Every wedding guest has seen the words on the invite.
‘While we love all of your children, we’d like our wedding to be an adults-only occasion.’
Child-free weddings are on the rise. Celebrity couple Rochelle and Marvin Humes excluded little ones from their big day, as did now-divorced Billie Piper and Laurence Fox in 2007.
They’re not the only ones. For some, the wedding day is a chance to let your hair down with your nearest and dearest, minus little ones causing disruption or keeping your parent friends occupied.
Others are uncomfortable with leaving junior guests at home and believe weddings are a big day for all friends and family, regardless of age.
Where do you stand? Our two experts – one a wedding planner and one an etiquette expert – give the two sides of the argument.
‘Weddings are supposed to be an occasion when two families join together as one, so if you have a wedding where there are no children it defeats the whole purpose as some families do not just consist of adults.
‘Many couples want their wedding day to run smoothly and some of them feel that if they invite children they may run around being noisy and their parents may not control them which could ruin their video or photos.
‘If children are given activity packs or their own entertainment this can be avoided. I’ve done several weddings in the past where children have had their own dining area and disco and it really works because professionals are hired to entertain them so the children are less bored and are prone to enjoy themselves which means the adults get to enjoy themselves.’
‘As a child I loved going to weddings, only because I would always be in a pretty dress and if it was a family wedding I would see all my cousins.
‘When I think back I laugh as my mum would always have the wedding talk with me beforehand; “This is not an occasion to be running around, you’re in a pretty frock so you have to behave like a lady so no running around like you’ve lost your mind or you won’t go to another wedding, just don’t embarrass me.”
‘To be fair I was always well behaved at weddings because I loved them – that’s probably why I was always someone’s bridesmaid.’
Natasha Corbin-Stewart is an international wedding planner – you can find out more about her work here
Etiquette consultant and events manager Will Sweeting doesn’t share Natasha’s view of children at weddings as a happy image.
The wedding aficionado, who has appeared on hit TV series Ladette to Lady, not only helps plan high-profile nuptials but has personally attended more than 100 weddings.
‘It’s a very adult environment. If it’s a church or a religious wedding it’s a very formal, solemn occasion and it’s not really right for children to be there. The noise factor is a huge part of it, I personally like to hear the wedding vows being stated.
‘It isn’t written down that children shouldn’t be at weddings, so it’s not a hard and fast rule, but it has become etiquette that they should not be in attendance.
If mothers are breastfeeding, it’s understandable that they may not be able to leave their children at home, but Will says they should bring a nanny who would look after the tot for the rest of the time. And in all other cases, children should quite simply be left at home, he says.
‘If they don’t have a nanny they can go to grandparents or whatever but should not be present.
‘It also means the parents will enjoy it. If you’re constantly having to make sure that little Johnny or little Charlotte aren’t screaming the place down or running riot, parents just can’t relax and enjoy it.
‘I have known of people being slightly funny that their children aren’t invited but I think that’s something to do with this generation especially, where parents feel this sense of entitlement towards their children, that they are entitled to be invited to anything – but actually they’re not.’