If you’re planning a child-free wedding, then you’ll need to be prepared in order to avoid upsetting any parents on your guest list. Here’s how…
Tell people early
It’s crucial to tell people that you won’t be having children at your wedding as early as possible. The more notice you give, the more time parents have to arrange childcare – not to mention come to terms with the idea, if they’re the type that would prefer children DO attend the wedding. If you have just a couple of parents to inform, then it’s good form to call or email them individually before any invitations go out, just to let them know personally. If you have more than this, then it’s time to…
Choose your wording
Officially, wedding etiquette says that you should simply address the invitation to the parents and not the children, and that should be all the notice they need, but we’re being more realistic here. Plenty of people will simply assume they are invited as a family, unless you’re explicit on the invitation. That doesn’t mean that you should be rude, however – simply writing ‘no children’ or ‘adults only’ is likely to ruffle some feathers. Here are our suggestions for wording your child-free wedding invitation:
‘Although we love your little ones, this will be an adults-only occasion. We hope that this advance notice means that you are still able to share our special day.’
‘We regret that due to limited space at the venue, we are unable to extend this invitation to children.’
‘Due to the size of our extended families, we are only able to accomodate guests aged 13 and up.’
‘As much as we’d love to invite all of our friends’ children, we can only accommodate a few close family children. We hope that you will understand this decision.’
Be clear with exceptions
It may be that you’re only including close family children on your big day, such as nieces and nephews. If this is the case, make sure that parents whose children aren’t invited are made aware of the situation in advance, as it could be frustrating for them to be told ‘no children’ only to see several of them making up part of the bridal party. As a rule, if small children are being invited, they should generally be some part of the wedding party, such as ring bearers or flower girls.
You may also want to make an exception for extremely young babies, or nursing mothers, as it’s unlikely the parents will want to be away from newborns (not to mention that babies won’t require an extra seat or feeding on the day, unlike toddlers and older children). In that case, include on the invitation ‘Babes in arms welcome.’
Accept that some people will say no
Although plenty of parents will be excited to have a night off from their little ones, some will simply not be able to attend your wedding if the entire family is not invited. This may be due to childcare restrictions or living too far from the venue, or it may just be that they’re not fond of the idea of leaving their children out of the children. Whatever their reason may be, accept it graciously. As much as it is your decision to host a child-free wedding, it is their right to respectfully decline your invitation.
For more helpful planning advice and tips, don’t forget to check out our Planning section!