We Don’t Want Kids at Our Wedding…Is That Bad?

How To Say No Kids At Wedding

Q: We’re getting married next summer and are currently deciding on our guest list. A lot of our good friends have kids (and we have a couple nieces and and nephews), but we feel like if we invite some kids we have to invite them all. And truth be told, we don’t really want ANY kids at the wedding. My question is…is it bad NOT to have kids at our wedding, or if we do only have 1 or 2, how do we still get away with a “no kids rule?”- Megan

I love kids. LOVE them. But when it came time for us to decide between inviting all 7 of our nieces and nephews (all of which were under 8 at the time), we decided not to. Not because we don’t adore them…we do! But our guest list was limited, space was tight, it was an evening wedding and honestly? I wanted an adult party. I also wanted my brothers and sister to be able to enjoy themselves and selfishly spend all of their attention on us! Lol. But you know what? They were more than happy with it (or at least that’s the impression they gave me!). And I’m guessing so were the kids (how many times do you see kids have a meltdown halfway through the wedding because they’re exhausted and just don’t want to be there anymore). Not all of the time (but a majority of the time), your friends and relatives with kids invited to the wedding end up babysitting the entire evening, when they’d rather be dancing or drinking or having adult conversations (or ideally all three)!

The bottom line is, it’s YOUR wedding, and if you don’t want kids at your wedding, DON’T INVITE KIDS. If you’re having a destination wedding and not inviting kids this can get a little trickier as parents need to arrange for overnight care and/or don’t feel comfortable leaving their kids at home while they’re out of town, in which case they’ll have to decide if they are up for coming or not (and if they don’t, you should understand their decision). For a destination wedding without kids you can also offer to arrange for a babysitter at the hotel so parents can bring their children to the resort but not the wedding itself, or to the ceremony and not the reception. You can also offer to pay for close friends or relatives’ childcare for the evening even if you’re stay in town…they may or may not take you up on it, but at least you’re putting it out there.

You might get grief from your wedding guests for not being able to invite children, but 1) I think that reaction is totally inappropriate…if they don’t want to leave their children at home that’s completely understandable and they might have to miss your wedding, , but 2) whatever decisions you make at your wedding are just that…your decision! If you want to have an adult dinner party (which a wedding essentially is) then do it. You most likely wouldn’t invite children to a Saturday evening out, and in your mind this is no different…so don’t fret!

Now if you do want to, say, have your niece as your flower girl or nephew as your ring-bearer and that’s it, then by all means do that. While you do not technically have to indicate to your guests that those are the only children invited (you would just follow the “No Children” ideas, listed below), if you do speak to other parents on your guest list you can let them know you are limiting the number of children to the wedding party only or close family only. I don’t personally see why this would offend anybody…but again, if it does, that is completely their choice and you shouldn’t get mad if they are unable to attend (just like they shouldn’t get mad at your wedding day decisions).

In order to let guests know that your wedding is adults-only, there are a few ways you can do this. While some people print on their RSVP cards something like “Regrettably children are unable to attend,” I’m not a fan of that. If you want to put it on the RSVP card, I would instead use something like, “We have reserved ___seats in your honor”and fill in the blank. You can also opt to put this in a FAQ section of your website (IE: Are children invited? While we love your little ones, we are hoping to make this an adults-only day!”)

However, I find the easiest (and most etiquette-friendly way) to convey this is to address the envelope to the adults only (IE: Mr. and Mrs. Robert Smith vs. The Smith Family). I also think it’s nice to let parents know personally or through other family members via a phone call or e-mail with a message such as this:

Hi Marcia!

We just mailed out our Save the Dates (or wedding invitations) and are hoping that you and Mark are able to attend! I also wanted to personally touch base to let you know we are hoping to get all the parents to ourselves for a fun evening of dinner, dancing, and (hopefully) a lot of shenanigans! 🙂 I hope that this is OK and we can’t wait to see and celebrate with Troy and Anna SOON. Optional: We would also love to cover any babysitting costs you might incur for the evening and will be mailing out gift cards for the amount. Let us know any other ways we can help!

We are SO excited for the big day and (hope) to spend the wedding with you both!

Hopefully these suggestions for having an adults only wedding will help you cushion the potential blow to any family and friends who might be upset. And trust me…if they are, this too shall pass. Just concentrate on that fun dinner party you’re planning. 🙂

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  1. says: Catie

    I agree with Molly. It’s your wedding for which you’re paying. Guests don’t have a say. Unless it’s an outdoor picnic free-for-all casual affair, kids will just be an annoyance. Plus they’ll be bored out of their minds. Seriously, parents, what child WANTS to attend a wedding?

  2. says: Molly

    Guests don’t get to dictate the flower choice, cake flavors, venue, seating chart, the music, limitations of the beverage service, the menu, the guest list, or the invoices! Guests have no say – those who think they do are rude beyond words. A guest should not criticize anything.

    You probably don’t want those boundary-less, critical, me-me-me ingrates at your wedding anyway.

    What’s next? Peanut-free menus? Requiring the caterer to maintain nut-free kitchens? Maybe we should have balloon animals and face painting during cocktail hour?

  3. says: Anonymous

    I’m sorry but the “we have reserved ___ seats in your honor” just would NOT work. Inconsiderate parents would think “oh braylynn can sit on my lap at the ceremony and reception!” You need to be very clear, or they’ll just get mad.

  4. says: Linda

    My husband and I didn’t have kids at our wedding because we wanted everyone to have fun and let loose–not have to leave super early because their kiddies had to go to bed. I know that everyone is different, but that’s what we wanted, so we let everyone know. We only ended up with three kids at our wedding (one was a flower girl and one was a newborn and my friend asked if she could bring her since she didn’t want to leave a newborn with a babysitter.)

  5. says: Sandy W

    We hired a sitter–even though the invitation said Adult Reception–we knew that some guests would bring their children anyway. We used a room near the dance floor and the children had a little candy bar with goodie bags as well as activities and Disney movies. The club manager took a tray of chicken fingers, fries and cupcakes for the kids dinner and we didn’t have any problems whatsoever.