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In July of this year, I'm getting married.
There'll be dinner and dancing and drinking (oh, plenty of drinking). There'll be speeches, and solemn vows, and if I'm lucky, some sobs of happiness as I walk down the aisle, draped in silk and lace.
There'll bridesmaids and best men and family and friends, and everyone I love by my side. But I can tell you one thing that there absolutely definitely won't be at my wedding: any children. None. At all.
Before you begin to tell me my decision is selfish and thoughtless and short-sighted, I should probably tell you that I've heard it all before. It's not something that my fiancé and I have taken lightly, but it's also something we've never doubted.
I'm not doing it to be deliberately difficult, or discriminate against our loved ones with children. I'm doing it because children have, frankly, ruined many of the weddings I've been to before, and I'm determined that they won't be allowed to do the same at mine.
I've lost count of the amount of times I've missed the most important parts of vows, because they're being drowned out by a howling toddler; of times friends who are parents have told me they 'can't have any more champagne' because they're on babysitting duty. Children at weddings make a mess at the dinner (which, incidentally, you as hosts still have to pay for even when they throw most of it on the floor), can't sit still for more than five minutes, and often end up throwing tantrums because they're bored, frustrated, or not used to the spotlight being on someone who isn't under four foot tall.
When children are present, I honestly feel like 99% of the time, they don't truly enjoy the day - and neither do their parents, because they're spending the whole time panicking about their brood's behaviour. I want my friends to share in all of our special moments, and more importantly, create some of their own - not miss them because they're taking their kid to the loo or half-heartedly trying to bribe them with toys and snacks.
Most people have been totally on board with our child-free choice - 'it's your day', my best friend and mum-of-two said when I broke the news, before quietly confessing that she was actually looking forward to a) having a bit of a break and b) getting a little bit sloshed. Others have booked babysitters or asked relatives who aren't on the guest list to help out, and they've all been happy to oblige.
A handful of people have said they can't make it because they can't bring their kids, and that's fine. We respect their choice, all that we ask is that they respect ours in return.
One (mother-of-four) invitee did mention in passing that child-free weddings she'd been to before were 'boring', to which I mentally responded that they clearly weren't partying with the right people, and that actually, I find enthusiastically discussing the virtues of Mr Tumble with her three-year-old pretty bloody boring too, I just have good enough manners not to point it out.
I will admit that I am lucky that I don't have a BFF who's breastfeeding, or an adorable niece who's obsessed with wearing poofy dresses and would be devastated if I didn't ask her to sprinkle petals at my feet. I also understand that my decision may be radically different if I had already had children myself. Ultimately, I'm certainly not saying that no wedding should include kids; I'm just saying that I'd rather not get married at all than be forced to include them in mine.
And if you're a mum or a dad who finds yourself in the position where you're invited to a wedding with a no-kids allowed policy, please don't take it as a personal attack. You're loved enough to be invited to someone's wedding, and it doesn't mean that they don't love your children too. It's just that, on this one single 24-hour day, the love they have for their partner is what comes first.
After all, isn't that what weddings are all about?