When planning your wedding there are countless decisions to be made, but only a few of those could be deemed controversial.
Deciding to say ‘no kids’ at your wedding for example…
Adult-only weddings aren’t uncommon these days and are decided upon for numerous reasons.
You may have budget or space constraints. Your venue may not be ideal for small children. You might want your parent friends to be relaxed and let their hair down. You may just really not want to deal with a potential tantrum during your ceremony!
Whatever your reason for keeping children off your wedding guest list, your thoughts and feelings are perfectly valid.
While you’ll find that quite a few of your wedding guests will be grateful to receive this news, (a day out of ‘mummy mode’ and the chance to celebrate with you properly; what’s not to like?), you’ll also be met with those who will not agree.
Some may be downright insulted. Some may even decline to come to your wedding altogether!
While it’s rightfully a personal decision, remember that it is a sensitive issue for some guests and has the potential to cause great offense.
Below are some tips and advice on how to politely and tactfully say no to children at your wedding.
Say It Early
The biggest piece of advice you can receive is to let your guests know as early as possible that you do not want children present at your wedding.
This should really be done from the moment you are asking people to save the date. Drop it in conversation, add it discreetly to the wedding invitations, text, or email, just get the word out there – it can do no harm.
Parents are going to have to make arrangements for their children, in order to attend, so be considerate and give them plenty of time to source a reliable babysitter.
The added plus is that you will know pretty early on if anyone has an issue with it.
Be Confident in Your Decision
Understand there may be a bit of awkwardness when your guests are told that you do not want their little cherubs at your wedding, so expect a few negative comments.
However, stay strong in your decision. If children are not part of your vision, then do not be swayed by other opinions.
Be understanding if any of your friends share their concerns, but stand firm. You do not need to justify your decision, but a little empathy goes a long way!
What If I Want Certain Kids There But Not Others?
Now, this one is tricky. You may want certain children at your wedding, most likely only your own kids or kids you are close to. Nieces and nephews. Godchildren, for example.
If this is the case, then be really clear with the relevant parents about the plan of action. The last thing you want is for your guests to be greeted by the flower girl when they thought it was an adult-only occasion!
Avoid offending and set the expectations from the get-go. Let people know that it’s predominantly a child-free wedding, with the exception of those in your bridal party, immediate family, or close friends.
Tell your friends and family that celebrating with them, your nearest and dearest is so very important to you on your wedding day. You want them to hear the whole ceremony, you want them to laugh at the speeches, and you want to have a dance with them.
There may even be practical reasons you want to disclose. Space limitations at the church or wedding venue for example, which prevent you from including children.
Or maybe there are financial implications. Many venues will still charge a fee per head for all children, even if they eat and drink very little. So be honest and discuss this with your guests who may be unhappy. Here you could say ‘Due to budget limitations we are unable to extend the invitation to children’.
Say It Politely
Of course, it goes without saying, you must be polite. Tell your pals that you love their kids, but today is not a day about them. It’s likely you are going to want to be enjoying cocktail hour with your close friends, not watching them wipe snot from little Jimmy’s nose or calming down sweet Ella from a sugar-induced meltdown!
If you are sending Save The Date cards you could include a succinct and polite line such as ‘We respectfully request no children at our wedding party’. Or something light-hearted like ‘Book your babysitter!’.
The phrase ‘adults only’ prevents you from having to use the term ‘no kids’ which could cause offense. A simple phrase like this does the job ‘Please note this will be an adults-only wedding reception’.
On your invitation or wedding website, you can go into a little more detail with something formal like ‘Unfortunately we are unable to accommodate children at our wedding – thank you for understanding’.
I also like phrasing the request in a light way; ‘Whilst we adore your kids, we’d love you to let your hair down and celebrate with us at our wedding.’
What About Small Babies?
Here’s the thing – if you are saying no to kids at your wedding, there is an exception to the rule that you need to be aware of.
This is for ‘babes in arms’ – basically new little babies who are likely to be breastfeeding. These little darlings really can’t be without their moms at this stage, and we cannot really expect them to be.
The great thing is that these little ones sleep a lot. Even with loud music playing. So make sure you have some space for a stroller and hopefully, you will still get to see your guests during naptime.
You can of course, very politely ask these new parents to take their little one out of the room if they are crying – especially if this happens during the wedding ceremony or speeches. Most parents would prefer to sit by the door in case they need to make a quick escape anyway.
And what exactly counts as a babe in arms? Hmmm, I would say under 9 months of age, but there is not really a definitive answer here so you may need to be flexible.
If you strongly feel that you do not want any babies at your wedding, then I suggest you call up your guests with tiny babies and have an honest chat with them. However, expect them to understandably decline the invite altogether.
What If Someone Doesn’t Attend?
If one of your guests is really offended that you have said no to children at your wedding and you’ve tried to have a frank and friendly conversation with them, then you have to make a decision.
Do you break your own rule and let them bring their child? This all depends on how much this person means to you, and I guess how well behaved the child is if your wedding is particularly formal.
This also applies to any guest who cannot get child care but really wants to attend. If this person is a close friend then maybe you need to rethink.
If you are put in this situation, then discuss it with your partner and decide together what to do.