Weddings do not always have to be a family affair
Ellen Widdup’s escape to the country.
This weekend my husband and I will be quaffing champagne and munching through canap�s at a wedding.
Our children were not invited.
How does this make me feel? Appalled? Dismayed? Offended? Uncomfortable?
No. Not one bit. I am ecstatic.
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Child-free weddings can cause boundless indignation in some parents.
I have sat and listened to other mothers rant and rave about how celebrations of this nature should be family occasions. How children bring extra laughter and love to the event.
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But, I’m sorry, the “more the merrier” thing does not wash with me.
In fact, when a wedding invite drops onto our doormat I have my fingers firmly crossed that my kids will not be included.
I haven’t always felt this way.
In fact, before I had children of my own, I thought snippy invites stating “no children” were the height of bad manners.
I liked watching the page boy skid across the dance floor on his knees, enjoyed giggling at the miniature bridesmaids whirling round the DJ box hand-in-hand and delighted in the cake-smeared faces of the little guests at the kids’ table.
But once I became a parent I saw things very differently.
After all, who wants to sit on the edge of their pew, petrified that their bundle of joy is going to let out a shriek at “I do” or soil their nappy during Jerusalem?
Who wants to be spoon-feeding their small charge during the wedding breakfast rather than enjoying their own delightful portion of lamb cutlets?
Who wants to monitor their child’s whereabouts on the crowded dance floor, sipping on a fruit juice to keep a clear head, and then leave early when the young one suffers a major meltdown after getting high on sugared almonds?
I want to buy an expensive new dress and not worry that it will be ruined with milk stains and sticky handprints by the time I reach the reception.
I want to enjoy adult conversation at the dinner table and listen to every word of the speeches without interruption.
I want to get slightly inebriated guilt-free, enjoy the inappropriate outbursts of the relatives even more tipsy than I am and dance in the arms of my husband until the early hours, drunkenly reminiscing about our own special day.
Which reminds me: just to show you that I am no hypocrite, I should point out that I banned children from my own wedding day (even though my own daughter was a toddler at the time).
I employed a lovely girl to bring her along to the end of the ceremony to pose for a few pictures and then seamlessly whisk her away again to eat fish fingers in front of Cbeebies at home.
My friend, who is currently planning her own big day, said I was a “spoil sport” for leaving our daughter out.
“We could just pass her around between us, take it in turns to watch her and tuck her into her buggy to go to sleep later,” she suggested when I mooted the idea (she has no children of her own so has no idea how ludicrous this sounds).
“It’s my wedding day and it is just one day where it is about us and not about her,” I replied. “When it is your big day, you can have a cr�che full of little guests if you want.”
Incredibly, she is. Along with her 100 adult guests, she has 20 children on her list and is planning to employ a party entertainer, order McDonald’s takeaway happy meals for their supper and prepare party bags to keep them busy.
I am dreading it.
Am I a party-pooper?
Apparently not – because the trend for banning little guests is a growing one.
One wedding magazine last year claimed that more than 50% of couples were determined their day would not be spoilt by uncontrollable guests – telling parents their event was “adults only”.
Their reasons are plentiful.
For a start, wedding budgets are tight and the cost of providing food for kids can be an extortionate extra.
Children can also detract from the main attraction – the bride – and it is paramount that she is not upstaged at any point.
On top of that, there is a risk that a disruptive child could ruin the day for all.
And you can’t make a half-hearted decision and pick and choose the well-mannered kids from the brats. Really, if you invite one child – you invite the lot.
Don’t get me wrong. While I delight in the adult-only affair, I can see that banning children is a tricky issue to circumnavigate.
In some cases, an outright ban inevitably means that the parents won’t attend either.
Some see the move as an unnecessary snub and refuse to come.
Others struggle to find, or indeed afford, the childcare needed for the length of time required.
A few have small babies, too young to be left behind.
Ultimately, I suppose, it is a decision for the happy couple to make and guests should respect their wishes.
Needless to say, I am very much looking forward to my night out this weekend without my children in tow.
I shall dance the Macarena until I have blisters on my soles, over-indulge on the fizz and enjoy a bit of adult conversation.
In short, I plan to have my wedding cake and eat it too.
n Email me at EllenWiddup@journalist.com or find me on Twitter @EllenWiddup