our son in all his wedding finery.


My first sweep of the bar after we came back into the warmth of Heatherden Hall was undertaken with a sleepy child firmly clamped to my hip. Jesse’s head rested on my shoulder and he fingered the feather trim of my coat as I chatted with guests and posed for photos, seamlessly blending the maternal with the bridal.


In the evening I danced with my daughter. It was just the two of us twirling and whirling on the dance floor. Carl stole a moment away from the commotion of the ballroom to walk Jesse round in the buggy until he drifted off. Later he had his moment on the dance floor with Izzy too, hoisting her up in the air and bouncing her along to the music.

This was our wedding, a family affair.

I can only write from the perspective of someone whose children were in attendance as I made my marriage vows. In fact, as motherhood was somewhat thrust upon me in the very early stages of courtship, I barely feel qualified to speak of what a relationship is without little ones in tow, let alone a wedding.


Moreover, what I offer here is but a small insight into what it is to marry after you’ve started a family. It doesn’t consider the issue of teenage offspring, or the question of step-children. It speaks purely of me and my babies.


I would love to add a little breadth to my observations through your own experience and thoughts on the matter…

  Will you, or did you, say your wedding vows in the presence of your {or indeed your partner’s} children?

♥  Do you think having a family of your own has shaped your wedding day in any way?

  What meaning do you think the day holds for your children?

  Have you ever been a guest at a child-centric wedding? How did it differ from other weddings you’ve been to?

  Care to share any advice on planning and executing a wedding with children in tow?

Franky x



Franky is the Love My Dress Intern. You can read all her blog features here. Franky is also an employee at Love My Dress {yes, paid and everything!} and heads up all admin and customer service/support queries – please don't hesitate to drop Franky a line if you would be interested in becoming a sponsor or learning more about how you can get involved. ***

51 thoughts on “Married With Children: A Discussion Post About Children At Weddings

  1. I got married 3 years ago and my two youngest were 3 and almost 1 it was a small registry office and I only had 5 guests. My youngest was tired we had arrived back from holiday the day before. He was clingy he was still breastfed too. A ‘friend’ said you can’t have him at the wedding, then when we were there she said ‘you can’t hold him’ I ended up holding him nearly the entire service my duty as a mother comes 1st I can still talk and take a vow while child wrangling!
    We got married after 11years of being together after we got married the registrar asked me if I would like the forms to make my children legitimate! I declined. But did ask what difference it would make ‘none she said more just a peace of mind’ how very odd!
    I’ve been to weddings where children have not been allowed but then I didn’t have children either so can’t really say much on it, obviously now most of my friends are married and have children but if we were invited to a wedding and it said no children we probably wouldn’t go because we don’t use babysitters. And I’ve been to weddings where children have been and they have a lot of activities planned like croquet and things like that which I think is brilliant and should happen more!

  2. Good morning Annabel and Franky,
    Franky, yet another great post!
    My fianceé and I are getting married May 2013 and have pretty much focused our wedding on our daughter and the other 7 children that will be in attendance, our wedding party consists of 21 people including us 2!
    Our daughter will be nearly 5 when we marry and from the off, decided she would be included in the preparations.
    People are noticeably shocked when our response to the “colour theme” is ” whatever colour Noa picks for her dress”
    Our venue, while stunning, was picked because it is exclusively ours, is situated on a large green patch of land and they openly encourage outdoor games, swingball and garden jenga anyone?
    We know that they are all full of fun and that there will be tantrums, shouting and the odd parent running around while we say our vows, but it’s part of the fun and we wouldn’t have it any other way.
    I have been to a few child free weddings and they are great, a little more relaxed for one!:), but
    our daughter is our world and we couldn’t imagine not having any children at our wedding.
    I just hope I’m still as positive when the day is finally here!
    Have a great day ladies

  3. I don’t have any kids, and we’ve made the decision not to have children at our wedding… we couldn’t afford the extra cost of a creche, and to have them all at the reception would have required a room twice as big. I felt really guilty about this at first, but everyone has been more than happy with the decision and said they’re looking forward to just relaxing and having a good time, so (luckily) it’s worked out quite well. We’ve made two exceptions for very close family (my fiancé has young siblings) so we’re going to make sure they have plenty of activity books and things to keep them occupied during the food and speeches.
    I do think if we already had children ourselves it would have been a completely different situation – I think the ‘chaos’ you describe sounds brilliant and I’d love to attend a wedding like that (seeing children have fun just puts a smile on your face, doesn’t it?) but with our budget and limited numbers, it just wasn’t an option for our own!

  4. Thank you for your comment Nataliya.
    I’ve always loved the atmosphere of a wedding with loads of chlidren in attendance, so much fun and laughter! That said, I can totally understand why those without children themselves might not warm to the idea. It’s a very personal thing I guess.
    Despite the tantrums, I feel very lucky to have had my children with me on the day. It sounds like you were married as a family, just like us!

  5. How lovely Em, your wedding day sounds as if it will be wonderful.
    I’m sure your daughter and the other chidren will really appreciate all the effort you’ve gone to. If we had married in the warmer months I think I’d have done the same in terms finding a venue with plenty of outdoor space. Children actually need very little in the way of entertainment when they’ve got command of a wide open space! As we were married in January I knew they’d all be knocking about indoors and far more likely to get bored!
    It’s worth remembering it can be a very long day for little ones, having some space with blankets and cushions for them to collapse on if/when they’re wiped out is a really good idea!
    I have no doubt you’ll still feel positive when it’s all over! My memories of the children on our wedding day, even the tantrum filled ones, are very precious to me.

  6. I get married in Oct and I will have a two year old, I also have 3 pages boys under 3. Ive said to all my other friends no other children which is causing mayhem which annoys me as at their weddings (before the hand children) then said no children! at my wits end, but I dread the thought of saying my vows and have a child (including my own) scream though them.
    Any advice appreciated!

  7. I can totally understand your reasons Nikki! Even I gawped at paying £40 a head for meals for the children, especially as I knew first hand how much they would probably eat versus what would end up on the floor!
    We’ve been to a couple of weddings without the children and it’s been lovely. We’ve always made a weekend of it and relished the opportunity to relax as a couple. For obvious reasons our own wedding was never going to be like that, but I would never question anyone elses decision to go childfree for their big day!
    My top tip for keeping little ones entertained during the ceremony is lollipops! Our groomsmen handed them out as guests arrived and most of the children were very quiet during the vows as they were so busy licking their lollies! makes for cute pictures too 🙂

  8. I had children at my wedding and my daughter was almost 2. She was a flowergirl and one of the vividly remembered moments of the day was our arrival at the reception venue. Someone told her what we were having to eat and she started an enormous tantrum because she decided she wanted Readybrek! After about 15 minutes of tears, snot and screaming, my uncle had to drive to the nearest Sainsburys to buy some! The staff kindly ended up making 3 bowls for her but it kept her happy so all was good in the end 🙂 That was 13 years ago and people still laugh about it now.
    It was lovely during the service in the registry office to hear her tell my mum that “mummy looks pretty” awwwwww!!
    I’m all for children at weddings as long as provision is made for their entertainment. Put yourself in their shoes….the everyday wedding is pretty boring for a small child and they don’t understand the expectations of them. Even a few colouring books and crayons can make the world of difference.
    However, I do fully appreciate that there are some people who choose not to have children in attendance for whatever reason and I respect this. It would not stop me from attending someone’s wedding if my daughter wasn’t invited. After all, it’s their day and we all have our dream and vision for how we want it to be. The world would be a boring place if we were all the same after all!

  9. As I said in my comment above, handing out lollipops to the children for the ceremony definitely helped with crowd control! It really was only our son that made lots of noise and I’m sure that’s partly because he was overlooked when they were being handed out. We also made little signs for the children to hold up during the ceremony. They were printed with things like ‘Kiss the bride’, ‘Here she comes’ and ‘Hooray’. The children seemed to love them.
    Having said that, it’s probably important to have realistic expectations of what the ceremony will be like. I can honestly say that the noise and chaos didn’t distract me from my vows and I hardly took my eyes off my husband throughout. It was like I was in a bubble that the children couldn’t burst however hard they tried!

  10. A great post Franky!
    I have five nephews and my other half has three nephews and a niece all of them are ten and under. That is not to mention the various other children that we’ll be inviting along with their parents!
    We never considered not having children there, in fact, the niece will be one of my bridesmaids! We realise it could be noisy and chaotic but that is how our families work and we wouldn’t want it any other way! I plan on giving each of the children an activity pack as their favour at the reception venue, the older ones will be given a disposable camera and a list of things to photograph!
    I can’t wait to have them there, to share in our day and for them to hopefully forge wonderful memories that will stay with them as they grow up 🙂

  11. Great post! I recently photographed a wedding where a bride had 3 young children between 2 and 8. She was perhaps the most laid back bride I have ever had the pleasure of photographing and it was lovely to be able to capture moments of her with her daughter the flower girl as she was getting ready, and then snap some tender moments as she attached the button hole onto her proud 8 year old son’s suit. The children were very much involved in the wedding and the whole day was child friendly, and actually from a photographer’s point of view the mayhem that ensues when children are running wild at a wedding can make for delightfully charming and amusing pictures!

  12. I was smiling as I read the whole of your post, Franky. This is what family and children are all about, in a way. Life isn’t perfect, it’s funny and there are unexpected moments. Every family is full of characters, every one wants to make their mark.
    Rather than a pristine, perfect, meticulously planned wedding day, from your account above I smile because you make me imagine a wedding day which involved everyone being themselves, with all their quirks and funny best bits adding character and probably lots of laughter to the day.
    I think if you have a family, and like you say, your friends are ‘into procreation’ as much as you are, then a wedding should embrace all the naughty fun kids can have. You’ll read this again when they’re teenagers and it will always make you smile.
    A thought-provoking blog post, and a great wedding story. Isn’t that what they’re all about?
    Claire xxx

  13. Morning all!
    Well, obviously, from the images above, we had children at our wedding. We had just the one daughter back then, 3 year old Eska. She is and always will be such a huge part of our lives, I couldn’t imagine her not being there, or my neices {all 3 of them}. We only had a small intimate wedding so did open up an invitation to other couple’s children but only one couple decided to bring along their 9 year old son.
    I was advised on the day to have someone who would ‘enjoy’ keeping an eye on Eska – so we chose one of her Grandma’s {the other Grandma was sadly a bit poorly!}. So I didn’t even get to see my daughter on the day of our wedding until around 11am, when she arrived with Grandma {the ceremony was at 1pm}. But it was fine. I was also advised to have someone who wasn’t as close to our daughter to look over her during the ceremony – that way, if she ‘acted up’ or had to leave the room due to the sheer volume of any tantrums, Grandma wouldn’t need to miss witnessing the actual marriage. In the end, none of this mattered. Eska behaved impeccably.
    Jump ahead two hours and Eska was standing, with her arms wrapped around her Daddy’s leg, waiting for her Mumm – the bride to arrive. After the ceremony, she walked back down the aisle with us both. It was the 3 of us. We were a proper family unit now, and it felt amazing. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.
    I do understand why people would not want children at their wedding. It’s a very personal thing, but like Franky, I can’t imagine our wedding having taken place without them. They are part of the joy of the occasion.
    In terms of keeping then ‘occupied’ and happy, I filled a goody bag or each of them. I’ve lifted the following text from my ‘wedding report’ that I shared on a popular wedding forum shortly after I got married….
    “The children were delving into their goody bags. I had made one up for each child that was to join us on our special day and had personalised each with a name tag, in keeping with the stationery I had designed. Over the past 12 months, I had filled each bag with little goodies I’d gone out hunting for, or found by accident – I remember standing back and marvelling at the six little bags all lined up in a row in our spare room in the days leading up to the wedding, thinking ‘I wish I was a kid again!’. Miniature dolls and ponies, packs of cards with holographic butterflies on them, blowing bubbles, light-up pens and yoyos, colouring crayons, colouring in-books, comics and magazines, push a long cars, a miniature lip gloss set, stickers and transfers – even a rubber bat and for Eoghan (well, we were in Whitby, afterall!) 🙂 The bags had originally been left on the chair of each child in the Terrace Suite – the room we were to be seated in, in around an hour, with the intention they keep the little ones occupied during the wedding breakfast, but I soon realised that plan had been a mistake, and asked Uncle Robbie (Philip’s younger Brother) – ever at the ready to help out on the day, if he would mind finding the bags and bringing them out now – afterall, we had all the formal photograph shots to get through yet!”
    I had GREAT fun preparing each bag for each child – personalising each one with carefully considered but in-expensive contents, and name tags. Such a fun idea that really works on the day. I also filled a large basket full of more traditional toys, board games that kind of thing – actually I did one for the grownups too. To be honest the children didn’t much bother with the basket of toys, they were more interested in their bags, and in investigating this amazing country house that was our wedding venue.
    Here is another little extract from my wedding report that makes me smile as I recall it all…
    “As the photographs above were being taken, I was standing on the Terrace, chatting to friends, looking out across the view that lay before me; I heard giggles and jokes being shared, I observed friends tossing their heads back with laughter, and chinking glasses whilst pronouncing “cheers!”, I saw Phil playing with the children on the lawn, chasing and tickling them, laughter rising helplessly from their tiny bodies as limbs flew all over, wriggling, giggling – good old fashioned fun. The sky was blue, there wasn’t even a breeze. This vision that I saw shall remain a snapshot in my mind of everything our wedding day ended up being; the most perfect day I could possibly imagine…”
    I adore Franky’s idea of hiring a professional creche. I was a guest at Franky’s wedding and it worked so beautifully, it meant the adults could relax into the joy of the occasion knowing children were safe, happy, looked after and enjoying themselves. Artful Splodgers {link in the feature above} are an award winning company with a great concept and great customer service – I’d highly recommend.
    Thanks for another great post Franky xXx

  14. My partner has to children from his first marriage aged 8 and 10 and its been tricky for me to balance involving them but also having our dream day! I also have hoards of little nieces and nephews! We had to sit down and have a good think about it – what do children enjoy at weddings? Which bits bore them? Which bits do we feel could benefit from being child free (e.g. quieter!)? In the end I feel we have come up with a good plan that keeps (almost) everyone happy. We are marrying in Cornwall at an adults only hotel on the cliffs with only 14 of our closest family and friends in attendance (no kids) followed by a fabulous meal with lots of wine then enjoying a mini moon week there with our ‘gang’. Then we are heading back to London and throwing a big BBQ party at a fab pub and have thrown the doors open to all, especially the kids! We decided the bits they like would be dancing with their cousins, sliding on their knees on the dance floor, getting a posh dress and eating too many sweets, they wouldn’t mind a jot about missing the formalities! This way I feel we get the best of both worlds, adults for the formal then the energy and noise of kids that adds to a big party! I must say that being childfree it hasn’t been easy to get my head around the child element of the day and some family members still feel that the kids will miss out – luckily my fiancée and I both love our plan! And I get a troop of little misses (nieces as well as my stepdaughter) all queuing up to wear a bridesmaids dress but having none of the duty, just cute photos hopefully! Bless them!

  15. I can’t tell you how nice this post has been to read including all the comments too!
    Me and my partner were supposed to get married August this year but have had to postpone the wedding until next year as we are expecting our 1st baby in July. This was never the plan but mother nature had other ideas clearly!
    We are over the moon about the baby and think its going to be fab to have him included in our special day! The only concern was the sheer amount of children we have in our friends and family and whether or not it was possible for them to enjoy a wedding as much as a grown up can! We have already had lots of ideas of how to keep them entertained but to know that they actually work if put into practice puts my mind at ease! Also the lollipop idea, awesome!!
    I’ve never attended a child friendly wedding so to know that it can make for a more fun, laided back experience makes it even more important for us that they all attend!
    Thank you for putting my mind at ease! Xx

  16. I was married in June 2010 my daughter was 5 and I was 6 months pregnant, so kids were planned for from the start. We decided to get married before our son arrived as we thought there would be no way we could afford a wedding after the costs of another child had kicked in. My daughter was a flower girl along with her two cousins who were both 4. I gave the kids specific roles so they felt that they were very much part of our big day, which helped to keep them busy! One of my friends also brought her two kids who were 6 & 2 so there were 5 kids in total at our big day. There was some noise during our vows but I only noticed it as I watched our wedding DVD after our big day. I was so focused on saying my vows to my husband & being nervous about speaking in front of everyone else that I just didn’t notice any noise at the time. The photos were harder with young kids getting them to stand still & smile was managed by bribery for sweets & even then we do have some rather strange expressions on some photos but they make me laugh & I can’t wait to show the kids when they are older! The wedding breakfast was fine mine & my sister’s kids are used to eating out so it was nothing new for them so they did behave & no one really cared about noise after the ceremony I guess if you have kids you are used to the noise. Luckily our venue had plenty of grass & open space for the kids to let off steam & they loved the evening disco so it was a great day. Having a small family (there was only 20 at the wedding in total) meant that if I had of banned kids finding childcare without bringing in outside help would have been impossible for my family. Amazingly finding a wedding dress was easy I only tried on 4 before I found the perfect one, i hated all the maternity dresses I looked at so I just went with the dress I loved & ordered it a couple of sizes bigger in anticipation of my bump at 6 months & they fitted it to suit me. The only downside obviously no drinking but I wad very glad i did stay sober in the end as my new husband had a shocking hangover the next day hehe but a great day was had by all & I couldn’t of imagined having the most important day of my life, without all of the people I love being there to share it with us.

  17. Love this post! We are a looooong way away from having kids but we are always babysitting or taking out our nieces and nephews and I wouldn’t dream of getting married without them. They are going to look so adorable in their bow ties and princess dresses! Although my 5 year old niece is making her outrageous demands known already (big tiara, high heels, lots of pink and diamanté, oh dear!) x

  18. Hi! What a beautiful wedding and I think it s lovely thought to think that your children were with you on your big day and looking so cute in the photo’s! I personally have no children, I’m 27 and am getting married next May. I have always thought it best to get married before having children but I know it doesn’t always happen that way in real life. Most of my friends have children, a mixture of married couples and single’s too. I know I am proud of myself for waiting until after marriage but I have to say it has been a struggle, I’ve been with my partner for about 4 years but I have known him since secondary school, we are best friends and I know we are meant to be together. He is desperate for children and I am not so fussed. With ALL of my friends having children I have felt a massive pressure but knew I wanted to wait regardless. I had my career to think about and what my parents would think if I got pregnant out of wedlock, that said…the biological clock is ticking loud and clear! I ended up getting really stressed about it all and placed a two year plan in action, we would get married 2013 and then have a baby hopefully the year after – all going well – I wouldn’t be too old of a Mum! As for the wedding, I can see too many children present a bit of a nightmare, the venue is very old and there are lots of antiques. Also we don’t have children ourselves and there’s none in the family really, so inviting all our friends children would bump the wedding cost up and interfere with peace of the day, essentially turning our wedding into a jungle bungle. I do have three flower girls – ages 2,4 and 9 – so hopefully they will be behave and there will be no screaming during the ceremony. Fingers crossed! xxx

  19. I’m getting married on 4th May this year- 3 weeks to go!!! My 23 month old son is walking me down the isle.
    I must say, had my partner and I not had him while planning this marrige, I don’t know whether the planning at least would have been less stressful. Planning while playing is difficult! I must say the whole way through this I have considered his and other peoples children alot. like when its my sons bed time , what will I do? Will other people take up entertaining duties? Will he be clingy all day? Will I end up with food on me and his suit???
    I went to a wedding recently where no children we allowed and I really enjoyed it. But children do make it more magical I think.
    Having my son there makes it more special as I fell pregnant 9 months into the relationship. He is very much apart of who and how and why may partner work.
    The only shame I guess is not being able to do the whole whipping off on honeymoon many of my friends have been able to.

  20. Probably one of the most pertinent posts I’ve seen for a while!
    This was a major debate for us. I’ve got 6 nieces and nephews, 2 small cousins and Mr H has a small niece. We don’t have kids and when we were honest with ourselves, realised we weren’t that overjoyed with the idea of them all being there! Don’t get me wrong – we LOVE them all. We are very close to some of them, but others live abroad and they really don’t know us. I don’t think they would care whether they were there or not – its more about their parents feelings. Its a great expense feeding 9 kids – the caterers don’t make children’s menues much cheaper, even though they eat so little, and we can’t afford any entertainment for them.
    On top of this, when my brother got married a few years ago, some of the kids were very disruptive during the ceremony and the parents didn’t do a thing about it. In fact, one got out a very loud packet of crisps and added to the noise! If I was a kid I’d do the same, I don’t blame them but I don’t want to spend my wedding day getting cross with parents for not keeping an eye on their own kids!
    Anyway, we decided in the end that we must invite close family children, but we’d have a bit of a chat with our siblings so that they understand it will be an adult orientated affair. Turns out we were worrying for nothing – they were already thinking about not bringing the the kids – or certainly having someone to take them home early anyway.
    So the point of this very long rant is that I love going to weddings with kids, but I’m not going to feel bad about not having many of them at our wedding. I’m sure if we had our own it would be different – in fact everyone has asked us if our dog is going to play a role at our wedding because he’s such an integral part of our family – Sadly the venue wouldn’t allow it!

  21. It’s such a tricky one, isn’t it. We will have 13 children of 12 or under at our wedding in November. We don’t have children (well, my fiance has an almost grown up son) and don’t want to have children, but I have 3 neices, a nephew and a god-daughter. Although secretly I would quite like not to have children at the wedding as I am really concerned that the children may act up, it was never really an option with my brothers both having two a-piece and my two best friends also having children they are devoted to. And I am very fond of some of the 13! My concern is that the presence of the children will mean that my best friends are not around much (in my experience the children demand their presence all the time) and then have to go home early. We are considering a professional creche but the prices quoted have been eye-watering so I’m not sure if we can manage it.
    Having said all that, one of the worst weddings I’ve been to was my brother’s. He had two small daughters but the children were told firmly by one of the bridesmaids “This is not your day. This is mummy’s day so don’t spoil it and don’t go up to daddy”. I really felt for them – it’s not their fault. My sister-in-law competes for my brother’s attention with their children. My mother and I were designated baby sitters for my nieces which I thought was cheeky too (given that their parents didn’t want them!). They were made to go outside for photos in -3o in their flimsy party frocks until they were crying with the cold (they are NOT just accessories). And then they were passed around like parcels to half a dozen people over the course of the honeymoon. I think if you have children, you’re a family and they are part of the whole thing.
    So having made the decision to have children there, we will try and make them happy and included at all times. And I will take a deep breath and be philosophical that I am unlikely to see my bridesmaids much!

  22. I completely loved photographing your children on your wedding day, Franky – they’re both totally adorable, Issy is so grown up, and Jesse is so full of life. I really do enjoy weddings with children, but I do think it’s important to cater for them and not just expect them to fit around your plans for the day. This is another great example of a wedding with children who were entirely catered for (the bride and groom had their 6 yr old and their 2 yr old daughters there, and more children than I could count!):
    Having put that little disclaimer in, I’m now going to say that I also LOVE photographing adult-only weddings. I also like going to adult-only weddings as a guest and leaving my children with a babysitter now that they’re old enough 😉
    I think couples should feel no pressure either way, but bear in mind that if you have a child-free wedding, then guests with children, especially young children or those that would have to travel and leave their children overnight, may not be able to attend. And if you invite children, you can’t expect them to listen to a 45 minute ceremony, 45 mins of speeches and a 2-hour, 3-course meal without getting restless. I guess you just have to be really realistic when deciding what you want from your day.

  23. We don’t have any children of our own yet and we don’t have any wedding guests that have them except for one friend who’s daughter will be 18 months old at the time of the wedding. I’ve decided to leave it up to my friends as to whether little Isla comes along. They will have far to travel so it will involve a weekend away which they might like to enjoy as a couple and have a bit of respite or they may want to spend it as a family. Either way I don’t mind. If Isla does come then she will definitely be spoilt rotten by everyone, the little guest of honour possibly stealing the limelight from the bride but I don’t mind that 😉

  24. I can fully understand some couples reservations about having children at their wedding, as having worked and been a guest at quite a few over the years has given me the opportunity to observe various ways of coping with the “little people”.
    There are various plus’s and minus’s I suppose for both and although it is the couple’s day primarily it is a long day and at some point the children’s batteries do run down and that’s normally when the problems can occur.
    If young children are to be present I feel timing of the day has to take them very much into account.
    Probably sounds pretty obvious to most parents, but I have been to many “Big Days” where this has definitely not been taken into account resulting in quite a stressful time for the respective parents.
    I think an observation I would like to raise is that of babies in church, while I do understand that parents want to be able to say to their children later on in life “you were present”.
    I have witnessed young babies cry and in some cases scream throughout most of the service and to a point where the vows are barely audible and the parents in charge just stick it out with the child.
    I suspect this is one of two things firstly they just don’t want to miss anything or secondly they are too embarrassed to take their child outside.
    What I would say to them is this, please consider the couple at the alter to whom this is a very poignant part of their day and of course the other guests who more often than not have travelled large distances for this very special part of the proceedings.
    On a few occasions after such a situation I have herd the parents apologising to the bride and groom after the church with their response being “oh it’s alright” only to be overheard later saying “don’t know why they did not take the baby out”.
    Personally as a photographer I think children are a massive asset to weddings by and large and if catered for can in many cases make the day.
    A tip I would give to anyone out there taking photographs where children are involved is try and build a bit of a relationship with them before the images need to be captured, know their names, maybe take a few shots of them playing around a bit earlier in the day.
    When it comes to the point where you need them to be part of a group or a setup shot avoid having loads of people shouting orders to them this just confuses children and their attention is gone.
    My tip is for the photographer is to approach them, if you have built that relationship with them already, mentioned above, they will not find this threatening, squat down to their level and tell them calmly and quietly what you would like them to do, this has worked perfectly for me on many occasions…
    At the end of the day it’s the couple’s choice and I know this can be a very sensitive decision especially where extended family is involved but for those who do opt for children to attend, over the years we have captured some wonderful moments for our couples.

  25. This has come at a pertinent time for me too, wrangling with children and the guest list! Our usher has 4 children but has said from the off not to invite them as him and his partner want a weekend away. So we decided mainly not to invite children, but one of our friends is going to bring her adorable little boy who we knoe and like. Now wondering whether I need to back track on the no children thing and check with friends I’ve said this to (where we don’t know the child) whether its a hassle and they can bring them if they like?
    Happy to do a bit of a party bag and love the lollipops idea but can’t really afford to add in masses of entertainment!

  26. You really had a great wedding and I love your story about your kids although I also couldn’t understand why your relatives didn’t entertain your baby. Anyway, I know the four of you really had a great time. Congratulations on your union!

  27. I don’t often write on blog posts, but this struck a (good) chord. We got married six years ago and all three of our children were there (aged 12, 11 and 4 at the time), along with my god-children aged 4 and 2. We had a small wedding – just 25 people in total – and the children accounted for 20% of our wedding party. I wouldn’t have changed a thing about it, they were fab to share such a special day with and I think helped make the day quite laid back, relaxed and fun. We weren’t so bothered with everything being ‘perfect’ – after all, priorities change and it’s not often things run perfectly smoothly when small children are involved. Yes, we had some sulks and tantrums – my 4 year old daughter announcing that she didn’t like her bridesmaid dress and refusing to wear it (an hour before the ceremony) ensured one’s patience was tested… However, once on, everything was just fine and I will never, ever forget my very special memories of the day – not very ‘bridal’ but a part of the day nonetheless: My daughter and I having our breakfast in our hotel room that morning and watching her proudly and delicately pour her hot chocolate out of a little silver teapot into her teacup; the impromptu moment when she picked up my train when I walked as apparently ‘that is what all princesses have’; and my 12 year old son testing his powers of persuasion with my late father saying that he really SHOULD have some of those cocktails followed by multiple glasses of champagne. (He didn’t win by the way). The whole day and evening was perfect for us, and I feel so lucky that our children were able to share it with us. Thanks for this very lovely blog post – much needed I think.

  28. Love this (as ever) Franky! We were married a year before I fell pregnant, with our little girl arriving just before our second anniversary, all according to our plans… However, both myself and my husband frequently comment that we wish our daughter was at our wedding – it was such a beautiful day, it feels a little strange that the tiny person we created and who turned us into a family didn’t share it with us. It sounds like your day was all the richer for it. xx

  29. Firstly, Franky and Annabel – your children are adorable!
    I’m not a mummy yet and am getting married in November. I’m from a large Indian family where children are the life and soul of family life. Not allowing children at my wedding has never even been an option. Our best friends and close family members have kiddies / babies and I can’t even imagine getting married without them all being there. For some reason I get on really well with babies and kids – a lot better than I do with adults (maybe because I’m immature?)
    I do totally understand however when people decide not have children present. We were lucky at our wedding venue as they’re preparing children’s meals at a fraction of the cost (fish fingers starters / kedgeree main / ice cream I think) and they’re happy to warm up any milk for babies etc. I’d imagine that most of this will end up on the table / or wasted in any case. We’re not having a crèche, but I plan to make activity packs for some children. We have had to bump some adults off the guestlist so the kids have space to sit at tables with the rest of the guests.
    We haven’t sent our invites out yet, but when we do, we’ll be naming the children on the invitations. A couple of my close friends have told me that they may leave the children with family so they can come and totally enjoy our wedding without the childcare responsibility. That is fine, it’s their choice how they want to enjoy our wedding.
    We were at a wedding a couple of years ago and there was a restless toddler amongst the guests. His mother was trying to restrain him the whole time. The bride and groom both looked so nervous as she walked down the aisle and the ceremony began. When the registrar asked if anyone knew any reason why this marriage should not take place, the restrained toddler shouted “nooooooooooooo”. It was hilarious! Everyone had a giggle for a good minute or so and the registrar confirmed that it was the first time anyone had spoken when she asked that question, but she had decided not to take it seriously. The bride and groom were so much more relaxed after that episode and we all took away a funny story.

  30. Definitely, I think I felt bad because almost all of my best friends have children that I see on a regular basis and adore, so I didn’t want them to take offense that the kids weren’t welcome on this particular day – I’m a bit of a worrier like that! As I said, if we had our own children I think we could have justified more of a child-friendly day, but as it is we’re going for quiet and serene 😉 (at least until the drinks start flowing…)

  31. I hope so Franky,
    I have a feeling it will be the parents cursing us that we insisted they bring their little monsters:)
    Oh and as for them resting, there is 8 beautiful little bedrooms with snuggly beds and extra cots/beds should we need them,and dvd player’s and heaps of children’s dvd’s for them to chill out and snooze in, though I have a sneaky suspicion it will be the mam’s and dad’s sneaking off for a little r&r:)
    Can’t wait for the next post

  32. Franky I still regard that ‘Moo Moo here’ as one of the high points of my second shooting career!
    It was perfect. I think the touches you made ont he day, the lollipops, signs, and roomf or the children to just BE were perfect.
    That said, at my wedding (only 2 children), my niece screamed through my new husband’s entire speech to me. I may have been evilly amused when the loud fireworks shocked her into silence finally…
    My husband and I will have been married for 10 years in 2014, and we’re planning another celebration. My children will be at the very heart of it, as they are the very heart of my family and so much of what I am is down to them. To not have them there would be… well I might as well leave my heart at home!

  33. Thanks so much for the post Franky. I find the topic really interesting having a daughter myself.
    Since having my daughter I have often thought to myself , so this is why people get married first especially during the early sleepless night stage. 🙂 But I also think having a child before getting married has made me a lot more realistic about my relationship and more appreciative of my fiance.

  34. Hey Marie! 😉
    I have SUCH fond memories of Old McDonald! 😉
    You are just like me, my children *are* me, I cannot imagine such a meaningful celebration without them, having said that, I really do totally get the choice to not involve children, but for me, our wedding day was quite focussed on keeping the children happy and celebrating in seeing them run around free and enjoying themselves 🙂 xXx

  35. Oh thank you Nimet!
    Activity packs are GREAT and you can pick up so much stuff that keeps the kiddies occpied forever at The Pound Store – I also shopped at Asda, Paperchase etc, getting everything from cheapy litle drawing books and crayons to beautiful little packs of cards – kids LOVE that kind of stuff!
    I love that you are also naming the children on the invites, such a lovely personal touch.
    There was also a comedy moment during our wedding when Eska our then 3 year old daughter said something during the speeches and I remember it so fondly. Children can add such a fun dimension to your wedding day. One of the best things I did was give them all a disposable camera – I love looking at the photographs they took!

  36. Hi Natalie! thanks for writing a comment today! We really appreciate it 🙂
    It’s lovely to read about how readers did things and to try to imagine their day from their descriptions – thanks so much for painting a pretty picture in my mind of what a lovely day your wedding must have been!
    Much love,
    Annabel xx

  37. Maybe I’m just a terrible curmudgeon, but I’ve been to a few weddings where kids have been welcome, and they’ve almost all been ruined by overindulged brats shrieking and showing off. Jesse jumping up and down on a metal grate sounds bloody horrendous. I would have been cripplyingly embarrassed, had it been my child.
    So there will be no kids at all at my wedding. And if parents make a fuss, I’ll happily rescind their invite.

  38. Hello,
    I’m getting married this December- and will be having four flowergirls, two of whom are my fiance’s children, age 7 and 9. The other children invited are my two nieces and my two nephews, plus there are two more nieces/nephews on the way so there will be two young infants there too. I’d love to be able to invite all my friend’s children but sadly we just cannot afford it. I really want my fiances’ children to enjoy the day, I have a great relationship with them both but cannot help feel that they may feel some sadness on the day, watching their father marry another woman.Even though they have known me for most of their life, and know that I have nothing to do with their parents break up, I have a small niggling worry. They are really excited about the wedding and the part they are playing. Luckily they get on really well with my nieces, so I hope that they will be able to entertain ech other (with the help of a few goodies no doubt)and I will love watching them dance and play around feeling like princesses for the day in their frocks.Likewise I cannot wait to see my excitable 3 year old nephew in his kilt. I cannot imagine my wedding without the children in my family. I just wondered how others have felt in this situation? Did the “step-children” enjoy it as much as you hoped? Or were there any issues?

  39. I think I was probably too busy being full of love to even notice what Jesse was up to at the time. I certainly didn’t feel embarrassed. If anything, the fact the bride and groom’s child was making a racket meant the other parents could relax a little and not worry about their children behaving perfectly.
    This was fine for us because it was the kind of wedding we wanted, and we had realistic expectations of what the day would be like with so many chilrden around. I can completely appreciate why it wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea though!

  40. I read your comment aloud to Carl yesterday and he said what he always says when we think of that moment…
    ‘That was a bloody stroke of genius from Marie, she’s a clever woman’.
    I also know you took the picture of Izzy sat on the wall. It’s one of my favourite from the day, and of Izzy ever!

  41. Hi Andrea,
    Thank you so much for your comment.
    I can totally understand your worries. I can only respond as someone who, as a child, watched both their parents remarry. In all honesty, I felt incredibly proud to be involved in their weddings. I don’t think I felt sad, like you they had both been with their new partners for quite a while before they married and I suspect I had already had time to work through any issues. My parents did a brilliant job of including me and my sister and I think feeling part of the day, and part of the new family unit {however untraditional or unconventional} is really, really important. It sounds to me as if they’re going to love it, it’s really quite special watching your parents say their vows!
    Best of luck with all the planning. I do love a winter wedding!

  42. I will qualify this by saying that whatever you do for your own wedding is your choice but I personally find the idea of a child-free wedding a bit joyless. Sure, children can “ruin” proceedings. So can drunken adults. Children also bring so much joy, fun and energy – like the little girl who said: “Look mummy, it’s a princess!” when she saw my friend in her wedding dress. My seven-year-old flower girl is so, so, so excited about the wedding.
    I think it’s perhaps not so much children who can “ruin” things, but parents who don’t keep an eye on their kids or try to occupy or involve them. I also think it’s important to have something for kids to do, e.g. colouring. Of course they’ll get bored and fractious if you expect them to just sit still through the ceremony with nothing to do.
    I was surprised by how strongly I felt about this as we don’t have kids yet but H2B and I both agreed: a wedding is a family affair and it would be strange and sad to exclude children. If parents choose not to bring them, that’s up to them, but it’s not for us to make that decision for them – it seems so presumptious when people say “oh parents would like a night off anyway”.
    We are making sure to have plenty of things for the kids to do and bring these out strategically, and also just not being uptight about it. So there’s a bit if noise, so what?

  43. Oh and we’re having a dressing-up box to help keep the kids happy – easy to do if you raid a few charity shops.

  44. Hi Annabel.
    My daughter Pearl is 2 and we will be walking down the aisle together.She is really excited about the wedding, when anyone asks me about it she always pipe’s up that she is going to be a flower girl. We don’t have many plans for the children….. But will be doing goodie bags and maybe now lollies, although I have images of dripping lollies on guests outfits. Did that happen Franky?
    I had though about booking the childcare people Franky used, But then a lot of guests decided to come without children.Which has been a huge help with the budget and seating plans.
    I have a couple of friends wedding next year and we won’t be taking P to either, for a number of reasons including budget and seating plan. Also the fact it is nice for me and Tim to get a day/night off and Pearl to visit her grandparents who live a few hours away from us.
    Crying and chattering through the wedding doesn’t bother me at all, if you invite children then that is to be expected. But I don’t think people should feel like they have to invite their friends children, its down to each couple to have the wedding they want. When it comes to weddings you can never please everyone.

  45. Totally agree with you Franky! If you have children before your married its highly likely you will have children at your wedding. Having a child does change your perspective on certain things.

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