BY Ian Dunn | June 14 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS     print icon print


Saying ‘I don’t’ to child-free weddings

A rise in weddings without children is a sign of an increasingly individualistic, selfish society, argues Ian Dunn

I was at a great wedding recently. It was absolute Bedlam, but it was great. Kids everywhere, running about like dafties, out of their minds with excitement, speeding everywhere and into everything. Over-sugared, over-tired and having the time of their lives. It was chaos—but what a joy it was.

And seeing a gaggle of them leap about the dance floor like a pack of over-caffeinated monkeys was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in ages.



There is something about having a load of kids at a wedding that transforms it; makes it altogether more joyful.

But part of the joy of this wedding was how different it was to most weddings I’ve been to recently.

Child-free weddings are fast becoming all the rage, and even if kids aren’t explicitly banned, there can be a gentle nudge towards it, so there tends to be hardly any children there.

Which makes the experience a lot more tricky if you do bring a little one along.

If yours is the only child chucking orders of service about the place you tend to get a lot more judgement than if it’s a competitive sport.

Of course, looking after a couple of belligerent toddlers at a wedding isn’t a shift for the faint-hearted.

At one wedding, I found myself scrambling down the aisle trying to restrain a slippery two-year-old who decided to make a break for the happy couple during their vows.



I’ve been up to my kilt in nappies in a hotel bathroom and I’ve had to buy a painful amount of replacement drinks because attempting to pull a table cloth off a straining table is apparently ‘very funny Daddy.’

I can understand, then, that kids are mischievous little bundles of chaos that make life more difficult, but I’m still delighted to take them to weddings because as we’re a family, we’re a package, and if we’re celebrating I want them to be part of it.

Children aren’t just inconveniences or distractions; they are the noise of life in a world of death. Child-free weddings do miss the point. It might be a better ‘party’ but it’s a worse celebration.


Married love

There is a great quote by the American writer Haley Stewart about this. “Children,” she said, “strengthen and perfect married love: they’re not interruptions or inconveniences.

They’re kind of what it’s all about. Children aren’t accessories to marriage. Instead, one of the primary purposes of marriage is children and creating an environment where they can thrive and be loved—setting a foundation for understanding that they are beloved by God.”



A wedding that cuts out children is cutting out part of life—one of the best most joyous parts of life.

In other countries where I’ve attended weddings, the idea that you could have a child-free wedding would get you laughed out of town.

Because the UK is so individualistic, it seems reasonable here to expect you should have things however you’d like them.

Yet, there’s an older understanding that says a wedding celebration is also about bringing together family, friends, and a whole community in a shared moment that acknowledges all of us are part of a wider network of love and support without which we cannot survive.



A wedding without children has a hint of the decadent about it, a whiff of desperation.

The more we place our needs first, foremost and always, the more we put our families, our friends and our communities in second place and the emptier our lives become. Even if they are easier.

So bring children to your weddings! The more the merrier. There will be more mess, but also more joy.

Leave a Reply

latest opinions

Catholics must fight for environmental justice, but reject anti-human policies of extreme campaigners

October 18th, 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Brandon McGinley finds divine purpose in environmental action....

All roads lead to Rome

October 18th, 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

A pilgrimage to the canonisation of Cardinal Newman has Fr...

Grassroots movement needed to safeguard our Catholic schools

October 11th, 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Ordinary Catholics must not take for granted the gift our...

The many roads that lead to Christ can be both funny and fulfilling

October 4th, 2019 | comments icon 0 COMMENTS

Fr Jamie McMorrin gives an insight into the curiosities of...

Social media

Latest edition


exclusively in the paper

  • SCIAF recieves £100,000 boost from Scottish Government
  • Priest to give talk on Jesus in the Koran
  • Everyone’s a winner as Trinity High takes on 5K run
  • Setting out a plan for a Catholic Gaelic conference
  • Parish enlists MP’s support over Home Office visa dispute

Previous editions

Previous editions of the Scottish Catholic Observer newspaper are only available to subscribed Members. To download previous editions of the paper, please subscribe.

note: registered members only.

Read the SCO