Full disclosure: this post has absolutely nothing to do with the hit Netflix series (based on the fabulous book) 13 Reasons Why. Thank goodness, because that’s some pretty heavy stuff, and I’m just not up for it today.
What I really want to talk about is WEDDINGS! Because ’tis the season, y’all. (May flowers bring June brides, and all that jazz.) Specifically, I want to talk to all the brides + grooms out there.
Respectfully, brides + grooms of the world, you should really consider inviting kids to your wedding. CATHOLIC brides + grooms: you NEED kids at your wedding.
No, seriously, you do. Here are 13 reasons why.
1. Kids love weddings!
Okay, maybe this isn’t the best reason to kick off with, since it’s more about the kids than you, but it’s true. Kids absolutely love weddings. The flowers, the bridal gown, the dancing, the food! I mean, what’s not to love? It’s like the biggest, bestest birthday party of the year! Could you really tell a kid to his face that he’s the only one not invited to the party?
2. It’s a huge blessing to your married attendants.
Have you ever tried to find a sitter for a WHOLE DAY? And possibly the evening before, as well? I’m guessing the answer is no, because if you had, you would know why asking your bridesmaid or groomsman to ditch their kids for approximately 24 hours is insanely difficult to do. And if your attendants are flying in from out of town, please, for the love of all that’s holy, do not ask them to leave their kids with a sitter they don’t even know! Or find a sitter in a town they’ve never been to!
Bonus: If you let a nursing mama keep her baby nearby to nurse, she won’t have to resort to storing her pumped milk bottles in the ice buckets of your limo. #winning
3. Kids make for great photo ops.
4. It’s an awesome witness.
Christian weddings are (contrary to popular belief) not primarily about the bride and groom. I mean, the marriage is about them, because it’s their vocation and all, but the wedding is about the community. It’s about witnessing how the love of a man and a woman reflects the faithful, fruitful love of God for his bride, the Church. (Fruitfulness in marriage, by the way, is all about kids. We’ll come back to that.) Point being, kids need your witness. In a culture saturated with lies about love, they need to see the truth: there on the altar, the vows, the exchanging of rings, two lives united until death. Oh please, let them witness that beautiful truth.
5. Kids will bring out the best in your guests.
Nobody likes a rowdy wedding guest. The maid of honor who cussed through her toast. The father-of-the-bride who got a little to tipsy and tried to start a conga line in the middle of the cake cutting. We’ve all been there. But you don’t have to be! Fill that reception hall with kids, and I guarantee you people will be on their best behavior. Okay, Uncle Mike may still need a strong cup of coffee to get him safely home, but for the most part, people tend to up their game when kids are present.
6. Jesus wants you to.
“So this one time at Nazareth…” You can go ahead and read that in Alyson Hannigan’s voice, and I’ll go ahead and date myself with the American Pie reference.
But seriously, do you remember that passage in Matthew where Jesus is doing a blessing (a formal affair) and people started sending their children forward, and the disciples were all, “Hey, no kids allowed! This is black tie only!” Okay, maybe it didn’t go down quite like that, but it was pretty close. Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me.” No two ways around it, Jesus loves kids. And since Jesus is going to be present at your Nuptial Mass, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that he’d love it if you brought some kids along.
7. Kids write adorable (and hilarious) guest book entries.
My husband and I didn’t actually have a guestbook. We had people sign the matting for a photo that now hangs in our bedroom, but the idea is the same. Some of my favorite messages are those penned by the kids we were blessed to have at our wedding. It’s pretty fun, too, to look at those childish signatures and realize those same kids are now (11 years later) all grown up, our totally awesome brothers and sisters in Christ! I’m so glad we didn’t miss out on the privilege of having their friendship that day just because they were small.
8. Macaroni and cheese.
You know you want to steal a scoop from the kids’ menu to go along with that filet mignon. You know you do. It’s okay, I won’t tell.
9. Kids have some pretty sweet dance moves.
The best dancers I ever saw at a wedding were a Gagnum Styling deacon and a break dancing ring bearer. Since you can’t be guaranteed a deacon, I definitely recommend inviting a few kids to tear it up on the dance floor. It definitely livens up the party.
10. You might start a trend.
Seems like everyone these days wants to eschew tradition and do something that nobody else is doing. Well, you’re in luck, because inviting kids to your wedding is totally counter-cultural! It’s hipster, even. And I mean, if rompers have made a comeback, I think it’s high time kids at weddings was a “thing” again.
11. You’ll be your flower girl’s (or ring bearer’s) hero.
Did you ever go to Disneyland as a kid? I did, and I remember being in complete awe of the princesses. Even though I knew it wasn’t really Ariel or Jasmine, I sort of kind of believed it anyway – and I was mesmerized, enchanted. I wanted to be just. like. her. (Guys, you probably felt something similar over a superhero or a watching a favorite baseball or football player score.) Well, point of fact: that’s pretty much how kids feel when they see a real-life bride or groom. Magically, just by stepping out in that dress or that tux, you are transformed into someone of consequence, someone to admire, someone your young friends and family members will be dying to emulate. Take it as a compliment. And show them something worth emulating.
12. Your vows.
At a Catholic wedding, vows aren’t simply limited to the “death do you” parts. There’s also this super-important section where the bride and groom promise to receive any children God gives and to raise them in the faith. That vow doesn’t begin when they see two pink lines on a pregnancy test. It starts as soon as they say them. Which means from the moment you say, “I do,” you’re saying YES to kids. It’s a pretty wise move to start preparing your heart (and your lifestyle) for parenthood now, because you never know what and when God might shower his blessings down on your marriage.
And that brings me to our final reason…
13. Kids are blessings.
No matter what popular culture might say, children are blessings from the Lord. They’re blessings in the lives of their parents, certainly, but they’re also blessings to the world. They’re blessings to me, and they’re blessings to you – every kid. Because they’re people.
Sure, they’re brand-new, sometimes klutzy, usually noisy, generally adorable, occasionally disgusting people — but then, which of us isn’t?
I get it, it’s hard to remember that you were a kid once. But I promise you were. So was your intended. And it’s just my suspicion, but I’m pretty sure when you look down that aisle on your wedding day and see the face of your future spouse, you’ll feel something of the wonder and deep, abiding love that God feels when he looks in the face of each one of his children. That’s how we’re meant to love. That’s how kids are meant to be cherished by us.
To be clear, this post was very much tongue-in-cheek. I know how stressful planning a wedding can be, and the last thing I want to do is add something else to an already piled-high plate. I know your parents and your future in-laws, and your siblings and your great-aunt Mildred, and your great-aunt Mildred’s-sister’s-first-cousin-twice-removed all have their opinions on how your special day should go. You don’t need my opinion, too.
That’s totally cool with me. I hope it’s cool with you.
Some of are reading this having already sent out those adults-only invites or *gasp* already tied the knot, and now you’re thinking darn, I missed out on all those cute kiddos. Don’t sweat it, forget it – but for those of you still looking forward to your wedding day, I hope I’ve provided some food for thought (and maybe a little inspiration) about how awesome guests of minimal age can be.
Please know this was all meant in a spirit of childlike (you see what I did there?) fun.