I want to start out by saying that kids at weddings can be great – if that’s what you want. You’ll see proof of that in the photos that accompany this post. But not every couple wants a family affair, and here at HCS we believe you should have the wedding you want. We freely admit having a kid free wedding can be tricky – it is sometimes such a pressure point with families. Here are our best tips to help if you’ve made the choice to have an adults-only wedding:
First things first: Before it even becomes a thing, take stock of your guest list and figure out exactly how many kids you’re actually talking about. If it’s under 5 children, just make arrangements to call (yes, like on the phone) those parents and let them know personally about your decision to not invite kids and why – and that you are so looking forward to celebrating with them and you know they will understand/appreciate the night off/ whatever. They’ll more often than not feel better about the situation with a personal touchpoint like a phone call.
We believe you can have a few kids in the ceremony and still not invite the children of all your guests. You do not owe anyone an explanation either before or after – it’s your wedding.
For invitations: Be polite but firm. ‘Adults only please’, ‘Adults only reception’ or ‘Please no guests under the age of x’. You should always only address the invitations to who you are specifically inviting; Mr and Mrs x, Jane Doe and Robert Smith, or to invite the whole household: The Smith-Jones Family.
Top level No Kids Invited invitation advice: Your rsvp can include a number of guests you write in: ‘We have reserved __ seats in your honor.’ This leaves no room for interreptation. If you list 2 seats are reserved, then just 2 seats are reserved, not for the whole family. (Pssssttt….this works if you are afraid of people bringing non-invited +1’s as well). Now – I won’t say I haven’t seen people legit cross this out and write something else – but we all know there are special places in hell for those people.
For people coming to your wedding from long distances: it’s definitely the hospitable thing to make the gesture and arrange a sitter. You don’t HAVE to pay, but presumably they don’t live here and couldn’t make the arrangements themselves like they could at home.
One last tip that’s really important: Don’t lie. Saying things like ‘We don’t have room’ or ‘The Venue won’t allow it’ makes it sound like you would love to invite kids but something is stopping you. We have seen lead this to more questions and much more family strife if you are found out.
Basically: you’re not forcing anyone to come to your wedding, you are INVITING them, and they can choose to come to your event based on your terms or not. Weddings are often sadly used as an opportunity for guilt, and the only real way we’ve seen this properly avoided is to be honest, be firm and be clear that you love the kids, but this is an event that you have decided for one reason or another you will not be extending an invitation to all children. And no – you don’t have to say what that reason is.