HOW TO: The Kiddie Conundrum

How to figure out if you want your wedding to include pint-size guests — and what to do once you’ve decided

WHEN IT COMES to your marriage and kids, you’re probably thinking you’ve got some time before you have to figure that all out. Concerning numbers and names, perhaps — but not when it comes to deciding whether you’ll have them at your wedding. Issues can arise whether your wedding-day vision includes tiny tots on parade (how to keep them from getting hyped up on cake) or is of a decidedly grown-up, kiddie-free affair (how to break the news that junior can’t come along). Luckily, we can help you out. Here, tips- — from local experts and brides who have been there — on how to navigate the often tricky terrain of dealing with kids and your wedding.

KEEPING IT KID-FREE “I knew I definitely didn’t want kids at the wedding.” That’s Jessica Attanasio, who married husband Geoff at the Manor House at Commonwealth Country Club in Horsham last April. Jess is worried that it makes her sound selfish — and truth be told, most brides are afraid that if they don’t invite kids to the wedding, they’ll paint themselves as kid-haters or, worse, spotlight-hoggers. No judgment here, Jess. In fact, wedding planner Phyllis Jablonowski, of Glenside-based Eventricity, can’t stress how important it is to know what you want early on in the planning process: “You need to be thoughtful about the kind of wedding you want at the beginning.” In other words, first decide just what type of wedding you want, and then decide whether or not it’s realistic for children to attend. “That half-hour conversation will save everybody a lot of anguish down the road,” Jablonowski says.

What Jess wanted was a black-tie-optional Saturday-night wedding at a country club. “I didn’t think it was really appropriate for kids,” she says. And she’s right; formal nighttime weddings don’t exactly lend themselves to younger guests. “The more formal the wedding, the more difficult it is for a younger age,” says Jablonowski. Jess also knew that she wanted the day to be about her and her husband. That’s important, too, because having kids at the -wedding — or in the wedding, for that -matter — can deflect attention away from the bride and groom. (Whether an adorable flower girl performs beautifully or an adorable flower girl has a not-so-adorable meltdown, it’s easy for her to steal the show.)

Newlyweds Brittany Manley and her husband and Villanova college sweetheart, Kevin, also wanted a formal wedding. Lucky for them, having a kid-free wedding was a non-issue. “Kevin and I both come from small families, and we’re pretty much the youngest of all the cousins,” says Brittany. They did think about inviting the children of some close family friends, but ultimately, they decided against having kids altogether, with the exception of the flower girl. “I felt like it was either invite everyone’s kids or no kids. It had to be one or the other,” says Brittany. A very wise viewpoint, according to Jablonowski, who says that brides often forget their role as host of the wedding — a role that should be carried out as diplomatically as possible.