Dress up for kids

by L

I thought we could talk about dress-up clothes and behavior for kids (since it is on my mind). How many Totebaggers’ kids have been in weddings? How old were they? From where were their outfits sourced? What would you consider “too much” to spend on a flower girl or junior bridesmaid dress? Or a navy blazer for boys? Do you let your kids run wild at weddings and/or get their fancy clothes filthy?

The last time one of my kids was in a wedding was when #1 was 2, and I borrowed a dress for her that time and had to walk with her down the aisle. Now all 3 of ours will be in our nanny’s wedding next year, so I will have to buy all their outfits.


104 thoughts on “Dress up for kids

  1. We have a lot of younger siblings, so DS has been in 5 weddings – at 3, 4, 5, 6 and 9. The first four, we bought his tuxes online (www.tinytux.com IIRC), and then sold/passed them on to other families. The latest one was a rental, but I think it would have preferred to buy one online again because it didn’t exactly match anyway and buying one in a youth size + the preferred color vest was the same price as renting without the hassle. All of these were somewhere in the $100 range altogether. My favorite was when one BIL had the 6yo ring bearers wear Chuck Taylors with the tux. DS liked that too as his biggest complaint about dressing up is the uncomfortable shoes with the tie choking him a close second.

    Only a couple of unmarried siblings left & neither is close to marriage. DS is hoping by then he can just be a guest, but I told him he would likely be an usher or something. He was not thrilled with the prospect.

    With the non-rentals, I really didn’t care if he got them dirty/messed it up after the ceremony and introductions, but they stayed pretty clean. The biggest hassle in the early weddings when he was younger was dealing with the altered schedule and one parent having to leave the weddings early to get him to bed. Now, that’s not an issue, so it’s fun to all be together celebrating with extended family.

    We don’t buy nice kids clothes outside of that. DS has worn dry-fit t-shirts, Cubs shirseys, and athletic shorts everyday this summer, and his wardrobe will only change in sleeve length in the fall/winter. DS has one pair of non-athletic material pants, one pair of non-athletic shorts, a sweater, and a polo/golf shirt which is made of that dry fit material. He wore the polo shirt with the non-athletic pants/shorts for his guitar recital, Hamilton, and a few other more dressy occasions this summer. We don’t dress up for family holidays on either side.

  2. DS has never been in a wedding but he was included in the invitation to a wedding we attended a couple years ago. I took DS (about 8 at the time) to Nordstrom to buy a pair of nice khaki pants since his only parts were pull-on track pants. DS took the pants into the dressing room, put them on and then came out to show me. His comment “Mom – these pants aren’t very comfortable – I don’t think they’re going to work.” Turned out DS had the zipper in the back! It was all I could do not to burst out laughing. I’m still a little dumbfounded that DS had to be told that the zipper goes in front.

  3. I usually buy a nice outfit or 2 for the kids every fall to be used in the family photos and all holiday events. Last year the girls had green and purple dresses for the photo (#1 is getting pickier so it is harder to find things) and then knit dresses in a snowflake print for Xmas. I got #2 a couple of sweaters and a button-down that he could wear for all of those (one sweater matched the knit dresses) and black low-profile sneakers for ‘dressy’ occasions. He also has a blue blazer (Brooks Brothers on Ebay! Only $25!) that should fit him for another year.

    #1 wants to wear heels for the wedding (absolutely not! She will only be 10! And they are uncomfortable!) and in the spring I will have to figure out what to get #2 for shoes that look nice. #3 child is really into girly things, so will be really excited by whatever poufy dress she gets to wear. I have been looking around and the girls’ dresses seem to run about $150 for the ones I like, which seems ridiculous. Sigh.

  4. L – Spring time before Easter is a good time to buy kids special occasion clothes for a summer wedding. Many places will stock the boys blazer at this time. You can also send measurements to dressmakers via Etsy.
    I got DD’s Communion dress made via Etsy.
    Kids were in my cousins wedding at 6 and 4. Since this was overseas, I had to coordinate with my aunt, mother of the groom. The custom is for the couple to pay for wedding party clothes.
    I gave my aunt DD’s measurement, the dress fitted perfectly. I bought DS’s suit in the suggested color.
    Kids behaved well, DS hurt his head as we were getting dressed. Luckily, no stitches and we got to the wedding.

  5. We attended some events when the DDs were small, but they were not “in” any of them. Like L, we piggybacked on clothings for pictures or for a school event that needed something nicer. I think girl dresses are easier than boy suits.

    I would look at consignment shops. I found several dresses there that were what I was willing to pay, but much nicer and/or designer brand. A friend looked at a wedding consignment shop and was surprised to find a few items for “flower girls” and “ring bearers” even though the bulk of the shop was wedding dresses and accessories.

  6. Our kids have never been to a wedding. The most they’ve had to dress up for is 8th grade graduation, and that was just khakis and a polo for DS and a simple dress for DD. I refuse to spend a lot of money on something they are only going to wear once, unless I could do something like Ivy where it would have resale value.

  7. My boys were invited to be ring bearers for an out of town wedding in mid- December when they had just turned 3. The tuxedos were rentals. One absolutely refused to try on the tuxedo much less wear it (around then we were learning about his sensory and other issues). (Causing scenes in two stores in two states, once at the fitting, once at the wedding location when my MIL thought she could convince him to try on the tuxedo.) The other wore it, but looked ridiculous. He was so tiny. I ended up walking down the aisle with the flower girl and my son. As soon as possible he took off the tuxedo (we had brought a change of clothes in the car), much to one aunt’s chagrin. (She wanted more pictures.) Have to say, that was a wedding from hell. The boys were way too young to participate and the reception was very adult oriented. Plus it was out of town right before the holidays, so very inconvenient. I ended up watching a movie on a portable DVD player, sitting with both kids in my lap, on a lawn chair on a terrace, while DH enjoyed the reception. He brought us food and drinks occasionally.

    No formal wear for us since then.

  8. My first comment got eaten but my kids have been in two weddings (my sisters’ weddings) and the first time I bought at Nordstrom and the second time I wised up and shopped at Pinkprincess.com (half the price and perfectly cute).

  9. My kids have been used to dressing up a little bit formally for church. They also have to wear uniforms, with what is called full dress uniform some days.
    I think this helped with them being able to be in dress clothes at the weddings they have attended.

  10. DD was a junior bridesmaid when our original nanny got married. It was easy because she got a matching dress at David’s bridal. I don’t think it was very expensive and she loved the whole experience of being in David’s etc. Our nanny left to get her MBA, and we’ve kept in touch so it was a lot of fun for DD to be in her wedding and get to shop with the wedding party. I think she was around 8, so she was really into the whole thing.

    She loved shopping for her own bat mitzvah dress earlier this year. She needed a very simple dress for the temple, and she wanted a big ball gown style for her party. The temple dress was not expensive and it didn’t require any alterations. The party dress was a big deal and a lot of work. She knew what she wanted, but then we had to find it. We went to a couple of stores around here that sell prom dresses etc. The dress price was ok, but the alterations were a small fortune.

  11. Dress clothes are usually more expensive than others, but if you think about it, that makes no sense, because they get so little wear. Go with something cheap or with something that can be worked into everyday wardrobes, like a plain nice T-shirt to pair with cheap skirt and sash for girls or Sperrys or Vans that the boys (and girls, if they wear pants to the wedding) can wear to school.

  12. L – The answers to your questions really depend on the bride and the type of reception. Will the bride (or other family members) care if the kids run wild? Will other kids the same age as yours be there? Is it an afternoon wedding?

    For the wedding from hell I described above, the bride was sweetly simply trying to include the groom’s family in the wedding party and the groom’s mom and grandmother (my husband’s aunt and grandmother) really wanted my boys to participate. In hindsight, we should have said no. I don’t think we ruined the wedding or the reception for others, but my family was pretty miserable.

  13. Kerri – LOL! Those were mostly rhetorical. We will do our utmost to not have the kids run wild. I still remember the kid who was *playing his gameboy WITH SOUND* at a family wedding – he was well old enough to know better – and my FIL had to speak to him to get him to turn it off.

    S&M – not a chance. We will be following nanny’s dictates for the wedding, which include the specific outfit for #2 and the specific dress color to be chosen for #1 and #3.

  14. L, show us some of the dresses you like.

    Ivy, it’s be awkward once he’s been asked, but while you don’t hear wedding bells even in the distance for your other sibs, you might want to let them know that DS wants to see a wedding from a normal seated position, in case they wind up wrestling over who to give the honor.

    SSM, that’s hilarious! If it makes you feel any better, when I decided it was time to back off the co-sleeping, my son always came into my room saying he was cold. Of course he was! He didn’t know to keep the covers on himself as he slept, at age 7!

    Kerri, did you get a pic of him stripping down in the car? You know it’ll be very funny someday. I don’t get how people think it’s ok to make kids do things they really object to.

    My DS may have sensory issues, but with just the two of us, it isn’t hard to accommodate that. I ordered a slew of linen, hemp, and cotton weave pants from Nordstrom Rack for him to try on for the wedding we went to last month. He was genuinely startled at how comfortable he found a linen pair that have a drawstring waist (“like pajamas!”–which is how they look after a couple hours). The seersucker was also super comfortable for him. I was surprised he didn’t object to how they look, but he was happy and we have a couple nice pix of us at the rehearsal dinner.

  15. My aunt – the groom’s mother got really specific and picky about the bridesmaids dresses, the color scheme, this that and the other. We went along with it, but it was a bit much. There is the wedding and then there is the marriage. The marriage was dissolved this year.

  16. SM – thanks to you Nordstrom Rack is my new favorite online store. The styles, prices and fit work for me.

  17. The marriage was dissolved this year.

    We’ve had a run of instances where the scale of the wedding was inversely proportional to the length of the marriage.

  18. A good professional photographer has worked miracles at family gatherings. From the pictures you would never guess at the arguments, bickering, tantrums, near accidents.
    People commented on our latest family photo that everyone is smiling.

  19. I had my cousin’s daughter as my flower girl. She was 3. She made it and was insanely well behaved. I found a dress that matched mine for $50 online (in 2006 no less). Her mom was thrilled with the price.

    My boys are too young. Maybe one day.

  20. “From the pictures you would never guess at the arguments, bickering, tantrums, near accidents.”

    This was my sister’s wedding. Moments before we all took photos my mom and sis had an epic argument. To this day, my sister complains about her wedding. (She’s still happily married.)

  21. My kids are wedding pros, now having been in the bridal parties for two of them, and my youngest was about 2.5 for the first one. No big issues; they treated and executed their ceremonial duties with the utmost reverence and decorum.

    DW was a bridesmaid in both of these, and I was a groomsman for the first, so in that case, we enlisted my parents as supervisors, but the kids did fine. For the rehearsal dinner the prior evening, the bride had put us in touch with a babysitter for our hotel suite. The kids had a quick dinner (maybe the catering staff gave them something in advance), and then my youngest had to go back to the hotel to go to bed. The middle one chose to go back, and my eldest, feeling grown-up, elected to stay for the whole party. The next day, the wedding reception was afternoon/early evening, so no concerns there. At one point, my dad and I took them for a walk out on the docks to admire the yachts, but that could just as easily have been for our own restlessness.

  22. Can I hijack yet? I need ideas for stuff to do in Asheville on Saturday. I want delicious food and the saacman would consider a couple hours luxuriating by a swanky pool to be a reward for wearing nice-ish clothes on a weekend and eating weird food. Is the Omni spa worth the $$ to hang out?

  23. My DD was a flower girl in my sister’s wedding at 4; I need to see if I can find the pic, it was adorable, just a simple almost-white dress with a fitted top and spaghetti straps and a more full skirt, and I think a band of flowers around the elevated waistline. Actually, DS was in the wedding, too, but in utero, as I was the maid of honor and looked like a total blimp. Luckily, my sister is not even remotely high-maintenance, so I got to pick out a regular dress that fit and was comfortable. My BIL’s nephew was the ring bearer in a little tux, and the two kids were just adorable together. DD still remembers it and periodically asks about “that boy.”

  24. I will say my favorite part of kids in weddings is watching how seriously the kids take their duties. DD was very slow and frowning the entire way up the aisle, because she was absolutely fixated on making sure that all of the appropriate locations had a sufficient coating of flower petals. It was as if the fate of the entire marriage rested on how well she performed her obligation.

  25. S&M – even if you don’t like beer, the Wicked Weed brewpub is great (prices are good and food is solid). We did the Asheville Arboretum over the summer and they have some nice public gardens (including a bonsai garden which the kids loved) and some nice hiking trails and they just charge by the car which is $14. I’ve never stayed at the Grove Park Inn (mostly because it’s always $700 per night in the summer) but everyone I know who has raves about the hotel and the spa (in fact we were just talking about it with a neighbor the other weekend – he and his wife went in March for two nights and they said it was fabulous).

  26. My oldest was a ring-bearer (rings tied to the pillow he carried in one hand) when he was 2.5 for one SIL’s wedding. With his other hand he was quite literally dragging his 1.5yo cousin up the aisle, all the while saying “(cousin), we have to walk!”

    Only because of Milo’s nautical reference, I mention that the first issue of my free Yachts International magazine subscription was among the mail held for us at the post office while we were away last week. Maybe I shall peruse this weekend accompanied by a nice single malt.

  27. Fred – Some marketer’s algorithm decided that you were a gentleman of considerable means who is in a position to purchase one of those yachts.

  28. DD was in my sister’s second wedding when she was 4. She absolutely loved the experience. I believe we borrowed a dress from someone. I was a bridesmaid, which was really difficult because DS2 was about 3-4 months old. I remember stashing him behind the bar in his baby carrier.

    I always made sure the kids had at least 1-2 dress up outfits: Khakis, button-down dress shirt, tie, nice collared shirt and sometimes a navy blazer. Many times they were gently used hand-me-downs that I also passed on when we outgrew them. Besides holidays and parties, there were always a few school occasions that required a button-down shirt and tie. In high school, the performers wear identical floor length black gowns or tuxedos. It’s much easier, and the boys always have tuxes for formal dances.

  29. Our boys always had khaki pants and polos/button down shirts for church. We also got “church shoes” at Payless so that they had appropriate footwear. When the older boys had to wear a jacket and tie at their school, I first made the mistake of going to Nordstrom, but that jacket was quickly rescued and replaced by thrift store finds. I was lucky that they were both adult-sized by 8th grade, when jackets are required, because the pickings were slim in the boys’ section. We had pretty good luck at thrift stores in northern Virginia, and even here in a much less affluent community, we’ve gotten some good trench coats and blue blazers at St. Vincent de Paul.

    We’ve been to funerals (and some weddings) where kids have not had the appropriate attire, and I never wanted my kids to feel out of place for that reason. So they always had something they could wear for a dress-up occasion. DH and I have already been to three funerals this year, so I’ve needed to follow the same approach, and make sure that I have something suitable for funerals in any season.

  30. We’ve been to funerals (and some weddings) where kids have not had the appropriate attire, and I never wanted my kids to feel out of place for that reason.

    My kids would have no problem at all with that.

  31. My granddaughters wear all sorts of dresses with “sliding shorts” or leggings a lot. They have pretty and frilly dresses purchased from local craft fairs, which they are allowed to wear whenever they want. If there is an event in the future, mom can remove, if the supply of intact ones is low, one dress per girl from the rotation before it gets nasty. It is the suits for men that are harder to come by for retired men. Blazer is about all they have any more in the closet, with grey dockers and loafers.

  32. “The Founder,” the ironically named movie based on the role Ray Kroc played in spreading McDonalds restaurants across the United States and the world, was very enjoyable to me on Saturday afternoon. It started as something I just put on while folding laundry, but I was hooked immediately.

  33. “Before Goldstein took over, the story goes that John F. Kennedy’s valet used to bring the then-Harvard student’s clothes to Keezer’s to sell — so that the young JFK would have pocket money.”

    JFK had a valet as a college student?

  34. We’ve been to funerals (and some weddings) where kids have not had the appropriate attire

    I’ve seen the same thing including kids at funerals wearing MM’s dreaded shinny basketball shorts. I don’t know what I thought but it never crossed my mind that was the only kind of clothing they had.

  35. JFK had a valet as a college student?

    His father was the 8th richest person in America.

  36. Rhett – for quite a while, DS didn’t have decent long pants. He had those basketball shorts and pastel/beige dress shorts.
    Being in the band for concerts means long pants and long sleeved shirt with tie for boys and a nicer dress for the girls, so at least one type of formal wear “uniform”.

  37. In A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Francie’s brother gets his first pair of long pants to wear to his father’s funeral. The description of his mixed grief and pride has stuck with me since first reading that book. DS2 insisted on having a trench coat to wear over his suit at FIL’s funeral, which we were able to find at the thrift store. London Fog perfect condition and $5. He hasn’t worn it since but it’s probably still in the closet.

  38. I’ve seen both adults and children rather casually dressed at weddings and funerals. IMO it usually added a bit of “character” to wedding celebrations and it’s quite understandable at funerals. Okay, a dark suit might be nice for a funeral but the mechanic who goes to a wake after his shift in his work clothes is perfectly fine.

    My kids have never been in weddings, come to think of it. As a child I vividly remember being a flower girl for a close relative’s wedding. I wore a miniature wedding dress. Also, I stepped on the bride’s dress and tore it. Unbeknownst to me, that wedding had lots of drama behind the scenes and the marriage was not really a happy one. But the divorce didn’t occur until the kids were grown.

    Kids who run around and misbehave during these occasions are a pet peeve of mine, especially when their parents do nothing to curtail it. I fully understand when couples decide to hold adult-only weddings.

  39. Prior to the mid 30s, when the Harvard House system was rolled out, the wealthy usually lived in private dormitories, with a mixture of personal servants and communal ones. From what I have read, residence in the Houses was not mandatory for undergrads until WWII. JFK was at Harvard from approximately 1936-40. His father was ambassador to Britain some of that time, where a manservant would have been expected for someone of his economic level.

  40. Milo we watched the founder Saturday afternoon, too. I read up on Kroc a little more – he was a real jerk! But the revolutionary concept behind the original restaurant was so interesting.

  41. @Meme – Didn’t FDR have a valet or personal assistant of some sort too at Harvard? And of course, his mother moved nearby as well.

    While we always have one outfit that can be worn by DS for special occasions, it is to make me feel comfortable. He would not feel any shame wearing basketball shorts to a funeral. And I don’t think at his age that he needs to wear a jacket to a funeral. A polo shirt in the summer or sweater in the winter is fine for the kind of events that we go to. He’s never been a guest at a wedding – always a member of the wedding party.

    We are going to my cousin’s wedding in February, and that will be his first time as a guest. I’ll have to decide what to make him wear at some point. It’s in Texas so the weather could be practically summery to us.

  42. “I read up on Kroc a little more – he was a real jerk!”

    After the movie, I just read a couple of those “How true was that movie?” articles. Both of them cited things that the movie supposedly presented that were false, but imo, the movie never portrayed it that way.

    I thought the movie did a pretty good job presenting Kroc and the McDonald brothers without any editorializing. I finished it feeling that he wasn’t so much of a business jerk (he was married three times in his personal life) and more that he was just ruthless. And the brothers seemed to share a little bit of the blame, too.

    I liked BJ Novak’s character as the adviser giving the insight when Kroc was penned in by a bad franchising contract to become the landlord for all restaurants.

    And I’ve been thinking about McDonald’s so much that I was moved to go there for lunch today, even though I haven’t been in months since I began my weight loss efforts. It’s amazing the power of suggestion and thoughts.

  43. Vaguely related, though L’s kids can’t wear them for the wedding. These keep popping up whenever I go online

  44. Kroc insisting on only a verbal promise of the lifetime royalty, which he never paid, was a jerk move (and I agree they should have known better). Also, opening a McD right by their original location with the goal of forcing it to close was a jerk move.

  45. Louise, my secret is out! You’re my bargain-hunting competition. Oh noooooooooo

    Laura, that dress sounds perfect.

    July, I suppose my tolerance for “misbehaving” children depends on how that word is defined. I get peeved when people can’t handle kids acting in entirely age-appropriate ways. When DS was in grade school, we enjoyed touring Broadway shows. During intermissions, we went out the side door, across the patio, and to the steps to the river walk, where he did flips from the hand railing as long as no one was approaching the steps. Then he watched the second half attentively.

    Appropriate attire–I would think people could do at least black pants & shirt for a funeral. I doubt that I will care at my parents’ funerals, but I consider it a sign of respect for the dead, so I do it myself. At a funeral we went to a couple years ago, people were told to wear bright colors to celebrate the life of the man who’d committed suicide. I could scarcely bring myself to do it, wore a bright blue paisley skirt, short-sleeved black shirt, and shiny silver necklace. For kids, I think having events where they put on clothes dressier than their everyday is akin to knowing what fork to use. If it isn’t old hat by the time they’re young adults, they’ll be at a disadvantage. Plenty of things are hard to teach/learn, so why not hit the easy pitches out of the park?

    Atlanta mom, thanks for the recommendations. No way would we stay at that hotel! The $$$ I was referring to is the day fee to hang out at the spa pools.

  46. “I fully understand when couples decide to hold adult-only weddings.”

    I hope they also understand when they’re not invited to subsequent weddings.

    When DD was about 10, my niece had an adults-only wedding. Ever since, DD has said that when she gets married, that niece won’t be invited.

  47. “I fully understand when couples decide to hold adult-only weddings.”

    I do too and yet, to this day my mom is pissed that my siblings were invited to a wedding and I was not.

  48. “DS has worn dry-fit t-shirts, Cubs shirseys, and athletic shorts everyday this summer, and his wardrobe will only change in sleeve length in the fall/winter. “

    Shorts all winter?

  49. “I fully understand when couples decide to hold adult-only weddings.”

    Ehhh, if you’re having an adults only wedding it means you’re making too big of a deal out of it. In my experience that usually means you’re in for a short marriage.

  50. “I fully understand when couples decide to hold adult-only weddings.”

    I do too, but we have skipped family weddings where DS wasn’t invited. Obviously, I wouldn’t do that for a good friend or close family member, but for DH’s annoying cousin? Sure. I’m not paying a babysitter all day for that.

    Personally, I like kids at weddings – it makes it more of a fun, family celebration. One BIL’s wedding was packed with nieces & nephews, and it was great to see them all dancing and having fun at the reception. We didn’t have a lot of kids at our wedding because our friends/family weren’t in that stage at the time, but I would have liked it.

  51. @Finn – He will wear pants if it drops below about 50 degrees – so in November. Seeing what the other boys and the HS kids wear to school, I gotta assume this is a common boy thing.

  52. My kids haven’t been in any weddings, but from the time they started taking music lessons we’ve always made sure they each had at least one nice outfit suitable for concerts and recitals. Those outfits were always some combination of black and white, and would get used at least a few times a year. There are always young kids in the violin program, so we’ve given away many outfits to younger kids as our kids outgrew them.

    When DS was young, his performance outfit always included a white dress shirt, but when he got near middle school, he decided he preferred black dress shirts. That worked out well for us; it was easier to find black shirts in larger sizes, and they also didn’t show dirt and stains as much as white.

  53. When my DD#2 wore school uniforms, she only wore shorts and adjusted tops from short sleeve polo to adding a tank top underneath and/or a school hoodie on top. To/from school would add a heavier coat as well.

    As far as adult only weddings go, I think it depends on the time, the venue, and the size. Our experience has been – the earlier in the day and the more casual the venue, the more likely the under 14 set is to be invited.

  54. “While we always have one outfit that can be worn by DS for special occasions, it is to make me feel comfortable.”

    Yep — or, in this case, DH. DS always has one pair of black pants and one pair of decent black shoes (usually Vans or some other comfy shoe that can pass if the pants are long enough). He also has some polos and a few button-downs, which he’ll wear when we’re out to a nice restaurant or something. And then he has one shirt and tie for formal stuff.

    I will say I am starting to enjoy shopping with the boy, because he is getting interested in clothes just a teeny bit, and he seems to have a sense of what looks good on him. Of course, he still loves the stupid-jokes t-shirts, but he also loves this Tony Hawk line of clothes that completely suits his coloring (he tends to do versions of greys/blacks/whites with this beautiful teal accent). When we discovered at a recent wedding that he’d outgrown his old “nice” outfit, it was great fun to see him be interested in options that were a little beyond the white-shirt-blue-striped-tie thing, a little more unique (his dad basically gravitates to brown, navy, and hunter green, maybe maroon if he’s feeling wild and crazy, so the role model is, umm, lacking). After much, much deliberation, DS chose a black oxford with black stripes (so you get a little subtle visual interest, but it’s more just a slight change in sheen) and a Jerry Garcia tie in black and purple. Makes his eyes look freaking electric. Mom ftw. :-)

  55. Austin, given your DD’s interest in Co-op opportunites, in the northeast, has she looked into Northeastern? I’ve also heard that Drexel has a coop program.

  56. LfB – we are in the super bright orange socks (mid-calf), vibrant blue sneakers, gray athletic shorts, super bright orange T-shirt (with some sorta logo) stage. At least the socks and T-shirt matched today.

  57. “#1 wants to wear heels”

    When DD was about 5 or so, her concert outfit included a pair of shoes with skinny ankle straps and about ¾” heels in which she looked adorable. The heels were just high enough so they obviously weren’t flats, but low enough not to cause her any discomfort.

  58. SM, when we go to Asheville we enjoy Laughing Seed Cafe (vegetarian/vegan) and Curate (tapas). You will see huge crowds trying to get into Tupelo Honey Cafe which is a breakfast place you’re unlikely to enjoy.
    I second Atlanta Mom’s recommendation of the Arboretum. And several of the bonsai were created/nurtured/etc. by my late dad, so that’s always on our list when we visit. My heart is warmed to hear that Atlanta’s kids loved the bonsai exhibit.

  59. “Ehhh, if you’re having an adults only wedding it means you’re making too big of a deal out of it.”

    IMO making a big deal out of a wedding is common whether or not kids are invited. It’s just the preference of what style of party the couple prefers. But I know many people are highly sensitive to kids not being invited. Or worse, maybe the couple’s young nieces or nephews are invited but other kids are not. That can really set off relatives and friend who feel left out. But then weddings can be quite a time of hurt and frustrated feelings. I wouldn’t know personally since I eloped.

    “Shorts all winter?

    It’s a thing.”

    Well, it certainly is among English aristocrats.

    “It’s a very English thing to dress a young boy in shorts,” British etiquette expert William Hanson told Bazaar. “Trousers are for older boys and men, whereas shorts on young boys is one of those silent class markers that we have in England. Although times are (slowly) changing, a pair of trousers on a young boy is considered quite middle class–quite suburban. And no self-respecting aristo or royal would want to be considered suburban.”

  60. I would think people could do at least black pants & shirt for a funeral.

    I know my BIL doesn’t own anything but jeans. I’ve never seen him in a collared shirt, even when he was Godfather at our child’s christening. He has no need for them in his daily life, and I wouldn’t want him to waste limited money on something he won’t wear for a single event. I’m sure there are others like him.

  61. “Ehhh, if you’re having an adults only wedding it means you’re making too big of a deal out of it. In my experience that usually means you’re in for a short marriage.”

    Well, we had an adults-only wedding, and we’re good so far. The thing is, when college graduates get married at 24, it’s not likely that your close friends even have any kids to exclude. I only had one nephew, and his parents were happy enough to get a babysitter and enjoy a child-free evening. Plus, our preferred venue did not have unlimited space, and we already were inviting something like 150-200 people. The only children who would have been excluded were those of my older cousins, and since I never saw much of my cousins growing up, anyway, I really was not going to be insulted if they declined for that reason, but they did not. In any event, they’ve been happy to have me take them out on my boat since then, so if there were any hard feelings, I hope they’ve been assuaged.

    Honestly, I don’t even remember discussing it. I think we just assumed, along with my in-laws, that we wouldn’t be inviting children. And my in-laws wrote all the checks.

    We only had one crasher.

    In both weddings my kids have participated in, they were the only children invited.

  62. I bought a lot of kids’ clothes for the recent Japan trip (which I am going to write up a review of, really). I think it was all exclusively from zulily. Zulily tends to have what I consider “consumption” clothing – not a lot of practical stuff, really fun patterns and colors, durability questionable. The other drawback is that it often delivers 3-4 weeks after you order. However, I did clothing shopping for vacation planning more than a lot of more necessary tasks; I really enjoy it.

    Normally my kids aren’t too easy to dictate clothing choices, but that is the beauty of vacation. We arrived with suitcases full of matching dress (the cat reading a book drinking coffee!), coordinating dresses (jewel tones with white flowers and bell sleeves!), bright colored leggings that had different patterns on each legs (don’t tell the leggings-alone haters), charming button downs for the boy (white collared shirt with little hot dogs and coordinating maroon pants). Their only choices were precious things that I picked out. I wanted to kids to look adorable because it entertains me, because they look amazing in pictures and because I think people grant adorable kids a little more forgiveness for bad behavior. I think my clothing choices met all those goals. I also felt a little desperate because I think we are reaching the end of our time to dress the girls identically without serious bribes.

    (Also, y’all know there is a social media platform where people from this website share some of these pictures with others from here, right?)

  63. Kerri, of course it pissed your mom off to need a sitter for you alone, while your sibs were at the wedding, especially if they were old enough to provide childcare for free.

  64. July, dangit, I forget that website & want to see adorable children misbehaving slightly in cutely matching clothes. Is it posted somewhere, like in the “about” section?

  65. “Ehhh, if you’re having an adults only wedding it means you’re making too big of a deal out of it. In my experience that usually means you’re in for a short marriage.”

    21 years and counting.

    We didn’t have kids. We didn’t have a lot of friends with kids. We chose a venue that was not child-friendly (Peabody library). We also had a limit to the number of people we could invite, including even some boyfriends/girlfriends of friends/family, so we didn’t want to use those spaces on kids we didn’t know. We assumed that the very few potential kid attendees would be bored shitless with what we had planned, and that their parents would have a much better time without having to worry about them. So we specified no kids and then arranged for a babysitter at the hotel we had set people up in (which no one even used).

    Tl;dr: I don’t generally do elegant, and I wanted this one thing to be elegant. I worked hard to try to make it something my friends and family would enjoy, and I tried to make it as easy as possible for them to come celebrate with us. So, you know, bite me.

  66. Well, we had an adults-only wedding, and we’re good so far.

    Oh, it’s not the only criteria. It goes along with an uncomfortably large budget and investing too much into a single day. I get the sense that the reality of married life can never live up to the wedding hype.

  67. “We also had a limit to the number of people we could invite, including even some boyfriends/girlfriends of friends/family”

    We did, too. And we went down the list of each person who was single but in a relationship, and whether to invite with guest or not. So this one guy I’d gone to school and was friends with had always joked that the woman who would stay with him for weeks at a time was just a fu(k buddy (his words). Since I’d told DW (then fiancé about this), she was not inclined to send him an “And guest.” When we got his RSVP card, someone had checked “Yes” and written “+1.” This really annoyed DW, so I had to explain to my friend that it was just he who was invited. He ultimately declined.

    Of course, he later married that woman and they have five kids now.

  68. At home country weddings kids are invited but it is up to the parents to decide if it is a good idea to bring them. There the hours kept are later so kids are used to staying awake later. BTW, that reminds me of Risley’s DD’s Spanish trip.
    At funerals I am torn by convention and not really owning black or white. I guess other dark colors would have to do. I distinctly remember my grandmother’s funeral because the newest nice dress I had, was my navy blue and white 7th birthday dress, that I wore to her funeral the month after my birthday.

  69. “At home country weddings kids are invited but it is up to the parents to decide if it is a good idea to bring them.”

    IME, it’s quite common for parents to attend the wedding ceremony sans kids, but to bring the kids to the reception.

  70. Appropriate attire–I would think people could do at least black pants & shirt for a funeral. I doubt that I will care at my parents’ funerals, but I consider it a sign of respect for the dead, so I do it myself.

    I consider funerals to be for the living, and your presence is much more important than what you are wearing. I didn’t notice what anyone wore at my mom’s funeral, and I was touched that there were so many people who cared enough about her to come.

  71. Shorts all winter?

    That’s DS and a lot of the kids here. When he had to wear a uniform he refused to wear the long pants and wore shorts all winter, even when it was 20 and snowing. Last year since he could wear whatever he wanted, he wore sweatpants when it got cold.

  72. HFN – that’s really neat. We all enjoyed the bonsai garden, my oldest in particular.

    We didn’t have kids at our wedding either. I have 20 cousins and some of them had little kids at that point so we just said no one under 16. My cousin had a destination wedding last year at an adults only resort in the DR, so we opted out of that one.

  73. L, wow, grey is such a sophisticated color for kids! But all those little girls in the Martha Stewart pic do look great. Are you getting that non-floofy dress for the daughter who wants it? It certainly is a better price. If it were I, I’d probably go with something like this. https://www.etsy.com/listing/215564036/gray-flower-girl-dress-with-tutu-bottom?&utm_source=google&utm_medium=cpc&utm_campaign=shopping_us_-clothing-girls_clothing-dresses&utm_custom1=527c09ee-7a03-4b21-be10-71173d497143&gclid=EAIaIQobChMIhOq7rbfa1QIVXLXACh268QXbEAQYBiABEgKqnPD_BwE

  74. I am just waiting for the nanny to pick the color of the bridesmaids’ outfits (it will be grey) so we can get a swatch and color match, then I will help #1 pick her dress. I think the actual selection will be around January or February – enough time to order but not so far in advance that they will have grown out of everything by the time the wedding happens.

  75. Denver, yeah, that’s like me. I was serious in saying I don’t think I’ll care. And I can’t even tell you what I wore to my grandparents’ funerals, much less what anyone else had on. But for me, it’s just kind of engrained.

    Becky, not even a pair of black jeans? I’m not talking suiting or anything fancy, just the color.

  76. SM – Levi’s or Wranglers. Regular, working guy dark blue jeans – no colors. He keeps a pair or two he doesn’t ever work in, but that is truly all he ever needs.

  77. The Japan Roundup: Overall it was a great trip. Japan is a pretty easy country to travel through from the sense that it was exquisitely safe and clean, people were generally kind and helpful, and the trains run on time. Two weeks was the right amount of time for us. Assorted thoughts based on general topics.

    Food: we ate really well, but often from the genre of “plain noodles with tempura”. I kind of had the feeling we were missing all kinds of really interesting restaurants and food, but preschooler stomachs need to be fed on a regular basis, and even medium nice restaurants didn’t seem like the kind of place you took kids. We ate a lot of convenience store food (tuna salad onigiri!, more cold noodles, corndogs, ice cream). I especially enjoyed a restaurant that gave us each a mortar and pestle to grind sesame seeds into a paste to mix with sauce for dipping pork. I do think we had a lot of exotic food, and my kids were happily picking up home made pickles with their chopsticks by the end of the trip. They didn’t really like the pickle, but they were more adventurous eaters.

    Cold Drinks: the ubiquitous vending machines were a life saver for whenever people were to hot or hungry or cranky. I would conjure up a “cold drink” and everything was magically better. Favorites were: Salty Lychee, Calpis Soda (yogurt flavored soda), and Pocari Sweat.

    Accomodations: we stayed mostly in Airbnbs and found things to be exactly as advertised. Housing was tiny, but probably typical for families of 5. We usually had laundry and a full kitchen. I was terrified the whole time of being noisy – my stompy kids who get up at 5 in the morning are not great apartment dwellers. We slept in a mix of western style beds and futon mattresses on the floor. As hotels usually have one double bed or two twins, we would have had to have 2 rooms at every stop, and split up the adults, which would have made the 7p bedtime kind of tedious.

    Toilets: public toilets were everywhere, clean and awesome. They often had heated seats, and sometimes all the fancy spray functions. Surprisingly delighted that most women’s restrooms had a small urinal in them for little boys. In an average women’s restroom in America, I would expect that 95% of the urine on the floor is from moms bringing in their little boys to pee. Restrooms also have no paper towels and no trash bins. I would hate to travel with a child in diapers – you would be packing dirty diapers with you all day long. Japanese people carry wash cloths everywhere in order to wipe hands after washing, it turns out.

    ….to be continued…..

  78. Money: As the internet told us, we did not expect to use credit cards most places on our trip, and the internet was right. We took cash out every few days from an ATM. We spent between $100-200 per day for meals, cold drinks, ice cream, train fares, entry fees, etc. It felt like it was a cheaper trip than a similar trip in LA or NY would be.

    Trains: they do run on time. Which was key for navigation. Google maps would often tell us we needed to be on the green line train that left at 10:28. However, it would be hard to sort out the labeling of which train was actually the green line heading in the right direction. We would just find the one scheduled at 10:28 and it would be the right one. We only got on one wrong train (and it was on the long day with 6 different train rides). Luckily, GPS made me realize we were heading in the wrong direction and we got off pretty quickly. We had train passes that we bought ahead of time. Most days we had to spend $10-20 to use local trains or buses that weren’t part of the network that the passes worked on. Passes weren’t cheap ($600 for the adults for 14 days), but we used the trains enough that they were worthwhile. We did get first class passes, which were worth the extra $100 per person. Made it much easier to get on the bullet trains and have seats together. Trains were comically full at times – with people squeezed in like sardines. We were lucky to avoid that most of the time (it kind of freaked out the kids) and did our big traveling on the weekends (not by design, but would definitely plan that in the future.

    Culture and Sights: We did a few big site in the big cities, but missed a lot of the “must-see” things (Osaka Castle, Golden Pavillion). There was a pretty low limit to seeing Unesco World Heritage site with kids before it became as painful for us as it was for them. Cold Drink Time!! I searched the internet for “cityname with kids” and found great off-the-beaten track places everywhere we went. An empty park in Tokyo with a really long roller bar slide (not so kind to the new matchy dresses, but whatever). A science museum cum 5 story play structure in Osaka. We didn’t make it to Disney, or the big Aquarium, but we did hit the Cup of Noodles Museum and a gigantic petting zoo. I was surprised how very Japanese everyplace we visited was – often we were the only gaijin in a place with hundreds of people.

    Kidzania: This deserves a separate topic. It is a miniature city where kids go to work “shifts” in various corporate sponsored pavilions – making sausage, performing surgery, fighting fires. The kids were able to do 7-8 jobs over the course of our session. It was rich in photo opportunities and an interesting window into the local culture. It was also mayhem. The kids want to plan another trip next summer to a place that also has a kidzania. Few in the US have heard of this, but that will all change soon – in the next 2 years there will be locations in Houston, Chicago and Toronto. The most instagrammable theme park in the world, and the fastest growing. Maybe Lisbon next summer?

    Language: surprised by how few people spoke any English at all. I used google translate with great effect. One evening, while buying takeaway sushi, the clerk had an urgent bit of information to communicate before she would sell it to me. She explained several different ways in Japanese. She brought over a coworker who explained it some other ways, in Japanese but with more hand signals. We were at an impasse (though an exceedingly polite one). I brought out my phone and asked her to speak into the microphone. Google informed me that one package of sushi was going to expire at 7p that evening and needed to be consumed before then. I indicated I understood and was allowed to purchase the sushi.

    Child rearing: My kids are pretty average in terms of public behavior in the US, but were definitely outliers in Japan. They were loud, unable to sit nicely on trains, unable to be still in line, and had a hard time walking to the left in tight passageways. I did feel like I was constantly scolding them, and still had the worst kids in Japan. I actually spent a few evenings scouring the internet for articles about parenting in Japan to make myself feel a little less crazy (lots of good articles out there by people with similar experiences). Spoke to an expat at one point who has a 3 year old in a Japanese preschool. She says she gets notes home daily, in mangled google translate english that pretty much say, “you child is uncontrollable and annoying.” There is a style of parenting and cultural reinforcement that I don’t quite understand that leads to kids who are pretty much perfectly behaved in public spaces from a very young age. Also, it was apparent that there really are less kids in Japan, and fewer in public spaces (like supermarkets)- I saw two families out with 3, and few families with 2.

  79. Ada – very interesting. Two comments – the cultural expectations probably mean that a 3 year old preschooler in Japan is expected to behave like a 5 yr old U.S. child entering school. Secondly, fewer children mean that the one or two children per family can be taken to public places more frequently where cultural norms for behavior are enforced.
    On the flip side here, the expectation is that once young adults hit 18, they are off either pursuing higher education or training to enter the workforce in some fashion and out of their childhood homes.

  80. Ada, thank you for your trip report! I had no idea that cash was so necessary in Japan.

    Kidzania sounds great and I’m sure will be a great hit here. Will there be a totebag version for jobs that require advanced degrees? ;)

    Your energy and sense of adventure inspires me. I have always found traveling in countries where I constantly have to translate to be draining, and with kids it would be even more so.

  81. Ada

    Thanks for the report. I haven’t been in Japan since 2005, but I recall the no English and the sense of foreign dislocation acutely. My first vusit was right after seeing Bill Murray in Lost in Translation. I fekt at home in most of East Asia, but not there. You did very well to plan and execute such a trip with small kids.

  82. Meme – which tour company did you use for Japan ? Assuming you went on a guided tour…

  83. Louise – I used to go for business. I have never toured Japan and it is not on any future travel list. The dislocation was not exotic to me, just disturbing. I am enthusiastic about trying any country or region (absent safety concerns), but Japan is just one that did not agree with me.

  84. Ada, thanks for the trip report :)

    We have a family wedding this fall – DD will wear her communion dress if it still fits and the boys will wear khakis, blazers, and bow ties.

    My middle DS loves dressing up and would wear a bow tie to school with any shirt if I would let him (I say no on gym days). The other boys are all wearing Under Armour in neon colors and he doesn’t care one whit that he’s the only one with a blazer, boat shoes, and plaid shorts. He’s also the smallest boy in the school – I’m hoping there is a smaller kid in the incoming kindergarten class, but not counting on it – so you see a long line of tall sporty boys followed by my little prepster (and sometimes his littler brother, dressed as Batman with a cape and sunglasses).

    We do manage to stand out….

  85. Sky, that image totally makes me smile.

    DS’s new thing is mismatched socks. Apparently it is a “thing” now — they get brightly-colored socks, and then intentionally mismatch them. That’s one of those “no skin of my nose” things as far as I’m concerned.

  86. Ada – thank you for the trip report. If you decide yes on Lisbon, let me know since we just went there.

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