You addressed the invitations as clearly as possible, quadruple-checked the RSVP list, and pored over the seating chart until it was burned in your brain. And yet, somehow, when the big day arrives, so does something—or rather, someone—you didn't anticipate: little party crashers. Yes, a friend or family member comes with a small surprise (or two) in tow—without letting you know. So, what do you do about guests who bring their children without an RSVP?
"First and foremost, it is important to be intentional and clear about who is invited to a wedding and communicate effectively—prevent these uncomfortable situations if at all possible," Jill Perez, creative director of Kate + Company, says. "That being said, there is always room for the unexpected within a wedding day. Although not ideal, we recommend accommodating as gracefully as possible." That means you may have to make some last-minute changes on the big day.
Yes, uninvited plus-ones (even pint-sized ones) are annoying. And RSVPs are basically wedding etiquette 101. But do your best to brush it off. "Unfortunately there is not much you can do at this point—aside from asking them to leave, which I don't recommend since you then look like the ungracious host," says Irene St. Onge, owner of Soiree Special Events. You don't want to say something you'll later regret, and you certainly don't want to make anyone feel unwelcome on a day that's supposed to be all about love. Take a deep breath and give the child's parents the benefit of the doubt.
Brides, you've got more important things to focus on, so "hand this job over to a planner or venue manager in order to stay stress-free," Perez says. "Don't sweat the small stuff—literally!"
The major modifications will relate to the reception. If there are several kids, have your planner or venue manager set up a kids' table—"preferably off to the side," St. Onge says. "A kids' meal is easy to accommodate, and most venues will have no problem offering pasta with butter, chicken fingers with fries, and so forth."
Line up entertainment and/or supervision.
The parents probably have it covered, but it never hurts to provide some age-appropriate activities that will keep kids busy and happy. "Ask the venue managers if they have any crayons, playing cards, an iPad—anything to entertain the little party crashers," St. Onge suggests. "Sometimes they can set up a makeshift playroom in an office or area of the venue that can take them away from the reception. Just be sure to ask their parents before whisking them away." See if a staff member can step in and serve as a babysitter, she adds. "Just be sure to tip them at the end of the evening."
Check your receipts.
Post-wedding, pay attention to the charges from your caterer. "Be sure to check your supplemental invoice that they billed you appropriately for a kid's meal and not an adult meal," St. Onge says. "They should be about one-third to one-half the price per head."