Simply put, your wedding guest list is ultimately up to you. If you want a child-free celebration, do it. That said, there are a few sticky scenarios that tend to come up when kids aren’t welcome at the wedding. Our advice? Tread lightly and follow these tips.
Adults-Only Wedding Invitation Wording
Do Properly Address the Invitation
To make it clear from the start that your wedding is adults only, address your invitations to exactly who is invited—or some guests with children might assume their whole family is invited. You can also go the extra mile and write in their exact names on the response card (just like you addressed them on the outer envelope), and then all they’ll have to do is check “will attend” or “will not attend.” That way, it will be clear that “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith” are the guests invited.
Don’t Print “Adults Only” on the Invitation
Even if you want to go one step further to specify that your wedding is adults only by writing it on the invitation, that’s an easy way to hurt feelings. Having a child-free wedding can be a very sensitive issue to some—especially with family members and close friends with multiple children. For a more tactful approach, have family members, wedding party members and friends spread the word to other guests so they have lots of time to secure a babysitter.
Do Feel Free to Put a Note on Your Wedding Website
Your wedding website is a place to put catchall information about your wedding, like your registries, transportation options, dress code and other pertinent items. This is an appropriate place to also mention that your wedding ceremony and reception are adults only and provide any babysitting options in the area.
Children in the Wedding Party
Do Have a Flower Girl and Ring Bearer (If You Want!)
It’s fine to have as many flower girls, ring bearers, junior bridesmaids and junior groomsmen as you want—they’re part of the wedding party, after all. But if you don’t want them at the reception and just at the ceremony, remember they’re kids and they’ll feel like they’re missing out. In that case, it’s good to come up with a plan or treat for them instead, like throwing them a small pizza party and hiring a babysitter and a magician or face painter to entertain them.
Don’t Make It an “Adults-Mostly” Reception
And while you can have children in your wedding party and still have an adults-only reception, you have to be mindful not to bend the rules for other people with children. If you let some guests bring their families and not others, it might look like you hand-selected which children were and weren’t invited—and that could lead to a pretty uncomfortable situation. Inviting children just to the ceremony isn’t a good solution either, since they might see other kids going to the party when they have to go home or to a babysitter.
Dealing With Hurt Feelings
Do Call Any Guests Who Assume Their Children Are Invited
This is the hard part. If you do hear from family members who are questioning why your younger cousins, nieces and nephews aren’t allowed to come, that’s normal. To clear up the sensitive issue, call them and explain that you can’t invite everyone you’d like due to “budget constraints.” Even if it’s not true, it’s always the best excuse to ward off any further questions or protests.
Don’t Back Down
It might be an uncomfortable chat, but don’t back down. You and your partner get to decide who’s invited to the wedding, period. It’s completely fair to want an adults-only wedding. But if you have a truly angry guest on your hands, it’s a kind gesture to look into hiring a babysitter to watch a few children during the evening at the hotel. They can have a party of their own with kid-friendly food and fun activities.