Wedspiration

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How to tell guests their kids aren’t invited to your wedding

Alex Marks Photography

Because this ↑ is the only throw-down you want to see at a wedding. ‘Bride-worm’ via Alex Marks Photography.

 

We get it. It’s not that you don’t like kids. You probably love them. You might even be planning on having your own one day.

It’s just that you kind of don’t want them at your wedding. There, we said it.

You are not alone here. We like to think this desire to have a wedding without kids comes from a selfless place. You want your guests to have a ‘night off’ to let their hair down with no responsibilities, and just enjoy the moment with total freedom.

But if we’re honest, there’s a probably an itty-bitty part of you that wants your friends to party without the distraction of parenting, the same way you used to when you were all child-free. We’ll be the first to admit we’re slowly raising a hand.

Often, there are valid reasons why it may be wise to ask your guests to leave their children at home, for example, if you’re getting married on a property that has potential hazards. Farms and wineries often have deep dams, barbed wire fences and possibly dangerous animals.

Most venues also have a maximum number of guests that they will allow, and you may not have enough room to have all your friends and family attend, let alone guest’s children.

Ultimately, it’s your big day and you call the shots. But understandably, you don’t want to be a dick about it, so we decided to share some advice on how to delicately tackle this topic.

How to word it

A simple and clear message on your save-the-date, invitation or wedding website is all you need. Think along the following lines:

As much as we love small humans (especially yours), our venue won’t be suitable for the little ones. We kindly ask that you leave kids with a sitter and enjoy a night off on us.

Do

  • Remember this is your wedding and your guest list is up to you – kids or not kids. Don’t feel guilty. In the end, your parent-guests will forgive you. They may just have forgotten what it’s like to be in your shoes.
  • Consider organising a babysitter for your guest’s children, particularly if you’re having a destination wedding. It makes sense that they’ll want to bring their kids along, particularly if it’s a long weekend, so a good way to keep everyone happy is to hire a sitter or two to mind all the youngsters at a designated house.
  • Be considerate and know that there are exceptions. Fresh bubs need their mums, especially if they are being breastfed. Don’t ask your friend to choose between your wedding and her newborn (because you will not like the outcome, and also this is a shitty friend thing to do). Also, if your friend has a child that is disabled or high-need, again, understand that they may be reluctant to leave them with care (and they also may not be able to find the appropriate care needed).
  • Know that it doesn’t need to be a one-size-fits-all. For example, you can opt to have your siblings kids attend but not other guest’s kids. Just don’t break your own rule and allow only some nieces and nephews to attend but not others unless you are ready to start a family war. We advise against this in the lead-up to your wedding.

Don’t:

  • Just print ‘Adults only’ on the invitation. This is your wedding, not a clothing-optional Carribbean swingers resort. It sounds kind of smutty and weird. If you’re conscious of text-space on your invitation, perhaps soften it to something like ‘A respectfully adults-only reception’.
  • Go on and on and on about your decision to have a child-free wedding on your invitations. Keep your message succinct and to the point – your friends and family already know how much you love their darling munchkins, and respect their choice to become parents, and wish you could have all the orphaned children of all the third-world nations join in your big day. It does no good to rattle on about it; in fact it makes things feel awkward and fake.

An alternative

  • Allow kids at the wedding but employ a nanny service to look after them and keep them entertained for the day and evening. You could consider allowing them to attend the ceremony so that they feel involved and then have the nanny service round up all the littlies and take them to a separate room or area at your venue while the parents enjoy the reception care-free. This is also a great way to still have a flower girl (or boy) and page boy (or girl).

 

Coming soon: how to keep kids at weddings entertained (because let’s face it, they are cute and not all of them do things like this). 

6th February, 2017

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Comments

  1. This is just what I needed to here. I’ve been thinking about this topic a lot. Very helpful & am looking forward to the next part of the series.

    Elise
  2. Very good advice and nicely written.
    I am a professional celebrant and I perform many marriage ceremonies where small children are involved as flower girls and pageboys.
    This is a lovely idea, but there are risks involved.
    I always advise the bride that, even though her little niece may be a lovely little girl, on the day she may be tired, overawed by the occasion, or just plain grumpy.
    If the child can’t cope, don’t force them – just take them out of the loop.
    There is a real risk that an upset child, who won’t perform, will rapidly become the centre of attention – taking the focus of attention off the bride and groom.
    The advice from movie actor WCFields was “Never work with animals and children”.
    In my experience it is essential to have somebody responsible for the child, and if the child cannot cope, that person will take the child aside and look after them.
    This situation happens in about one in twenty weddings, so it’s not a big risk – but it is very disappointing if it happens at your marriage ceremony.
    The person who is responsible for the child cannot be someone, such as the child’s mother, who will be upset by missing the marriage ceremony.
    Despite my best advice, I saw one pageboy, screaming his head off, carried down the aisle by on arm by his mother, who happened to be the Maid of Honour.
    Not a good look.
    The marriage ceremony became memorable for the wrong reasons.
    Plan for success by having a plan.

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