weddings

'Our friends cut us off after I didn't attend their kids-free wedding.'

Whether or not to invite children and babies to weddings is an awkward and touchy subject. As a kid, not being invited to the weddings of our family and friends stung as a terrible rejection. I thought they were my friends, not just my Mum and Dad’s. When my husband and I got married, we didn’t know many people with kids, but we left the ones we did know off their parents’ invites. They were extra mouths to feed and bums on seats and we had limits on the venue and our finances. I’ve since been to weddings with all varieties of child policies: all-welcome weddings, no-kids-whatsoever weddings, and no kids except for babes-in-arms, close family or interstate children.

When I was pregnant with my daughter and we were invited to the wedding of our close friends, I really didn’t know what to do. The wedding was a few weeks after my due date, and my husband was a groomsman. The invite was only for the two of us, obviously not “plus unborn child”, so we didn’t know what their policy would be. I decided the best approach was to ask, so I wrote to them:

Thank you for the beautiful invitation to your wedding. We would love to both attend, however, we have a few concerns about leaving our new baby with someone else when she will only be a few weeks old. We don’t want to assume your preferences, so would like to politely ask if we can bring her to your wedding before we respond to your invitation.

It was a relief when they responded that they wanted us there, so would be accommodating of our needs. If that meant bringing the baby, they were fine with that. They put us all down as attending, but said they would confirm closer to the time, once baby had arrived. They just wanted me to be comfortable.

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I had my baby four weeks before the wedding. Two weeks before the wedding, the groom asked my husband if we would be leaving our daughter with my mother-in-law. My husband explained that I wouldn’t be ready to leave our newborn for the whole evening: I was breastfeeding, so I would only be able to attend if they were happy with her being there. The groom said that he was worried the other guests at the table sitting with me would be uncomfortable in the proximity of a very young infant (suddenly not about my comfort anymore). He even said that his midwife mother told him a four-week-old would be perfectly fine to be left with someone else for the night, and my mother-in-law would love the honour of caring for her. If I absolutely had to bring the baby, I could only bring her to the ceremony and would have to leave straight after.

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I’m sure his mum is right, and a four-week old would be perfectly fine to be left with another family member. But I wasn’t ready to leave her. I agreed to come just to the ceremony. I must admit I was a bit disappointed. They had initially sounded so understanding.

The day of the wedding arrived and I had been struggling with sleep deprivation and post-natal depression, unable to leave the house and constantly in tears. I also had a cold. My husband left the house early to get ready with the groom. The thought of driving 40 minutes alone to the wedding venue in stormy weather, battling the rain while carrying my newborn, and feeling like a social outcast having to leave as soon as the ceremony concluded was enough to send me into a fresh wave of teary desolation. I just couldn’t go. I asked my husband to delicately explain to our friends that I was not well enough, and to send my heartfelt apologies.

Fast-forward three years to the present day, and we find ourselves ghosted by this couple. Literally cut from the Christmas card list (they are the only people I know who send Christmas cards). Today, I caught up with a mutual friend for lunch and she confirmed that the reason we have been ghosted is because I didn’t come to their wedding. Ouch.

I actually think that it’s fine to not allow kids and babies to weddings. I can understand that couples (especially ones without kids) want their day to be perfect, reduce costs and the potential for tantrums at inopportune times. But if you do make that decision, please, for the sake of the parents on your guest list, make it clear and accept that some parents will simply not be able to come. It’s not worth losing friends over.

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