Singaporebrides | Weddings 101

January 2011

Not For The Under-Aged?

For some couples, it is not a question of who comes to the dinner reception, but how many. For others, having children at weddings seems more than a handful to handle. How do you tell your invited guests to keep their children at home without sounding obnoxious?

It is not wrong to not want kids at your wedding. Many couples nowadays have smaller, untraditional wedding receptions or plan after-dinner parties that include even later nights, more dancing, and all-night open bars. It can be rather disappointing if you want your close friends there with you, but have to leave them to their parental obligations as their kids have their bedtimes, no matter how much the adults want to stay.

The problem arises when you’re hosting a traditional Chinese wedding banquet. For the Chinese, family is everything, and getting together during a happy occasion is almost equivalent to a reunion for the large extended family. To some, it may be considered disrespectful to have to tell your relatives not to bring their children or grandchildren.

Be Tactful

It is easy to understand why some brides prefer not to have children at their wedding. Sure, the kids look good in photographs and the photographers can have a field day with them, but they can throw a hell of a tantrum, which takes the attention away from you. They don’t drink or eat much and spend most of their time running around the ballroom, leaving the very costly seat empty. Your poor friend, who should be enjoying the feast, is spending most of her time pacifying her cranky child.

Having said that, this is a sensitive issue and a lot of tact goes into informing your guests about this when you send out your invitation cards. Remember that members of the older generation may not understand your preference to not have children at your wedding. Some Western wedding guides advise putting “Adults-Only Reception” at the corner of the card, right next to “Dress Code”. It may seem like the easiest way out, but it could sound rude to some people, and it is definitely not advisable.

What You Should Do

If you have decided to bear the consequences and go ahead with your plan, the first thing you should do is to inform your parents, your bridal party, and your closest family and friends about your decision to not have children at your wedding. That way, they can help you spread the word should anyone ask them. Secondly, be subtle about it on the invitation cards. If you only want to invite your cousin and his partner, and not his entire family of five, simply print “To: Mr and Mrs Eugene Tan” instead of “To: The Tan Family”. Most people will take note of this and just RSVP for themselves.

There will be guests who will be confused and still RSVP for the entire family. This is when you have to call them to explain your predicament. One good way is to tell them that you want as many of your friends and relatives there as possible, and to keep the budget down, you will have to exclude the children. Most people will understand, but be prepared to be met with anger. It is best not to make any exceptions, because one will lead to another, and soon you will realise being soft-hearted will not work out for you in the end.

Don’t Let It Bother You

This may seem like a lot to deal with, and the calls will be awkward, but always be understanding towards your invited guests because some might be really hurt that their kids are not invited. Tell them that it is nothing personal, and that you want them to be relaxed and enjoy a fun evening. You must, however, be prepared that some guests may not attend the dinner party if their children are not invited. The bottom line is: always be gracious towards the needs of your guests. They may not be able to arrange for someone to babysit their children while they are at your party.

How about guests who insist on showing up with kids in tow on the day itself? Like all other aspects of your wedding planning, always be prepared for the worst-case scenario. Discuss beforehand with your venue consultant if you could keep aside a table or two for people who turn up without RSVP-ing; you may have to do some adjustments on seating arrangements. Some venues are also able to section off an area as a make-shift play-room for children under 12, or even provide less-expensive meals at separate tables for those who are able to eat on their own. Kids love these because it makes them feel like they’re adults too. As for the accusing looks you’ll get from guests who did leave their children at home, thank those guests sincerely for respecting your wishes, adding with an air of good-natured resignation that “not everybody did”.

Most importantly, do not let a small matter like this ruffle your feathers. Your wedding night will still end on a perfect note as long as you start the day knowing you have done the best you can for yourself. Relax, enjoy your big day and be beautiful.