My youngest brother, a single father, is bringing his seven-year-old daughter to my daughter’s wedding in July and she asked to be the flower girl. She is a sweet child and we love her dearly, but she is difficult to manage. She never sits still. My husband is very frail and his health is not very good, so the thought of her jumping around our small house when they come to stay during the wedding is stressing us out.
Last time he called I suggested they stay at a motel, but my brother thinks it would be more fun — and cheaper — to stay with us the nights of the rehearsal dinner and wedding . As the mother-of-the-bride, frankly, I’ll have enough going on without having to worry about a seven-year-old and there won’t any other children her age. What should we do? Is there an etiquette for children at weddings?
–N.R., Watch Hill, RI
Apparently, your brother is not a good listener. You need to perfectly honest him and say, “As you know, John is not well and we simply cannot have any more commotion in the house during the wedding than is absolutely necessary. I need you to make a reservation in a motel and in return I will find you a happy teenager who can baby-sit both nights so that you can have some time partying on your own. She can even come to the wedding and take Lulu back to the motel after dinner. Lulu won’t like sitting through those long toasts that always run on for way too long, and it will give you a chance to catch up with old friends.”
Don’t give him an option, tell him that this is a perfect modern etiquette plan. If he balks, say, “Lulu cannot come to the restaurant for the rehearsal dinner and there won’t be any other children her age at the wedding, so there won’t be any accommodations for kids. We’re happy to have her as the flower girl, but after the family photos and dinner, it really won’t be fun for her. She’ll be happier playing board games with the sitter in the motel room and watching a movie. As I said, I’m happy to pay for a sitter for both nights, but she can’t just hangout with the grownups either night.”
If he’s stubborn, there is always the issue of safety. Who’s going to keep an eye on her while you’re on the dance floor?” The sooner both your brother and Lulu understand your plan, the more time they’ll have to politely adjust to it.
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