Hot Topic: How Do You Tell Guests You’re Having a Child-Free Wedding?

by Ivy Jacobson
Child at a wedding
photo by Shutterstock

The topic of excluding children from your wedding is always a hot-button issue with at least one guest, so how you do let guests know your reception is adults-only in the clearest (and most polite!) way possible?

Address the invitation properly.

To make it easier from the get-go, address your invitations to exactly who is invited, since some guests with children will assume that their whole family is invited. You can also take it a step further and write in the exact names of the people invited on the response card (just like you addressed them on the outer or inner envelope), and have them check “will attend" or “will not attend." That way, it will be clear that “Mr. and Mrs. John Smith" are the people invited. Then all they need to do is check whether or not they're coming.

Don't put “adults only" on the invitation.

Having a child-free wedding can be a very sensitive issue — especially with guests who have large families. Labeling an invitation with “adults only" (in addition to using our address tip above) might hurt feelings easily, so for a more subtle approach, enlist the help of family members, your wedding party and friends. Have them spread the word to others that you're having an adults-only reception so they have plenty of time to secure a babysitter if need be.

If you're having children in your wedding party, don't invite other children to attend the ceremony only.

It's perfectly okay to have children in your wedding party and still have an adults-only wedding, but you have to be careful to not make exceptions and let other family members or close friends bring theirs to the reception. Otherwise some guests might get hurt that it looks like you selected which children were and weren't invited. Inviting children to the ceremony only isn't fair either, since it's not fun for them to have to go home and see the other children going to the party.

Don't back down.

If you hear that family members that aren't happy your little cousins, nieces and nephews aren't allowed to come, that's expected. It's completely fair to want a child-free wedding, especially if you're having a swanky evening affair. If you need to call them, you can explain that because of “budget constraints" you can only invite adults. It might be awkward, but stand firm — you get to decide who's invited to your wedding.

Want more? Of course you do!

> Wedding Guests: What to do with kids

> 10 major Mistakes your guests might make

> 12 shocking facts about your wedding guests

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