Sunday, February 5, 2012

Project Mama to Mrs.: Child-free Calamity

When I was 12 years old, my uncle got married. His wedding was one of those really fancy affairs. My mom was a bridesmaid, as was one of my aunts. And the hoopla before the wedding had everyone in the vacinity totally charged for his nuptials. I saw the reception venue - beautifully ornate with crystal place settings, dimmed lighting, and clothed tables and chairs. Or, maybe, that was what I envisioned. I wasn't allowed at that part of the affair. As a "not-quite-teen" and therefore child, I was uninvited. And because I was "old enough" to serve as babysitter to all my younger siblings and cousins, that's exactly what I was relegated to be. I begged an older cousin who made the cut to take photos for me - - to capture the event so I could experience it vicariously through prints. I never saw those photos. And, I think, I am still bitter about the exclusion.

My cousin was married when my daughter was five and I was expecting my second child. She, too, held a "no kids allowed" reception. When I first held the beautiful black and silver invite, I read that tiny clause and fummed. Where would I send my child off to if everyone who had ever watched her was expected at the event? I was saved by a second invitation to have her serve as flower girl. As part of the wedding party, she was welcomed into the adult-only festivities and she had a blast - - until bedtime. Then, the stress of the day's activities caused a meltdown and it put a damper on my enjoyment of the evening.

There've been many weddings in between (and after) these two, and most that I've elected to attend welcomed children. Some even catered to their enjoyment with blow up toys, bubbles, and specially selected kiddie tunes. I admit these were wonderful, family-oriented parties that made for oh-so-precious photographs. I resolved that I'd want to be all-inclusive with my own wedding.

Now, finally, it is my turn. And when I become Mrs., there will be four children officially under my safe keeping. That's right, four, ages from 3-12.

But we, too, elected to eliminate other people's teeny boppers from our reception. Hypocritical?

Well... I feel a little like "Father of the Bride" on this one.

Our reception space holds 75 for a sit down meal, and with that maximum capacity reached, it's a tight fit.

I'm already told I'll have to sacrifice my round tables for rectangles to make room for a dance floor.

If children come (and my family and friends average three per household), then the number of adult guests will dwindle to nothing. We'd already trimmed our guest lists to those we could not bear to have missing and those we absolutely knew would be crushed were they not invited. We eliminated many wonderfully faithful friends who've made us the people we are today. It felt horrible.

When Rob mentioned that his eldest sister recommended a "child-free" soiree (who, herself has three), I reluctantly agreed. In my head I tallied the number of effected parties - my closest friends have six among them, my few invited cousins have at least three in their party, and only a few uncles and aunts with young charges. Ok. Perhaps it was not so bad.

We sent out the invitations.

And then I got a phone call. How could I leave out kids? Who would watch the babies? Why can't they come? Can't you make an exception?

It wasn't a callous decision. It wasn't about economics. It wasn't meant to create the next family controversy that divides us into separate sides of the boxing ring. If I chose the chapel I fell in love with and its associated reception venue, this exclusion was the only one that maximized my beloved guests - - those I'd grown up with, loved forever, confided in, and cherished long before children were even born.


Brandy said...

This happen to me, my BIL was getting married and his fiancee didn't want any kids at the wedding. Well except hers, of course. We did not have any child care and other family members kept encouraging us to bring our kids. So we did, at least to the rehearsal. Our kids sat quietly and were very well behaved, while her kids (who were in the wedding) were throwing fits. Finally right before the rehearsal dinner - which I wasn't going to so I was on my way out - the bride starts yelling and cursing at me about bringing the kids. We got into a big argument that didn't end well and, of course, everyone blamed me. My hubby was the only one to attend the wedding and we don't speak to them anymore.

Acira said...

this is so beautiful i have to congratulate you for this.