Kids at weddings? Just like the 'Marmite' debate it's guaranteed to get you going; we've all got a view and know where we stand without thinking twice.
In one corner there's those parents who expect to take their brood everywhere with them and feel 'snubbed' and 'singled out' if any social invitation is an 'adults only' affair.
And in the other; (my camp); I'm arm in arm with those parents who won't get upset if we're invited to weddings minus our offspring and I certainly didn't invite my friends' children to my own.
Five years ago when I got married we chose to go for a small and intimate day, and with some friends having two or more children; numbers would easily have doubled. So along with our own daughter who was eight at the time, we only invited my two nieces and the sons of two close friends who'd made the trip from France especially for our wedding, so a total age range from five to eleven.
For everyone else the invite was just for adults; but we didn't make a big deal of it; there was no apology with the invitations; and everyone accepted with enthusiasm rather than complaining. My friend Jackie, a mum of two, summed it up when she accepted saying, 'great idea; this way we've got an excuse to get a babysitter and enjoy a rare night out together'. And Lynley, who has a five-year-old son is happy to receive child free invitations; 'we were invited to a wedding where children were welcome; but opted not to take our son so we could enjoy a weekend break together'.
But do parents who clamour for 'kids invites' and refuse to go if they can't take them along realize what a hazard weddings can be? Even for the most well behaved kids; once you factor in a potentially early start; long car journey and a big dose of sitting still; boredom kicks in and it's easy to see why even the most well behaved kids can get miserable - check out Grace Van Cutsem at the royal wedding - and grizzly or run around like mad things.
I made the mistake of taking my daughter to a friend's wedding when she was just six months old; with the reception at a big posh hotel, I was exhausted by the time I'd lugged my darling daughter in her car seat from the basement car park to the second floor wedding breakfast and when a guest beside me proceeded, after a couple of glasses of wine, to try and 'feed' my daughter heaped spoonfuls of whipped cream from her plate after deciding she looked 'hungry' it contributed to my earliest exit to date from a wedding; even before 7pm!
So if screaming babies in church, and hyper kids running wild aren't your cup of tea is it bad manners to exclude them from the invite? Let's face it even Wills and Kate were said to have restricted some wedding invites to friends only; rather than adding 'plus ones', so why should you feel bad not inviting your friends' kids?
The plain and simple answer is 'you shouldn't; excluding children isn't rude at all', says etiquette expert Diana Mather, 'weddings are expensive and children can disrupt the service with their squeaks and squawks and generally cause chaos'. She says if 'the invitation doesn't mention your childrens' names or say 'and family' it means they're not invited' simple as that, so it's very bad manners to turn up with them in tow. And if you're invited you should 'go along with what the bride and groom want as it's their special day'.
So where do you stand on the 'no kids' debate?
Have you turned down a wedding invitation if your kids weren't on it?
Was your big day spoilt by badly behaved children?