Etiquette & Manners: Reader Question About Babies and Weddings

Q. Hey Jennifer!!

I’m going to ask a question :) Your input is appreciated.

We have been invited to two weddings this summer. One of them is for my step sister (who I don’t talk to very often) and the other is for my boyfriend/husband’s friend. Finnley will be 9-9 1/2 months old by the time of the weddings. When it comes down to it I am really not interested in leaving her with someone for the 6+ hours that would be required to attend these weddings. There are also logistical issues (things that I have chosen as part of my parenting style, people may or may not understand these and honestly I don’t really care either way as this is whats best for us)… I have not been away from her for more than 1-2 hours and only on rare occasions, she is breastfed (along with solid foods now), I don’t pump milk and she has never had a bottle, we don’t have someone we really trust to look after her for that long, etc.

SO… do we decline the invites, do we discuss with the bride/groom, do we accept only for the ceremony and skip the reception? I know weddings can be very political, feelings are especially sensitive, etc. (hence why we haven’t had a wedding ourselves lol).

Thoughts? Ideas? Comments?

A.  Hi Kim!

Such a great question. While planning my own wedding, I spent a lot of time on various forums and the topic of babies and weddings was often discussed (and debated). At the end of the day, you need to do what is best for you and Finnley (which it sounds like you have already decided is the way you will go). However, here are some thoughts:

It sounds like both weddings are not child-friendly. A lot of what I read online suggested that the reason so many weddings today are not child friendly is due to budget, concerns that the child will “act-out” or “scream/cry/fuss” and distract from the ceremony, or worries that if the bride and groom invite some children they have to invite them all. I have also heard of weddings, where the bride and groom think they are doing those invited a favor by making it kid free thereby giving the couple a “night out.” Whether right or wrong, many couples are choosing the no children route.

Personally, I would evaluate a few things and then plan an approach for each wedding:

  • How far away are the weddings from your home? Will they require you to travel and stay in a hotel? Or, are they close by?
  • Will it cause more problems for you not to attend, then to attend (even if you only attend for a short period)?
  • What time of day are the weddings? Evening? or day weddings?
  • How casual or formal are the weddings? black-tie affairs? or more laid back?
  • Do you know why children have not been invited?

I would first speak with each bride, or couple, and explain that you are not comfortable leaving Finnley, but you would like to attend the weddings. It may be a simple matter of them not realizing you would prefer to have Finnley with you.  It is also ok to ask why they haven’t invited children – their answer can help you to respond.  If needed, I would also stress the following in your conversations:

  • As Finnley is so young, she will not require a meal provided by the bride and groom and therefore it won’t cost anything for her to be included.
  • You are willing to accommodate the bride and groom’s preference and either: 1) not attend the ceremony if they are concerned about a baby distracting from their moment; 2) stick by the back of the ceremony area so that if Finnley fusses you can quickly and easily remove her; 3) attend the ceremony, but not attend the reception – as much as everyone loves a party, the day is really about the exchange of the vows; or 4) plan to attend both the ceremony and reception, but let everyone know you may bow out early from either, if needed.
  • You recognize that the couple may not want children, but hope that given Finnley’s young age and your chosen parenting style, they can make an exception.

Each bride handles wedding stress differently – and you might not receive the answer you were hoping for. As long as you reiterate that you want to celebrate in their day it is the best you can do.

Another option, although I’m not sure that this is such a good one – would be to have your boyfriend/husband attend the weddings as a representative of you and Finnley.

At the end of the day, it is ok to go to one wedding and not the other, both weddings, or neither. Regardless of whether you attend each wedding at the very least send the couple a card letting them know that you are thinking of them on their wedding day and appreciate having been invited.

Hope this answer helps!


May 27, 2011. Etiquette & Manners, Recommendations.


  1. kim mcintosh replied:

    Thanks for all of the tips!

    We will start working through this and see what happens 🙂


  2. kim mcintosh replied:

    Congratulations on your news 🙂 I’m so happy for you.

    Just wanted to leave you an update re the above post and saw that you were expecting. I new blog in order perhaps?!

    We are not going to the friends wedding I referred to. They are limiting babies and kids to immediate family only because of venue capacity and the wedding is 3 hours from home so we declined and sent our well wishes.

    For my step sisters wedding we will be attending the ceremony and having a cocktail (prior to the start of the reception). They have decided on no kids/babies even those of immediate family.

    It all seemed to work out ok and no politics yet 🙂

    Let me know if you need a sounding board on baby related topics. Dinner parties and etiquette are not my speciality but I can certainly provide thoughts on the baby/parenting side.


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