I am not a regular reader of advice columnist Carolyn Hax but when the column ends up on the same page as the daily crossword puzzle I often give it a quick scan. Today's column deals with a bride and groom's decision to make their wedding a no-kids affair. They included this stipulation on their save-the-date announcements and are already getting feedback that this restriction will keep some of their friends from attending. Carolyn Hax states that the friends are out of line.
I am not sure if I would say the friends are out of line. The bride and groom have their priorities and the friends have theirs. This is the big day for the bride and groom and they have decided it is very important that their wedding be an elegant adult affair with no distractions from crying babies or fidgety children. However, they are inviting guests, not commanding guests to attend. If the invitees prefer not to attend if their children are not welcome then that is their prerogative as well. No harm, no foul on either party.
The more stipulations you put on wedding attendance, then the more people will opt not to attend. A destination wedding may be a dream come true for the bride and groom, but they have to accept that there will be some people for whom the trip is a deal breaker. Maybe it is too expensive or too time consuming. Or maybe the thought of packing and traveling to a beach destination is just too overwhelming for some invitees to even entertain. The same applies to the required dress. If you make your wedding a black-tie event, some people will opt out. That does not mean you should necessarily not have a destination wedding, a no-kids wedding, or a black-tie wedding. It just means that you need to understand that the more requirements you place on your guests, the more guests will opt out of attending. So what is more important to you: the picture perfect day of your dreams or sharing the day with as many family and friends as possible.
I am guessing that the friends who are staying home instead of attending this bride and groom's wedding think of a wedding as a celebration of the beginning of a new married life. The important thing is to share in the joy and the unscripted antics of children are part of the moment. That does not mean a mother with a screaming baby should sit in the church as her child howls and drowns out the exchange of vows, but it also doesn't mean that any sight or sound from children is detrimental to the wedding.
I am not criticizing the bride and groom who choose to have a no-kids wedding. I am just saying that by placing this stipulation on guests, they are sending the message that guests are only welcome if they positively contribute to the ambience of the wedding. If someone perceives that their presence is merely part of the staging of the ultimate Kodak moment they may very well say, "Why bother?"