There are no etiquette rules regarding whether children should attend weddings. The decision is entirely up to the couple getting married.
If you are a guest invited to a wedding and your children are not, there is no reason to take offense. You should certainly respect the wishes of the bride and groom. It is improper to turn up at the occasion with your children and put the couple on the spot.
Young children are unpredictable and cannot be trusted to behave at all times. Couples may not want to have their festivities -- often occasions that cost $30,000 or more -- to be interrupted by children who may be a little too boisterous.
Also, children may be an inconvenience to adults simply looking to have a good time. How much can you enjoy yourself if you are constantly keeping an eye on a toddler or tending to an infant? Chances are your wedding experience will be compromised.
All in all, many other couples welcome the idea of having children at their weddings. Children represent the extended family and the next generation. They can add life to a party and look adorable dressed in party clothes.
If your child is invited to a wedding, or you are the happy couple tying the knot, consider these tips.
* Although children of all ages may be welcome, it's often better to limit children to ages 4 and older, especially if they'll be participating in the ceremony as a ring bearer or flower girl. Children of this age are better able to take direction and are a little more mature. Check if your ceremony site has rules regarding children in the ceremony.
* If you want to compromise when inviting children, allow them to be present at the church or synagogue, but restrict them from the reception. You can carefully word this on the invitation by saying "Adult Reception."
* Talk to the caterer to find out if there is a reduced fare on children's dinners. This can save on costs, particularly if children aren't likely to eat an adult meal.
* Children invited to the wedding reception should be dressed accordingly for the formality of the event. Now is not the time for sneakers and jeans.
* Provide entertainment for children during the lulls of the event. Kids may love to get up and dance, but become antsy during dinner courses. Pack along a goodie bag of games, DVDs and toys that can keep them occupied.
* Find out if you can bring along a kid's chaperone, namely a babysitter or friend who can keep an eye on the kids while you enjoy yourself.
* The bride and groom may want to set up a "kiddie corral" area in the reception room, particularly if they plan to invite a lot of young children. Put down foam interlocking mats and fence off the area so kids are contained.
* If the wedding will be open to children, consider adjusting the hours so that it takes place earlier in the day. This way parents will have time to get their children to bed on or close to their normal bedtime.