As a childless-by-choice, I-don't-even-have-pets photographer who has never uttered the words, "I love children!", you might be surprised to find me encouraging couples to include kids in their wedding celebration. But I have, and I do.
Clearly, your wedding is your wedding, and ultimately I feel that every couple should do what makes sense to them. If the only kids who might attend are the unruly hooligans of your third cousin who you haven't spoken to in seventeen years, well... don't feel obligated. But with most of us in communities that span all age groups, I think a case for kiddos can be made! I spoke with friends, family, and clients to put together this list of 7 reasons to invite children to your wedding:
Their enthusiasm is boundless!
In the case of most little kids I've encountered, the mere vision of a bride in her wedding gown is almost as good as a trip to Disney World. At Leslie H. and Joshua S.'s wedding, it wasn't until the flower girl actually saw her aunt in the wedding dress that she realized who the bride was. "Aunt Leslie! You're the bride!" she squealed, jumping up and down. Now that's magic.
Kids are icebreakers.
Wedding ceremonies are notoriously nerve-wracking. Not only are you about to commit to one person for (theoretically) the rest of your life, but 150 people (give or take) are watching you do it. Nothing breaks the tension like the ring bearer picking his nose at the alter, or the flower girl giving the groom a hug mid-vows, or your little niece yelling "Hi, Auntie!" as you walk down the aisle. Clearly, if those scenarios induce panic in you, go kid-free. If they make you chuckle, though, ignore everyone else's advice and bring on the kids! Vanessa A. mentioned, kids can be "a distraction from the bride and groom, especially during the ceremony." If you feel that your celebration is too formal for little ones, consider arranging a family room where moms and dads can sit with their young children and still hear or watch the ceremony.
Babysitters are expensive!
I personally know some folks who have declined wedding invitations because their children weren't welcome, and the cost of hiring a sitter was prohibitive. If the presence of your friends-with-kids matters a lot to you, help them out by either welcoming their children, or, as Gina L. suggested, by providing childcare at your wedding. The cost of a childcare room at a wedding (ceremony, reception, or both) is relatively low compared to the cost of individual families providing their own care. And, in the case of destination weddings, your friends will likely feel more comfortable with an approved childcare room (where they can drop in and check on their kids), than with leaving their kids in the hands of an unknown nanny at the hotel.
There will be cake.
Everyone loves cake. But no one loves cake like a kid. And the bigger the cake, the more awestruck the kid will be. At every single kid-inclusive wedding I've photographed, I've snagged at least one photo of at least one kid lingering wistfully by the cake, waiting for it to be cut. Would you really rob the children you love of that moment? Megan E. pointed out, "The most recent reasons I've heard for not having kids [at the wedding] is the expense... but, we had a nice dessert reception and didn't hear any complaints!" Cutting back on the menu can save big bucks, and, really, everyone just wants dessert anyway.
Ain't no party like a dance party!
Kids are, without fail, the very first to hit the dance floor. While the adults are still sipping their first cocktail and working up the courage to bust a move, the kids are already stage-diving and doing cartwheels (dresses notwithstanding). Nothing gets grown-ups to dance faster than the energy of little kids! It's also a great opportunity for photos of little ones dancing with their parents, siblings, grandparents, etc. As the kids grow up, those images will be especially precious. Chris H. had several kids at her wedding, and shared, "The older folks loved watching them; and if the kids had a good time, the parents had a good time!"
Their energy is finite.
Worried about bedtime? Don't be. Most kids will sleep anywhere. Don't be surprised to find a little one asleep on someone's jacket under a table! If this is a family who matters to you, go ahead and invite them all, and let the parents decide if they will hire a babysitter or just bring the whole crew and duck out a little early. If your reception is at a hotel, this makes it even easier on parents, as moms and dads can tuck little ones into bed then take turns continuing with the party!
Kids are people, too!
Most of us are part of diverse communities that include at least a handful of pretty cool kids. Sure, they talk too loudly, don't quite get the rules, and rub their grimy hands on everything -- but they also bring us so much joy! They're also little sponges, learning from us how to interact and behave in different social environments. As Monica A. stated, "Children are people, too, and need to experience the love and inclusiveness of the celebration." I couldn't have said it better myself!