I Have Kids and I Think It's Selfish to Bring Them to a Wedding
When my friend Emma invited me to her wedding a couple months ago, she followed up with a characteristically lovely email letting me know that my husband and I weremore than welcometo bring our then-16-month-old daughter. My rapid-fire response was something like, "HELL NO, THANK YOU."
For one, our daughter is a mischievous (albeit very lovable) elf and chasing her around the rustic Brooklyn garden where Emma and Frank got married would have been a lot less fun for me and my husband. As working parents, we are overtired shells of our former selves and the mere idea of a night out brings a tear of joy to our eyes. (Yeah, we're also really dramatic.) More importantly, bringing our baby would've made us lame guests. We came to be supportive friends and to toast the bride and groom with too many gin cocktails and circle dance to "Hit Me Baby One More Time," not change diapers in the bathroom.
This is where YourTango blogger Chaunie Brusie and I disagree, as evidenced by the title of her recent (successfully trollish) post, "I Have Kids and I Think It's Selfish to Have an Adults-Only Wedding." Her main beef is financial: "For us, to attend the ceremony and a reception, I'll easily shell out over 100 bucks on a babysitter, plus the wedding gift." Sure, your wedding may be a joyous occasion where you celebrate your love before God and your families and friends and photo booths filled with mustaches on sticks. It may even be something you had to fight the Supreme Court to have the right to do. But if Brusie's kids aren't invited, a wedding is just a "horrendously expensive date night" that's "really asking a lot of your guests with young children."
This argument would make perfect sense to me — if I really didn't give a puff about the bride or groom. It's indisputable that weddings, even when they're not destination weddings, can cost a small fortune, between gifts and babysitters and transportation and the lure of buying a new dress. I'm a wedding whore who has been to dozens over the last decade. But if I looked at any of them as just a "horrendously expensive date night," an annoying financial drain rather than a celebration of friends or family, then I'd consider it a wedding not worth going to — not one I'd be grouchy my baby wasn't invited to. A good rule of thumb is if you're pissed about going to a wedding, you probably shouldn't go to said wedding. (Not to mention that once you're in the babysitter market, every date night is a horrendously expensive date night. I once paid a babysitter just to go seeGone Girl.)
Not only does Brusie believe kids should be tolerated as wedding guests, but she argues they can actually "make the party," asking, "Who else can you do the robot with and not feel like an idiot?" My answer to that is: pretty much everyone at our wedding four years ago. Between the crowd-surfing and invisible double-dutching, it really wasn't safe for a kid on our dance floor. But there were no kids to endanger, because we didn't invite any. If we had nieces or nephews, we would have invited them to be in the wedding party. We love kids — at least our own, and those of our friends and family members — but, overall, our wedding was a pretty child-unfriendly affair. It started at 6:30 p.m. and lasted until almost midnight — way past most kids' bedtimes. (That was another reason I didn't bring my daughter to Emma's wedding: Her bedtime is a hard 8 p.m., so she really isn't available for evening events.) It was black-tie-optional — not conducive to spit-up or exploded diapers. And on a sentimental note, after dating my husband on-and-off, Kate-Middleton-and-Prince-William-style, for about 10 years, I really didn't want kids crying in the middle of our vows. Our moms, on the other hand, sobbed nice and quietly.
Brusie would prefer a little more understanding from the brides in her world. "Part of me wishes that if you care enough to want me (or my money) at your wedding, you could make it a little easier on me to be there with my family," she writes. But I believe someone else's wedding isn't about Brusie or her kids. It's about the couple and the families hosting. If anyone is financially overextended, it's them. No matter how expensive it gets to be a guest on the wedding circuit, there's no financial clusterfuck like paying for the party. (It happened to me: Cupcakes are .50 each. But wedding cupcakes are inexplicably .50 each.) As guests, you don't get to make the rules about kids or food or the dress code, but you can decide whether or not to come. If it requires a ,000 flight plus a castle stay in Tuscany, and you're not open to credit card debt, opt out. And if your kids aren't invited and you don't want to pay a babysitter, politely decline, take your kids to Chuck E. Cheese, and get drunk on Skee Ball tickets. It may be awkward between you and the bride, but she's probably going to love her kid-free wedding whether you're there or not. I know I did.
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