New baby, new etiquette
August 26, 2009 7:53 AM   Subscribe

New baby, new etiquette: A couple with a new baby (< 6 months) receive a wedding invitation addressed only to the couple. Is baby presumed invited (portable lapsitter)? Is baby presumed not invited (potentially noisy)? Is it variable (call and ask)?

Furthermore, suppose baby is definitely not invited to a particular wedding -- do the bride and groom typically expect the invited couple to attend (having arranged a babysitter), or is it a courtesy invitation, knowing that baby may be too young to leave yet?

Also, when it comes to businesses and restaurants, are strollers typically welcome (and the parent will be told, or there'll be a sign, when not)? Or are they typically not welcome and the parent should ask permission to enter with one?
posted by xo to Human Relations (80 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Well, "etiquette" dictates that the names on the invitation are the people invited (ie, no baby unless it says "and family").

HOWEVER, in my experience it's a complete crapshoot. Maybe it's adults-only. Maybe they wrote the guest list before New Baby and forgot. Maybe kids are OK and they thought everyone "knew that".

I'd call the couple or their parents (whoever is listed as the RSVP contact) and discreetly ask.

do the bride and groom typically expect the invited couple to attend (having arranged a babysitter), or is it a courtesy invitation, knowing that baby may be too young to leave yet?

It would seem odd to invite someone to a wedding and then be disappointed when they attend!
posted by muddgirl at 7:59 AM on August 26, 2009


Presumed NOT invited. The couple is expected to get a babysitter, or perhaps only one of them attend the wedding.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:02 AM on August 26, 2009


In my limited experience, presumed not invited.

Also, babies cry at weddings, but unlike everyone's moms, they also wail like hell and disrupt the proceedings. Babies are cool and all, but the polite thing to do is to get a babysitter. After all, you have plenty of notice.

when it comes to businesses and restaurants, are strollers typically welcome

Almost always yes. I can't imagine a place that expects you to keep the stroller outside.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 8:05 AM on August 26, 2009 [9 favorites]


I third, presumed NOT invited. They expect you to arrange childcare or send regret. We had only one couple who called and asked. We politely said it was an adults only event but they brought the child nonetheless. Go figure!
posted by london302 at 8:05 AM on August 26, 2009


I would go with the trend, but call and ask to be sure.

I've been to both kinds of weddings (kids & strict no kids), and also know people who would send a courtesy invitation - especially if attendance required significant travel. Not that they would be overly disappointed if the invitee attended, but that they would expect they would not...

Concerning the stroller question, in my experience strollers are welcome. I probably wouldn't take a young child to a very formal restaurant, but most places don't mind a sleeping baby in a stroller...
posted by NoDef at 8:07 AM on August 26, 2009


Probably best to double-check. Sometimes assumptions cause all sorts of embarrassment.
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 8:08 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


Another vote for your baby is probably not invited, but you really should ask because everyone's different.
posted by katemcd at 8:08 AM on August 26, 2009


It would be so weird that the couple would expect you to leave your 6 month old in storage somewhere. I guess there are people like that, so I think your "Call and ask" is the right call here.

At this point, your baby is part of you and ought to be treated that way. If your kid cries during the wedding, do your best to calm him and take him out if necessary. Everyone in the room was young once and there's room for all of us. I appreciate it when a baby cries during a wedding~it reaffirms the humanity that is being celebrated at the ceremony.
posted by davoid at 8:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


It may not be frowned upon to bring the baby, but so far as I know etiquette-wise wedding invitations meant to include children usually say "and family". Babies tend to make a fuss during ceremonies and such, and bringing one is probably not a great idea unless it's the bride or groom's godchild or niece or nephew, or something else along those lines. I don't think the invitation is so much a courtesy, as it is an, "if a babysitter is available, we would love for you to come." If the couple are co-workers or distant relatives, I would just respectfully decline since hauling a baby anywhere is a pain, unless you get a sitter. If they are close friends or family members, I think most people would think it was very thoughtful if you asked if the baby was welcome, since they would be aware of the baby and privy to it's arrival. If it's that new, it's possible they forgot to specify.

As to strollers, they are generally allowed in places, but don't be that annoying parent who takes over the entire coffee shop or blocks access to most of the store with your stupid stroller. Babies are cute, but they're a pain for service-people and business owners, as well as people around you who don't like or have babies. People will spit in your food. I think it's polite to ask if your stroller is allowed before entering if the shop is small. Once the baby is old enough to sit in a booster seat, any restaurant excursions should be taken in a stroller that can be folded away. Also, alert the waitress or hostess to the baby, and tell her to put you where it is most convenient for the staff and other diners.
posted by itsonreserve at 8:10 AM on August 26, 2009


Please don't ask if you can bring the baby. I think even asking is kind of rude. I think they would prefer for you to attend without baby, even if they say yes because they don't want to say no to you.

I adore and am obsessed with my adorable 1 year old baby, but we left her at home and went out on dates once a week when she was a tiny infant. If you have a trusted babysitter, the baby will be totally fine without you, assuming that she/he is able to take a bottle.

But it's also totally appropriate for you to stay home with baby and send your husband. Or, if the wedding isn't that important to you, skip it.

Good luck!
posted by tk at 8:13 AM on August 26, 2009 [15 favorites]


Wedding invitation etiquette seems to differ from region to region and person to person, so I'd call it totally variable. Calling to check would be the best way to clear things up.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 8:13 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Please don't ask if you can bring the baby. I think even asking is kind of rude. I think they would prefer for you to attend without baby, even if they say yes because they don't want to say no to you.

Well, there's a rude way to say it and a polite way. If I were in this situation and I wanted to attend, I'd call and say something like, "I just got the invitation. It was lovely! Anyway, we wanted to confirm that babies are not invited. We totally understand if it's adults-only/no-babies-please, but we just wanted to be sure before we started making arrangements."
posted by muddgirl at 8:17 AM on August 26, 2009 [28 favorites]


Also, when it comes to businesses and restaurants, are strollers typically welcome (and the parent will be told, or there'll be a sign, when not)? Or are they typically not welcome and the parent should ask permission to enter with one?

I have worked at some nice restaurants and a very busy coffee shop where babies and their strollers were always welcome - we would only say something if the stroller was blocking doorways and aisles, etc, and of course, we would always offer to stow it away some place for them if need be. We had no signs to that effect at any of these places and it was never a problem.

I worked in a fine dining restaurant that did not allow children under the age of sixteen and we always made this clear to anybody making a reservation so there would be no confusion on the night of the booking.

As for the wedding - call the couple in question and ask. It's not an unusual question.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:18 AM on August 26, 2009


Davoid: WTF? Parents with 6-month-old and younger children leave them with sitters ALL THE TIME (hello, daycare? Women do go back to work). Leaving your child with a grandparent or a trusted sitter is not the equivalent of leaving them "in storage somewhere."

knowing that baby may be too young to leave yet

They don’t “know” anything except that the invited couple has a baby; the bride and groom cannot (and should not) make any presumptions about whether the invited parents will be comfortable leaving their baby with a sitter. It’s entirely unique to every situation.

I don’t think it’s a courtesy invitation; they surely hope the invited couple can attend (without the baby) but should also certainly understand if they didn’t.
posted by yawper at 8:19 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


You should call and personally decline. I agree that it's generally rude to call up and say "Hey, so&so--even an infant--isn't on my invitation, can I bring her?"

I doubt the infant is invited. I don't think people expect you to stash your baby somewhere as much as they expect you to decline because, as people carrying for a helpless infant, you are unable to attend. The couple clearly wishes you can attend, but understand that you have priorities which may not include their wedding. If there is a misunderstanding and the baby is invited or the couple have arranged for a day care at their wedding (people do sometimes), or something else, they'll say "Oh, please bring infant! Please come!"
posted by crush-onastick at 8:20 AM on August 26, 2009


Not invited, IMHO, but you could check, so long as you ask in a way that doesn't heap guilt upon the bride and groom.

Plus, babies really don't belong at grownup formal events like this. They cry, they scream, they freak the fuck out, and they make enjoyment extremely difficult for the rest of us. Even those of us--me included--who are perfectly happy spending hours playing peekaboo with them.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:22 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


My partner and I have had this a few times. Where people bringing babies will be an issue, this is normally set out unequivocally in the information about the wedding. In the absence of clear guidance, call and ask.

Do they know that you’ve had a baby? If not, what a great excuse to give them a call, catch up, give them the good news and ask whether junior will be welcome. If they know, then you need clarity from them – again, call and ask. Be unembarrassed.

Frankly if your friends want you to come but expect that you leave a new baby with a babysitter they’ve forfeited any reasonable expectation about your presence. They’ve demonstrated that a baby-free wedding is what they want, more so than your company.

‘Babies not welcome’ feels a bit like ‘fuck the most important person in your life’ to me. YMMV
posted by dmt at 8:23 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


If these people are friends of yours, ignore tk. Any friend that would find it rude that I clarified whether kids are invited or not, isn't a friend. Now if you ask they say no and you get upset, then you are rude. I have a wedding in 2 weeks and a 11 week old. I simple asked the bride and groom if my son could come, letting them know it was fine if they said no and even though they hadn't included him in the invite, they totally wanted him there.

If these are only acquaintances or coworkers, then perhaps go with no baby.
posted by katers890 at 8:23 AM on August 26, 2009


Seconding ask. (You can also ask the parents of the bride or groom if you know them if you're afraid of making things awkward.)
posted by ejaned8 at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2009


I don't think you should view this as a "courtesy invitation." If that were the case, you would not have been sent an invitation; you would have been sent an announcement the day of the wedding.

I really like muddgirl's way of phrasing the question, if you call them to confirm that the baby is not invited.
posted by Houstonian at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2009


I would presume the baby is not invited and that although the couple would love for you to be there, if you can't because you cannot arrange something for your baby they totally understand.

I don't know this particular couple but if you're invited it's probably because they hope you can make it. It's a silly risk to invite someone you don't want to attend.

If you are close enough to the couple to call and ask, then by all means ask, especially since itsonreserve makes a good point that the couple might have forgotten there's a new one in your family at the time of addressing the invite. But definitely do not assume the baby is invited. Imagine if everyone else left their kids at home (particularly those related to the bride & groom) and you guys brought the newborn! It puts the couple in a potentially awkward situation.

It would be so weird that the couple would expect you to leave your 6 month old in storage somewhere.
Oh goodness, this is not what the couple expects and it is not weird to think that parents would consider a babysitter.
posted by like_neon at 8:24 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


This comes up a lot at various other forums I belong to, and the school of thought on those forums (these are all parents, by the way) is that a babe under a year is considered inclusive of the invitation unless otherwise stated.

In some cases, when asked, the couple declares outright that the babe is not invited, and some parents choose to go and some do not. In other cases, when asked, the couple declares outright that the babe is invited because that is traditional etiquette(babes in arms don't eat food, don't take up much space, and don't cost the bride and groom anything assuming the parents are respectful in removing the babe for fussiness) and how on earth could parents be expected to leave a young babe behind? And still yet, I have seen tales of brides and grooms getting incredibly upset when someone has said that he/she could not attend if the baby could not attend. This also happened to a friend of mine --- she was really saddened that a good friend of hers declined attending because her, at the time, four month old wasn't invited.

My personal opinion on the matter is under six months, the babe is assumed invited to all events the parents are invited to if nothing on invitations says otherwise (that is traditional etiquette after all --- wish I could find my source to prove it). But these days, it's worth asking. The first wedding I went to after Baby Zizzle was born, I and my husband were in the wedding party and didn't think it feasible for him to come with us (though I highly suspect he would have been welcomed if we could have found someone to look after him while we did bridal party stuff) --- but Baby Zizzle was almost seven months old and we were able to arrange care with a grandparent who doesn't see him very much and who was elated to have him. In the next wedding we attended a month later, Baby Zizzle and I were both in the bridal party, so that wasn't an issue at all for us. I probably would have declined invitations to a wedding if he wasn't allowed to attend from newborn to six months of age, though --- especially if it involved traveling a good distance and overnight stays without the baby.

And I do find it hard to believe that brides and grooms would expect a couple with a baby under six months of age to attend without the baby, which isn't to say that the couple shouldn't be invited at all. Just that the bride and groom should keep in mind what inviting a couple with a baby means for the couple, especially if the baby is not invited.
posted by zizzle at 8:26 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I think as a rule of thumb, young children at formal weddings are either the children of the couple, grandchildren of the couple or nieces and nephews. To extend beyond that can get difficult. Weddings that are outdoors or in a less formal environment make it easier to entertain a wide variety of ages and actual interest in the proceedings.

I have heard couples renting a room where the reception is held for the sitter and the baby to facilitate nursing, etc.

Muddgirl had perfect wording for the request if you call and ask and I'm sure there will be others with the same request and the couple have given it some thought.
posted by readery at 8:33 AM on August 26, 2009


Plus 1 to asking. If the name was not on the invitation then more than likely they either A) forgot you had a child or B) do not want children there.
posted by Mastercheddaar at 8:33 AM on August 26, 2009


It doesn't hurt to call the couple and ask. If you phrase it as just wanting to respect their wedding wishes, I doubt they'd consider it to be rude of you.

For our wedding, we did have a couple that had a child and asked us specifically if they were allowed to bring their child (All of our invitations just went out as "Mr/Ms So-and-So and Guest", but family members knew that their children were invited just from asking). We were worried about the fact that it was a late evening wedding, so we actually helped arrange a babysitter for their child during the reception. It actually worked out great, no one was offended either by the question or the proposed solution, the parents got a night out. Of course, your mileage may vary, but I don't think it hurts to ask.
posted by DiamondGFX at 8:35 AM on August 26, 2009


Don't call and check. Do something fun and non-baby-related together. Everyone wins!
posted by hermitosis at 8:48 AM on August 26, 2009


We had to go to an adults-only wedding when I had a breastfed/bottle-hating two month old. I knew we had a limited amount of time to be away from the baby, so we just went to the reception, told the couple the wedding was lovely and left a bit early. (Also, the wedding part was at least a half an hour from the babysitters' house and the reception was five minutes from the babysitter.)
posted by artychoke at 8:51 AM on August 26, 2009


Yes the baby is invited.

Yes one of you will have to get up and go stand outside with the baby if he or she gets loud during the ceremony.
posted by Artw at 8:52 AM on August 26, 2009


Yes the baby is invited.

Do not assume this. Just call and ask.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:57 AM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


If you're close to them, call and ask. If you're not, assume the baby is not invited and either decline the invitation (what I would do, with such a young one) or find a sitter.

I agree that babies can be disruptive at weddings, but I also feel strongly that people who invite parents of very young infants have no right to be hurt or offended if they choose not to attend a wedding at which children are unwelcome.

My own anecdote: a few months ago we attended a beautiful destination wedding in the Catskills. Our invitation was addressed to only my husband and me, with no mention of our then-six-month-old sprout. I called the bride, a friend of mine, and politely asked if we should consider him invited too. She was shocked and upset that it was even a question and assured me that she would be heartbroken if we didn't bring him, and that there would be at least a dozen other young children present. I was very glad I asked instead of just assuming he couldn't attend (and then not going, because I wouldn't personally feel comfortable leaving such a young baby with a sitter for so long).
posted by balls at 8:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


ArtW, you cannot say this for certain. Some people just don't want kids (and babies) at their event, regardless of how cute or helpless they are. That's their right. It's their event.

Asking politely to confirm that the invite was for the couple and not the baby is the right way to go.
posted by Aquaman at 8:59 AM on August 26, 2009


Yes one of you will have to get up and go stand outside with the baby if he or she gets loud during the ceremony.

Sorry, but by the time baby has gotten loud enough to be escorted outside, he/she has already become a disruption. Considering how much money people sink into their weddings, they deserve to be able enjoy their own ceremony without hearing babbling in the background or seeing people periodically springing up and bolting for the door.
posted by hermitosis at 9:01 AM on August 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


Oh, and to answer your second question: strollers are usually allowed anywhere children are allowed. But that doesn't mean they're welcome, especially in cities like New York where the aisles are narrow and space is at a high premium. If you're concerned, invest in some babywearing gear, like a Moby Wrap or Hotsling. Then you're not worried about taking up a lot of space, annoying everyone around you, or having to deal with stairs and escalators. And you can nurse hands-free, which rules.
posted by balls at 9:02 AM on August 26, 2009


I'm amazed at all these strongly-held views/assumptions people are displaying. Some weddings are baby-friendly and some aren't. Just call and ask.
posted by Perplexity at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Please don't assume that the baby is invited as well. Out of the dozen or so weddings I have been to in recent years, one had children present. IMO, small children don't belong at formal affairs and they will be bored to tears and therefore disruptive.

In your position, I would call up the maid of honor and ask her. She'll know the couples' opinion on the matter.
posted by crankylex at 9:16 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


As someone who's planning a wedding right now, right when several of our friends are newly be-sproggened, I'm following this thread with intense interest.

My (male) perspective: I'm not spending $XX,000 to host a baby jamboree.
posted by Oktober at 9:21 AM on August 26, 2009 [6 favorites]


Gosh, that certainly got a strong reaction. To me if there’s any kind of event that’s family related that I’d say babies were expected at I’d say a wedding, and I’d have been horrified if anyone and asked of me if their baby was banned from our wedding, and wondering what kind of anti-child weirdos they’d taken us for.

Possibly it’s an age range thing – if your friends are at an age where kids are a few years off and they’re having some kind of frosty yuppie show wedding, or some funky hipster thing or whatever, then your kid may not be welcome. Maybe you should ask – and if the kid really is a problem you probably want to adjust to the new reality that these people are not going to be part of your lives anymore either, at least for the next few years, and just cut ‘em off clean.

Me, I’d still advise being pushy, and going places with kids, and trying to maintain a relationship with the world rather than sinking into the kid-cocoon.
posted by Artw at 9:22 AM on August 26, 2009


IMO, small children don't belong at formal affairs and they will be bored to tears and therefore disruptive.

Please don't assume that all weddings are formal affairs and that children would be bored to tears. My ceremony was less than 20 minutes long and I wish that my cousins who had a young baby could have made it.
posted by muddgirl at 9:38 AM on August 26, 2009


Some people just don't want kids (and babies) at their event, regardless of how cute or helpless they are.


Just in case some people missed that.
posted by Zambrano at 9:39 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


‘Babies not welcome’ feels a bit like ‘fuck the most important person in your life’ to me. YMMV

It feels more like "lots of money and time and effort is being spent and the last thing we want is a screaming child fucking everything up for everyone" to me. YMMV.

Yes the baby is invited.


Nobody is invited to a wedding unless specifically invited.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 9:43 AM on August 26, 2009 [8 favorites]


Possibly it’s an age range thing – if your friends are at an age where kids are a few years off and they’re having some kind of frosty yuppie show wedding, or some funky hipster thing or whatever, then your kid may not be welcome. Maybe you should ask – and if the kid really is a problem you probably want to adjust to the new reality that these people are not going to be part of your lives anymore either, at least for the next few years, and just cut ‘em off clean.

Ahem. Not to derail, but the dismissive "kids these days with their baby-hating weddings" attitude isn't helpful or necessary. I'm sure there are people of any age range who do or don't want babies at weddings. xo, while I absolutely agree with Artw that you shouldn't get wrapped up in the "kid cocoon," there's no basis for believing that your friends don't want to remain your friends now that you have a child, even if they don't invite your baby to their wedding. As you can see from the varied responses here, people just have different ideas of how they want their wedding to be, and that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the rest of your friendship with them.
posted by runningwithscissors at 9:54 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Other than the noise factor, a new baby is a big attention magnet (rightfully so of course ;).
Out of courtesy to the bride and groom, I'd think it would be polite to leave the child with a sitter so everyone can focus on the event. The child is young enough that they will not know what they missed, and you two will be able to enjoy an evening out and give your full attention to the happy couple.
posted by Billegible at 10:06 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


When it comes to wedding invitation questions, you should never make assumptions about the intent. Whether your question were "bringing a baby OK?" or "bringing a date OK?," it should be obvious from the different answers you're getting here that people's ideas of what's proper or expected or decent can differ wildly. And that emotions run high on this issue, too. Ask. Ask kindly, as in muddgirl's example. You'll save yourself a lot of worry, and it's so easily done.
posted by st looney up the cream bun and jam at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2009


According to Emily Post children's names would be on the invitation if they were invited. Sorry, but it's rude to call and ask if the babe can come. Perhaps you could inquire discretely with other friends you know that are attending, the wedding party members, or the bride and groom's family?

Please don't assume the bride and groom are horrible people if they don't want children at their wedding, there could be reasons for this that you are not aware of.

When Mr. Socrateaser and I got married last year, due to budgetary reasons, we had the wedding in my parent's modest-sized back yard and limited the guest list to 50. That was one factor in our not inviting our friend's kiddies. Another was that my parent's home and yard is not child-proof or child-friendly. We were afraid children might get hurt and didn't think it was right to ask my folks to child-proof their house for one day.

And honestly, little children will likely get bored and wiggly during the ceremony, especially if it is long. And kids running around during the reception could be hazardous, especially with people, including elderly guests, and servers milling about.
posted by socrateaser at 10:08 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Me, I’d still advise being pushy, and going places with kids, and trying to maintain a relationship with the world rather than sinking into the kid-cocoon.

Being pushy about bringing your kids everywhere is sinking into the kid-cocoon.
posted by hermitosis at 10:09 AM on August 26, 2009 [36 favorites]


It's also known as being that douchebag parent who doesn't understand that sometimes grownups like grownup time.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 10:20 AM on August 26, 2009 [12 favorites]


According to Emily Post children's names would be on the invitation if they were invited.

You're assuming that everyone who sends wedding invitations is familiar with Emily Post's rules. A lot of people may not spot the issue when sending invitations, or will make unstated assumptions (either way) about whether kids are ok, or want to handle it on a case-by-case basis (e.g., close family members can bring kids, the parents' random neighbors cannot).

The only sensible advice is to politely ask whether kids are invited, making clear that it's not a big deal if the answer is "no."

As for strollers, generally speaking the answer is that strollers are welcome wherever kids are welcome. This applies to most places except adult-oriented establishments like bars and fancy restaurants (although even those places may be ok with kids/strollers, especially during non-peak hours when they could use the business).
posted by brain_drain at 10:33 AM on August 26, 2009


In my experience, sometimes kids are not invited because the wedding ceremony is meant to be long and full of ceremony; having bored kids fidgeting in their seats is counterproductive when hearing "Shh!" and "Sit still!" every few minutes. It might disrupt or distract from the proceedings when a parent has to stand and run after a child that's wandered off. It really depends on the marrying couple and the situation.

Sometimes, the receptions are dinner affairs and the program is long enough to go into the late hours. Emcees, speeches, and dancing might be going on well past the time kids ought to be sleeping, or may be loud enough to affect a sleeping infant. And while many people would understand if you had to leave early, it does get a bit disheartening for both sides to see an empty seat and know that someone had to miss out on things; plus I bet you will only have a small window of opportunity to talk to the new couple, and if you had to leave you may never get a chance.

Other times, the hosting facility will not allow infants or children to be seated in a person's lap, citing liability. The couple might be expected to pay for high-chairs, and for some places that might affect the total headcount. This was the case for my wedding, where high-chairs affected seating arrangements and I was charged for the presence of the child, albeit at a discount (and infants were free, but I still needed the chair).

If you know the ceremony and/or reception will be a very formal affair, or if you know it's a late event stretching into the late hours, you may want to arrange for a babysitter, or decline the invitation. If it's a daytime thing and rather casual, it might be more kid-friendly. Since you've not indicated either or any other alternative, it might be best to ask the bride and groom for clarification.

Oh, I also recommend you ask the bride and groom themselves, and call the parents or friends of the couple only as a last resort. Often it's the couple that has the real and true intentions of how the wedding ought to go or a very specific way of seating arrangements, while parents/friends have just the basic concepts and might just assume the couple meant for you to bring the child.
posted by CancerMan at 10:36 AM on August 26, 2009


Count me in the camp of no kids (babies) at the wedding, if for no other reason that they are utterly unpredictable. They'll burst into tears and barf on the bride on her way down the aisle. They'll poop at the quietest moment. They'll pee on you and ruin your dress. At the reception, they'll knock the wine glasses over. They'll scream at flash photography. Did I mention the barfing and pooping? How about a nice long fart in the middle of the ceremony?

Sound awesome?

They're terrible guests. Just awful.

Frankly, it's no fun for the parents, the bride and groom, or the other guests. And I say this as a Person With Baby. When they don't mention it, they mean: please for the love of God, no babies.

The only exception is if it's an intimate, informal type wedding with a bunch of people who are going to fall all over themselves thrilled to see the baby, and if those people include the bride and groom.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 10:58 AM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


My 9 month old has been to 2 weddings this summer. I say presumed invited.

Our strategy:
- bribe him with MumMums during the ceremony, be ready to run if he gets fussy.
- wear him in the carrier the whole time
- let other people coo over him
- try to ignore the photographer when we slow danced with him in the carrier between us

We were going to have a teenaged cousin babysit him, but he fell asleep by 7pm anyway, so why not just keep him in the carrier?

We had a blast.
posted by k8t at 11:02 AM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


A Terrible Llama, I don't believe you're qualified to speak for all people who have weddings, nor for all of their guests, nor for all babies whose parents bring them to weddings. Not everyone invites children out of mere obligation, and not all babies are awful guests. Some people actually like having them around, even at their weddings. I know, because I just attended one where this was most certainly the case.

The anti-baby sentiment here is predictable and fairly irrelevant to the OP's question. Every wedding is different and the only way to know for sure whether her child is welcome, is to ask. I am not a person who believes that parents are entitled to bring their children everywhere they go, but weddings are not exactly bachelor parties, and in many circles they're considered to be family occasions.
posted by balls at 11:40 AM on August 26, 2009


I certainly had no intention of speaking for anyone but myself.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 11:51 AM on August 26, 2009


If it's local, no baby at the ceremony, baby at the reception.

"Well, there's a rude way to say it and a polite way. If I were in this situation and I wanted to attend, I'd call and say something like, "I just got the invitation. It was lovely! Anyway, we wanted to confirm that babies are not invited. We totally understand if it's adults-only/no-babies-please, but we just wanted to be sure before we started making arrangements.""

Better yet: "Since your engagement, we've been blessed with a young one. We'd love to RSVP for your wedding, but we need to know whether or not it's okay for us to bring our baby to your ceremony so that we can make the appropriate arrangements."

I mean, what you said is fine by me, muddgirl, but if you're dealing with a hypersensitive couple (as tk seems to think), I think it's best to stay as far away from language that can be possibly construed as passive-aggressive.

But then, I'm totally Ask culture, not Guess. If someone answers in a way not consistent with their feelings on the matter, they get what they deserve.
posted by Eideteker at 11:55 AM on August 26, 2009


The anti-baby sentiment here is predictable and fairly irrelevant to the OP's question.

I'm far from anti-baby. I love children and can't wait to have (adopt) my own. But there are situations where the presence of children is definitely inappropriate, and a wedding can be one of them--and frequently is.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 12:06 PM on August 26, 2009 [3 favorites]


But there are situations where the presence of children is definitely inappropriate, and a wedding can be one of them--and frequently is.

And frequently isn't. OP should politely ask to know for sure.
posted by balls at 12:12 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I'm far from anti-baby. I love children and can't wait to have (adopt) my own. But there are situations where the presence of children is definitely inappropriate, and a wedding can be one of them--and frequently is.

Amen. It's entirely possible to love children (yours and others) AND simultaneously be capable of recognizing that not every setting and event is child-friendly. (Congress, for example.)

This is called being a grown-up, and being considerate of other grown-ups.
posted by scody at 12:40 PM on August 26, 2009 [11 favorites]


Wow, this is an eye opener for me. Every single wedding I've had, or my family (on either side) has had, the invitations were meant for the entire family, babies included. And I'm pretty sure on our wedding invitation we didn't say '& family' or include the kids names. It just never registered to us that at a wedding should only include adults, since that's just not how either of our families operate. In my and my spouses family we would be shocked if someone left their kids at home for a wedding, funeral or any other formal family event. I'm actually willing to bet we would be berated by the elders of our respective clans if we had excluded children/babies.
I've learned something to check on if we get invited to a non-family wedding, so thanks for asking the question I'd never would have thought to ask.
Oh, count me in the 'call to make sure' column.
posted by forforf at 12:42 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


My personal opinion on the matter is under six months, the babe is assumed invited to all events the parents are invited to if nothing on invitations says otherwise (that is traditional etiquette after all --- wish I could find my source to prove it).

CTRL + F "Miss Manners"

nothing

CTRL + F "Judith Martin"

again, nothing.

With the bandying about of the term "traditional etiquette" I was sure someone would have brought the authority on the matter into the discussion by now. No? Ok, I will.

From her book Miss Manners' Guide for the Turn of the Millennium (link is to the relevant passage on google books)

Babies do not belong at wedding receptions. They are not mentioned on wedding invitations because they are not invited.

That would be the "traditional etiquette." If you believe the bride and groom are more the non-traditional sort, feel free to call & ask whether it's ok to bring the tot - so long as you phrase it in a manner similar to muddgirl's that makes it easy for them to say no.
posted by philotes at 12:46 PM on August 26, 2009 [4 favorites]


I was invited to three weddings when my son was under 9 months old. I called to confirm every time, but I was always told that of course it's not a big deal and since he was still nursing exclusively, no one expected him to stay home without me. My feeling is that nurslings and lap babies are expected to be with the mother.

I purchased a beautiful silk ring sling and I must say, we looked great, and it kept the babe quiet the whole time. I made sure that during the ceremony I sat at the back near the doors. You know your child and you know when he's about to cry. Just slip out the door and you'll be fine.

I was glad to have my baby with me at all the weddings because it gave me an excuse if I wanted to leave early. He slept fine in the sling and I actually got to mingle quite a lot because everyone wanted to hold him.

Do call and ask, but I'd be shocked if a nursling wasn't allowed.
posted by Lullen at 1:00 PM on August 26, 2009


[A couple comments removed. Cool it a bit or take it elsewhere.]
posted by cortex (staff) at 1:05 PM on August 26, 2009


For my wedding, we explicitly invited the children and baby. Our feeling was that we would rather have the kids around than not have their parents. That being said, neither my wife nor I are really that fond of children, and we would both be quite upset if a child arrived uninvited to an adult party.

Unless the hosts were unaware of the existence of the child, the fact that the child was not included on the invitation seems to imply that baby is unwelcome.

That said, test the waters in the following way: respond in the negative early explicitly stating that Baby is young, and you don't feel up to leaving Baby with a sitter yet. Hosts will then either accept the response, or inform you that Baby is also invited.
posted by explosion at 1:29 PM on August 26, 2009


You really just have to ask. Some people will actually put adults only on the invitation (which makes things really clear). I only sent our wedding invitation to the parents, but people called and asked if it was okay to bring their kids which was fine with me... But other people feel pretty strongly about not having infants/kids at their wedding, so the best thing to do is ask.
posted by bananafish at 1:32 PM on August 26, 2009


It depends on the wedding. I've been to the $XX,000 affairs and would definitely clarify until I was blue in the face before hauling anyone milk-fed along to such a do. OTOH I have been to plenty of weddings, my own included, where children were most strenuously invited and the squallinger the better: I wanted a proper fertility ritual on the big noisy family get-together end of the spectrum, not a session of Congress. Mileage, it varies!

I did make sure the kids' names were on the invitations, though.
posted by rdc at 2:37 PM on August 26, 2009


Chiming in to say definitely ask. I don't think I included children in my wedding invitations (I claim ignorance about etiquette) but I would have felt awful if someone had felt children were not invited since my own baby was at my wedding. I've never been to an "adult only" wedding though. To me, excluding family from a family occasion would be rude (what, no one here has been to a wedding with elderly family members that are loud, or fart, or behave inappropriately according to the standards of some uptight couple focused only on themselves?)
posted by saucysault at 2:44 PM on August 26, 2009


At my wedding: You're fine, no big deal.
Someone else's wedding: Ask them, not me.

" do the bride and groom typically expect the invited couple to attend (having arranged a babysitter)"

Expect is too strong a word for an invitation, but assume any invitation offered is offered in sincerity.

"are strollers typically welcome"

Yes.

"Or are they typically not welcome and the parent should ask permission to enter with one?"

I have never once in my childrens' lives ever run into this, no matter the business, restaurant, or venue.
posted by majick at 2:54 PM on August 26, 2009


I'm going to jump in with "ask." It's perfectly OK to ask, especially if you make it clear that you're OK with both Yes and No answers. In my family and circle of friends, "babies welcome" is the default assumption. Clearly some people answering here move in different circles.

If you know the parents of either the bride or the groom, they can be a good source of information. Traditionally, it was the mother of the bride, for instance, who let people know what kinds of gifts the couple wanted, or if they were registered somewhere. So, if you know them, you can ask them without putting the couple on the spot.
posted by not that girl at 3:06 PM on August 26, 2009


I'd just like to point out that some people have baby-free ceremonies for a reason. Some people (let's say for example, certain relatives of the B or G) are just plain NOT gonna take the baby out if it starts crying. Maybe you would, but these things are easier to handle if there's a general no-baby policy, no exceptions. There's plenty of reasons why infants wouldn't be wanted, especially if say, the guests want to hear the vows. At the very least, infants and small children probably shouldn't be at the ceremony itself.

Etiquette sez that your baby is not invited and you either need to get a sitter or not come, and that the B&G should be aware that not allowing the baby to come means that you might not. If you don't live anywhere near the B&G I suspect it's more of a "token, not actually expecting you to come" invite, but it's probably more of a "nice if they come adults only, we'll suck it up if they can't" sort of invite.
posted by jenfullmoon at 3:10 PM on August 26, 2009


For our wedding, the handful of couples with children got an invitation addressed "The Whatever Family" ("Whatever" being the families name). We would have been perfectly fine if anyone had taken us up on bringing the kids.

However, the fact that the wedding was in Vegas and most of the invitees were on the East Coast, no one bit.

To answer your question, I'm leaning more towards the baby probably isn't invited. I'd ring the couple and ask before making a decision.
posted by arishaun at 3:37 PM on August 26, 2009


Sure, asking puts the couple on the spot, but there's enough difference in opinion here to show that clearly you can't know unless you ask. So, either track down a bridesmaid or parent and ask if the wedding is baby-friendly (the more polite option) or ask the couple directly. Yes, weddings are stressful to plan, and people would do well not to ask if they can bring extra guests (a date, an older child), but a 6-month-old? I think that's a special exception.

Anecdotally, we didn't name babies on our invitations (a couple weren't born when the invitations went out), but welcomed them at our wedding. When people asked, we said we couldn't really accommodate older kids, but that babies were fine. Maybe we made an etiquette faux pas, but everything worked out ok.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:44 PM on August 26, 2009


Also, you'll know if the couple are the sort to think of a briefly crying baby during their ceremony as ruining their wedding--if that's the case, get a sitter or skip the day, but if not, go ahead and ask.
posted by Meg_Murry at 3:49 PM on August 26, 2009


If you ask, you're probably going to get a "yes" because they feel bad saying no. If there are any other parents invited, ask what they've heard, or ask someone in the ceremony. Do not ask the couple, unless they are close to you, and could honestly say no to you if that is what they want.

But unless it's a very informal wedding or the people getting married are particularly cool with kids, presume "no".

Kids are loud, disruptive and demand attention. Do not detract from someone else's big day.
posted by spaltavian at 3:52 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


I got married a year ago. When we wanted kids to attend, we put "& family" on the invitation. Only our immediate family had this privilege. Everyone else was expected to get babysitters or not come. Sorry, it's our wedding, it was at a very expensive hotel, and we get to do it our way. We don't have kids and I don't particularly like them unless I'm closely related to them. I did have a cousin decline my invitation because he couldn't find a babysitter for his three children under five. Such is life; the invitations were sent out months in advance, and I'm sure parents have to miss other things they'd like to attend.

I'm glad we did it that way. I just attended a wedding last month where a squalling infant interrupted the ceremony. It may or may not have bothered the couple, but it sure bothered a few of us in the pews. I have no idea if the baby was invited, or if the parent had asked the bride & groom, but I know for sure that if the bride was asked, she would say yes no matter what her true feelings were. Brides are already under a ton of stress. Save her some and leave the kid at home.
posted by desjardins at 4:29 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Question 1: the answer is c): it's variable. Ask.

Notice that I did not say "call and ask."

My partner and I were married about a month ago, and I can tell you that I spent the summer dreading the ring of the telephone. This dread doubled when I answered the damn phone to find that yet another person was asking me to make yet another teeny-tiny wedding-related decision right now. All these teeny-tiny decisions add up fast.

If you can contact the happy couple in writing (email, or snail mail if time allows), you can drop them a note saying how happy you are to be invited and asking, as muddgirl suggests, in a way that gives them a graceful way to decline your baby's attendance. Indeed, ask in a way that expects them to decline.

But don't be afraid to ask. More and more couples are using emailed RSVPs; if your friends are, then use that address.

It's true (at least, in the Miss Manners/Emily Post etiquette tradition) that an invitation should specify the invitees by name. It's also true that lots of people have baby-free weddings. With these facts in mind, you should be prepared for your friends to say "Yes, that's right --- it's adults only," or even "Yes, that's right --- we're only including family children," or whatever.

But I can tell you from experience that the (exhausted and stressed) couple may have simply oh-my-goodness forgotten to include the baby, as we did with one invitation. Old friends of my now-husband had a baby between the time we wrote the guest list and the time we addressed the invitations, and we just plumb forgot to add her name to their invitation. We were delighted that they asked rather than either declining the invitation (to stay home with their baby) or arranging babysitting (to attend without their baby).
posted by Elsa at 5:51 PM on August 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Another thing to consider is that if you assume your child is invited and bring them, you potentially put the bride and groom in a very awkward position. For my recent wedding, I come from a very large family and have 15 nieces and nephews, most under the age of 12, ranging from babies to a 16year old. On top of that, many of my friends have young children. It was simply not possible to invite these children to this formal event without a)blowing out the cost and b) turning it into a fairly wild affair, I mean, my small nieces and nephews are crazy when they get together and run amok. My husband and I wanted a classy adult wedding, which we did not consider appropriate for young children.

So, we invited children to the ceremony but not to the reception which was going til late at night anyway. Now, if a guest had shown up to the reception with their child, I can guarantee you it would have led to a lot of "why was their child invited and mine wasn't" talk amongst our guests with kids, and really put us in a bit of a spot by potentially offending those who left their kids at home. Please don't put the couple in this position. It's very simple, if your child was invited, it would be on the invitation. By asking them directly, you force them to reiterate what is already stated on the invite, it is just the couple that is invited.

Get a sitter, from what my friends with children tell me, they welcome the adult time for just that one night anyway.
posted by Jubey at 5:52 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


IMO, small children don't belong at formal affairs and they will be bored to tears and therefore disruptive.

An infant is not the same situation as a bored two-year-old jumping up and down demanding Cheerios. A babe in arms that young sleeps about fourteen hours a day and has just started sitting up.

If it's a very formal affair, perhaps get a sitter. Otherwise, you can call and double-check in case they have very strong opinions, but it's not unreasonable (IMO) to bring the baby. Sit near the door during the ceremony in case the baby gets fussy.
posted by desuetude at 6:02 PM on August 26, 2009


Enjoy having an infant and being relatively able to do things while you can. You're actually far more flexible than you will be once you have a todler who will run off given any chance.
posted by Artw at 7:43 PM on August 26, 2009


Another vote for it varies wildly. Sometimes kids and babies are welcome, sometimes babies and not kids, sometimes kids and not babies, and sometimes kids and babies of near and dear are welcome but kids and babies of non-family are not. I'd leave the baby with a sitter because, gosh, won't it be nice to dine and dance with your partner and talk to grownups for a few hours? And if the idea of doing that upsets you, then you should ask.
posted by moxiedoll at 7:45 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


hermitosis: "Yes one of you will have to get up and go stand outside with the baby if he or she gets loud during the ceremony.

Sorry, but by the time baby has gotten loud enough to be escorted outside, he/she has already become a disruption. Considering how much money people sink into their weddings, they deserve to be able enjoy their own ceremony without hearing babbling in the background or seeing people periodically springing up and bolting for the door.
"

Yes.
posted by radioamy at 8:48 PM on August 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


If I were in this situation and I wanted to attend, I'd call and say something like, "I just got the invitation. It was lovely! Anyway, we wanted to confirm that babies are not invited.

A less submissive and more genuine inquiry would go something along the lines of:

"I just got the invitation. It was lovely! Anyway, we just wanted to know if we could bring little Jack or if we'd have to arrange for a sitter." This way the question isn't heavily weighted toward one side and it doesn't make the couple out to have banned children when in reality some might actually take offense to the assumption that babies/kids aren't invited!

Call and ask, because as you can see from the responses, it varies quite a lot. My family's events and weddings tend to feature babies and small children. My aunt and uncle had three 5-year old ringbearers this past spring. And there were several other children.
posted by cmgonzalez at 11:58 PM on August 26, 2009


Thanks for the input, everyone! I feel like I got a strong consensus: call and ask, but not in such a way that puts the couple on the spot to agree that baby should come.

It seems that's the only way I will be able to know for sure in this case. It's family, but not close family (step-sibling), so that's not an insta-yes. Certainly they know that the baby has been born, because we got a congratulatory card a month before the invitation arrived. It's an outdoor wedding (casual?), but with calligraphed invitations (formal?), but it's also on the other side of the US. That means our choices are: fly a trusted sitter with us, hire an unknown local at the site, attend with baby, or have only one of us attend. Thus having firm clarification would be ideal -- I would hate for one of us to fly out alone, only to hear that we should have all come, and get scolded or cause hurt feelings for not even asking.
posted by xo at 5:25 PM on September 2, 2009


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