When planning your wedding and writing out your guest list you may have decided early on that you wish to have a child-free wedding. This is perfectly reasonable, after all, it is your wedding and you should be able to celebrate it in your own way.
So what is the best way to tell your guests “no children at our wedding”?
When I got married I was one of the last of my friends to walk down the aisle. Many of my friends had already started their families and now had 2-3 children each. I adore all their children, some are even my godchildren but when we counted them up there were over 30 children to invite! Now that is a lot of children, a kids party in itself. So we decided to only invite immediate family and wedding party children only cutting down the number to a more accommodating 6.
I understand how it can feel like a controversial decision, and the anxiety you feel as you worry about upsetting your loved ones. Whatever your reason for your choices on inviting children they are all valid and there are some lovely ways you can express your decision politely.
The best way to approach the subject is to be clear from the start. With gentle wording, you can give parents plenty of time to consider their options and arrange childcare if they so wish without causing any last-minute panic or upset.
Things to consider when saying no to children at your wedding
• Not all guests may come. Some parents may find it difficult to either get childcare or do not feel they want to be parted from their children and this is valid too. Like you, they will have their reasons that you also need to respect.
• Childfree destination weddings can be difficult for parents. It is a big ask to expect them to leave their children for several days and be in a different country. Or they may not feel uncomfortable using childminders in a different county. You may have to think carefully on some exceptions you can make for parents or not be offended if they decline your invitation.
• Some guests may leave your wedding early. This is something that happened at our wedding. If your guests have very young children they may wish to get home early to tuck them up at bedtime or relieve their sitter.
• Consider offering a creche or babysitting service. This is an optional service to have but your guests with children may find this a wonderful consideration where all the family members can have fun at your wedding.
• Be consistent – the rule has to apply to every guest. If you do make exceptions for your wedding party and close family let your other guest know from the start to avoid any bad feelings on the day.
So how do you tell our guests and where do you mention it?
The perfect place to tell your loved ones about your desires regarding children at your wedding is on your detail or information card. A few lines can clearly tell your guests your decision and help you avoid having to answer any awkward questions when guests are unclear about who is invited.
Here are a few examples of what to say;
When it’s an adults-only wedding
• “We are very sorry, but we are keeping our special day/wedding as an adult-only occasion.”
• “We are sorry that we are unable to accommodate children at our wedding.”
• “Our wedding will be an adults-only affair, therefore regretfully we are unable to invite children.”
• “We wish for our wedding will be an adults-only affair. We hope that the advance notice means you are still able to join us and enjoy the day.”
When your venue doesn’t allow children
• “We are very sorry, but due to restrictions at our venue, we cannot accommodate children.”
• “Due to the nature of our venue, we are unable to invite under-18s to our wedding.”
When you are allowing certain children
• “Unfortunately, as much as we’d love to invite all of our friends’ children, we can only accommodate a few close family (and/or wedding party) children. We hope that you will understand this decision and that you will still be able to join us on our special day.”
• “Unfortunately, due to limited numbers, we are unable to accommodate children with exception of the wedding party and immediate family. We really hope this doesn’t stop you from sharing our celebration.”
• “We can only accommodate children under the age of 12 months (or over 18’s) to our wedding.”
When your invite children to parts of your wedding
• “We are delighted to welcome children to the ceremony and early reception. However, from XXpm onwards, the wedding will be for adults only. (optional – A creche will be provided for the evening please contact us for more details)”
• “Children are welcome to our reception however there will only be wedding party children at the ceremony”
When your budget causes restrictions
• “As much as we would like to invite all the children of our loved ones, we will only be able to welcome over-18s at our wedding due to budget constraints.”
• “While we adore your children, our budget will only allow us to accommodate adult guests at our wedding.”
And lastly, things to avoid saying
• “We thought you’d appreciate a night off!”
• “To allow you to really let your hair down, we’ve decided not to invite children”
Anything that implies parents can’t have fun without their children can sometimes come across as patronising or makes them feel they have no control over the decision if they want to have fun with or without them.
As a parent, I personally respect the decision to have a child-free wedding. If the wording is kept simple, clear and consistent for all guests and plenty of time is given to cover childcare then everyone can be kept happy and be ready to enjoy your wedding day.