How to Say No Kids at Your Wedding in the Nicest Way Possible

Here are the best (and worst) ways to go about it.
Couple kissing at adults-only wedding ceremony
Photo: Annie Piland Photography
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
by
Chapelle Johnson
chapelle johnson the knot associate editor
Chapelle Johnson
Associate Editor
  • Chapelle writes articles for The Knot Worldwide. She covers all things wedding-related and has a personal interest in covering celebrity engagements and fashion.
  • Before joining The Knot Worldwide, Chapelle was an editorial intern for Subvrt Magazine.
  • Chapelle has a degree in English writing from Loyola University New Orleans.
Updated Feb 28, 2024

Your wedding guest list is ultimately up to you, so if you want a child-free celebration, don't be afraid to do it (tons of couples choose to). That said, you'll need to know how to say no kids at your wedding (the polite way) since this choice can be considered an unpopular wedding opinion and cause a few sticky situations. From adult-only invitation wording to dealing with upset guests, we give you our best and most thoughtful advice. Follow these vital etiquette tips and tricks for requesting no kids at your wedding so you don't hurt anyone's feelings and have the affair you want.

In this article:

Is It Rude to Have a "No Kid" Wedding?

You shouldn't feel guilty for deciding there will be no kids at your wedding, but it's not polite to specify your wishes front and center on the invitations. Doing that is the easiest way to ruffle feathers since a child-free wedding can be a sensitive issue for out-of-town family members, future in-laws and close friends with little ones. For a more tactful approach, ask your immediate family, wedding party members and friends to tell the other guests through word of mouth so they have time to secure childcare.

How to Say "No Kids" at a Wedding

If you're throwing a wedding sans kids, you'll need to be direct with your guests so there isn't any confusion. But what is a nice way to say no kids at a wedding? Follow these etiquette tips before announcing your decision.

Let your guests know as soon as possible.

As soon as you know you want to have an adults-only wedding, you need to inform your guests. When you send your save-the-dates with your wedding website information, include a part under the FAQ section that addresses your decision. You want to give anyone with children time to hire a sitter for your wedding dates. Also, your no-kids wedding invitations should be addressed to the guests you would like to attend (we will discuss more about that below).

Be clear about your request.

Wondering how to politely say no kids at your wedding? Use clear, understandable language. Simply saying "no kids" or "no children" to your loved ones won't cut it. Be specific about which age groups can't attend. If you would rather people under 18 years old stay home or want a 21+ affair, state that in your wedding details and spread the word in person. Trust us, the awkward conversations are going to be worth it.

Never call specific children out.

When you're thinking about how to word "no kids at my wedding" on your website, ensure you keep your request as general as possible. Don't bring your personal feelings about kids to the forefront. For example, "I don't like kids" and "Stacey, your son cries too much" aren't the right ways to do it online or in person. To avoid the drama, talk about your no-children decision diplomatically.

Don't waver on your decision.

Even if you've properly addressed the invites, shared via word of mouth and posted a note on your website, be prepared to get some pushback. Just remember, like with your other planning decisions, this is your wedding day, and you and your partner get to decide who's invited—period. Be sensitive when dealing with upset parents, but don't back down. If you have an angry guest on your hands whose happiness means a great deal to you, consider hiring a babysitter, if your budget allows, to watch their children during the wedding. Overall, the best you can do is be thoughtful and helpful to guests with kids.

Here's how to say you're having a kid-free reception.

You're welcome to have flower girls, ring bearers, junior bridesmaids and groomsmen at your wedding ceremony. The tricky part is having them at the ceremony but not at the reception. In that case, it's good to make a plan for them after the ceremony or cocktail hour. You could hire a professional babysitting service to supervise in a separate room at your wedding reception site. Ask your wedding planner to help make the arrangements and work with your sitter service to plan age-appropriate wedding activities. You'll also have to craft kid-friendly and fun meals, like a pizza-making station or a breakfast-for-dinner mini buffet.

While you can have children in your wedding party and still have an adults-only reception, remember how to say no children at the wedding and not bend the rules for other people's children. If you let some loved ones bring their little ones and not others, it might look like you hand-selected which children were invited, which could lead to an uncomfortable situation. Plus, inviting all children to the ceremony probably won't work either, since they could get upset saying good-bye to their parents or if they see other guests going to the party when they have to go home.

Adults-only wedding reception
Photo: Nikki Daskalakis

No Kids at Wedding Wording Examples

When learning how to say no kids at a wedding, you need to know the best wording for the job. Below are numerous ways to nicely request no children be brought to your celebration.

  • We love your children, but due to space restrictions, we cannot accommodate guests under the age of [insert number] on our wedding day.
  • The couple requests this be an adults-only event.
  • Unfortunately, we cannot host any children at our wedding. We appreciate your understanding.
  • There will be an adult-only (21+) reception to follow.
  • Our dream wedding venue doesn't accommodate small children, but we're hiring a top-notch babysitter at the guest hotel for convenience.
  • Take the night off and leave the little ones at home! Get ready for the best adults-only wedding you'll ever go to.
  • We politely request no children attend the ceremony and reception. Thank you in advance for understanding.
  • We would love to include everyone's children, but the wedding will have youth attendants.

How to Let Guests Know of an Adult-Only Wedding

Once you know who you're going to invite to the wedding, it's time to tell everyone about your no-kids decision. Here are the three best ways to announce you're having an adults-only wedding.

Tell them on your wedding website.

Your wedding website is a place to share important wedding info—both the basics and additional details you're not supposed to put on the invites (think: registries, transportation options, dress code and more). That makes it a great place to slip in a note about keeping your bash adults-only before recommending any babysitting options in the area (a thoughtful touch).

Share the information on your wedding invitations.

Make it clear from the start that your wedding is for adults only. How? Address each invitation to exactly those invited, so guests with children don't assume their whole family is welcome. If you're mailing formal invitations with an outer and inner envelope, you can be even more direct about the people invited. The outer envelope features the guest's mailing address, while the inner envelope includes the title and last name of each guest. If you don't have an inner envelope, you'll need to be as clear as possible on the outer envelope.

You can also go the extra mile and write their exact names on the response card (the same way you addressed them on the outer envelope). Then, all they'll have to do is check "will attend" or "will not attend" on the RSVP card. That way, it will be obvious only "Mr. and Mrs. John Smith" are invited. Using an e-RSVP? Allow the drop-down button only for however many are invited.

Call your guests on the phone.

It's normal to hear from family members questioning why younger cousins, nieces and nephews aren't allowed to come. Address the sensitive issue right away by calling and explaining that you, unfortunately, can't invite everyone. You can blame it on budget and venue constraints (if you want), which often wards off further protests and avoids hurt feelings. But remember, you don't have to give a lengthy explanation. You're not going to please everyone, but it's okay to say a kid-free wedding is a personal choice you've made and leave it at that.

Irina Grechko contributed to the reporting of this piece.

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