There is a scene in one of my favorite books where a wedding guest shows up with her kids to a wedding that was clearly communicated to be kid-free. The wedding planner intercepts the family before they’re seated for the ceremony and explains the bride’s wish that the day be child free. The mother then states that this is her cousin’s wedding and that she can bring her kids if she wants.
Does this sound like your worst nightmare? Although it may be hard for some friends or family to grasp, not every couple wants to include children in their wedding. If having a kid-free wedding is a priority for you, the first thing you should know is that it may be difficult getting everyone to comply.
You’ve invited everyone on your guest list for a reason, so it’s obvious that you want them all to be there. However, remember that attending your wedding can be a lot more difficult for your friends and family when they’ll need to leave their kids behind or find childcare. For anyone trying to make the necessary arrangements, there are a lot of costs involved and a lot of logistics to manage. Unfortunately, this means that not every parent on your guest list can attend your big day. Be prepared for a “No” or two, simply because they can’t leave their kids alone for the night.
You shouldn’t rearrange your whole wedding for the sole purpose of having a few extra guests, but before you send the “Adults Only” invitation, take a minute to consider who you’d really miss. Discuss where you’ll draw the line with your spouse-to-be, and keep in mind that your wedding may be considerably smaller if you’re really committed to having a kid-free wedding. It’s okay to make a couple of exceptions, in the case of the flower girl and ring bearer or the parents of a brand-new baby, but keep everyone’s feelings in mind. If you can’t imagine your big day without a few of your friends who happen to have kids, you might need to reconsider your stance on children.
If you’re wondering how to let guests know that you’ll be having a kid-free wedding without being rude, the most traditional way is through the wording on the invitation. Address the envelopes only to the people you’re inviting: “Mr. Oscar and Mrs. Hailey Harvey”, as opposed to “The Harvey Family”. Since not everyone is going to be familiar with the etiquette associated with invitation wording, it is also appropriate to add a small “Adults Only” reminder in the lower left corner, directly opposite the dress code. You can also provide an area on the RSVP card where guests can fill out how many guests will be attending. Leave the first blank empty for them to use, but write the number of expected guests in the other, i.e., “____ out of __2__”
Another way to make sure your guests get the message is to announce it everywhere. Put it on your wedding website, on the wedding day timeline, and have your parents and bridal party spread the news as well.
You can also offer childcare at your wedding or provide suggestions for babysitters in your area. Get recommendations for babysitters and other professionals from your wedding planner or a trusted local, and include a list on your wedding website. Out-of-town parents can split the cost of a babysitter if they’re willing to work at a hotel. If it’s possible and practical, you can have childcare at your wedding for the parents who want their kids closeby.