Wedding Advice: Is it okay to not allow children at your wedding?

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Since The Knotty Bride recently wrote about this, we had to ask our panel of experts about their opinion. So here it goes…

Question: Is it okay to not allow children at your wedding?

KAELLA’S ANSWER: Yes. The guest list is tough and sometimes lines must be drawn. These lines will depend on the type of wedding you are having. From my experience many parents will actually welcome the excuse to have a grown-ups only night out.

RACHEL’S ANSWER: Absolutely! But do it knowing that this can be a controversial decision and it might keep some people from coming (especially if it’s an out-of-town wedding). That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it; it just means you need to be prepared to be polite but firm when someone calls you (or your mom) complaining about it. Personally, I feel like asking guests to leave their kids at home is doing them a favor. Yeah, they might complain about having to find a sitter, but they might actually enjoy putting on their dancing clothes, having a second glass of wine, and talking to other adults instead of playing mom and dad the whole night. Try to frame it as “Because you’re such good parents, we know you’ll give a lot of time and attention to your little ones and we want you to be able to be fully present/enjoy yourselves/catch up with all the people you haven’t seen in years!” Seriously, what parent wouldn’t jump at the excuse for a night off?!

If you have a lot of friends and relatives who are going to push back on this, you might look into arranging childcare at the hotel or nearby during the wedding/reception, just to ease things for them a bit. You don’t have to — they are grown-ups, they can hire baby-sitters — but if a lot of people are coming from out-of-town, throw them a bone.

About our Kaella & Rachel:

Kaella Wilson is the founder of Kaella Lynn Events, a wedding planning and design boutique based in San Francisco. She believe the difference is in the details. Whether you’re planning a grand event or an intimate celebration, Kaella combines artistic design with meticulous planning and management to produce a memorable event that represents your style.

Rachel Wilkerson is a writer and community manager living in sin in Houston, TX. She also happens to be planning her wedding! You can see more of her writing on her brand-new blog The House Always Wins. Follow her on twitter @RachelGettingIt

Need more wedding advice? Read Kaella and Rachel’s previous posts:

 

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READER COMMENTS (28)

  1. Ashley on | Reply

    How would you go about wording invitations if you don’t want children at the wedding?

    • @Ashley As Tara said below, the address SHOULD be enough. It will be addressed to “and family” if kids are invited. However, I’ve heard that some couples have their RSVP cards say something like “We’ve reserved ___ seats in your honor” and then fill in the blank for each invite so they can be clear that a +1 is invited, kids aren’t, etc.

      Along with the address wording, you can also rely on word of mouth!! Tell a few friends and family members that kids aren’t invited and word will spread.

  2. Tara on | Reply

    I have children, and I really don’t understand when this trend of “I MUST bring my children with me everywhere” began. When I was growing up, weddings were formal, adult-only events (except for children in the bridal party). Even if SOME children are invited, that does not mean you get to bring your children too. Who gets invited is up to the bride & groom. It’s simple. If your invitation is addressed to “Mr. & Mrs. John Smith”, than ONLY Mr & Mrs Smith are invited. End of story. Unless “& Family” is added, or your children are listed by name on the inner envelope, they are not invited, and it’s RUDE to contact the bride, groom or their families to ask to bring your kids. Get a sitter or stay home.

    • Diana on | Reply

      Right on!!!!!!!

      • Despina Vastardis on | Reply

        I agree as well, but if you really believe its ok to bring the kids, you better have them under control, because if they start running around while the people are dancing and someone trips, you can tell them they are responsible for any legal actions the injured person will take against you for their children’s misbehavior. Trust me, they don’t want to be involved in a court battle later, so they will either stay on top of their kids or get a responsible sitter they know very well!!!!!!

  3. We are discussing doing the “We’ve reserved___ seats in your honor” thing for our RSVP cards. It depends on if we are going to put menu options for chicken/beef/veg for our buffet reception, too.

    • I did this when marrying my ex-husband. It worked to some degree, though we still had people calling asking to sub in a kid/friend/random person I’d never heard of when their spouse/partner (i.e. … the other person the invite was addressed to!!) couldn’t make it. It was very confusing to me that people thought this was acceptable! Haha.

      • The fact that some people disregard the invite boggles my mind. I mean, I can sort of see wanting to bring a friend instead of a partner as your +1 if you don’t want to go alone, but at a small wedding, definitely not.

        I’d love to know more about these people who insist on bringing their kids/ignoring the bride& groom’s wishes. I want to just ask them like..What!? Why would you do that?! It’s so odd to me!

  4. If I wasn’t marrying a man who HAS a child, I’d probably have a child-free wedding. I can’t imagine wanting to bring children to a wedding, honestly … though I *can* understand how the requirement can keep people from being able to attend if they simply can’t make other arrangements.

  5. My coworker brought up an interesting alternative to not inviting children. He said that they hired 4 babysitters who took care of the children in a different area the whole time. If budget permits, that could be a solution for couple’s that don’t want children at their weddings.

  6. I come at this topic from an odd perspective…

    As remembering what it was like to be the uninvited child who had her heart set on being there and was crushed when her mother told her she wasn’t invited because it was for adults only.

    At age 11, I understood what a big deal a wedding was. I understood that it was a fun party that involved lots of dancing. What I didn’t understand was that weddings were expensive and when there’s an open bar kids are probably not the best addition to the party. I took it personally, like a snub, that I wasn’t invited.

    When the subject comes up to include or exclude kids, I get riled up internally because the one thing that I think gets completely missed in this discussion is that the kids can and do have feelings around being excluded, and this issue can be something a little more far reaching than just parents not wanting to leave their kid behind.

    Looking back on my situation, I really wish I had gotten the chance to talk to my cousins when they were brides and have had her explain to me why I couldn’t come rather than having my mother and my aunt be dismissive of my disappointment and tell me that I couldn’t come because they didn’t want to pay for kids. I bet I would have taken it a lot better from the bride herself.

    • That’s an excellent point! I think it really depends on the kids’ relationship with the bride/groom, but I think that if there is a relationship, the bride or groom can and should gently personally explain why the kid isn’t invited.

      • Melissa on | Reply

        The wedding isn’t about other people’s kids.

        • Despina on | Reply

          of course it isn’t, however sometimes some people don’t have anyone they can trust, the main reason also is that many adults today are just as bad as their kids, they don’t take responsibility and their kids run around like wild animals. This is so rude and usually this happens from those mountain people who are uneducated. They need to wake up or they are not invited. I personally have come to a decision that I may not marry where my parents were hoping to. I will just marry in a church and have a small party with just close family and friends. I don’t even care about my relatives anymore. I went to 2 weddings and both female cousins did not even give me on picture of their wedding and that makes me angry.

  7. Rachel G. on | Reply

    These are all things I hadn’t even thought of! I have noticed weddings with plated dinners are generally plate free since most caterers will charge you full plate price for a kid who only eats chicken nuggets and can’t yet understand the beauty of a good fillet.

  8. Beverly on | Reply

    I am getting married in May, and except for close relatives, I am not having any children. It’s been my experience that children are bored at weddings, so they tend to let loose by running and screaming, and their parents think they are so cute that thy don’t restrain them. I don’t want a crying or shrieking child to drown out my vows, thank you very much. When I was a child, my parents frequently went to weddings or other adult-only events, and my siblings and I were never insulted at all. We accepeted boundaries, and would rather stay home with pizza and Grandma than sit still at a formal event anyway.

  9. MKelley on | Reply

    It is such a relief to hear that other women have this concern too! On my invitations, I was planning to put something along the lines of, “It is the request of the bride and groom that no children be brought to the ceremony. Children are welcome to attend the reception.” I am a little worried that it will sound too forward, but I’m also concerned that just stating that only the couple is invited will lead to awkward phone calls…

    I hate to be the one to exclude anybody from my wedding, but I have a nightmarish vision of children running amok during the exchanging of vows with myself and my husband-to-be and I know he feels the same way.

    Any thoughts/suggestions?

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