There are plenty of decisions to be made when it comes to your wedding day, but who is and isn't on the guestlist can be one of the big ones. Whether you're keeping the wedding guest count small, or your venue has an adult-only policy, figuring out how to notify your guests of your child-free wedding can be emotionally taxing, awkward, and anxiety-inducing.
No matter the reason, know you’re not alone amid these complicated feelings. Now more than ever, couples are embracing intentionality when it comes to who gets an invite. Zola’s First Look Report reveals 35% of couples are requesting their guests get a sitter for their wedding day if possible; an additional 21% saying no to kids at the wedding altogether. And this is with a majority of couples’ guest lists including 100+ guests. Goes to show that for most weddings there’s no shame in “the more the merrier” being followed up by a few exceptions.
Parents can take their children's lack of inclusion personally, and sometimes, the circumstances don't work out in your favor. But remember: It's your big day, which means you're in charge of who you want in attendance. To help quell your anxiety, here’s everything you need to know about approaching the situation:
First, it's important to note that you should rip off the bandage as soon as possible. This will allow parents to be able to coordinate childcare and babysitting ahead of the event, a generous courtesy to your guests.
Ideally, your guests will be understanding—don't try to whitewash or talk around the reasons for not including kids on the day to placate their feelings. Whether you have a venue that isn't child-friendly, would rather have a quiet, distraction-free day, are planning an adult-themed event inappropriate for children, or are keeping the guest count low for monetary reasons, just be truthful. Most people will be understanding—especially if you have a specific reason for excluding children.
If you're not into having "The Chat," one way to first notify guests of your child-free wedding is via your wedding invitations. Address the invites only to who is invited. The envelope and the RSVP card should only have the names of the parents, not the children. Don't make any other mention of it on the invite itself—"adults only" can feel more aggressive than necessary.
If you're worried the parents might not understand the RSVP card or the invite, your wedding website is the best location for that information. Here are some easy, pain-free verbiage options:
Leave the littles at home this evening. We adore them, but we’re looking forward to celebrating our marriage without little ears and eyes around.
Like we said before, it's important to make sure you communicate that you are having a child-free wedding with anyone who assumes their children are on the guest list. People may not look at websites and family members may get offended on behalf of others—just stay firm and honest and remind them you're not trying to hurt their feelings.
No is a full sentence, and you do not need to give them an in-depth explanation. Stick to what you believe.
Feel free to include children in the wedding party—they can attend the ceremony and not the reception or be around for the entire day—but don't let some guests bring their children and not others. That's a sure way to offend someone.
Having a child-free wedding is a personal decision that can come with a lot of emotional anxiety to carry, but it's your day and you can celebrate with who you want—family and friends, young and old.