Deciding whether or not to have child-free weddings is a big call to make for many couples.
You’ll encounter polarised opinions, some parents excited for a night without their little ones, others bereft - possibly even put out - at having to leave them. Prepare yourself to hear, “I know you’re not having kids, but can mine go? She’s so good!” It WILL happen. There are pros and cons of child-free weddings, but our best advice is to go with your gut and stick with it. Just don’t make exceptions, or there will be trouble! Child-free weddings are no joke.
Pros of child-free weddings
• Expecting multiple children to remain silent during your ceremony is ambitious at best. If you’re inviting kids, you'll have to make friends with the fact that a baby probably will cry during your vows. If you're not inviting children, you won't have to worry. Well, unless you know particularly rowdy adults!
• Add new surroundings and sugar to a group of kids and you have yourself a recipe for hyperactivity. If you love to see children letting loose and being kids, you won’t mind. But if the idea of them running rampant around your reception upsets you, avoiding this will be a definite pro for you.
• Kids meals aren’t free. In fact, many venues charge full whack even for children's dinners, so you'll avoid this add-on at child-free weddings.
• You might have to forgo potential adult guests to make space for the kiddies if you're inviting everyone's kids, so another benefit of child-free weddings is the potential for an extra table of pals.
Cons of child-free weddings
• You may encounter some awkwardness when telling guests they can’t bring their little darlings.
• Including flowergirls or pageboys in your ceremony is super sweet, so if you're banning kids from all parts of your day, you may be missing out on this.
• Attending your wedding may not be doable for parents who won’t have anyone to mind their troop.
• Kids are hilarious and they’ll add playfulness and whimsy to your day - which is only appropriate at certain kinds of weddings. A super formal affair might not tie in with childish whimsy. If you are inviting kids, arrange some entertainment for them to keep them occupied during the reception - see here for some of our best ideas for entertaining kids at weddings.
• You might miss out on letting your wedding double as a family reunion. Some weddings are a brilliant opportunity to see far-flung nieces, nephews or cousins you may not have seen since they were born.
How to tell wedding guests kids aren't invited
If you've decided to have a child-free your big day, you're almost certainly going to come up against at least one or two parents who want to know why. Or worse, who plan to just turn up with their kids in tow, even though your invitation doesn't include their little ones' names.
So how can you politely tell wedding guests that kids aren't invited?
Make sure you're properly addressing your invitations
Address each invitation to exactly those you're inviting, otherwise some guests will assume the whole family is invited. There's no harm going the extra mile and writing the exact names, or number of guests invited, on the RSVP card. Then they just have to check a box for attending or not attending - there's no space for them to add in extra names.
Mention it's a child-free wedding on your wedding website
It's not considered super polite to include the fact kids aren't invited front and centre on your invitation, so slipping in a note that it's an adults-only wedding on your wedding website is probably your best option. A thoughtful touch might be to include some babysitting recommendations in the area, on the website also.
Decide not to invite kids, and stick to it
You don't want it to look like you hand-picked and chose which kids were invited and which kids weren't - which sounds pretty damn uncomfortable to us - so don't start bending the rules for some people, and not others. If you want to have a flowergirl or pageboy at the ceremony, absolutely work away, but keep the children's invites to just the bridal party. Then it's up to you whether they're invited to the reception, but most couples in this situation will keep it to an adults-only reception after the ceremony.
Don't be afraid to call up anyone who RSVPs for their kids anyway
Of course you don't want to offend anyone, so you'll have to handle it sensitively, but if you don't nip rogue RSVPs for children in the bud, you'll quickly find yourself in a situation that's snowballing. As we mentioned, if you bend the rules for one child, you're going to cause yourself awkwardness with another's parents. Address the issue - gently! - by calling up and explaining. You can blame it on budget and venue constraints to soften the blow and hopefully ward off further protests or hurt feelings, if you want, but at the end of the day, you're not going to please everyone. If you don't want to offer a lengthy explanation, perhaps offering to help find a babysitter will be a subtle hint that this isn't something you're budging on.
Wording suggestions for child-free weddings
So, what do you actually say to tell wedding guests kids aren't invited? Here are a few suggestions of lines you can include on your wedding website.
If you want to keep it short and sweet: "Please note this will be an adults-only celebration."
If you want to be a bit softer: "Although we love your little ones, this is an adults-only affair."
If you have limited space: "We have X seats reserved for you!" or "_ of X invited guests are attending" are good ways to indicate only the people named are invited - this can work well if you're inviting a couple of kids but not most people's, or if you're signalling unnamed plus ones aren't welcome either. Or if you want to be a little more explicit, go for something like, "“Although we love your children, we unfortunately cannot accommodate them at the venue due to restricted numbers.”
If you plan to party hard: "We love your kids but thought you might like a night off. Adults only please!" or “To give all our guests the opportunity to celebrate without having to worry about little eyes and ears, we politely request no children.”
If you're inviting newborns or nieces and nephews only: "Unfortunately we are only able to accommodate children in the wedding party at our reception." or "Due to necessity rather than choice, it is children of immediate family only. We hope you understand and enjoy your night off!”
If you're inviting children to the ceremony only: "Children are welcome at the ceremony, however the reception is an adults-only affair."