Q: Dear APW,
A dear friend of mine is getting married in two months. She’s a wonderful person and I am so excited to celebrate the person she’s committed to spending the rest of her life with. Her achilles heel in wedding planning is wanting people to guess what she wants, without her having to make hard decisions herself.
A few months ago my friend called panicking about whether to invite kids to her wedding and she wanted a parent’s perspective. With two under the age of five, I felt well-qualified to walk through questions for pros and cons lists with her and we landed at the conclusion that, ultimately, parents would support whatever she wanted. She decided that her guest list was really long, kids couldn’t sit at the reception tables, so she wasn’t going to invite them.
Recently, she told me that she changed her mind. She wants kids to be at her wedding—if the parents want—but that the kids and parents will have to sit in a different room during the eating portion of the reception and there might not be food for them. She said it would be up to the parents to decide what they wanted to do. Trying to be the people pleaser friend that I am, I said that it was nice of her to try to accommodate everyone but that we would most likely leave our kids at home and fully focus on celebrating her and her new spouse, that handling our kids would be a distraction from the celebration.
She was very wishy-washy on that answer. She said she kind of imagined my kids being there. But she won’t give me a straight request of: I want you to bring your kids to the wedding. But she’s also going to isolate us from most of the wedding if we bring our kids.
How do I ask an indecisive and emotional bride: do you want me to bring my kids to your wedding, even though you’re only partially inviting them and isolating us, or do you really want the decision to be mine? But she’s not certain what she wants but she wants me to choose correctly… I want to make her happy and not hurt our friendship in any way. If she wants my kids there, I will suck it up, wear comfortable shoes and a less fancy dress so I can get on my knees and play Mary Poppins. How do I politely ask her to decide if she wants my kids there or not and what that will entail for me so that I can do things like find a babysitter or find cute clothes for my kids?
—Guest or Babysitter to My Kid?
She’s trying to have a no-kids wedding without making any of her parent friends mad. But, uh, hanging out in a completely different room, missing all the festivities including dinner isn’t a great compromise. It’s the kind of people pleaser-y suggestion that will actually please no one, a solution that solves nothing.
Tell your friend, “I’m coming to the wedding to celebrate and see you. I can be bored and hungry with my kids any old time.” There’s a chance she may be looking for permission to stick to her no-kids plan, and trying to dance around guessing at what she wants while she dances around guessing at what you want isn’t getting you guys anywhere. Pick what makes the most sense to you. Bringing the kids does not make sense.
It’s hard not to make “cake and eat it too” jokes on a wedding site, but really. She’s trying to have a kid-free wedding, without having to say, “no kids.” Only the result would not involve you eating any cake.
IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO ASK APW A QUESTION, PLEASE DON’T BE SHY! IF YOU WOULD PREFER NOT TO BE NAMED, ANONYMOUS QUESTIONS ARE ALSO ACCEPTED. (THOUGH IT REALLY MAKES OUR DAY WHEN YOU COME UP WITH A CLEVER SIGN-OFF!)