Receiving a wedding invitation to a friend or family member’s wedding is an exciting moment!
However, it can also be a confusing moment for those with (or expecting) a young baby. "Is my baby invited to the wedding?" is a question with which breastfeeding mothers will be especially concerned. This guide will help you handle this situation according to U.S. wedding etiquette.
According to the rules of etiquette
The names on the envelope will indicate to whom the invitation was addressed. On a properly addressed wedding invitation, the names of invited guests would be explicitly shown on the inner envelope, according to US wedding etiquette. If there is no inner envelope then the outer envelope will be the place to find this information.
Therefore, if your baby is invited, his or her name should appear on the envelope below your names. If only you and your spouse’s name are listed, then your baby is not invited.
Not all situations are made clear
However, it is true there are some instances which are not made clear. These instances would include:
- Ambiguously addressed invitations: If your invitation is addressed for example to "The Johnsons", then it is not clear who is invited. In this case it would be acceptable to ask the bride for clarification.
- A genuine oversight on the part of the bride: In some cases where the baby’s name is not listed, it is possible that the bride has simply not recalled the new baby when addressing invitations. This is more likely to happen if the baby was not yet born at the time that the invitations were addressed, or if you happen to know that other children have been invited. In such cases it would also be acceptable to ask the bride for clarification of who was invited on your invitation.
If you would like to check with the bride…
Be as considerate as possible; don’t put a bride on the spot by asking "may I bring my baby to your wedding?" Instead, simply explain that you wish to understand for whom the invitation is meant so that you can send in your RSVP.
As a tactful way of being explicit, you can just say that you assumed the invitation didn’t include the baby but you weren’t sure if you were correct and wanted to check with her. This gives the bride an easy "out".
If your baby was not invited, and you are breastfeeding
Breastfeeding mothers are correct to be concerned about what decision to make regarding wedding attendance if baby isn’t invited. Because the mother’s milk supply depends on baby feeding at frequent intervals, it is not always desirable or even possible to leave the baby with a sitter, especially if the wedding venue is far away. Yet, it is still not appropriate to bring a baby to a wedding if baby isn’t invited. Mothers in these situations have two main options:
- Don’t attend the wedding at all. It is perfectly understandable for you to stay home with a newborn.
- Attend the wedding without baby, but leave earlier than most guests. Or consider attending the wedding ceremony but not the reception. Get a trusted sitter for baby (and leave a supply of expressed milk).
Don’t take it personally if baby isn’t invited
If it turns out baby isn’t invited to the wedding or reception, be assured this is not a slight against you. The bride and groom are free to choose the type of wedding they want; this may include an adult atmosphere or simply a minimum of noise during the ceremony.
Some brides will make exceptions to include breastfeeding newborns even if they are having an otherwise child-free wedding, (if you plan to ask, use the tactful method described above). Yet there is no obligation etiquette-wise or otherwise for brides to make any exceptions to an adults-only wedding, and likewise, you are under no obligation to attend.
If you are a bridesmaid whose baby isn’t invited
If you are a bridesmaid who has just found out that her baby isn’t invited, then the bride has put you in the extremely awkward position of expecting your attendance at the wedding without allowing you to bring your baby. Surprisingly, it may happen that a bride set on having an adults-only wedding might choose a bridesmaid with (or expecting) a baby! Ideally, the question of whether the baby may attend should have been discussed by both parties early on. Unfortunately, this problem sometimes remains unclear until the invitations are issued.
If you are a bridesmaid and your baby isn’t invited, this is the one situation where you should ask the bride straight out if she is willing to make an exception to allow you to bring your baby. If she says no, and if you are not comfortable with leaving baby with a sitter, it’s quite acceptable for you to walk away from the situation by telling her you are simply not able to be a bridesmaid anymore, even at a very late stage of the proceedings. Keep calm and just explain the facts. At the end of the day, your duty to your baby is far more important than your duty as a bridesmaid or friend.
It is always exciting to receive a wedding invitation from a friend or family member. A properly addressed invitation envelope will let you know whether your baby is invited to the wedding. In situations when this information is not clear, it is permissible to ask the bride to clarify who is included on your invitation so that you can RSVP properly.
Regardless of whether or not baby is invited, it is a mark of the bride and groom’s relationship with you that they sent you an invitation to their special day. Join in the celebrations in person if you are able or in spirit if not!