Wedding planning comes with lots of details to discuss and requires lots of decisions to be made, and some of those choices are easier to make than others. Deciding whether to invite children to your wedding is one of the most challenging guest list questions that many couples face. There can be a variety of reasons not to invite kiddos to your wedding day, and if you are wanting a child-free celebration, you are entitled to get that as your wedding guest list is ultimately up to you. It can certainly become a tricky (and even an awkward) conversation starter and finding the right words to say can be a daring task.
We’ve gathered some important etiquettes of what to do (and what not to do) and how to bring up the topic to those on your guest list. We’ve also compiled some of our favorite statements to simply ask for a kid-free wedding day.
What To Do!
Do Properly and Carefully Address Your Wedding Invitations
Make it clear and bold from the start that your wedding is adults only.
How? Address each invitation to exactly those invited, otherwise some guests with children might assume their whole family is welcome.
If you're sending out more formal invitations with both an outer envelope and an inner envelope, you can be extra direct about the specific people invited. The outer envelope features the guest's mailing address, while the inner envelope includes the title and last name of each guest. If you don't have an inner envelope, you'll need to be as clear as possible on the outer envelope.
You can also go the extra mile and write in their exact names on the response card (the same way you addressed them on the outer envelope).
Then all they'll have to do is check "will attend" or "will not attend" on the RSVP card. That way, it will be obvious only "Mr. and Mrs. Texas" are invited.
If you are using an e-RSVP, allow the drop-down button only for however many are invited, rather than allowing guests to select their own RSVP count.
Do Mention It on Your Wedding Website
Your wedding website is a place to share important wedding info, including the basics and additional details such as registries, transportation options, dress code and more. That makes it a welcoming place to add in a note about keeping your day adults-only before
Some couples go the extra mile for their friends and family and find alternative services for the littles, so if you are recommending any babysitting options in the area or have made prior arrangements, (which is a very thoughtful touch), you can add those details to your website as well.
Do Have a Flower Girl and Ring Bearer at the Ceremony (If You Want TO AND If It Makes Sense To You)
Even though you may not be inviting additional kids to your wedding reception, you may still decide to have flower girls, ring bearers and junior attendants at your wedding ceremony. The tricky part is then, if you want them at the ceremony and not at the reception, they'll feel like they're missing out on the fun part (they're kids after all). In that case, it's good to come up with a plan to treat them after the ceremony or cocktail hour.
You could hire a professional babysitting service to supervise in a nearby space or separate room at your wedding reception site. You can then encourage your sitter to plan special activities, games, foods, etc to keep those kids entertained all evening long.
Do Reach Out Personally To Anyone Who May Assumes Their Kids Are Invited
It's normal to start hearing from friends & family members who are questioning why their kids and your younger cousins, nieces and nephews aren't allowed to come. It can become a sticky subject, but by addressing the issue right away, you can be direct and explain the situation.
Unfortunately, you can't invite everyone you'd like. You may opt to blame it on budget and venue constraints, which could potentially avoid hurt feelings.
Just remember, you don't have to give a lengthy explanation and let’s face it, you're not going to please everyone anyways, but it's okay to say a kid-free wedding is a personal decision you've made, and leave it at that. Hopefully at the end of the day, your friends and family members will honor your request without the drama.
What NOT To Do!
Don't Just Print "Adults Only" on the Invitations
You shouldn't feel guilty for keeping your wedding a kid-free zone, but you may want to sugar coat your request rather than just explicitly making it the front & center of the invitation. Requesting to have a kid-free wedding can be a very sensitive issue for some invited guests, especially out-of-town family members, future in-laws and close friends with littles.
For a more respectful and direct approach, ask your immediate family, wedding party members and friends to spread the word to guests by word of mouth so they have lots of time to secure childcare.
If you think your friends and family members will need additional time to find alternative assistance for their children, mention it to them earlier on via phone or email, or send out your wedding invites a little earlier on so there’s plenty of time for all.
Don't Make It an "Adults-Mostly" Reception
While you can have children in your wedding party and still have an adults-only reception, be mindful not to bend the rules for other people with children. If you let some loved ones bring their families and not others, it might look like you hand-selected which children were and weren't invited, which could lead to a pretty uncomfortable situation.
Inviting all children only to the ceremony probably won't work either, since they might get upset having to say good-bye to their parents or if they see other guests going to the party when they have to go home.
If you can get away with not having any children in the wedding completely, that may be the simplest and straightforward way, so there’s no red flags on the day of.
Don't Back Down
Even if you've properly addressed the invites, spread the news by word of mouth and posted a request on your website, be prepared to get some pushback. Just remember, like with other decisions you're making, this is your wedding day and you and your fiance get to decide who's invited to the wedding—end of story..
If there are upset parents, address their concern with sensitivity, but don't back down. If you have a truly angry guest on your hands (and their happiness means a great deal to you), it's a kind gesture to look into hiring a babysitter to watch their children at home for the duration of the entire wedding, ceremony included. At the end of the day, the best you can do is be thoughtful and helpful to those guests with kids.
Our Favorite Short & Sweet Statements
Please join us for an adult reception.
Adult (18 and older) reception to follow.
We respectfully request no children under 18 (or whatever age you decide) at the reception.
Although we love your little ones, this is an adult only celebration.
The couple requests that this be an adults-only reception.
Please celebrate with us at an adults-only reception immediately following the ceremony.
Unfortunately we cannot accommodate children – thank you for your understanding.
Our Favorite Space & Budget Is Limited Statements
____ amount of seats have been reserved in your honor. Please let us know if you will be joining us!
Due to limited venue space, adults only please.
Due to budget/space limitations, we are unable to extend the invitation to children
Although we love your children, we regretfully cannot accommodate them at the venue due to restricted numbers.
Although we adore your children, due to budget/space constraints we ask that only adults attend.
Regrettably our chosen venue is unable to accommodate children. Professional babysitting will be provided at the hotel (if that’s what you decide to do).
Our Favorite Personalized & Parents Need a Night Off Statements
We’d love to have (you can add in their kids names) there, but unfortunately we’re limited by budget/space constraints. We hope you can still make it.
To allow all wedding guests, including parents, a night of relaxation and uninhibited revelry, we respectfully ask that no children attend the reception.
We love your kids but thought you might like a night off. Adults only please!
To give all our guests the opportunity to celebrate without having to worry about little eyes and ears, we politely request no children.
We hope you will understand our decision to make the wedding children-free, and take the opportunity to let your hair down and celebrate in style!
To allow all guests to relax and enjoy themselves, we have chosen to make our special day adults only. We thank you for your understanding.
Our Favorite Immediate Family or Newborn Only Statements
Children of immediate family only please.
Respectfully, an adult occasion (18+). Infants under 12 months welcome.
Due to limited numbers, we hope you appreciate that children are only invited if named.
Unfortunately we are only able to accommodate children in the wedding party at our reception.
We wish we could include all children, but are unfortunately only able to invite immediate family.
Due to necessity rather than choice, it is children of immediate family only. We hope you understand and enjoy your night off!
Unfortunately due to space limitations, we are having an adults-only reception. The only children attending are those who are part of our wedding party. If anyone needs help with making arrangements for child care, please let us know and we will do our best to assist.