Updated: Aug 16
I will go into detail about five tips in how to politely say to your guest that you do not want children at your wedding day. But before I go into those handy five tips, I would like to clarify that I LOVE children from being a nursery nurse for 16 years and working with children and helping them to grow. Along with not having any personal preference between children being at weddings, or children not being at weddings. In fact, I understand reasons for both, so before anyone gets angry with myself, just know that this article is to help those couples that have specific reasons for why they only want adults at their event.
When it comes to formal writing, especially when it comes to wedding invitations there are rules and etiquette that needs to be considered...but believe it or not, there is not an actual right or wrong way to ask your guests, "please leave your children at home." I mean, it is 2021, we live in a generation where most people are not offended if you bluntly ignore their phone call and send them an immediate text saying, "hey, what’s up?" Ohhhh but yikes...tell Mary and Jack not to bring little Johnny to YOUR wedding, in a way that rubs them the wrong way, and you might as well wear red horns and a tail on your big day too. It is silly that people take this request offensively, and quite honestly, many people really do not. The reality is, you cannot satisfy everyone, especially when it comes to planning your wedding. Lots of people like to put their two pence into the planning of your wedding but you cannot satisfy everyone. The best way to go around it is trying your best to execute it in a way that comes off polite. So, this blog tackles this for you all, with 5 tips to do it..."softly".
While it may seem smart to write “adults only” or “no kids” or “adult reception” directly on your wedding invitations, it is an etiquette faux pas.
TIP #1: Be specific on your invitations.
Obviously, you are not going to write the child’s names on the invitation if you do not want children there, but so many couples make the mistake of addressing their invitations in a format that gives their guests the freedom to assume that you meant they could bring the whole squad. If you make this mistake (like below), take it as a warning - you are opening a door with a floor mat that says, "everyone is welcome, bring them all!"
DO NOT WRITE THIS: Mr. and Mrs. Jim Bob Duggar and Family
DO NOT WRITE THIS: Mr. Jim Bob and Mrs. Michelle Duggar and Family
DO NOT WRITE THIS: The Duggar Family
DO NOT WRITE THIS: The Duggars
All those examples are suggesting that Jim Bob & Michelle can bring their 19 children, and quite frankly, their children’s, children’s, their spouses, and whoever else is in the Duggar family. You need to be more precise that only Jim Bob & Michelle are invited by addressing the invitation more like Mr. & Mrs. Jim Bob Duggar (ALSO it's probably Mr. & Mrs. James Duggar, but you catch my drift).
Though I cannot promise you that this option is bulletproof, because out of all the five tips, this one is probably the least likely to keep all your guests from bringing their children. Funny enough, this is the closest to being the "true right way" or "proper etiquette" for stating who is and who is not invited, but apparently, it is the least clear to guests. For example: I am single, and unless an invitation clearly states my name AND guest, I am not bringing anyone else - that should be common sense. I know I would catch the hint, but again...you would be surprised how many people overlook that envelope. If you want to go an extra step (or two), to try and make things even more clear, you can add any of the other steps below.
Tip #2. Include the memo on your wedding website.
I get almost a 50/50 response from couples on having a wedding website.
Do I think they are necessary? No.
Do I think they can be somewhat helpful? Not sure.
It is dependent on your wedding. For example, if you are just making a wedding website to post photos/bios of your bridal party, photos of you and your fiancé, and an essay on how you met, it is probably not necessary. On the other hand, if you are having out of town guest (accommodation recommendation), you have specific requests (i.e., adults only, a specific dress code, etc.), or you want a place for your guests to quickly find your registry/honeymoon fund - you absolutely should consider making things easier for you and your guests, by investing some time into creating a wedding website.
The way I see it, most wedding websites are free, so if you want a place to drop another subtle hint to your guests, this is a great place to do it. A wedding website can be much more casual than your invitations, so you have got a lot more wiggle room to be playful with this.
Though like Tip #1, this option is not 100%, just because some people may not visit your website. If you have done both #1 and #2, plus you add one of the below tips on top of that, you have set yourself up for the best scenario that people get the message.
Tip #3: Do a little extra work on your RSVP cards.
I know, I know, you and your fiancé are extremely busy (though my full wedding and partial services that I offer can help and support you with all this
www.emmalouiseweddingplanner.com/services), this tip can not only eliminate you guests bringing their children, it can also eliminate guests bringing uninvited plus ones (because no one really wants Ashley to assume she can bring her Tinder date, that costs you £30/head...am I right?).
So, although this option entails a little more leg work for either you or whomever is doing your invitations, it is the safest way to keep things controlled & you do not even have to say anything about children.
Example that you could try on your RSVP Cards:
PLEASE KINDLY RESPOND BY (put a date)
M. __________________ (write out the names of who you are inviting)
we have reserved ____ (write in #) seats in your honor.
___ JOYFULLY ACCEPTS ___ NUMBER ATTENDING __REGRETFULLY DECLINES
(ALLOW THEM TO FILL IN THE LAST ROW)
I really think this is the clearest way to explain to your guests, "do not bring anyone but yourselves"; HOWEVER, if you are worried some people will not understand that this means, "no children," keep scrolling to the next tip - which literally spells it out to them.
TIP #4: Blame your venue or the space.
Firstly, I am not suggesting you lie to your guests, but the truth is - most venues do not provide on-site babysitters, or children-friendly atmospheres. I know some venues are not childproof and if children are not being watched things can happen and more people need to realize that the majority of venues are not accommodating to children. That is just how it is. Even worse, a lot of people bring their children and then expect/assume that someone is going to watch their children while they enjoy the night. Not to mention if you are serving alcohol at your event, there really is no reason to have children. I mean, when is the last time you saw parents bring their children to a bar/night club?
All of that being said, you are more than allowed to tell your guests there are venue restrictions if there is not accommodations for children, and you can say it in a few ways that will essentially make you look like the good guy. Somewhere in your invitation/detail card (wherever), you can write something along the lines of:
· "Due to venue (or space) accommodations, our wedding will be adults only."
· "Respectfully/or Due to venue restrictions, attendees must be over the age of 21 (18) (16)"
With this option, its 100% clear to guests AND you sound polite.
NO MATTER WHAT, JUST DON'T SAY, “NO CHILDREN”
This option is a little different from the ones above because it allows children to come to your event, but in a way that is great for everyone: you, the parent, and the child. So why don’t we all just use this option? Well, this option is dependent on if you have the money, resources, and space to make it work - so basically, it is not easy for everyone to do this, but if you can make it work, it is a really good solution that allows you and your guests to kick back and have a good time.
Hire a nanny/babysitter to keep the younger guests occupied during your event. Moms & Dads will appreciate the touch and may just grab one of your signature cocktails to celebrate the stress you have relieved them.
The reason this option is so great is because:
1. Your guests can still come without having to find/make arrangements for their children.
2. Your nanny/babysitter can keep the children in a space (if your venue has an option) where they are not running around in the middle of your reception.
3. You can offer a cheaper/ “child-friendly” menu to the children instead of paying for them to eat the more” expensive adult food” Venues say 12 and under is considered a child, I would ask your venue though.
For example: You can get the venue to serve pizza and popcorn, play a children movie and have colouring station. A great way to occupy the children while their parents can enjoy the night celebrating.
Of course, like I mentioned - this option may be the hardest one to put together, but it is a good option, nevertheless.
NO MATTER WHAT, JUST DO NOT SAY, “NO CHILDREN”
You have heard the saying, “it is not what you say, but how you say it”, and this is EXACTLY what that saying is referring to. DO NOT just put, “NO CHILDREN,” on an invitation. While that does get straight to the point, it does not sound tasteful.
Again, like I stated in the beginning, I personally love children, and many times, they have made some of the most memorable parts of the, so let me make it clear that I am not saying you SHOULD not have children at your event, I am just giving you advice for how to do it if you do decide to go with this option. Remember, you may lose a few guests if you say they cannot bring their children, and that is mostly based on the fact that some parents just do not have the accommodations for someone to watch their little ones. Do not be offended if they cannot come due to that.
On the contrary, if you are a parent, do not be offended if a couple asks you to leave your babies at home. There are a lot of reasons couples choose this option including but not limited to: they are serving alcohol and do not feel comfortable having children present, the venue is not child-friendly, the overall cost per head (yes, couples still have to factor in your children, even if they only nibble on the food), and they may even know specific children that cannot handle the event and have chosen to just be fair and say no children in general to keep things easier. Also, with Covid-19, couples are finding themselves with difficult expectations while planning their special day, one of those being limiting large guest lists, which will most likely start with cutting the younger guests. None of these reasons are a jab at parents, or a jab at children, it is simply just reality. No matter the case, ALWAYS remember that it is their event AND they are paying for it, so do not be the guest who pretends to not see the hints they have made to specify, “just bring yourself”. Believe me, I would not be writing this article if it did not happen, and I certainly would not be writing it if I did not have couples always asking how to do this task without feeling rude and upsetting parents. Help them out and cut them some slack, because yes - this can be awkward.
Whether you are the parent who has been asked not to bring their children, or you are the couple asking them not to bring them - just remember do not be insensitive and everyone will be happy!
So, there it is five tips in how to let you guests know that you do not want children at your wedding along with advice for those parents who have the children. If you would like to discuss more about these tips and about my services, contact me through www.emmalouiseweddingplanner.com/contact
Hope you enjoyed the read
Emma Louise x