Destination Wedding Issues


We have been invited to our friend's wedding in California this fall. We received a save the date back in May. Basically all it contained was the date of the wedding and the destination city.

We thought it over and eventually decided to go after a visit with the bride and groom. We booked our airline tickets for us and our 17 month old baby girl.

Just last weekend, a whole three months after booking our trip, we find out through another friend that the wedding is adults only. Changing our tickets will result in hefty airline fees and leaving our daughter is not an option.

I contacted the bride and let her know what was going on. Her response was "ooh, that's a tough one. I don't want to inconvenience you guys and absolutely want you there, but I've told everyone, including our families, no kids. I think that would really put us in a tough situation."

My issue is this: she never, not once, mentioned to us that it was an adults only wedding. Plus the save the date didn't even contain that info. Am I wrong in feeling like she is sort of screwing us over??? Advice on how to handle this would be appreciated!

Comments (8)
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Hmmm. IMO there is a little fault on both sides. The bride was remiss in not making the "adults only" part clear from the outset, but you also were remiss in assuming the "save the date", which presumably was addressed to "Jane and John Whitney21711" included your daughter. Properly an invitation is _only_ for the people whose names appear on it.

But now you're stuck. Your options as I see it are:

-Go to California with your baby, but don't attend the wedding. Have a vacation instead.

-Go to California with your baby, but only one of you attend the wedding while the other babysits.

-Go to California with your baby, attend the wedding and hire a reputable babysitter (I would expect if you are staying in a bigger hotel they will have a babysitting service, you can't be the first parents in such a circumstance).

-Go to California with your baby, and take someone you trust with you to babysit while you attend the wedding.

-Go to California, attend the wedding, and leave your baby at home with someone you trust. (Which you say is not an option.)

-Stay home.

Whatever you do, don't just show up at the wedding with your baby. Since you've now found out about the "adults only" aspect, this would be very rude on your part. But I'm sure you already know that and weren't planning to.

In your shoes I would either go for "hire a babysitter at the hotel" or "leave the baby at home", but then I was raised in an era where it wasn't assumed that children should never be separated from parents. My parents attended parties, functions and went on short vacations without us, and that was accepted as "just the way it was". I don't feel we were hard done by :-), we may not have been thrilled but didn't resent our parents or anything. We raised our child similarly and haven't had any feedback regarding any lingering resentment or attachment issues :-)

I'm not trying to be patronising but reassuring you that a babysitter is not necessarily, in the grand scheme of things, a big issue.

I guess what it will boil down to is what you are comfortable with and can afford. Whatever you decide don't let lingering resentment spoil things. You may find it's rather fun having a few hours of "grown up time" after so long.

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Well said colleen. This could be one of those things that fell between the cracks.
IMHO destination weddings want to eliminate people from the list. So, maybe the couple thought it was understood that the guest list would be limited to start with since it was a destination wedding.
My only addition is that if you are not comfortable with hiring an unknown babysitter, maybe someone in the wedding party knows someone in Califonia. Since California is not exotic, maybe the couple have friends or relatives living there that can recommend a sitter.
Depending on how convenient the reception is to the hotel, maybe you can take turns with your husband. I went to a wedding in D.C. and a couple kept taking turns popping in and out of the reception. Just a thought.

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Well, you're never wrong to feel whatever you feel, but honestly not only do I not think that they are "screwing you over," I think the bride was extremely tactful when you raised the issue.

Only people named on an invitation are invited. Period. If I am correct in understanding that you haven't received the actual invitation yet, then I think you have to apply the same principle to the save the date card. I don't like to see "adults only" on an invitation -- it is superfluous if the invitation is addressed only the adults -- and it certainly isn't required. But did the save the date card have your child's name on it, too? Did it say "The Whitney Family" or something? In that case, they are wrong not to invite her; if you send a save the date card to someone (even someone who can't read it herself!), then you must invite them. If circumstances change -- say, there has been a death, illness, or bankruptcy -- and now what was going to be a big wedding is just going to be very small, you contact everyone you asked dto save the date and apologize. But otherwise, no.

But if the save the date was addressed only to you and your husband, technically you are the one who is doing the etiquette no-no, by asking if you can bring an uninvited guest. Perhaps a nursing newborn (even if a 17-month-old is still nursing, she is presumably also eating other foods and won't starve for the few hours of a wedding) or an attendant for an invalid, but otherwise no.

However, I don't think it is a terrible thing to ask, provided you do it in a way that absolutely doesn't make them feel bad if they say no and that you are gracious if they do. (Not just to their faces; you don't go around criticizing them, much less telling people they screwed you over.)

And that's what you did, and they politely told you no. I am with the others: I would either leave her home with a sitter (but you say that's not an option for you) or have a sitter for the wedding itself -- you could probably bring her to other more casual events of the weekend. That is what most people do. I would ask your friends to help you line up a sitter they know and trust. We did that for our out of town guests who came with little ones to our son's wedding. The bride and groom ultimately decided to have the out of town children (little cousins) at the reception, but I kept the sitter "on call" in case they got sleepy or their parents wanted a break! I'm sure the parents felt more comfortable with a sitter I knew than a stranger.

I'm glad my son and daughter-in-law did it that way. But couples who choose an adults-only wedding and reception are not being rude. Not all parties are appropriate for children. If they want a formal, cocktail-y atmosphere, which let's face it isn't exactly enhanced by the presence of toddlers, that's their privilege. And certainly if they have told others that they cannot bring their children, obviously they can't tell you otherwise.

I'm sorry if this isn't what you want to hear. You didn't do anything wrong, so long as you don't badmouth your friends. And perhaps it will help you to feel better about your friends if you realize that they weren't being rude to you after all.

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Hooray for gellchom. You said it perfectly.

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I'd look on a "save the date" card as just that.

Accordingly I would not book already to California, but at the same time would not reserve anything else on the date in question, be it a theater evening or a vacation somewhere else.

In other words, one is well advised to wait for the invitation to arrive and hopefully some clarification of the details (the "small print" if you like).

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Not sure why you would think that a wedding would automatically include a toddler.
I very recently attended a "destination wedding"...or rather a wedding half way across the country from me and many other guests, and while a groomsman and brides maid had toddlers, who were visible mornings and near the pool in the afternoon, magically disappeared with a sitter during the rehearsal and dinner and wedding and reception...only to reappear at brunch the morning after. And i am very sure the parents had a lot more fun knowing the kids were secure with a sitter.

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fuzzy wuzzy

The same logic applies to wedding dates. Unless the invitation is addressed to Mr. John Smith and guest, then only John Smith is invited. He doesn't bring a date. A wedding is a special event for family and friends, not for friends of friends or acquaintances of friends.

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A nephew recently married. We are a very child friendly family. The invite said nothing about children and since mine are all adults they got their on invitation--so I don't know but I doubt it said anything about children..a couple of weeks before the wedding I got a reminder from the wedding site. It said check the latest so I did. There is said " Even thought we love your children...this is an adult only evening... I commented to my mom about this--no way would my family deal with this restriction. No response from her--very typical. At the wedding there were many children of varying age including a few flower girls...I was soooo confused. Bottom line now that you asked you need to find other accommodations for your child. At my wedding 30 years ago we staffed the nursery at the church so children did not have to endure a ceremony they could not comprehend. They were WELCOME but we tried to be respectful of everyone's comfort.

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