In the South, good manners are passed down like a treasured family recipe for pecan pie. However, unlike the formula for a favorite after-dinner treat, guidelines to being well-mannered are changing with the times. With wedding season in full bloom—bringing an abundance of gatherings—many of our etiquette conundrums surface, and we are left feeling confused about social protocol. Every other week throughout wedding season, Erika Preval of Charm Etiquette school in Atlanta, will answer a question that helps us navigate the grey area of modern etiquette.
While creating the wedding guest list is a well-thought-out process, couples often receive the most pushback when children have been omitted from the big day. Though the decision often stems from restrictions on budget and space, etiquette dictates we approach this subject with thoughtfulness. Here’s a bit of perspective on some of the most common questions concerning weddings and children:
Q: Is it appropriate to keep small kids off the invitation list to a formal wedding?
A: Bedtime before 9 – There are a number of social scenarios, from dinner to theater, where the time of day or environment elevate the behavioral expectations of children. If a child prefers being anything but quiet and still during their bedtime routine, chances are that attending an evening wedding isn’t suitable. Outbursts during the ceremony might seem to last only a moment, they replay forever on recorded nuptials.
Q: Although the wedding invitation says “Adults Only”, the bride is our children’s godmother. Should we ask for an exception for our family or just bring them?
A: Mother, may I – Please respect a couple’s boundaries when it comes to children not being invited to the wedding and/or reception. Other parents will have the same parameters, and will make plans with those in mind. It would be unfair to make an exception for your family, and insulting to show total disregard by bringing your children despite the restriction.
Q: How should we respond when an invitee adds onto the RSVP card, “my family and I will be attending”?
A: Hosts with the most – You’ll need to call guests who write in plus ones of any variety. Though you don’t have to yield to the requests of your guests, you can show thoughtfulness – especially towards parents that are traveling with children. Ask your planner to assist you with compiling a list of reputable sitters that you can forward to parents before the wedding. If your budget allows, you might instead provide an event sitter that will create a separate, kid-friendly event for the younger set!
We want to hear from you! What wedding etiquette questions would you like Erika to answer?