Q: Our bundle of joy arrived six months before the wedding. How can we make our baby part of the celebration?
Ah, the modern dilemmas of the modern bride. This happens much more than it used to, says Tasha Bracken, owner of Simple Details in Newton. "Having them be part of the processional is one way to make them involved". You could have one of the grandparents carry him down the aisle, or a bridesmaid wheel him down in a trussed-out wagon. For the ceremony itself, bringing the light of your life up to light the unity candle as a family is a deeply moving idea. "I've even seen the groom hold the baby during the ceremony", say Linnea Tangorra, owner of Tangorra Wedding Planning in Newburyport. "You know what would be really sweet?" says Fleur Pang, owner of A warm Reception in Duxbury. "If you could hold the baby for your first dance". Just make sure you have a backup plan for exploding diapers and explosive crying.
Q: We are having a destination wedding and do not want to invite children. We were careful to address the invitations to only those invited, but we are now receiving RSVP's including guests' children. Should we have written "no children" on the invitation? Now how should we handle the situation?
Sure, your second cousin Betty Lou in Wisconsin might not understand the etiquette here, but it's pretty straightforward: Only the folks to whom the invitation is addressed are invited. "You do not have to write 'no children' on the invitation if it wasn't addressed to the children", says Danielle Cameron, founder of Details Within Wedding Consulting in Merrimac. Either way, you now have to deal with Betty Lou and her brood of four. "You need to call them. As awful as it is", says Cameron. "You have to pick up the phone and explain that it's not a children's affair. Which can start fights, so you also have to be willing for them not to come as well". If you're feeling especially benevolent-or at least willing to prostrate yourself to keep the peace-offer to help find babysitting, says Sylvia Golden, owner of Events by Sylvia Golden in Needham, or even invite the little tykes to brunch the next day. But whatever you do, don't cave or other guests will think you played favorites.
Q: My cousin wants to bring her three-year-old to our reception. I've already told everyone else, "no kids", so how do I tell her she can't bring him?
Explain that you are terribly sorry, but you've already excluded other guests' children. If Junior comes - adorable and well-behaved as he is - you're certain that others will take offense. If she has any regard for your feelings, she'll probably relent. If you haven't already sent out invites, you can also take preemptive measures; many brides include a handwritten note saying they hope the guest will come, and that you'd be happy to arrange for childcare at the event if they aren't able to find a babysitter. Incidentally, paying for child care at the hotel or reception site is always smart, even if guests haven't asked to violate your "no kid" rule. You never know who might show up with tots in tow.