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Children in the Wedding Party

2-year-old ring bearer refuses to wear a tux

July 2008

My 2 year old son is supposed to be a ring bearer (along with another 5 year old cousin) in a wedding. However, we can not seem to get him to even try on the tux. We went to get him fitted and he was screaming and flailing when we tried the jacket and the pants. We couldn't even get them on. He is very particular, in general, about the clothes he wears so this isn't too surprising. Any thoughts on how to possibly get him to wear this tux? Or should we just pull him out of the wedding? Mimi

2 is pretty young to demand he wear something like a tux. How about a t-shirt that has a PICTURE of a tux on it? It would be cute, if the bride and groom have a sense of humor. anon

My son was the same way for my sister's wedding. My sister was really cool about it; she was more interested in him being in the wedding than in being properly dressed. What worked for us is having my son dress like dad: both work black pants, white button-down shirt and a red tie (or whatever color the bride & groom ask you for). My son was happy to be dressed just like Daddy and that worked but we also brought along a white (new!) polo shirt for him to wear just in case. Ann

When my son was 3 he was supposed to be in my brother's wedding. We were pretty sure that he wouldn't walk down the aisle with the other kids, but made him wear the special suit anyhow. We got little presents for him and my older son and tried to prepare them for wearing the suits. In the end, my 3 year old screamed while my husband and I forced him into the suit in spite of our prepping and promises of a present. He screamed all the way to the wedding. But, once we got there he was fine. He looked adorable and several years later I have the cutest picture of him wearing the suit. P.S. A few months later he had the chance to dress up for another wedding and he loved wearing the suit! Mom to a ''spirited'' dresser

When my son was the ring bearer at a wedding, we just bought him some nice khaki pants and a new button down white shirt at the Gap. He looked so cute, no one minded that he was not formal! Oh yeah, I think he had a clip on tie, which he thought was funny! casual mom

This is an easy one. Pull him out of the wedding. If you can't even get him to try the tux on, what are the chances he can get through the ceremony without being disruptive? Save yourself and the bride and groom a lot of tension and anxiety and just acknowledge that he's too young. just common sense

You are talking about a 2 year old here. Is there a way you can allow him to still be the ring bearer with whatever clothes he likes to wear? maybe relax the requirement a little, i.e., so long it's not his swim-trunks and sandals, something sensible he can accept?

I want to be careful here to not misunderstand what you are saying, but it is not clear what is more important to you -- for the ring-bearer to be wearing a tuxedo, or for this particular child to be the ring-bearer. It seems like you want the tuxedo, and if you can't have that, someone else altogether.

Also, there is another possibility and it requires your good judgment here. It could very well be that your 2 year old is not ready for this role, regardless of the attire. In this case, you have to find someone else, or just keep the ring on some table, a participant's pocket, etc.

My guess is that you are going to get a lot of responses on this, and I'll leave it at that. anon

How about if you find some pictures of wedding parties that include a ring bearer an show him what the costume is? If you frame it as a costume, maybe that will appeal to him more. I bet a bridal shop has such photos. You might also ask the bride if he could wear something else. Lastly, you could say now's not the time. But check with the bride and groom, first. anon.

My son was in a wedding when he was about 2 1/2. He had the same reaction to the tux and we had the same thought about pulling him out. We ended up talking with the bride and decided to 1)get him a book called ''10 cool things about being a ring bearer'' and 2) put him in a wagon to go down the aisle instead of expecting him to walk. These things turned it around---he ended up being excited to wear the tux and happy to be in the wedding.Hope they work for you! Kimberley

If your son is anything like one of my daughters, there is no way to force him to wear what he doesn't like. The two things that will very rarely work for my daughter are (1) ironing on a monkey decal (or some other animal she likes) or (2) a bribe of chocolate. Otherwise, even if we get it on she'll just rip it off in about 20 seconds and run around naked. -Yana

Do you think it's reasonable to expect a 2 yo to wear a tux? One of my son's is really tactilly(sp?) sensitive and would NEVER submit to ''our choice'' of clothing for him. WHat if he has a fit or doesn't feel like walking down the aisle with the ring when it's time? I know it would be adorable, but a 2 yo can't be depended on to do what is expected at a particular time. If it can't be a ''casual dress'' job for him, I''d suggest being a hopefully cheery congregation member and watching the wedding from the seats (or afar if behavior calls for). Good luck on your decision and outcome mom of 2 boys, now older

My 2 cents (since you asked)--if your child is not going to enjoy wearing a tux, why push it? Two is the age of ''no''and testing limits, not the age of being well-behaved n large crowds under pressure. I would say two is young to expect quiet compliance--it's not ''age appropriate.'' I had casually dressed and rowdy children as guests at my wedding (no ring-bearers) and that was just fine, much better than tantrums. Let your kid be the toddler he is and say ''thanks but no thanks.'' You'll all enjoy the wedding more. Emily L., not Emily Post

I think this is a sign that your son is too young for what is expected of him. Pull out before it is too late and everyone (including your son) is mortified because he doesn't want to comply during the ceremony. Have the Best Man Hold the Ring

Hey, he's only 2 years old! He shouldn't be forced to wear a tux! Maybe you can find a simple but suitable outfit instead. Advice

Talk to the bride and groom, and ask them if they'd prefer to have your son in the wedding without a tux, or not at all. Then do whatever they pick. kevin

He's two years old -- he doesn't know that people think it's an honor to be part of a wedding. And there's no way that any 2 year old would. If he really dislikes the tux than can be 100% sure that the wedding will be a really stressful event. He will be cranky and you will be stressed. What's the pleasure in that? Tell the marrying couple that you appreciate that they thought of him to be a part of their special day but that he's too young. Rachel

I would never have considered putting either of my children at age two in a wedding unless the bride was the most laid back person on the planet...and even then I probably wouldn't my own wedding, kids were invited to the wedding and reception, but I made it very clear that I did not care if they screamed through the wedding or up chucked on my dress at the reception -- even though it came from Pricilla's of Boston...Trust me, it wouldn't have been ideal, but are a part of life...That said, I did not ask any of my young niece to be my flower girl or a young cousin to be ring bearer. -anon

If there was one thing I wish I could have changed about my amazing wedding, it would be to not try to get my 3 year old son to wear a tux. Just trying it on at the rental place should have given us a clue. It was like he was allergic to the fabric, he refused to try it on so we approximated the size. At the wedding I could hear him wailing while I was putting on my wedding gown. Needless to say, he wore his holy jeans during the ceremony. molly

Here are a few ideas before pulling the little one out of the festivities: 1) if your child particularly looks up to dad, have dad put a tux (or part of one) on and say that they can match each other and look alike, 2) read books where the character is wearing a tux (like a penguin or perhaps babar?) and say that this is a fun suit where he can look like a penguin/character, 3) is he close to either one of the couple getting married? (this was a huge incentive for my daughter who wanted to be good for my brother and his wife-to-be), or 4) consider an alternative to a tux for little ones like the little boy dress shorts with knee socks. My brother wore a white outfit like this with white suspenders and a pressed white shortsleeved shirt to a wedding and looked precious (and very traditional). His outfit could still complement the 5-year-old cousin. Of course this would need to be approved by the couple to be married! Bonus: On a different day, I would practice walking with him down the aisle and talking with him about what a special day it will be. Make it fun and (not to be a behaviorist) but give him a treat (like playing on the playground) afterwards. Good luck! tabsweb

son was a ring bearer for my older sisters wedding. He also didn't want to wear the tux. I didn't know what to do till the day of. The whole party got together to get readdy and take pictures at this bed and breakfast. He sord of got into the rythim of ''every ones getting ready so i will too''. We got lucky i suppose.I dont know why but once he saw his dad in his tux and he heard all the ooos and awwws he wanted the attention too. Try having a dress rehersal at home. Maybe showing him pictures of other kids with their tuxs.OH maybe he will like the shoes.The ''click''that the hard soles make on the ground might grab his curriosity.Our son loved that part. Oh watch out for rolling rings. Our son dropped the rings twice!it was so funny.- good luck and really...try to enjoy your self. arlen

2 is pretty young to expect much ''cooperation'' if he's sensitive anyway. Is it more important to the wedding couple that he be in the wedding, or that the ring bearer wear a tux? Perhaps another outfit would be acceptable. On the other hand, depending on your son, maybe reading stories and watching videos with ring bearers will help him get into it - or not. R.K.

There are many times you need to force an issue, but you really should choose your battles. Your boy doesn't want to do this. I say pull him out of the wedding. anon

I would feel your son out. Then I would let the bride know what's going on and let her make the last call. He's probably very special to her and adorable, but it sounds like it might be a case of, ''Where was the ringbearer?'' You just never know with 2 year olds, they are so young, he might refuse on the wedding day or he might simply rise to the occassion. Don't forget that in addition to the tux, the audience/guests add an element of stagefright to the whole scenario. My son was ringbearer when he was 4 and that was a very good age. A bit nervous but got his bearings quite independently. Good luck

Is 2.5 old enough to be a flower girl?

June 2008

A family member recently asked if our daughter could be the flower girl in their wedding. She'll be 2.5 at the time of the wedding, which will be pretty mellow and in a park. We of course would like for this to happen for the family, but have concerns about it really happening, mainly because she gets shy in front of big groups (while having lots of energy and spunk otherwise). I realize that ultimately it depends on the child, but does anyone have stories of children on the younger end being flower girls, or advice for us before we make the decision? Or strategies for helping this be an experience that is enjoyable and works for all involved (we thought of telling the couple one of us will likely walk with her). to flower or not to flower?

My niece was a flower girl in our wedding at age 2.5 and walked with her parents and it worked out perfectly. Three weeks later, she was the flower girl in another relative's wedding and was supposed to go alone and there was a major melt down (at least the dress got good use!). I think that'll be fine if the bride and groom are relaxed and are able to adapt to your daughter's mood (go alone, go with parents, not go at all if she can't handle it). If they have a rigid picture in their head of her walking down the aisle by herself, smiling sweetly while gently tossing rose petals and nothing else will do... that might not work out so well. But if they're able to be flexible, it should work out. anon

My son was a ''ring bearer'' 2 months shy of his 3rd birthday. I was also a bridesmaid. He sounds like you (shy/outgoing). I don't think he would have done it if I hadn't walked with him (which was always the plan). He also carried his security sippy cup with him. (The pictures are funny of that one.)

Two months later he was a ring bearer and walked with the flower girl hand-in-hand. Lots of coaching and parents stationed strategically along the way (''Go find Mommy at the front!'') helped.

One parent in back ~ one parent in front ~ and someone else caring for your other kids. Also, be TOTALLY WILLING to have it not happen if she has a meltdown day-of. I would be interested to know if the wedding will be nap time or bed time for her??? Something to consider... ringer bearer mommy

We had my husband's barely 3 year old niece as a flower girl at our wedding, who was also fairly shy in groups. She did fine, altho it definitely helped that her grandma (my husband's mom) accompanied her down the aisle. And her parents sat in the front row as an incentive to keep her moving forward. I think we tried to include her in the very informal rehearsal we did the day before, but I don't think that was so critical. We were prepared for her to drop out at the last minute, but glad that she didn't, as she was so adorable and sweet. flower girl fan

At our wedding we had a 2.5-year-old flower girl with her 4.5- year-old sister. The younger girl was very boisterous and outgoing, and we thought she would do fine. We did formal pictures beforehand and she was great. At our ceremony, however, she took one look down the aisle and wouldn't go. Actually, it was very sweet and didn't ruin anything for us! But she was pretty spooked and her parents (who were with her up until she would have walked down the aisle) had to take her outside and missed part of the ceremony. It was just too much for her. If you do go forward, I would think about everything you can do to make her comfortable, and have a back-up plan with caregiver in case she 'just says no.' Hillary

Not only does a lot depend on the child, I think even more depends on the expectations and the attitude of the BRIDE. When I got married, I had 3 kids in the wedding...a 7 year old doing a reading (yes, really), a 4 yo ring bearer and an almost 3 yo flower girl. My hope was that they would make it down the aisle and then it was up to them if they wanted to stand up front or sit with their parents (mom's of all kids were standing in front and Dad and grandparents's were on the aisles in front row). But if anything went ''wrong'' that was OK too; I figured that that is the only way you have funny stories after the wedding is about the things that go ''wrong.''

It was part of the ''reader's'' job to walk down the aisle behind the littler kids (his brother and cousin) and scoop them towards the front (the 7yo really wanted to walk down the aisle) and there was hard candy in the groom's pocket that they were ''aiming'' for...

All went well and they were all adorable. Even if they hadn't made it down the aisle, they were all beautifully dressed and had a ball dancing in their fancy clothes and looked great in the pictures.

HOWEVER, these same kids have also been in other weddings that were much more stressful (mostly due to expectations of the BRIDE) and all did not go as well. an unsually mellow bride

My younger son was about the same age when my brother got married. My sister-in-law wanted both of my boys to be ring bearers. My little one was the same as you describe... some shyness in big groups but otherwise outgoing. We just weren't sure that he could do it. We offered to dress both boys for the wedding but expressed our concern. Faced with the possibility of a child throwing a tantrum in the middle of the wedding she decided not to include him in the wedding party. Unfortunately, all off the rest of us were in the wedding party. So, we dressed our younger son in a tux also, but planned for him to sit with our grandma. We got through the rehersal fine, but the day of the wedding he saw the crowd and freaked. All he wanted was to be with me, and he ended up walking down the aisle with me after all. The experience seems to have been pretty traumatic... he didn't really get over his stranger and performance anxiety until he hit kindergarten. shrinking violet's mom

My niece was a flower girl in my wedding the month after she turned two. It's just for fun; don't worry. She walked down the isle with my sister--her mom--and it was fine. We did not have the flower girl or the ring boy stand through the ceremony, though. Once they were down the isle, they sat in the front row with their parents/grandparents, rather than having to endure standing in front of people.

It's fun, and if it does not work out, who cares? She'll have a pretty dress, a pretty basket with flowers, and everyone will love her regardless! Go for it. Aunt of the flower girl

My daughter was 2.5 years old when she was a flower girl along with her 2.5 year-old cousin. The wedding was small (35 or so people) and outside -- ideal for kids. One of the best ways to avoid melt-downs is to minimize the waiting time ''backstage''. At this wedding, the ceremony organizer had the kids wait so long that they had pulled all the orchids out of their carefully arranged hair and had dumped the orchid petals out of the color-coordinated pails they were supposed to carry. My daughter did walk on her own, but without the pail and with her hands clasped behind her back. The other 2.5 year old was carried by her mother. I think they would have been fine if they didn't have to wait. As for shyness, my daughter isn't particularly shy, but being a flower girl can intimidate the boldest child. Just be prepared to carry her yourself, as I almost had to do. One of Kevin Henkes's books (Lily's Big Day?) deals with being a flower girl and might be helpful. flower mother

It depends on the child, it depends on the day, it depends on the moment. I have seen 2-year-old flower girls acquit themselves with aplomb. And I haven seen a 3-year-old flower girl have a screaming meltdown just before the ceremony and eat all of the blueberries from her blueberry/flower crown, staining her dress and mouth. Her mom had to spend the entire wedding ceremony in the basement, trying to hush her. A big drag, especially for mom. The Matron

Basically, your instinct is right on. Little kids participating in weddings are always a crapshoot. Is the bride ready for that? The day of, the little one may decide she doesn't want to do it. And you know how ''fun'' and easy it is to get a 2.5 yr old to cooperate with something when they have decided not to. The best story I have about this happened at my cousin's wedding. It is similar to what you are suggesting. His nephew was 2.5 and the ring bearer. At the point in the ceremony where he was supposed to participate, he totally balked. Before anyone could get annoyed or impatient, or the flow of the ceremony was affected, his dapperly dressed dad scooped him up and walked elegantly down the aisle whereupon his little son handed over the ring pillow with a smile. It was not what was planned or hoped for, but dad's quick thinking kept the occasion as lovely as ever. I would say to just be prepared to take similar action. And make sure the bride is okay with that. anon

My daughter was a flower girl two months before she turned three. Here is what we did: 1. Choose a dress (or outfit) that is comfortable to wear/move in. Remember the comfort of shoes, socks/tights, etc. You don't want her squirming with discomfort. 2. Practice ahead of time (will there be a rehearsal?) 3. I (as a bridesmaid) walked with her. In our case, there was a set of steep stairs, so we did this for safety, but consider it for comfort, too, if needed. If you aren't in the wedding party, is there someone who she already knows who is? Even if she seems able to do it by herself at rehearsal, come prepared (and dressed) to change plans at the time if needed. 4. She was NOT expected to stay at the altar. After everyone arrived in place, she was quietly escorted to the front row to sit with her grandparents (since both parents were in the wedding party). There, she got a soft toy to hold, and a small cup of quiet snacks (such as cheese,cut-up grapes; NOT loud crunchy crackers) This worked well in our case, but of course it will depend on your child, and how well she knows the other people.

When I was about 3, I was a flower girl at my aunt's wedding, and I remember feeling confused. My older sister (4!) did it with me, though, so I just followed her example. Perhaps there could be two flower girls - with the older one probably more capable. R.K.

My nephew was a ring bearer for us at that age and he did fine except on the DVD you can hear him saying ''I wanna go home.'' I think if the couple want a picture perfect situation, then they need to bag it. If they are ok with going with whatever happens (and no matter what people will think it's cute) then just do it and let her do her thing or not do her thing. Just make sure if the bride is a bridzilla type who will get mad if your little angel turns into a little devil, then don't. Too much drama. former laid back bride

My 3 yr old son was just in a wedding as the ''flower boy.'' Originally the bride wanted him to walk down solo, but we decided it would be better for him to walk down with his dad as he gets shy in front of crowds as well. He ended up walking really slowly and trying to throw the petals one by one (we had practiced prior to the ceremony and he did it right then, but he was just nervous in front of all the people). Long story short, he ended up breaking down and crying midway down the aisle. Later people told us it really made the groom laugh and provided some comic relief, so I guess it was all fine in the end! My recommendation with this young age is to have them walk down with an adult that they know well in case they get nervous or freeze or whatever. I really doubt anyone would expect a perfect performance from this age, so I am sure it will all work out just fine. Proud mama of the flower boy

Hello. My daughter was a flower girl at a wedding just before she was 2 years old. We accepted the offer only after making sure that everyone knew that if she didn't want to do it when the time came, we would not force her. I (her mom) walked with her and she simply held the basket while I threw flowers. It turned out great and was really sweet. I think keep the expectations low and see what happens! Is carrying her an option?

Our daughter was a flower girl when she was just about 3 years old at my sister's wedding. She is very outgoing but can get shy around people she doesn't know so we were a little worried at how she would be in front of 225 people. So we started talking about it months ahead of time, reading books when we could and then practicing at home. By the time she got her dress, got to the wedding wedding site she was so excited to have the real flowers and drop them down on the ground. It was also helpful that I was the maid of honor so I was going right after her down the aisle. The more you prep ahead of time for it the better it will be. Have fun

Our neice was 2 1/2 when she was our flower girl. Our nephew, the ringbearer was 5. We went into it knowing that they both might not walk down the aisle when the 200 people turned to look at them. She has always been very shy. Ours was at a park like setting, at Deer Park, in Fairfax, so it was a casual atmosphere. So as long as we had pictures with them, thats all we expected. But they both did great. Our nephew held her wrist and lead her down the aisle, he was able to stand next to the guys, and she sat down next to her mom, one of our bridesmaids. Congratulations, good luck, Ali

I just got married last week and our flower girl was just 3 years old and fairly shy. We prepped by showing her where she would stand, and with whom (her mom officated our ceremony, so she couldn't stand with her). We asked her how she wanted to do it and let her pick out the basket she wanted to carry. We also bought her a beautiful outfit and ballet slippers that she wanted to wear that outfit so bad, she would have thrown flowers all day long. Everything went off without a hitch, but it wasn't perfect. She ended up dropped the flowers in big handfuls -- plop. plop. plop -- it was hilarious to walk down the lawn with these big piles of rose petals. Everyone laughed! It was great! We were completely prepared for whatever might happen, a melt-down, a bursts of extreme shyness, and were ready for our flower girl to be absent if necessary, but she took her job seriously and did a wonderful job. Anon

When I got married 22 years ago, my bride's nieces were 6 and 8 years old. I had a 2 1/2 year old niece, and I wanted her to participate as a flower girl as well, so that my side of the family was also in the ceremony.

What a mistake! My sister expected me to pay for the flower girl dress. My niece was very excited and expressed an interest in doing it. Like your daughter, my niece was a pistol in small groups, but got a major case of shyness when it was showtime. Her Mom coaxed her into making it through the rehearsal, and we managed to get photographs for the wedding album, but when it came time for the real thing, she was crying and wouldn't let go of Mommy. My bride had been against it from the start, feeling she would be too young to carry it off. There was no way she was going to have my sister walk down the aisle with my niece, so she was scrubbed from the ceremony at the last minute. As you can imagine, this was one more stressful event on an already stressful day.

My niece is now about to turn 25. She doesn't really remember what happened, and when she saw the photo album, she ''remembered'' that she had been a flower girl. We told her what really happened, and we all laugh about it now. What my niece remembers most is playing endlessly with her ''bride's dress'' until it was in shreds.

If the family member who asked for your daughter to participate is the bride, it might be a different story. If it was anyone else who asked, I think the best course of action would be to decline the honor, since you don't want to add any extra stress to the wedding. 22nd Anniversary Groom

My daughter was a flower girl at 2.5, and it was wonderful! It was wonderful because the couple was mellow and fun-loving and they didn't have worries that anything was going to ''ruin'' the wedding. The result was that my daughter walked up the isle with a choice to sit in the front row or stand with the bridesmaids (she chose to stand). She did freeze for a minute, but a bridesmaid she bonded with coaxed her on. She had a splendid time, and she still speaks of it fondly. Just make sure that the couple doesn't think of your daughter as a wedding ''accessory''. They need to let her be herself. anon

we had our niece as a flower girl at our wedding. she was just over 2 at the time. we had thought that she would just walk by herself but she was too distracted by the new surroundings so she ended up walking with her mother (my sister). it was all the same to us as we were just glad she could be part of the festivities and none of the guests were any the wiser. anon

i had a young toddler at my wedding who walked down with his mom. it was fine with us. also, my son was almost 3 when he was a ring bearer and he walked down (kinda fast though) solo. each kid will react differently. it helped that we read a book about weddings & did a rehearsal. anon

I have advice from two different perspectives for you on this. First of all, in my wedding in a Catholic church I had a flower girl (my future niece) who was nearly 3. It was DISASTROUS, really. Granted, my niece is not known for her good behavior or ability to listen to her parents and also, she had traveled to the midwest from CA the day before the wedding. The short version of the story is this: we practiced and practiced for months and she knew exactly what to do. Her parents were the last couple of the bridal party to enter so that if she freaked she could easily just walk down with them. When it was show time she walked 1/4 of the aisle then started running SCREAMING to her parents, then decided she wanted to walk WITH me and my father and threw a tantrum because her parents and grandparents were trying to tell her why I couldn't carry her down the aisle with me. She proceeded to be a distraction the whole time, including sitting on my dress pulling my veil crying during the VOWS (which was surprisingly more noticeable to me in the video later than in the moment). I won't even start on the reception or the candle lighting, but you get the idea.

Now, I am on the other side. My sister is getting married in a month and is the best aunt to my daughter (16 months) and my niece (8 months). She wants them to be the 'flower girls' but doesn't want them to repeat history. So her solution was to buy them the cute dresses and a 'ball' of flowers. Their fathers will carry them down the aisle (even though my daughter can walk). The plan is to give them the flower 'ball' right before they go down the aisle so they can be intrigued by it and tear it to shreds all throughout the (short) ceremony. My only concern is that recently if I try to carry my daughter when she wants to walk she ends up being carried like superman or something, trying to get down, so she may end up 'flying' down the aisle, haha. I can't tell you yet how this situation will work out, but it sounds like a good idea to me. I think really you just have to know your daughter and be honest with yourself and the bride-to-be about what you think is the best way to do it. Bridesmaid and Wife of the escort of the flower girl

As a bride, our flower girl was 2.5 & slept through our whole ceremony which was ok by me, but some brides might not be so understanding. Your bride will have to understand that your 2.5 yr old might not be able to perform day of & you'd have to make sure the bride is really & truly all right with that. As a mother of a flower girl, now that's a different story. Our daughter was a flower girl at 16 mos. It was fun, but it was a casual beach wedding. I followed her & ended up dropping the pedals myself & then had to keep her from picking them up. Bride/Groom thought it was way cute. This past summer, our now 5 yrs old daughter was again a flower girl. It was a miserable experience for us parents & somewhat for her. The rehearsal took forever & even though I brought stuff to keep her busy, she became board & very antsy. Day of pre-ceremony was just painful. We were asked to arrive several hours before the wedding, but then we weren't really needed. I had to entertain her while keeping a very white dress from getting dirty. The ceremony itself was great fun for our daughter & she was so cute & preformed well. The post-ceremony photos were a total nightmare. They took over 2 hours & my daughter was miserable waiting around for the couple of photos where she was needed. If you accept the flower girl gig, you need to really talk it over with the bride so she fully understands the attention span & unpredictability of a 2.5 yr old and be an advocate for your child so that there is minimal waiting around time, especially during the photos. Finally, we checked out EVERY pre- school ''flower girl'' themed book from the library & read & re- read them so that our daughter understood her role. They might not be that helpful for such a youngster, but it couldn't hurt. Good luck. Mommy-of-a-flower girl

Flower girl question: My daughter was a flower girl at a young age. Here is what I would recommend: if you or the bride are going to stress out about her being ''perfect,'' then don't do it. If this can be fun and light and breezy, and the bride will allow you or someone else to ''help'' her walk down the aisle and/or drop petals, go for it. anon

My daughter was a flower girl last summer when she was 2.5, and she did great- even dropped flower petals! It was also a small, outside wedding. I think the important things are: Talk a lot about how fun the wedding (big party) will be, and practice what she will do (if anything besides walk). I stood at the back and sent my daughter down the aisle, and her dad was waiting in the front row, so it worked well. Also make sure the bride and groom are ok with things not going exactly as planned! If you need a dress, we have a beautiful one from David's Bridal, all dry-cleaned with no stains just sitting in the closet (with matching shoes!). If you're interested I can email you the link and pictures. Good luck! Laura

Are my kids too old to be ring bearer & flower girl?

March 2004

My kids have been asked to be a FLOWER GIRL & RING BEARER. My daughter will be 9 years old at the time of the wedding (but she's petit for her age.) My son, will be 6 years old. (Again, small for his age.)

Are they too old for flower girl and ring bearer? Or could they pass because of their smaller size? The bride-to-be said they could as a different option, be in the wedding in another capacity. The wedding is on an island, and I believe the ceremony will be on the beach. So, rather informal, I take it.

My kids, especially my daughter, thinks it's a great idea to be flower girl. And of course, I think it would be neat, but don't know the protocol. If they are too old for such positions, what are alternatives? Thank You for any advice! Flower girl/Ring Bearer Mom

I was a flower girl at almost 9 (there were two of us, with the other one about that age, too). I enjoyed it--felt very special to get dressed up and have my hair done and participate in the wedding. Your daughter and son don't seem too old in my opinion--as in other wedding tasks, these roles are symbolic, and anyone can toss flower petals or carry a ring pillow. So I wouldn't worry about whether they will ''pass''! If they are flower girl and ring bearer, it will be pretty clear to everyone who they are! However, I'd have said that if THEY feel too old, then I'd reconsider. Otherwise, the bride wants them (it's her wedding, so her decision as to whether she wants them) and they want to participate! Seems like an easy decision to me. flower girl

Miss Manners says that the ''correct'' age for flower girls/ring bearers is under about 8 years old. So your son is definitely young enough, and your daughter is close. However, my opinion is that, if the bride wants them in her wedding, then their age doesn't matter. My sister had a 12-year-old ring bearer in her wedding, because she wanted to include our cousin. He did great and was thrilled to be included. Catherine

There are no official rules for weddings. You can have adult flower girls and ring bearers, children, dogs or whatever strikes your fancy. People create weddings that have meaning for them and include people they wish to honor in ways they can. Go with the flow and enjoy yourself. Sydney

While many people think of a 3 or 5 year old as the traditional ring bearer and flower girl, it really doesn't matter. This is an opportunity for your children to be a special part of this wedding, and that's what really counts. Our ring bearer was an 8 year old nephew, and it was great. He was proud and all of us were proud of him too. Mike

I am a day-of wedding coordinator. Your children are not too old to be the ring-bearer and flower girl. I've never even heard of age being an issue. If the bride and groom want them to be the ring-bearer and flower girl (and you don't have a problem with them being ring-bearer and flower girl), what does it matter how old they are? I am quite certain that NObody is going to be checking the ages of the people in the bridal party to make sure they are ''right.'' Sound as if your kids *want* to do it, so I say, let them enjoy it! Love weddings

I've never heard of any hard and fast rules regarding the age of flower girls at a wedding. If the bride doesn't have a problem with it, then you shouldn't worry about it. I would just be honored that the bride thought so highly of my children as to want to include them in her most special day. I had three flower girls at my wedding because I wanted to include all of my nieces in the ceremony. Not traditional, but they certainly added to the specialness of the day!

When I was a child, my brother and I were in my couisin's wedding. He was a ring bearer (2 years younger than me) and I was called a ''junior bridesmaid.'' I'm sure my cousin came up with that so that I could be included, and I still remember that I felt like a ''big girl.'' I would say follow the lead of the bride, but this might be an option to consider. Debbie

9 and 6 sound like the *perfect* ages to do this. I don't WHY it has become so popular for people to push children much too small to do such a ''job'' (and it is a job) when they are likely not going to understand what to do and almost invariably are too shy or scared to walk down the aisle without mommy. OK, so they look adorable at age 2, but it is a very rare under-6-year old who can do this. Your kids will look adorable, too, and will be able to participate (and remember) being in an important ceremony. Furthermore, I don't believe I've ever heard it be against protocol to have any pre-pubescent child participate in the ceremony as ring-bearer or flower girl. So encourage them to do it, and have fun!!! kb

No, they are absolutly not too old! I know ten and eleven year olds who were flower girls and ring bearers who were nine, almost ten. Besides, it was the bride and grooms choice to make, anyway. Ingrid

Children are too old to be flower girls and ring bearers when they themselves declare themselves to be, and not before! If your 9-year-old would enjoy being a flower girl, that's great! If, however, she thinks she's a bit too grownup for that, she could be designated a junior bridesmaid. The only real difference is that she would more likely be dressed in a girl's version of the same gown the bride's adult female attendants wear rather than in a white or ivory dress, and would carry a bouquet rather than a basket of petals. (And in fact, if it's an informal wedding, the bride may not care all that much what your daughter wears either way.)

I rather doubt your young son much cares what they call him, so really the decision of whether he's a ringbearer or a junior usher/groomsman amounts to whether the bride and groom would like him to carry a ring pillow or not. Holly

Frankly, a 6 year old and a 9 year old are going to be much more able to cope with the organization required to be part of a service than younger kids would be. There is no ''protocol'' on ring-bearers and flower girls, except that they should be too young to get married themselves! I'd say relax, thank the bride for inviting your kids to be part of the occasion, don't worry about trying to make the kids ''pass'' for a younger age, and just make sure they understand that they're not there to be the center of attention. Sara

Children Not Invited to the Wedding

My husband and toddler are in the wedding, but newborn is banned

Oct 2009

I'm due with my second child in mid-February. My husband's younger brother ''David'' is getting married at the beginning of April in a lavishly over-planned wedding in Washington DC. He has asked my husband to be his best man, and my son, who will be barely 3 by then, to be the ring bearer. When we announced that we were pregnant with our second child, David's fiance, ''Anne'', was clearly disturbed and has been dropping hints about the child-less nature of the celebration since.

Without any room for discussion or question, Anne and her family have requested (relayed through David) that our infant-to-be be absent from both the ceremony and reception. This makes me, as a generally attachment-oriented mother, conflicted.I realize that babies are often not welcome at events like this, but as an attachment-oriented mother I'm also concerned about planning on leaving an infant (whose age or needs at the time I don't even know yet!) for what could be a long stretch of time. Anne has already booked a sitter for our room through the hotel's service, against our explicit wishes (we would prefer to use a relative or friend.) Our son, the ring bearer, is apparently welcome at both events, but I'm more nervous about his unpredictability during such an orchestrated event than I am about the baby. I'm also concerned that my husband's role as best man will leave me solely in charge of wrangling my energetic little ring bearer and navigating the particulars of training a sitter, while trying to stay presentable...and disappearing to pump or nurse every hour or so.

I know the event is six months away, but we talk about it almost every day. It is so outside our comfort level to be part of something so ridiculously lavish, and to plan ANYTHING this far in advance, nevermind with a baby on the way. I'd love to hear from other parents if this kind of situation (flight, hotel, wedding, being presentable) is even manageable with a 6-8 week old and older child, as well as any advice you might have for setting up expectations for ring-bearer behavior for our 3-year old, and, finally, some place to find expensive-looking (but not costing) post-partum evening wear if I do go through with this! wacky wedding

How would you feel about having your husband go on his own? Clearly it is important for him to be the best man, but the ring-bearer strikes me as a less important function, and your needs as a new mom definitely need to be considered. You don't know how you'll feel in April, nor how your new baby will be doing. It just doesn't seem to mesh with your life path right now to take off for a big celebration with your energetic boy and a new baby. I would hope that there would be some understanding about this; people get WAY carried away with their weddings, IMHO. If you can manage to be on your own with the baby and son (or on your own with a friend to help) then I would let hubby go with your blessing. first things first

I would seriously consider sending your husband on his own. Taking a VERY young baby on an airplane in the middle of cold and flu season seems extremely risky. Almost three or barely three is too young to be a ring bearer (imho) especially if the bride and groom have very set visions of how this thing is going to go. It might create some hard feelings, but I would just say ''I'm so so sad to miss your wedding but we are just not comfortable taking an infant on a plane so early, and sending little joe w/o mom will not work given hubbies best man responsibilities'' Stephanie

Oh my! My sister-in-law was in nearly the same boat as you when we got married (baby born Jan 17, wedding May 9)...and it never crossed our minds for them to leave the baby behind. We got married at the Awahnee in sorta formal. Our niece was perfect (not a sound that I heard, though I would not have minded any) and was the hit of the reception!

As far as young ringbearers...we had my other nieces and nephews in the wedding...3.2 yo flower girl, 4.5 yo ring bearer and 7.4 yo ''reader.'' We did a few things:

1. No expectations that they would ''perform'' perfectly...whatever happened happened (yet they were great)

2. My husband had a little candy in his pocket that they got when they made it down the aisle (candy=target)

3. All three of them went down was part of my oldest nephews ''job'' to help the little ones down the aisle..the pictures are hilarious as you see him herding them (we were it wasn't a perfectly formed aisle as you would have in a church)

4. My little niece knew she could stand up front with her mom and me, or go sit with her dad (he was on the aisle in the second row) or grandparents (very easy to reach); my little nephew had the same set up (Mom was up front as MOH) and Dad was on aisle across for other Dad. My older nephew ended up standing at the end of the line of groomsmen (there were only 2 of he made 3)...which we hadn't intended, but was great how it worked out

Oh, also I went to a wedding while nursing my little one (though he was invited to wedding and reception). We opted to leave the kids at the hotel for the wedding since it was a full Catholic mass (my husband's parents kindly came with us as they lived nearby to watch the kids during the ceremony). Unfortunately, I made a bad choice on my front buttons or zip and tightish fitting I had to go upstairs (reception was at the hotel where we stayed) and take the whole thing off to nurse my son. So, would recommend dress you don't have to fully remove! Would also recommend staying as close to reception as possible so you can just go nurse and not have to deal with pumping too (though I had to do that at another wedding where my older son was not invited; had to pump in a portable bathroom; yuck!!! had to pump and dump; boy did I hate wasting milk like that!!)

I don't know if any of these ideas will help; sorry to have all this stress. Personally, I have no idea why people exclude children from weddings...they should be a celebration of life, including kids...but due to costs, I guess, they choose to have more people of the ''grown up'' kind.

Good luck! Try not to stress too much, it is only one day. Also, try to get the idea across to your soon to be SIL... it is ok for things to go wrong at a wedding; that is where you get your funny stories...if everything is storybook perfect, great pics, but no funny stories! Nikki

You can't control what they want, but you can control what you do. I would say, I respect your right to do this, but you are creating a hardship for me. There is no way I'd feel comfortable leaving my infant with a sitter in a strange hotel and city. Perhaps if it was with a trusted relative and just for the ceremony, but that's it. They won't understand this until they have kids of your own. Maybe you have your husband and 3-year-old go to the ceremony and you stay with your baby. Maybe hubby brings the three year old back to you for the reception and he can go be best man. Don't get mad. Let them do what they need to do but you can respectfully decline. I think your sister-in-law is trying to control too much and is not being considerate. In fact, if I were in this situation, I would tell her it would be better to have the hubby be best man, but leave the kids out. Usually, if close relatives have children, the bride and groom will allow them to be at the ceremony and reception. Sorry you have to deal with this. Do what you need to do. If they don't want the baby there, then mom can stay with the baby. anonamom

I used to work in the office of a catering company has a planner. This type of situation came up often and since i was a ''neutral'' party i always ended up talking to people about it. It seems you want to make an effort to accomodate their over the top wedding which is nice of you, and worth it for good family vibes.

First i would call ''anne'', and thank her for being such a caring aunt who booked a siter (never mind you said no to that) but that, you are not comfortable leaving an infant with a complete stranger. I am not over-protective and i would never leave an infant with a hotel baby never know who the company is going to send and at that age it's just too dangerous. Clearly she doesn't see that, and like most brides she is completely self centered. But rather than inviting a confrontation (that will only create issues at this point because she won't hear it), i would just do the above thing. Second, i would think about what YOU, as the mom, are comfortable with. Now that i am a mom i realize that my first allegiance is to my kid, not relatives. I don't think it's my job to satisy everyone's needs for this and that...just make sure my kids are all good. Maybe you could figure out where the wedding is, and hire a relative or someone you know to stay nearby so that you have constant acces to the baby without anyone really seeing him/her? When at the church this person could walk the baby around.

I would call my brother and say i am happy for his wedding but completely stressed out because so many aspects are unknown in advance with a baby.

I would appoint an aunt/cousin (someone not involved other than as a guest) to keep an eye on your older one with you. It will make it easier for you. And then if at the last minute you don't feel like leaving your baby, have the sitter walk the baby around during the ceremony then leave.

It is very sad when people make weddings into a production and want it ''perfect''...because of course life isn't perfect. Clearly Anne has no clue about kids. Usually people include babies and not kids because they are more disturbing. Oh and if you have a nice MIL or relative who leaves here and whom you can afford to fly that's a great solution..that way you get help all the way Try to accomodate what you can but keep your eyes on what matters anon

I have a similar story from a Boston wedding of a brother in law. In retrospect, I wished they had hired a sitter for any kids/babies. My husband obviously wanted to be present and involved in his brother's wedding. My son was about 2 and very active. I took him to play on some play equipment near the wedding and was never able to get him calmed down and back. So...missed whole wedding. I recall a group sitter for the reception. It still saddens me to have missed the wedding. At the time I felt like I just wished I had stayed home, instead of flown cross country to be a babysitter. If you, personally, go, I would accept the offer of a professional sitter. My experiences have been positive with doing this (bonded, etc.). For a dress, either try a nice consignment shop in Piedmont (Sophisticated Lady), Walnut Creek, etc. for a dress, maybe with a matching long coat or try the sales at Macy's Walnut Creek. Or, you could just let your husband fly with your son and ''wing it'' on his own. I know this is hard for a mom to do, but my husband actually was able to fly with the kids on his own, and it worked with no disasters! The family should be sympathetic that you have a new baby. Been there, done that

Here is my take on your situation. You clearly disagree with the way they are planning their wedding (calling it 'out of control' 'over the top' and 'wacky'.) This is your opinion. I personally prefer more intimate settings and more practical and less fancy and more inclusive gatherings but again this is not my wedding nor is it yours.

I cannot believe how aggravated you are about it all. The only irritating thing I see is that the wife-to-be is bothered by your having a baby at the wedding and reception. If you really want to attend this wedding, here is what I would recommend. Tell wife-to-be that you will have a newborn and that the newborn will not be able to be in the hotel with the hired sitter. (no wavering or waffling here-the baby has needs to be fed by mom often and you are not comfortable leaving baby with a stranger) If she has a problem with it, then don't go. Then your husband can deal with the 3 yrs old ring bearer and any fiascos that occur with that. Families being together at a celebration don't have to be perfect---as a matter of fact if the ring bearer does something like drop the ring or run away crying,,,,,everyone will live,,,,and it will be a very cute story in your family for years to come. Wife-to-be will learn all about imperfection once she is married a few years and has a baby. I hope you can relax a bit about this. Weddings are supposed to be fun and if there is not way it can be any fun for you I really think you and baby should stay home.... breathe in, breathe out

Wow. It's wonderful that you are so dedicated to your husband and his family that you would even consider going. Is there any way you can stay home without causing too many waves? Or is there any way your husband can gently explain that an infant that old may well sleep through the whole thing, and could be quickly whisked out if it starts to cry? As far as the hotel sitter, I'm sure ''Anne'' meant well and thought she was ''taking care of it for you''. And equally sure that she doesn't get parenting and small children. Beware Bridezilla

I was in a somewhat similar situation with my last child (except we weren't part of the wedding). My cousin was getting married 6 weeks after my due date in Michigan. We had a 3 year old at the time. My aunt was giving us very heavy pressure to attend. It was a childless wedding, but my infant could attend, since they are a very attachment parenting family. I agreed to go. Sent a gift, bought the plane tickets, all set. When the time came there was no way I was going. I was exhausted. I knew I just couldn't do a cross country flight and wedding on no sleep

At 6-8 weeks, you're still recovering. You're not getting any sleep. I'm not sure you'll be up for a big party.

I'd recommend that you send your husband and son. Have another relative be in charge of your son during the ceremony so that your husband can be the best man. It's a family wedding so there should be someone available to help (maybe a teenage relative?).

Believe it or not, you'll probably get more rest with the 3 year old out of the house even though you won't have your husband to help out. Or you could even have a relative come and help you during that time.

I know that a wedding is a special day and the bride and groom should decide who they want to attend. But that doesn't mean you have to attend. Graciously bow out saying it will be too much with the infant, but the rest of the family will attend. Liz

1. My first recommendation would be for you to recognize the wedding isn't about you. It's about them and they're your family since you married into it. Be supportive and kind. It is not your place to judge how lavish their wedding should be. They aren't asking you to pay for it.

2. It's the norm that babies don't attend weddings and it's hard to imagine a few hours away from the baby will cause any harm whatsoever even if you are attachment parenting.

3. You need to recognize that being pregnant affects how you react to things. It happens to the best of us but that's why you need to get some perspective here. This wedding is a once in a lifetime thing for your brother-in-law and fiance. Family needs to be supportive.

4. You have every right to choose the babysitter but recognize that the bride was being kind to find someone. It's more than most people would have done. If you want someone else, get someone else. Once you have, thank her for arranging a sitter but let her know she can cancel it since you have someone else. Also, if the reception is at a hotel, you could easily have the sitter keep the baby in a room at the hotel so you could go up and see the baby during the reception. You would only be away from the baby completely during the wedding itself. Surely, some family members will have a room at the hotel you could use or you could just get a day rate from the hotel.

5. If you need help with the 3-year old at the wedding/reception, ask family. They are all going to be there. I would think Grandma would be thrilled to help.

6. Finally, it's really hard to be the bride. Cut her some slack as she's under a lot of pressure. You don't want to be watching the wedding video next year, hearing your baby crying in the background ruining it. That'll stick for a long time. Your post reads like you are using attachment parenting as an excuse to express your judgment of their choices about their wedding. Perhaps that isn't the case but solving this is pretty easy if you put a little effort into it. my two cents

There are two factors going on here.. 1) How to handle wedding w/ newborn, father as best man, and tot as ring bearer. 2) Your resentment about this fancy wedding.

Suggestions for 1: I was recently at my brother-in law's wedding w/ 3 young kids, and my husband was best man. Yes, it was challenging. Thus, I reached out to express my concerns in advance and get help. in this case, my sister in law and mother in law helped out a lot. i.e. get another family member to help w/ your older son as ring bearer during the ceremony. Practice it in advance together at the rehearsal. Also, ask hubby to curtail his best man duties somewhat in order to assist you too. If people know in advance, planning can be done to assist you.

Suggestions for 2: Throughout your post it is amply evident that you resent your sister in law's choice of wedding style/rules. But that is her choice and kiddy-free weddings are around more often than we want. Yes, it's different from what we would choose but still it's her day, her wedding, her life. If they're funding it and not asking you to fund it, then that's their business/choice and it's important that you respect their choice too. Otherwise, you'll be resentful/angry at the wedding and that causes rifts later on for what's going to be, hopefully, a long-term family relationship. Best, Cassy Cassy

A 3 year old is way too young to have a role in such a highly controlled, and over-orchestrated event. Yeah, the cuteness factor is priceless, but they don't realize what could possibly not go right. Anyway, you know about all this. They don't and sadly they don't have any interest in knowing.

As a husband, I wonder: where is your husband in all of this? He needs to advocate for you all the time when it comes to his family and their dramas and expectations.

It sounds highly risky to try to accommodate such unreasonable expectations. You and your husband need to decide what is doable, and sane for you given what you'll be dealing with then. In and of itself, traveling with an infant can be challenging but is doable. But if you'll be dealing with such highly-controlled expectations on the other end, you are better off staying home, or at the hotel if you decide to go. Your husband will need to decide if the whole stress of this on you both is worth the highly scripted expectations put on him and his own family -- this is a no-brainer!

Get your husband to talk to his brother and try to get him to realize that life will not stop for anyone just because they want a machine-precision wedding. If his brother starts seeing that it needs to be a negotiation and not a mandate, it might be doable that you will go with the baby and figure out what works best for you for the ceremony, and reception. Nel

I was in a similar situation twice. Basically, the situation is this: you can't force them to have a different wedding than they want: if they want it adults-only, then adults-only it shall be. But they can't force you to leave your child in a situation that isn't comfortable for you, either. If you somehow gain your children admittance, it will be uncomfortable for all. If you leave them with a hotel sitter, you will probably feel uneasy. I would suggest you either try, as politely and humbly as possible, to explain that you will have to miss the wedding to stay with the baby bcs you just aren't comfortable with a hotel sitter with so young a baby; or, you could just use the sitter for the ceremony itself, so you will be there to help with your ring-bearer, and then take your son back to the hotel with you and leave only your husband to attend the reception. It is also possible that you could find someone who would be willing to miss the ceremony to babysit for you if you aren't comfortable with the hotel sitter, or you could possibly bring or find someone you trust to babysit for you at the event. Or, you could decide you really want to attend the reception and make your peace with a hotel sitter-- this is perhaps more likely to work if the reception is in the hotel. The other tip I would share is that the bride and groom are unlikely to notice if you are absent through much of the wedding & reception unless you are seated formally at their table. I had to leave my sib's wedding when my baby with the sitter got a fever, and I don't think they even noticed! -Brides and New Moms Can Be a Little Nervous-- but that's OK!

Wow. This sounds like a rough situation, but here's what I would do. Considering the newness of your infant and not knowing his/her needs yet but knowing you'll be breastfeeding and practicing attachment parenting, I would have to put my foot down with the bride-to-be and insist that my infant be present. I'd buy a beautiful sling ( Bloom-Essential-Silk-Baby-Sling-P70C1.aspx ), wear my baby and excuse myself from the proceedings accordingly to care for both infant and child. I think you are right to be concerned about your 3 year old's ability to maintain throughout this long event and maybe it would be a good idea to keep the sitter she's hired in a holding pattern in the room so you can put both children down when needed. Good luck and stop stressing! At least it's not your crazy wedding. Tina

That all sounds totally ridiculous, and a classic example of someone without children thinking they 'understand' and what they are asking is reasonable. I also am an attachment parent - I think anyone who breast feeds is until the kid is at least 3/4 months old. There is NO WAY I would leave my 2 mth old child with a stranger in a hotel room.

I don't really think flying with such a young child will be a problem. Although it can cause some nasty ear infections post flight (which would not be fun to deal with in DC) and will doubtless be extremely stressful for you.

If they REALLY want your son to be ring bearer (which they only want because it would be 'cute', not because they want your son) then I would say it would make most sense for just your husband and son to go. Yes then your husband would have to look after your son. Putting things this way might actually make your husband stand up for your wishes more, as it seems to me he's not taking any responsiblity. Even if you do go he'll have to look after your 3 yr old most of the time as you'll be feeding etc.

Whatever you do there will be upset or resentment on one or both sides. But you really don't need more stress at this point in your life. Good luck Weddings mean little in comparison to a new child

If it were me, I'd draw the line. They don't want others to control their wedding, and they should not expect to control your personal participation. I would say (as a couple, with my husband), that the husband and the 3 year old will participate. As they do not want the infant at the event, I will choose to stay with the infant. It is nice that you offer childcare, but we do not need it for the baby. It is our choice as parents to have our young infant with one of us, or close relatives or friends, at this early stage in her/his life. This will require that they assign someone to be the responsible adult for the 3 year old; someone other than the Dad, when the Dad is busy getting ready for and participating in the wedding and getting photos take. Perhaps another aunt or uncle or cousin (young adult or older) that the 3 year old knows would be best.

So the deal is they can have all four of you, or they can have two of you (with awareness of need for someone to suprvise the ring bearer). Once they meet the infant, and if the infant is a quiet calm one, they may realize that as long as the baby is feeding or sleeping, it will not have much impact at the ceremony. They should not expect you, even if you do attend, to be the one coralling the 3 year old, as you will be busy keeping the infant content. If you do attend the wedding, just sit near the back so that you can make a quick exit, if needed.

I found 2 piece outfits to be easier than dresses while nursing. You could get a loose fitting washable top and an elegant washable skirt. Bring a back-up outfit with you in case the baby has a diaper accident or spits up. Also, bring a couple of way cute washable outfits for the baby, in case the oh-so-adult couple ends up letting the bundle of love attend. Here is one web page for well-desinged maternity stuff. I bought a dress form these folks years ago, and many of my friends got great use out of it at many fancy events. Sorry I don't have it anymore to give to you! Anon

Wow, what a nightmare. Having a 3yo who is expected to be a ringbearer at a fancy wedding is bad enough, but to have your newborn be uninvited too! Not a good start for warm relationships in your husband's family.

My suggestion is to go ahead and make the trip but plan to stay out of the picture, in the background, rather than sitting in the pews or at the dinner table. In Catholic churches there is often a ''cry room'' where moms and young kids are able to (expected to) go. If no cry room, look for a similar room that is nearby, but not in everyone's line of sight/hearing. You will undoubtedly be able to find a church/hotel staff member to help you with this. Bring toys for the toddler. Frankly, this is where you would end up even if the kids were invited - toddlers can't sit still long enough to go through all the endless rituals of a wedding ceremony and reception. And newborn behavior is impossible to predict, as you said!

As for the ringbearer duties, recruit a baby-friendly relative to hang out with you in the adjacent room during the ceremony. You will almost certainly end up accompanying your son through his ringbearer duties unless he is an unusually brave and extraverted kid. (Warn your SIL.) Leave the newborn with your relative for those 5 min of the ceremony, then head on out (past the pews) to your campsite in the adjacent room. Then all 3 of you can relax.

The advantage of making your own ''kids' room'' is that your son can still participate as the ringbearer to some degree, your family can still be officially in attendance at your brother-in-law's wedding, be in the pictures, etc., and when your husband has a free moment re: his best-man duties he can take one of the kids off your hands and show him/her off to relatives. (Which is what family weddings are about anyway! Or should be!) But for the rest of the time you can kick back out of sight, breastfeed, watch your son play around on the couches in the hotel's adjacent room, and not be anxious about whether your kids are ''too much'' for such a wedding and whether your new sister-in-law is unhappy. Don't be surprised if other parents of young ones join you with great relief - this has happened to me at several weddings! ''Nursing rooms'' and ''running-around rooms'' ALWAYS crop up when there are kids at weddings, whether the bride and groom planned them or not. (P.S. Choose a dress you can nurse in without having to take the whole thing off!) Good luck!

I wouldn't go. I would just send my husband alone. I can't imagine: (1) flying across country with a newborn (especially for something like a wedding) (2) going to any very formal wedding 6-8 weeks postpartum (3) leaving my newborn with someone I don't know. (Especially this!) With my 6 week old, I didn't go to a casual wedding an hour away by car.

I would have a conversation with your pediatrician that goes like this: You: We are supposed to go to a wedding on the East Coast when the baby is about a month old. Do you think it is a great idea to take the baby on the plane and then to a wedding surrounded by a bunch of people when s/he is that young? Doctor: No, it isn't a great idea. (Also, depending on how you want to play it, you might add something about son flying, given it is the height of the flu season and with swine flu going around.)

Then move on to the conversation your husband has with his brother: Husband: We talked to the pediatrician and s/he doesn't think it is a great idea for the baby to come to the East coast for the wedding. Of course that means wife and son will not be able to go either. We just wanted to give you time to find another ring bearer if you wanted one. Brother: But we were counting on son! Husband: I know you wanted him as a ring bearer, but I won't be able to both watch him and be there for you so we wanted to let you know in plenty of time to find someone else.

If it is important to your husband, he can bring your son, but make sure that his brother knows that it will likely be a disaster without you there. Presumably at the wedding and reception there will be family and friends who can watch him, but unless it really matters to your husband, I wouldn't send the boy either. Sounds like a nightmare

I just LOVED this post. I so miss these bridezilla stories. They always crack me up even though I am sure you are not laughing. It is clear your future sister-in-law has no clue about kids because if she did, she would tell you to leave the 3 year old at home and bring the 3 month old .

I don't know about your child, but we tried to have my 3 Y.O. son perform the ring- bearing function at a wedding and I'll tell you who ended up being the ring- husband!

So, as far as the hired babysitter, just say ''thank you.'' She can sit in the hallway if you have no use for her. As far as the other stuff, if you need to excuse yourself to go breastfeed and keep your mind at ease, go do that. Go for hours. Bridezilla will be so wrapped up in her event, she will not even notice you are gone. My $.02

Sounds like your soon to be sister-in-law is exhibiting classic bridezilla behavior. Giving her the benefit of the doubt, she may mean well, but I'm guessing she doesn't have children or a clue as to what it means to take care of them at an event like this.

That being said, we took my daughter to a wedding when she was 6 weeks old. At that age they are so portable! My husband or I had her in a baby bjorn the whole time and it went swimmingly. It was a formal affair (at Auberge du Soleil) but no one minded and everyone gushed over her in fact (we dressed her in a cute dress for the few minutes she was out of the carrier). She basically just hung out or nursed periodically and was content. When the band played, I hung out in a different room so she wouldn't be exposed to loud music. People came out and visited with me at their leisure. I gave the bride complete carte blanche in advance that I wouldn't be at all offended if she didn't want the baby there, but that meant I couldn't come, and my hubby would go on his own (he was the closer friend of the couple.) The bride was very classy about it and said if we thought we could handle it, she was happy to have us. I was fully prepared to pull the rip cord at any time if I felt the baby or I was in an uncomfortable situation, or making anyone else uncomfortable, but I had a nice time, and we stayed all the way through to the end. We did bring a bassinet/pram thing to put her in but didn't end up using it--she far preferred the carrier on one of our chests.

As for the situation on the babysitter, I think a helper would be a great idea, but I'd actually think more for the 3 yo. If it is possible, I would hire someone to be in a room next door to the wedding for him to be able to go take a break or get some quiet playing in. She could obviously also help with the baby too if you needed it. Personally that would be a lot more helpful to me then a stranger sitting in a remote hotel room watching a baby I would have to keep running back to every hour or two. And I'm with you--if it is someone you know or even came recommended by someone you know I might trust them more then a hotel provided sitter. Good luck!! Baby wearing guest

I feel bad for you. I understand wanting a child-free wedding. But then why would you want a ring bearer? That's ridiculous. And if you only want to invite a niece or nephew, that's fine. But you can't invite one sibling and not the other. Tell Anne to get her head checked. That's one of the dumbest ideas I've ever heard of. I'll tell you how to navigate this. Tell them you're not coming. Your husband can go alone. If they can't tolerate the presence of their baby nephew/niece, God help them with their marriage. G

I have been in a very similar situation with a life long very close family friend. During my pregnancy, her mother had made it very clear to my mom that there would be no babies at this wedding. My friend also told me this. They also arranged a sitter (who was going to be watching several other children too). My response was that I was sorry, but that I wouldn't be attending, and I didn't. I was not going to leave my breastfeeding newborn (who turned out to be preterm too) with someone just so that bridezilla and her mom could have their ''perfect'' little day. It is your soon to be sister in law's choice of who to invite, but it your choice whether or not to attend, and personally, I wouldn't. I just don't understand what is so disruptive about a newborn baby...A one year old or two year old I can understand, but newborns are different. And, when did weddings stop being a family event anyhow? Just my two cents... Been there

I suggest you call the fiance and have a candid discussion with her about what it means for a 3YO to be the ring bearer. If perfection is their goal, then she may want to change this part of the wedding plans. If she still wants your 3YO as part of the ceremony, then have the babysitter tend to the 3YO. You can beg off attending at all by explaining that your first priority is to your newborn and then plan to hang out with the baby in the hotel. Your husband can enjoy being a part of his brother's wedding and you won't be punished (or feel punished) by the whole thing.

Oh, and down the line when ''David'' and ''Mrs. David'' have children of their own, they will finally understand. Until then, I wouldn't expect them to really get it. good luck the wedding planner

For dealing with with friends and loved ones, honesty is always the best policy. For dealing with inlaws, I've found that the best policy is always a good lie. Your problem has an easy solution as long as you don't have any misplaced compunctions about lying. Just tell them your doctor doesn't want you to fly with the baby 6 weeks old because of concerns over swine flu. You are so disappointed but you are sure they will understand. With the money you save from not having to buy a flight ticket or a new outfit, hire someone to help you while your husband is gone. You will have a MUCH nicer time at home with the baby. If you want to keep the 3 year old with you, simply say that he has to stay home with you too. I really doubt that they will be hugely disappointed not to have the ring bearer -- they probably think they are bestowing a big favor, not giving you tons of stress. Can't stand weddings

Sounds like you and future s-i-l need to have a talk. I would say ''Sorry, 3 year old can't be ring bearer...he's too young and behavior unpredictable...hubby and I would like to come to the wedding and enjoy ourselves without being distracted by unruly 3 yo''....and if he'll be the ONLY kid, he will be totally bored and very possibly be unruly.

As far as a sitter...I've been kids, infant or not. You can choose who babysits your're the mother. Ive used hotel sitters in the past and it's been fine...they don't go anywhere and I think they have to pass a CPR/baby sitting certification (maybe not all places are particular like that...check). It's probably fine to leave your infant for an evening with a sitter. Can you express milk? Leave formula? It's hard to leave them, but they'll most likely be fine with an experienced person. good luck...I hope you have fun. anon mom

I'd advise you to bring a nanny with you to take care of the baby while you're at the various events. It's really not that hard, and the baby isn't going to even notice you're not there at that age (sorry to break it to you). Otherwise don't go. Some people just don't want infants at their wedding and you just have to respect it. You don't have to like it but you should either suck it up, smile and go along with it or just not go at all. Your feelings about the lavishness of the wedding are irrelevant.

I think, in general, it's totally possible and the right thing to do to attend a brother's wedding, even if you have a nearly 3 year old and a newborn. As I'm writing I'm packing to go to a family wedding across the country with my 8 week old, preschooler and school aged child.

That said, the bride is crazy (really just inexperienced with kids) to think that the newborn (who will frankly be in a sling dozing the whole time, or you can easily take out of the room if s/he's crying) will be more disruptive to the wedding than a 3 year old! It is indeed unreasonable to leave a newborn in a hotel room with a stranger for 6 or more hours for the wedding.

If it were me, I'd tell the brother and future sister in law: ''it means the world to us to be at your wedding. We are thrilled to have husband and 3 year old in the wedding party. But, we just can't leave a tiny exclusively breastfeeding baby with an unknown sitter for many hours. If you permit the baby to come, we will ensure that s/he is not disruptive, and we will be very appreciative. If not, I'm afraid only husband and 3 year old will be able to attend.''

And then you stick with that plan. If baby remains banished, send your husband and 3 year old on the plane, and have a quiet weekend at home with the baby. It will save you a lot of money and stress, and then your family didn't just skip the wedding altogether. But hopefully the bride will come around and this won't cause a huge rift in your family! love family weddings

well I hope the reason the wedding is in DC is because they live there - this is a sister in law well worth living on the other side of the continent from! I fully respect people's right to do what they want for their weddings but this is family, it's far away and its a six week old baby! you guys are heros just for planning to attend!

If it was me and the wedding wasn't family I would respect their wish for no kids and just not go ( it being out of town and having such a young baby). If it was family I'd expect them to accommodate me or deal with my absence.

we are invited to an out of town wedding next month. When we asked if kids could come and they said not really then we chose for just my husband to go. I'm not traveling to a far away place to leave my kids with a sitter. Most weddings I've been to locals are often asked to leave kids at home but people from out of town usually get to bring their kids. I think that's fair. I know that it's hard for people who don't have kids to truly comprehend these situations but I think you guys should outline what your willing and not willing to do and don't be forced into something you are not comfortable doing.

as a side note I traveled half way across the world with a one year old to my sisters wedding a few years ago against my better judgment(different issue than yours), but I thought it was the right thing to do. Had a big blowout argument with her there and haven't spoken to her since! So going isn't always the right answer.

In terms of setting expectations for the 3 year olds behaviour: I've seen many a young kid flunk at their wedding ''duties'' so have your hubby raise this - and think of alternative (maybe your hubby can walk down the ailse with you son etc) if necessary or you may need to take the 3 year old out of the cermony for a break - prepare them for all of these scenarios. And probably offer them the option that he not be a ring bearer if they are uncomfortable with the unpredictable nature of a 3 year old. Receptions are usually fairly noisy affairs so a 3 year old should not be a problem then! brides suck!

I say suck it up and stick the baby with a babysitter for 3-4 hours. The baby will be so young, she won't even know and you can relax at the wedding. Maybe even have the toddler go with the babysitter after his duties are performed (ring bearer) so you can relax and have fun at the reception. Drink some wine, dance a little and make out with your partner.

Think of it as a big party you get to dress up for. Being with a babysitter for one night isn't going to hurt the kids, just get someone you trust. Relax and enjoy the wedding! Don't be so critical :) - Mom with three kids who has been there and done that

This sounds like it's creating way too much stress. It sounds like they are being overdemanding. I'm guessing that your husband's participation is more important than your son's. How about removing your son's role as the ring-bearer, and you don't attend? Don't go at all, or if you make the trip, stay in the room with your infant and the three year old. Participate in the other festivities to the best of your abilities. They might take this as a slight, but you can explain nicely in a letter that you have the peace and harmony of the wedding in mind, as well as your own parenting peace and harmony. Don't use a baby sitter at all, even a relative. Balance your needs with theirs. They're over the top. I think you're entirely justified to be concerned about your three year old son's performance as ring bearer. It's entirely unpredictable, and managing that would require your undivided attention, which won't be possible. I'm sure that given six months, they can find someone else to carry the ring. Offer to provide some other additional kind of support that can happen during 'off-hours.' Good luck! Laura

Yikes - having to fly across country with a 2 month old baby? I vote that you send your hubbie with your 3 year old, stay at home, put up your feet up and send for really good take out with the airfare you'll be saving. I went through the 3 year old ring bearer (okay, he was five, but a YOUNG five)at a East Coast wedding thing and while it was fun, it was a nail biter (even worse, of course, was my 11 yr old drawing rude pictures in the back of the church, but that's another story). Having #2 is hard enough, much less traveling and a pressure situation (of course the baby would probably sleep the entire wedding) - give yourself a break and opt out. Let it be Daddy-son bonding time. But if you're still unsure, buy Southwest tickets for yourself (don't they go nonstop to Baltimore now? maybe check first, but you don't need 6 hours of JetBlue cartoons), then you can opt out at the last minute and still get full credit for another time. And can be a gift to send your hubbie and 3 year old on an earlier/different flight anyway - having 3 kids myself, it can be easier this way. Let them get all settled one day then pick YOU up the next. But I still vote for staying (or opting out once the baby comes)it's a lot to travel so far with a new little one! yikes!

I don't know how obligated you feel to attend this wedding, but if I were you, I would consider not going and staying home with the baby or both kids. I understand about not wanting kids at weddings, but to invite one and not the other is rude (and I agree that I'd be more worried about the behavior of the toddler than the baby). My husband has attended weddings and other events while I stayed at home with the kid, though, granted, they weren't for such close family members. But I think that it's understandable, since you'll have a newborn, and traveling with kids can be difficult.

If you feel you must go, I would use your choice of babysitter (if you go that route), or hang out with the baby near an exit door so you can quickly escape if necessary. All eyes will be on the bride and groom, so no one will notice anyway. You can ask a relative to watch your son, if your husband is too busy with best man duties. Good luck!

First congratulations on your second. Your 3 yr old as ring bearer will be precious but DO NOT let him hold the actual rings. What ever they say just tie fake ones to the little pillow he carries and send him down. You don't want to find out the hard way that the church has vents leading to who knows where and it ate the rings or your child thought it would be funny to hide them some place and can't remember where (both true stories). Other than that as the mom you need to tell the bride and groom to get someone to watch your son if they want him in the wedding. Your husband is the best man and will be occupied it is THEIR job to ask your in-laws or whom ever to watch him so you can watch your infant. This may be the true crux of your problem. The couple probably expects you to watch your son after he has sped down the aisle which is why they don't want you to bring the infant. I could be wrong but I've been to and help plan many a wedding. You also need to make your husband your advocate as it is his brother (I am assuming he is on your side about bringing the baby). Have your husband talk to his brother who can hopefully communicate with his fiance your needs as well as her feelings back to you. The baby is young enough and will most likely sleep through or nurse through the affair especially if they are being held. Either way you just step out if they start crying or need to be changed. It would be a minimal disturbance. We did not have children at our wedding because we had a very large open fire, I couldn't take the risk, and everyone had toddler age children but an infant would have been readily welcomed. Maybe the bride is worried the new baby will steal attention away from her, or spit up on her dress, or you'll make her change its diaper, who knows. just be sure to address the bride's concerns but also be sure someone reminds the bride this is going to be HER family as well. You should definitely say you will consider the sitter or a friend to watch the baby but they should know that in all likely hood you will be bringing the baby with you. It is stressful to HAVE TO pump. Maybe the bride is really unfamiliar with infants at that age, be sure your husband really communicates how hard it is to leave a baby with no schedule who needs mom and dad all the time because they are still REALLY little.

The only comfort I can offer is that we recently went to a wedding, paid an arm and a leg to stay at the reception venue and hired a concierge/hotel sitter. The sitter was amazing and my kids loved her. She was with us for a bit at the reception then I put the kids down upstairs and was back in no time. Having the kids just upstairs also made it easy to slip away and get back quickly. So the hotel sitter could be great but you need to do what YOU are comfortable with. Another thing you need to figure out is if this is a deal breaker for you guys. I know it's a tough card to play but be very honest with yourselves and your family situation to be and what your needs will be. Best out come it might snap the bride and groom out of their funk. Try to focus on the good, your new baby and your expanding family, to help you not to get too bogged down resolving the problems. Best wishes! For every formal occasion I attended pregnant and postpartum I bought normal clothes and can still use them. Stretchy, Empire Waist cuts are your best friends. Lots of cloth on the bottom for flow and coverage of the middle. Stretch usually allows you to nurse with almost any neckline. Even better if it has a cross top, easy nursing. Online shopping is your best friend. Family First

Wow, you're really being judgmental about their wedding plans. If they want a lavish wedding, they have every right to have one. Remember, the wedding day is all about them, even if you would not to choose to have this type of wedding for yourself. The easiest solution would be for you to stay home with the kids and let your husband go by himself. You have a perfect excuse; a newborn baby. If they really freak out about the loss of their ring bearer, send your son with your husband. I'm sure your husband is capable of taking care of your son during the trip, and they would probably have a really good time.

It is pretty clear from your message that you don't want to go, so don't. But don't try to make your husband miss his brother's wedding. That would be selfish and awful. I'm sure everyone would be much less stressed if you just sat this one out. And stop talking about it every day - I bet your husband is feeling pretty bad about something that should be a celebration in his family. You should support him and drop the complaints.

If you do go, please decide to do so with an open heart and try to figure out how to enjoy this lavish celebration. Loves a party (especially a lavish one on someone else's dime)

I chuckled a bit when I read your post. During 10 years I lived/worked in DC, I kept a suit and a floor length gown hanging in the corner of my office -- never knew when an invite to a White House reception or a black tie dinner was to be proffered.

That said - why don't you let your husband go to the wedding and you stay home with the kids. This doesn't sound like a situation that is going to be comfortable for you. You are six-months out and have determined, rightly or wrongly, that the situation will be miserable and the bride-to-be is a first cousin to Cruella Deville. I find in my own life that I reap what I sow. If you aren't open to enjoying the wedding now, I can guarantee it is going to live down to every belief that you have of it. As the cheesy posters say, 'attitude is everything.'

I traveled to 2 weddings when my eldest was 3 & 5 months old. During the 1st wedding, I took her to the ceremony and headed outside after a few minutes due to 'infant screaming at the top of her lungs for no apparent reason' syndrome. I had already scheduled a babysitter for the reception. The 2nd time, the event was 'adults' only so I respected the wishes and left her with a babysitter for ceremony/reception. During both receptions, I checked in via phone and did pop over to nurse.

I had a blast at these weddings. I lean toward 'attachment style' parenting, but I also love a good party and I love some 'me without my children' time.

If you do decide to go to the wedding, check Bloomingdale's. Their sale rack on dresses saved my life. I never spent more than $75. Don't stress about the season. Throw a shawl on if need be. And answer every question about your dress with, 'I am just so bored with know how DC fashion is so conservative.' Everyone will agree with you and it will probably start a fun conversation. Also, thank Cruella's cousin profusely, but find your own babysitter if it makes you more comfortable.

Finally, keep in mind that you are about to have some new family. When she is wandering around in sweats with vomit on her shoulder, she may have a better understanding of you. At this point, she probably has similar feelings for you as you have for her. -anon

I believe ''Anne'' is going to owe you a BIG apology when the wedding is over and she gets her sanity back. Or when she has a baby. I believe you are right on all accounts. Yes, having a little newborn that you are nursing will be practically unnoticeable at the reception - you can wear the baby or have a infant seat next to you to allow it to sleep.

Yes, the 3 year old will probably be more trouble - the best would be to have a relative be at the reception to help you. Is the reception at the hotel where you are staying? That would be good because then you can make a quick plan of escape.

You know best as Mommy - she can get you a babysitter and try to control your parenting, but it's not happening. Mommy knows best

OMG, politely decline. or send just dad. I have to say that I was the last in my nuclear family to have kids, and now that i do i feel just ridiculous about some of the things I thought and expected from my relatives with small children. Stubborn to the core, no one could have told me what it's really like to have kids, or to want to use a particular style of parenting that is very intense the first few years, I had to just realize later on what an ass i was. luckily, i didn't do anything ghastly or get mad at anyone who couldn't attend the far away wedding, etc. I'd do what you feel you comfortably can to particpate in their happy event, and send your regrets for the rest. Maybe that means dad and 3yr old go while mom and babe hang out at the hotel, or at home--you'll know what you can handle. but don't bite off more than your family can chew. it will be a regrettable disaster! sympathetic

I'm only going to give you advice on the ring-bearer part of this, because that is where I have actual experience. My son was asked to be ring-bearer twice. The first time, he totally freaked out and refused to do it when we got to the wedding. Our friends were really cool about it, thankfully. The second time, I told the couple (my brother and his wife to be) about our previous experience. I told them that if it was crucial to have a ring-bearer, they should ask someone else because I couldn't guarantee that my son would do it. If it was more chill, then we'd say yes and see how it went. They went with someone else, which was totally fine with me. And my son. No hurt feelings. I just wanted it all out in the open.

So, if you feel your son might freak at being some place so new with all those strangers looking at him, you should let the couple know. Lastly, I would not be very keen on leaving my 8 week old baby with a stranger at a hotel. And you guys discuss this wedding every day? No wonder you're going nuts!!!! You have my sympathy.

Congrats on your pregnancy! I have a 10wk old & we took her to a wedding in Las Vegas at 6wks because our older son (5yo) was the ringbearer. Long story short. She did great. She slept on the flights (lot shorter then yours though) and she nursed during the 20min ceremony. Having her during the reception was fine too. She slept mostly and we went out to the hallway & nursed when we needed too. My son on the other hand boycotted his duties - not good! But what can you do? Kids are people too, not puppets to do our bidding! My husband & I split duties. I took the baby & he our son during the wedding. Maybe you could do the same? Best man duties don't supercede daddy duties. I'd reccomend a book or watching wedding videos to prepare your son. far as the hotel, we got two beds & we each slept with a kid. I brought a ''snuggle nest'' with us & it worked well. Re: the dress. I bought a dress from motherhood that I could nurse in. It was nice, comfortable & $30 though not black tie fancy. The other thing that was really helpful was our moby wrap. Having her in it made it all more streamlined not carrying around a stroller & other baby stuff. Finally, I'll just add that ''Anne'' made a request. A request only you can decide if you can fulfill. Good luck! been there

Ooooh! I feel your pain, having juggled two family weddings in the last year with young children as flower girls, a baby, and the crazy demands of the bride! My advice: be gracious and say nothing about how insane this all is (brides really are crazy, but your sister-in-law won't realize it unless/until she has kids of her own.) Let the bride hire the hotel babysitter (maybe even bring the babysitter with you to stand with the baby outside the site of the ceremony). Go to the ceremony without the baby (most are no more than 15 minutes these days.) Ask the photographer if the family photo you need to be in can be done early on. Depending on how the baby is doing, stop in for a few minutes at the reception to give the bride your best wishes (of course, if you're not going to stay for dinner, it would be best to make that clear in advance -- I'm so sorry, but I'm going to need to take little Johnny back to the hotel before dinner is served as it will be past his bedtime and little peanut is too young to take a bottle and needs to nurse every two hours). Leave as soon as you need to leave, even if you're only there for a short period of time -- she probably won't notice, and you have a great excuse (your son was exhausted and the baby needed to nurse). This will all work really well if your hotel is close to the wedding -- you might even get to pop back in later. Alternatively, since your baby will be only WEEKS old, use it as a fabulous excuse to skip the whole thing -- send your husband and son, and let grandma or someone else supervise the ring-bearer duties. Most of these lavish weddings have ''handlers'' -- and your husband will probably be able to step in if there's a problem. Don't create any drama, and smile! Mother of the flower girl

It sounds from this post that you are not looking forward to this wedding; however, it's family and so you're kind of obligated to attend. Presumably family will be unavailable to babysit for you since they will be at the wedding.

Here's what I did when my husband's best friend got married in Spain: we went to the service and one of us (probably you will have to) sat in the back where we could make an exit in case our son got bored. We went to the reception and I ate a little, and then I went up to the hotel room with our son and crashed. My husband was fine staying at the reception by himself (since a lot of his friends were there) and our friend was totally understanding and o.k. with me leaving early.

Unless your husband can't be around his family by himself, you can easily just leave with all the kids when you're ready. Put them to bed and order room service. I can't imagine that anyone would not understand. Let the couple have their special day. been there done that

What a shame. I hate this trend that weddings are super formal events that can't include, embrace and welcome all the messiness of families with children. It's selfish and goes against the whole spirit of a wedding, which is a celebration of family as much as two individual people. C'mon! Lighten up people. I think ''David'' and his fiance are being downright hostile to your family. Frankly, I don't think you and your children should attend this wedding. You're not welcome there. Your husband should do the best man thing alone and you should pull out of the ring bearer agreement. You need to draw the line and tell these rels your children are very important to you, they can't be put in a closet because they might cry or tolerated only because they look cute walking down the aisle. Sorry, life doesn't work that way. Send a gift, warm wishes and polite regrets. anon

oh. my. goodness!!!!!!!!!!!!

Ok, if you are going to have a 6-8 week old baby at the time and that baby is not invited to the wedding? don't go. Just send your husband. Your 3 year old should not go either, unless your husband can handle the 3y/o on his own. 3 years old is too young to be a very successful ring bearer, anyway. I'm serious!! It is not your brother.

This may sound harsh but I think in the interest of YOUR mental health, this is how it should go. First of all, if the baby is NOT invited, then your 3 year old should NOT be invited either. But you can't do anything about that, this is just a weird thing they've chosen to do (in my opinion). You can approach the subject in a very kind, matter of fact way. Just say that you understand their wish to not have children at the event, that you do not feel comfortable leaving a baby so young with a sitter, and you are terribly sorry to miss the wedding but you will have to decline.

I'm thinking that saving your sanity, your plane ticket cost, etc is worth it. Hey, if your husband goes by himself maybe he can stay with relatives and not even need a hotel? cha-ching. That's saving enough money right there that you can hire some help while your DH is gone. Or maybe your parents can come visit (if they are not in town?) during that time to see the precious new baby and help you out.

I think that the bride and groom, once they have kids, will really regret their decision to not invite the baby but WHATEVER. They can do it how they want -- it's their wedding -- and you need to make your own, healthy choices FOR YOU based on that.

Sending you a **big hug** as these situations in families are never easy!! momma bear, protecting my cubs

You have my sympathies! Your soon-to-be Sister-in-law clearly has no idea what being a parent is about. Her actions sound insensitive, although probably only from ignorance. So, what to do? You have six months and the birth of your baby to get through first. Try to stop thinking about the silly wedding every day! Then, when the time comes, assuming you are up for attending the wedding, go and do whatever you need to do to care for your kids. If that means missing some of the ceremony and reception, so be it. If you have to duck out to breastfeed or otherwise care for your infant, have your husband do double duty as best man and ring-bearer caretaker. This may not lead to the picture-perfect fairy tale wedding that your sis-in-law has in mind, but that's life! Do what you gotta do...

I would back away from all the planning and craziness and make a very clear statement directly to your husband and to the bride (no intermediaries): First, if you go to the ceremony you will have the baby with you but will sit by the door in case it gets even the tiniest bit fussy. You need to be there in case there's an issue with your son. Second, you will not be at the reception -- you're going to be at the hotel with your son, the baby and the babysitter. When the kids are in bed and asleep, you MAY be able to come to the reception, but that is a maybe. The alternative is for you to stay home with the two little ones and let your husband go alone. Sue

There are two things going on here. Toddler in a wedding ceremony is risky at best. New born babies don't do anything but sleep and eat.

1. Your soon-to-be sister in law can't control what a toddler does during a wedding ceremony. She has to know going in that the toddler can have every good intention, but what actually happens on the day is totally out of her control. 3 is very young and many toddlers will feel intimidated by the audience as well as they are usually experimenting with their rights to their own opinion. I had my two nephews as ring bearers at my wedding one was 4 and one was six. They were so excited before hand. At the actual moment when they were supposed to walk down the aisle, the 4 year old wouldn't go. It turned out that my brother in law had to walk with them. For me that was fine and it created a cute family moment during the ceremony. My wedding was also small and personal (only about 50 people). She just needs to know that no matter what she does, it is really up to the toddler as to how it plays out.

2. Possibly the sister in law doesn't know the behaviors of a new born. I have attended weddings when my fiends have brought their newborns and most people didn't even realize that there was a baby in the room. They can sleep through most noise and with relatives around you can utilize extra arms for holding. I think that if you don't want to use a babysitter, you should just tell her that if you can't bring the baby, you won't be attending. It is completely up to you. If you decide to attend, ask around for loaner dresses from friends. I am sure you can find one. Good luck! Anon

Don't go! It sounds horrible. Why not send your husband and son and you stay home and enjoy some precious quiet time with your new baby? a fan of separate vacations

Hi, you are right, and ''Anne'' is wrong. Her expectations are unreasonable and rude. She should not have booked the hotel sitter unless you ASKED her to. When my kids were under 12 months, I never left them with a sitter because I breast-fed and pumping didn't work for me. I'd tell David and Anne that YOU are the mother. If they want your son to be the ringbearer, YOU need to be there to take care of him (unless you trust another relative to be his caretaker and constant companion while your husband is doing his Best Man duties.) You should be with the baby. If they don't want you there with the baby, don't go. They are being completely unreasonable, not letting a newborn stay with its mother! Ridiculous. If I were you, I'd find a relative to be in charge of your son. Then I'd promise to step out when the baby cries during the ceremony. If that's not good enough for them, just skip the whole silly wedding. And look forward to Anne and David having their first kid, and apologizing to you profusely, and saying, ''Oh, NOW I get it!'' a Berkeley mom of 3

If there's anything that people have as many opinions about as child-rearing, it's weddings :)

First, my opinion: it is incredibly rude to ask you to not bring your (probably less than 2-month old) baby to a wedding when you are a) family b) flying across the country to attend & c) they are asking the rest of your family to be IN the wedding. I would be furious if I were in your shoes, and, to be honest, might not attend under those circumstances.

Second, my experience: My husband & I did go to a wedding in Bend, OR when our son was 5 weeks old. We drove. I was a bridesmaid & I carried my son down the aisle with me. My husband took care of our son for about 2-3 hours before the wedding so I could get dressed with the bride & he made sure he was tanked up & changed before the ceremony.

This bride, however, sounds like the polar opposite of the one in the wedding you're attending: the whole wedding was *totally* family friendly & she told me she hoped I would carry my son in the wedding & that at some point he would fuss & I would nurse him :) He did actually fuss just a bit & then made a HUGE poop :) I wish you all the best navigating this, Kendra

Bridezilla alert! Here's what your husband should tell his brother:

[Your name] and I are really looking forward to your wedding. I am honored and excited to be by your side as your best man, and we're both looking forward to welcoming [Bridezilla] into the family. It's going to be beautiful occasion. We can tell [Bridezilla] is working hard to make everything perfect. That's why we're getting worried about the idea of [our son] being a ring-bearer. I know he'd look really cute, and we are touched that he was invited, but he will be barely 3 years old and I just don't think he can be counted on to do what he's told in an unknown environment with a bunch of strangers staring at him. Chances are he'd bolt, or start crying. Plus he can't really sit still very long, and we don't want him distracting from the moment when the two of you are exchanging vows. So, we've talked it over and we think it best for [your name] and the kids to skip the ceremony and just come to the reception. At this point the kids will be much less of a distraction, and we will feel much more comfortable having them there with us, particularly the baby, who needs to feed regularly. I know this is mainly an adult event, but I'm sure everyone will understand that you made an exception for your best man and his 8-week-old baby. That way [your name] and the kids will be able to join in at least part of the celebration, then head up to the room when it's bedtime. I hope you understand. If for any reason this seems impossible to you and [Bridezilla], then it would probably be best for [your name] and the kids to stay home in CA.

If I were you, I would think seriously about simply not going to the wedding or the reception. Maybe it would be best for your husband to take the little ''ring bearer'' with him on the trip, and for you to stay home for some one on one time with your infant? It is a long flight for a new mom and a new baby.

I think the family is asking a lot of a family with a new little one, and perhaps you have allowed the situation to become a little unrealistic. Now is the time to address the issue squarely with them, and just say that you realize you will be an exhausted new mommy and that though you would LOVE to be there, the timing is really unfortunate and that you simply cannot attend. This avoids the situation where they have to ''make accommodations'' (and then feel self-righteous), and where you have to overextend yourself (and then back out at the last minute, or crumple mid-stream).

I once flew all the way to the east coast alone with my 8 month old daughter for my cousin's wedding, only to discover then that I wouldn't be allowed into the ceremony with her (they had hired a sitter and didn't tell me in advance)--I was appalled. At least they have given you some warning, even though it doesn't seem very kind of them to exclude your baby. Yours is not to judge, however--but you do get to decide whether or not to attend.

I'm sorry you're in this spot--if I were you, i would think seriously about staying home. Elizabeth

I was at my mom's, who is a wedding planner when I read your note.

1. no 3 yr old should be in a wedding. He may be excited, he may do great in rehearsal but come time for this very formal ceremony he will freeze, not perform as expected and all these people will be waving at him to come down or someone will end up walking him down or picking him up. Just happened at a wedding I went to with the 3 yr old flower girl.

2. They don't want kids at the wedding but they want a 3 yr old in the wedding. They can't have it both ways.

3. My suggestion, you and the kids stay home and your husband goes alone.

4. If they aren't happy with that, then tell them your terms to attend. During my son's first 2 years all of our siblings married (4 weddings, 4 plane rides, 4 outfits)I was in 2 of the weddings and I'm happy to say he was invited to all of them. The hardest thing for me was to find a dress I could nurse in and also stand up as my sister's best. Best of luck. And don't make this consume your lives and the joy of the new baby. If they are that nuts about ''how it looks'', they have lost the meaning of the event, the celebration and gathering of family. anon

I think all your concerns are extremely valid. I would not bring my toddler to a wedding that's not planned for the presence of children. If you or they want to provide a baby sitter, let that person watch both children - ring-bearer or not, the bride's expectations sound unreasonable and belie inexperience with children. If you feel more comfortable arranging your own baby sitter, then get one. otherwise thank them for their generosity and decline the invitation altogether (politely) you are the mother and, in this case, you do know best. choose sanity

Send your husband with or without your 3yo but tell the bride CANDIDLY that your 3yo can't hang tough for an event such as this and MAY TAKE AWAY FROM HER BIG DAY, she needs an older child. Send your husband a few days early so he can have the bachelor party, pre- dinner thing and let him live while you nest at home. With the money you are saving on airfare hire a sitter to help for a few hours for each of the days he's gone or a housecleaner. Figure out what menus you will use to order out from and put them by the phone-do a big grocery shop before your husband leaves and nest. smart mommy

I was in a wedding with my seven week old infant and three year old. We made it work but it did take a lot of effort. And that was with no cross-country travel, and a couple who were super welcoming of both kids. You will have a potentially very new baby at that point and I would not allow anyone to be with my baby at that age whom I didn't know, nor would I agree to being away from my baby for the wedding. I'm not sure I understand the sentiment of no-babies-at-weddings however, as I've never experienced that kind of event. And baby will be the easy one, as you say, likely sleeping away. However, if you are not already pumping and don't want to spend half the event thinking about when to pump or if the baby's taking a bottle, you should insist on having baby with you. Our baby was held by friends and family for the evening, which was lovely for all. The three year old will be much more energy to keep up with. Our daughter was a flower girl when she was two and didn't walk down the aisle - we could have predicted that, as at that age she got overwhelmed by big groups and didn't know the bridge or groom well. So you should consider the relationships he has with these people, and his personality, and be ok with the somewhat unpredictable nature of what might happen (and so should the couple, or at least have some realistic expectations of various outcomes). Things that helped us have a smooth experience: renting a house for the weekend, so we had a kitchen and a place for really ''relaxing'' in between events; going into the event with both parents fully ''on'' - while I was in the wedding party, I was still really engaged with both kids but my partner did have to be with both through the ceremony solo; having supportive friends. Perhaps identify a family member or friend who can help hold the baby so you can focus on your son, or vice versa when you need to nurse. I borrowed a dress from a friend that wasn't nursing wear but was forgiving, so had to nurse in the bathroom all evening, definitely a pain. Look (or ask friends) in advance, as I didn't and it was stressful finding the right outfit. We managed to make it work and have a great weekend, but it took a lot of effort. You're right - it is a big deal to do this, so please gently insist on the conditions that will make it easiest for you as a family. it might actually be fun!

Ah, what a complicated event! If it were me, I would:

1) Plan to miss the ceremony and stay with my baby. Leaving a stranger with a nursing newborn sounds like a real pain, unless this ceremony will be so meaningful to you that you would be eternally heartbroken to have missed it (which sounds like it might not be the case).

2) Push to attend the reception with baby. The baby will only be about two months old then -- at this age they are very portable and will sleep hours in a sling. While a crying baby would certainly disrupt the ceremony, I don't think they would disrupt a much noisier reception. And a two month old is much lower impact than an eight month old or a toddler, as far as attending adult events like this.

3) Line up a very responsible family member to be in charge of your ring bearer during the ceremony -- grandma or auntie who can really handle it -- and make sure your BIL and SIL truly understand that three-year-olds are not likely to be very reliable in this role, and that BIL and SIL won't freak out if it flops.

As an alternative, you would be pretty justified in skipping the whole event, given that it's a long trip to make with a young baby. But in my experience that's an easy age to travel with them, and presumably there will be lots of family there who will be excited to meet the new arrival, and will hopefully help out. Sympathetic

It is their wedding, you are going to have to respect their wishes as this day IS about them, be it ''lavish'' or not. Many weddings are not child friendly and the bride and groom do not need to make apologies for it or need to accommodate for those with children or infants. Honestly, I think Anne's gesture of booking a hotel sitter for you was her intent of being considerate. Since you do not want an unknown sitter (and I can completely understand your point of view), just cancel the service and have a friend, maybe one of your family members that is not involved in the wedding, come to D.C. and watch your newborn.

For what it's worth, I went to a few weddings after my son was born and only had to pump every few hours and surprisingly was able to fit into my pre-pregnancy clothes. Wait until after your baby is born and figure out something to wear. Please don't give it a second of your time right now. I've also been in a wedding with a newborn and a 2 year old toddler. Both of them were welcome at the wedding, but it would have been a lot more easy (and fun) for me to spend the five hours with them at a sitter's home! There are so many other things that you can think about in the next six months. Don't let this consume you. anon

Hi--your post brings up so much, so I can't comment on everything, but here goes. Weddings are often over the top, so you can't do anything about that. The over the top ones can be really fun, too. Get a relative or friend to baby sit your littlest one--they won't fight that...or have someone babysit your little one AT the wedding sight and AT the reception. (I'm wondering if your sister in law is worried about the baby crying or the newborn eclipsing her wedding day--maybe both.)If it's really over the top, your sister in law won't even notice that the baby is there--she'll be too involved in the celebration. In general, I have to say to have sympathy for the bride's and groom's preference. It is really their day. They get one wedding day and that's it. You get to spend lots of bonding--''attachement parenting''--time with your baby. Do the best you can, withing your comfort level, to make it smooth for them. My husband and I had a big wedding, and we had a great time. Our parents had the funds and it was a blast. We ended up having kids at the wedding who weren't invited, and I could have cared less they were there, when the time came. Before the wedding, I would have protested. It's just what some brides do. We have two kids now--by the way--and have been to weddings where people are less than thrilled to have kids there--we always tried to be as accomidating as possible--that goes a long way. anon

This shows how people focus on details that will ultimately not be important. However, it is their choice to have such a wedding and they are entitled to do what they want. By the same token, you are a few years forward and you know what it's like to have kids..and how much harder it is than to be a bride!. I would think about how you'll feel at 6 weeks. I only have one child and he was easy enough but my brother-in-law got married when my son was 6 weeks old and i dreaded the whole event even though it was casual. He ended up sick that day and we couldn't attend (3rd wedding) and i was so relieved. I was tired, looked awful and felt kind of out of my body. I would have gone had he not be sick but he was 1hr car ride away. With a 3 year old you don't know how he will be reacting to the birth and might be totally exhausted.

Only someone who has no kids would tell you it won't kill a newborn to be watched by a random, unknown, hotel babysitter. People spend a lot of time checking/approving of caregivers and in particular with a newborn it is critical. It's not the same to watch a 4 year old or a newborn. And it's simply beyond self- centered to not allow a breastfeeding, 6 week old newborn to stay with his mother.

Do what you have to do for your kids. I would just send my husband and 3 years old. He will feel special for going and you will get a break. That way there will be no stress for you. anon

I think you are more than generous for trying to make it to your BIL's wedding, but is it worth the stress it's causing you during your pregnancy? Or the strain it will put on you just after you've had a baby? I for one, would never consider flying across the country for a wedding 6-8 weeks after giving birth. My first pregnancy ended in a c-section which was very difficult to recover from. At 6 weeks I was just starting to feel like I was able to go about my normal activities, aside from the complete exhaustion and emotional rollercoaster I was still on. I hate to plan for the worst, but so many things can happen with having a new baby. There's no way to predict if a long plane ride, a lavish party, or leaving your infant with a babysitter will feel like something you can do. I still wouldn't leave my 16 month-old with a strange babysitter in a hotel room, much less an infant. We're due in March with our second, and the only plan we're making beyond that is getting some folks to come help us and bring us meals. You should feel 100% confident expressing that you want them to have the day they envision for themselves, but unfortunately it's not something that will work for your family. Take care of yourselves and your kids! attachment mom

Send your husband to the wedding alone. You bow out. Can you manage a three year old and newborn on your own for a few days? If not, get an out of town friend to be your visitor-helper. -Steer clear of Bridezilla, Mama!

I know you have gotten a lot of advice, but I am hoping that you will really take in a couple things:

(1) Please don't judge their choices for having a fancy wedding. Its their day, and its their vision of making it special. Try to see that they are just trying to make the day magical in the way that they know how.

(2) The bride is very likely to not understand how her request to not include your baby is impacting you. I know this from experience -- we asked for our wedding to be childfree (and my husband and I are miles away from ''bridezilla'' types). We just wanted an adult event where we could all really TALK and focus on each other. Our friends who had children told us how that impacted them, and we changed our plan and invited the kids. Now that we have kids, we have a fuller understanding of what it meant to request that people not bring kids (and it feels bizarre that we ever wanted to exclude kids). But we were different people then, and we didn't understand (and I believe that we were, and are, sensitive, loving, thoughtful people).

(3) Don't make this a fight -- try to change your hostile stance. You don't need to ''put your foot down''. Give her the benefit of the doubt. Trust that she will understand if you explain to her --without judging her choices or desires -- the impact on you of leaving your baby. Tell her you really want her to have the day of her dreams, but that it would be very difficult for you to leave the baby. Let her know that you have thought of a solution: by promising the baby will not disrupt the ceremony. Make sure that she understands that you really care about her experience on that day. Her wedding day is likely the most profound day that she will have ever experienced -- and it will be until she has her first child. Try to remember how important that day is, and come to her with the spirit of someone who cares. Treat her with the respect and understanding that you hope to receive

Children not Invited to out-of-town Family Wedding

September 2002

My niece is getting married in suburban New York in Sept. Enthusiastic about attending another family wedding with our 3 and 5 year old girls (my husband's brother was married last year and we and the girls had a ball at his wedding) and also about visiting NYC where my husband and I lived for over a decade, we made plans to attend - plane tickets, hotel reservations (through Expedia so not refundable). Now we find out that the children are not invited - via e-mail my sister indicated that only older children were invited as it is an evening (6:15) wedding. I replied to her and her daughter that we were looking forward to attending the ceremony, but would be unable to attend the reception as the children would be with us. My neice really wants my husband and I to ''boogie'' with her and asked her mother to line up a sitter. Well, my sister did that but indicated that the children would be sequestered in the women's locker room for the duration of the reception (clearly she does not like little children!!).

My husband and I don't feel right about it and I can't promise that they won't find a way to the reception - they love to dance - which would clearly be disruptive to my sister. I am leaning toward our previous plan of just going to the ceremony, but I would also like to go the reception... Any good ideas out there. A Torn Mother/Sister

Been there, and it's a hard call. One thing to remember - it is the BRIDE & GROOM's choice as to whether or not children (small or ''older'') are to be included on the guestlist; it is YOUR choice as to how to handle it.

In our case, my husband's brother-in-law was having a ''no kids'' wedding and reception. When my mother-in-law informed me of this, I told her that of course I respected the couple's request, but they had to understand that I would not be traveling 3000 miles to the wedding, just so our 5yearold and 21-month old could spend the time with an unknown babysitter. They had to respect our choice, as well.

As it turned out, my husband and 5 year old attended the wedding, and the baby & I stayed home. (My MIL made a special request that our 5yo attend, and the bride/groom agreed... As it turned out, she was THE YOUNGEST attendee, but was *very* well behaved, and everyone had a wonderful time.)

In the end, this was the best solution. You may be disappointed at not ''boogie''ing with your niece, but you have to consider your children and their feelings/situation. Good luck. anon

We have hired sitters at/through the hotels we stayed at and that worked fine for us. These kind of sitters generally bring toys and games, and maybe your room will have a vcr and you can bring a favorite video. Kids will be safe, you don't have to worry. Lisa

Before I had kids, I cound not understand why anyone would bring their children to a wedding and I would be a little annoyed if a child made even one peep during the ceremony.

But after I had kids, I viewed marriage as a ''life ritual'' that of course children ought to be a part of. I mistakenly assumed my children were always invited to anything I was invited to, even if their names were not on the invitation! I thought it was touching when a child injected a little noise into the ceremony, (although I would stand with mine in the back and take them out if they made noise.) But I thought it was inconsiderate of friends and family members to have a wedding and not invite the kids, considering how big a part of my life they were.

But when my kids got older, I began to appreciate the fun of going to an adult party without the kids. After all, a lot of weddings are really just big parties for grownups to have fun and celebrate the marriage. I love going to a wedding where I get to dress up, do a little dancing, etc. and how much fun am I going to have if I have to spend the whole time keeping the baby out of the cake? So now I only take the kids if they are explicitly invited and it's the wedding of someone they are close to and it's important for the bride/groom that they be there. Otherwise I treat it as an adult party. I have been to weddings where even though kids are invited, people leave theirs at home anyway so they can have an adult day/evening out. Also it occurs to me that a couple of really cute little girls in party dresses might steal the thunder from the bride a little bit, so that might be another reason to not bring them.

Therefore, I would say, use the sitter, go without the kids and have fun! Do you have a cell phone or beeper so you can tell them (or the sitter) to call if they need to talk to you while you're at the reception? Line up some special activities for them - maybe bring some new arts supplies or some other activity they can do anywhere (even the women's locker room.) They'll be fine. Ginger

It's too bad you had already made the arrangements for travel, etc. What you didn't indicate on your question was, did she specify ''no children'' or ''11 year old children and up only'' on the wedding invitation? If she did, well, oops... If she didn't, then unfortunately she made a serious faux pas when it came to you and your family, and other guests that might consider bringing young children.

Anyway, having just gone through the whole thing last year, I have to admit that I, too, didn't want small children at my ceremony. It's not because I don't love them - I do very much - but there are some events that are just not appropriate for small children, and I felt that the children wouldn't be comfortable, and the guests might not be comfortable around them, either.

It sounds like you aren't angry with her, and that's good - I would hate to see bad feelings like that spoil her wedding day. I guess the thing to remember, now, is that this is her and her husband's day, and to respect their wishes - without judgement - would be the best thing for everyone. Getting a babysitter for the evening would be money well-spent, and everyone will be more at ease. Hope this helps... Kristen

Your sister probably doesn't *dislike* little children but has just forgotten what they're really like. (At least, you can tell yourself this, it might help.) Anyway, given that you plan to make the trip regardless, I think your choices are (1) hire your own babysitter, with some help from your sister or some other local relation, who can keep the kids in your hotel room, rather than in a locker room(!), (2) persuade your sister that a locker room is inappropriate and get her to reserve a better childcare room at the reception site -- and, in the same conversation, get a sense of whether and how much your niece would be upset by the kidlets showing up for a couple dances, or (3) stick to your guns on just not attending the reception. Or perhaps you go to the reception (or part of it, anyway) while your husband stays with the kids. By the way, are your kids capable of sitting quietly through the ceremony? Usually it's actually the *ceremony* that people would prefer kids don't attend, whereas nobody cares about a little extra noise and activity at the reception -- or at least, not during the ''boogie- ing'' part of it. Holly

We also requested that no children attend our wedding. I have a gigantic extended family and have been to many weddings with small children. My experience is that they have a hard time sitting through the whole dinner, toasts, etc. while waiting for the fun stuff to start. If you want your children to be able to share in the dancing, which for a 6:15 wedding might not be until almost 10:00, maybe you could work something out that includes letting them stay with a sitter for the ''grown-up'' part of the wedding. Maybe your sister envisioned being able to have a lot of fun with you, and when your kids are there your attention is divided (naturally). Joan

I believe you should graciously accept the offer of a babysitter for your two young children. The fact that they went out of their way to secure a sitter for your children (in the midst of planning a wedding) is testament to their character and desire to have you and your husband part of the festivities. The fact that the bride and groom do not desire small children (which your children clearly are) is their choice. It's their wedding, their celebration, their day/night. Would you take your kids to a cocktail party?? It is not right for you to invoke the ''fact'' that your kids would have so much fun at the reception -- it's not about them! and it's not about you! Accept with graciousness the babysitter, and go and enjoy and celebrate your niece's wedding. Anon.

Having an ''adult only'' wedding seems to be a growing trend. We had to leave my sister-in-law's wedding early so I could get back to my breastfeeding baby. I find the symbolism of excluding children from wedding celebrations disturbing. My bias stated, I think you should attend the reception, even if you have to go without your husband and kids.

It was incredibly inconsiderate of your niece and her mother to let you make reservations before explaining the policy about kids -- that info should have been on the invitation. And ideally, your niece would recognize the inconvenience she is causing her guests, and relax the rules. At minimum, they should help you find a suitable location for the sitter to watch your children -- your hotel room? your sister's house? Any of these solutions would be better than you having to attend alone, and you could tell them so if you like, but it won't change the fact that you WANT to be there. If you''d regret missing it, then it's best not to stir things up now. Anon

Just get a babysitter, and keep the kids at the hotel or someone's house. Then your mom can attend the wedding, and the kids can have a night with a sitter.

Sure, it's a drag, and you wish your sister were more open-minded. But it will really be more fun for everyone if you comply with the bride's wishes.

We took our kids (then 8 and 11) cross-country to their cousin's wedding and were a bit miffed that they weren't invited to the evening party, even though some other young nephews were invited. They enjoyed the ceremony, were babysat in the evening, and don't remember being excluded at all. OK so I remember occasionally, but it's not big. Good luck M.S.

It sounds like you may have been so excited to go this wedding that you didn't check to see if your kids would be included. I hate to say this but, since they're your kids, it's your responsibility, not the bride's or her mother's, to confirm whether your kids were to be included in the festivities. Especially if you made travel arrangements before the invitation came (addressed to you and your husband and not ''The Jones Family'').

This is not a personal affront to you and your husband or to your children. In fact, the bride and groom may be thinking some parents would like a night out without their kids (many parents at our wedding took the evening as an opportunity for a romantic get away for the night). I also don't think the decision has anything to do with anyone's feelings toward children. Instead, it sounds like this is the arrangement that works best for the bride and groom, and that's who this is all about. If it was articulated to you that your kids would be sequestered, please try to remember that wedding planning is stressful and can make people act funny.

I say go, make the trip and use the sitter. Lining up the sitter demonstrates how much your neice wants you there. If you make the trip special and don't make a big deal about them not being able to go, then the kids will be fine with it. In addition, try to arrange some time with family members before and after the wedding so the little ones can be with their relatives.

Incidentally, I struggled with the same issue a year ago when planning my wedding. We wouldn't say no kids at all because my husband has two daughters and because we LOVE kids. I asked my 2 1/2 year old neice to be my flower girl. She did and stole the show. But guess what? After the ceremony, she went off with the sitter, who also took my maid of honor's one year old and 5 year old. No one worried about melt downs and the kids had a good time. Have fun! Anon

I read the first round of responses to this and didn't see what was a big issue when I did not invite children to my wedding. Cost. Hotels and other reception sites charge per head, whether the head is 2 years old or 20. And the price per head is usually at least $100, not counting alcohol. Your niece may just be trying to keep the cost of her wedding to a level she and her finace can afford, and you shouldn't be angry with her about that. It's understandable.

Ettiquette dictates that a wedding invitation should list all invitees. So if your chidren's names were not on the invitation, they were not invited. I don't think you can fault your niece for that. I have never seen a wedding invitation that says explicitly ''no kids.'' I think THAT would be poor etiquette.

I'm a mom now and I generally don't plan to bring my child to weddings. You can't depend on a child aged 3 to be quiet during a ceremony, or hold still during a sit-down dinner. Perhaps the child would enjoy the dancing, but my experience has been that the music is generally too loud and the dance floor too crowded for their safety.

Enjoy the grown-up only event as a grown-up and don't be mean to the bride about your own dissatisfactions. It's not about you or your kids, and she has enough to worry about. mom

I've been reading this thread with some amusement, as I'm planning a wedding right now. We had a different problem -- kids are not an issue, we love them and want them there -- but there are some people who have acquired recent boyfriends or girlfriends (or worse, just think they should bring a date). We explictly invited the single friend, and many people have added the uninvited person on the RSVP. It's not that we don't like these people, they are just not people we are close to. Anyhow, it's amazing how many people don't know how to read the invitation. For one, it's a matter of cost and space. For another, we want to include the people for whom our marriage is important, and those who are important to our marriage. And yes, this is our day, and we have planned it the way we want it. Try explaining this to someone who has clearly already included an adult who is a romantic interest!

Incidentally, I was surprised how many parents have volunteered to leave their young ones at home in favor of a date night out. A bride and groom who could care less about being upstaged!

I am SO surprised with the kind of advice you are receiving!

First of all, we are talking of a wedding, not a business luncheon. It is a family gathering, because a new person gets admitted to your family; two families get together to become one extended family. There is no way children can be deliberately excluded!

Are we talking about inconvenience? Children making noises during the ceremony? What about the elderly people with shaky hands or relatives whose wheelchair makes unpleasant noises? Would you exclude them too? A little girl stealing attention from the bride? You people watch too much TV! It's not about images, for heaven's sake - the meaning and beauty of a wedding is way more profound than this.

It is just crazy to commercialize everything in the popular culture. Children are not property or pets, and so it is profoundly wrong to ever say ''no chilren allowed''. Not at a family celebration! You don't make them a part of your family life now, and you'll find yourself in a retirement place, not a home when they make their choices later. They'll discard you then just the same way you discard them now: because you occasionally make unpleasant noises.

Now, I do not advocate mandatory participation of children in all family weddings, but the chilren's parents are the only ones qualified to make this choice regarding their children's attendance. Simply because these children are part of them.

Don't think you can do it just because your children won't even notice. They'll get the message all right. I was once excluded from a big family event when I was a child. I did not understand it at the time, but was deeply offended when I analysed the situation a few years later. It's been hurting for 20 years now, and I could never again relate to the person who initiated this. . .

Your sister will still be your sister after all, did I mention? She stands for her daughter's whims. But who will stand for your children's feelings? It's your call! MK

I see that someone finally mentioned the cost of having children at a wedding and wanted to chime in about that as well. We paid for our own wedding. I got married relatively late in the game and nearly all of my friends had kids of various ages already. We initially intended to include them, but when we did the math, discovered that there were so many that we simply couldn't afford it. We had to make the difficult decision to not invite them, as it wouldn't have been fair to allow some, but not others. As a side note, the children in our families were all relatively grown and so that wasn't really an issue. We did have our two nieces and one cousin, all in the younger set, as members of the wedding and they did stay at the reception, but they were about 8 and 10 at the time. Finally, I never assume that my daughter is invited to a wedding. The invitation was just to my husband and me and that is what I always check as that dictates who is invited. I would go with the idea of using a sitter and you enjoying the wedding. anonymous please

I hope it's not too late to add one more message to the fascinating brew that is ''Children Not Invited to Family Wedding.'' Roughly speaking, there seem to be two camps: couples who want a more formal affair and those who prefer a family celebration. I count myself among the latter, although I can understand the point of view of the grown-ups-only crew. Both are valid and if you're paying for it, you should get what you want. Just remember (1) that family feeling is more important than ego and (2) that important occasions don't have to be ''perfect.''

I was also very glad to see the remarks about guests who insist on bringing their latest flames. (Long-time companions are a different matter.) Weddings are not cocktail parties. (Incidentally, for intelligent advice about weddings, see almost any of Miss Manner's books: fascinating bedside stuff, especially if you enjoy reading about the depths to which humans can sink in their quest for ego gratification, status, and gifts.) Melanie