It’s becoming more and more common for couples to want to keep their wedding day kid-free, and that’s perfectly OK! Despite what some people may tell you, having an adults only affair does not mean you hate kids. As precious as they are, kids don’t always have the patience to deal with a long ceremony or a late-night reception. With the growing expense of the average wedding, many couples are also opting for no kids to to save money. When sometimes you’re paying $30+ per plate, you gotta sae money where you can!
But how are you supposed to word your invitations so that it is clear to guests that they’re supposed to leave the kids at home?
Make a rule and stick with it.
With your fiancé, decide what is going to be best for your particular situation. Perhaps you’re fine with older children, so you decide that only kids 16+ will be invited. Maybe you will only be inviting children of immediate family members. Having a defined rule of who and who will not be included in the guest list makes it much easier to explain why your brother’s kids are invited but your cousin’s may not be.
Hint: This is also a great time to decide how you’ll handle plus-ones! Are you ok with your sister bringing her newest fling, or would you prefer to only allow a plus-one when the couple has been together for some time? Make a rule here too, so that if anyone complains you have a clear reason why someone was or was not given a plus one.
DO NOT put “adults only” anywhere on the invitations
You may have seen invitations like this before, but it is a MAJOR etiquette faux-pas. Instead, relay the information in a more tasteful way. In my experience designing invitations, there are a few great ways to do this.
1. Address the envelope to only the parents.
The traditional etiquette says that if the person’s name is not listed on the envelope they have not been invited. Obviously this is a very subtle method that some guests may miss (or blatantly ignore). Still, I find it is a good practice to follow that ONLY guests who have been invited are listed on the envelope. So if you’re not inviting kids, don’t address it as “The Smith Family,” instead address it as “Mr. and Mrs. Smith” or “John and Jane Smith.” Listing family generally means everyone’s invited, which could open you up to some awkward conversations later.
2. Write in names and/or number of “reserved seats” on the RSVP card.
When you give guests a “fill in the blank” line for names, you’ll occasionally have someone add in a plus-one (or two or three!) that you haven’t accounted for. It’s not a common solution, but by filling in your guests’ names on the RSVP card you can sometimes nip this bad habit in the bud.
Another, more common alternative I have used is to use the line “We have reserved ____ seats in your honor.” This allows you to write in an exact number for each guest, which may or may not allow for plus-ones. It’s a more subtle approach that still gets the point across that you are only inviting x number of people.
3. Include the information on an enclosure card.
This along with the envelope, this is my go-to method for my couples. It is usually on a “details card” with other information. On the invitation set pictured above, the bride and groom were opting for a glamorous New Year’s Eve wedding with a late-night reception to celebrate the new year with their guests. They opted to leave the kids at home so that guests could enjoy drinks and stay up past midnight without having to worry about getting the little ones to bed. Another way I have worded this in the past is:
While children are precious, we we regretfully cannot accommodate them due to limited seating at our venue. We hope you are able to join us anyway to celebrate with friends and family!
There are many great ways to word it, but I usually word it similar to this with a few minor changes depending upon my specific client’s tastes. The nice thing about this is that it clearly states in no uncertain terms, that children are not invited.
Put it on your wedding website.
Another great tip in addition to on the invitations would be to include the information on your wedding website (if you choose to have one). Obviously, it can never hurt to have it in as many places as possible so that guests can’t conveniently “forget.”
Accept that some guests will ask to bring their kids anyway.
Unfortunately no matter how hard you try, it is likely you may have a few guests who will ask you to make exceptions. Sometimes they have trouble finding a babysitter but would still like to attend your big day. Sometimes, someone just won’t get the hint. Understand that this may cause a little friction with some guests, and others may be unable to come if they’re unable to find someone to watch their kids. Just be firm and remind guests that this what you have chosen for your wedding day, and whether it’s limited seating or simply your preference you respectfully ask for their cooperation.