Want to open a can of worms? Tell people you want a ‘no children wedding’. You’ll get a few supporters, but others will secretly scorn you. Namely, the ones on your guest list who can’t imagine leaving their little ones with a babysitter.

Having a kid-free wedding is one way to scale back the guest list for a small wedding but be prepared for criticism. Judging by the comments on some bridal forums, there are some pretty strong opinions about kids and weddings. Some can’t imagine why anyone wouldn’t allow kids. They argue that it’s anti-family not to invite children and that weddings are all about family. Others can’t comprehend why anyone would want little ones underfoot at such an ‘adult’ event.

We had kids at our wedding. Mind you, there were only three – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. That said, I understand why some couples opt for a ‘no children wedding.’ Couples generally spend months orchestrating their weddings – not to mention saving for them. Along comes one tantruming toddler, and Kaboom! perfection is destroyed – especially if it happens during the vows.

Kids are unpredictable. They cry. They make messes. They bump into things and are known to stick their fingers into places that they shouldn’t (i.e. cake, nose, you get the picture.) But oftentimes, they’re also surprisingly well-behaved during special occasions and can add a lot to your Big Day.

If you are sure you want a ‘no children wedding’, how do you ensure that your adult guests won’t bring their offspring?

Whether your motives for going kid-free are a limited guest list, or a morbid fear that crying babies, tantruming toddlers and playful preschoolers will wreak havoc on your wedding, here are some ways to get the message across to your guests that kids aren’t invited:

• Before you send out the invites, call friends and family who have kids and let them know that a wedding invitation is on the way and that you have opted for a ‘no children wedding’. That way they will have time to line up babysitters.

• Wedding etiquette experts (I am not one of these. Trust me.) say that it’s tacky to write ‘no children’ on the invites. Instead, state on the RSVP card that it will be an ‘adult reception’. Another way of saying this is to write the following on the RSVP card: “We have reserved_ seats in your honor” and just include the number of adults.

• Be firm. If you cave at your sister’s request to bring her little ones, and your friend’s little ones were forced to stay with babysitters, there might be hurt feelings.

One way to please your guests with kids is to have a babysitter or two at the wedding venue. Set up fun activities like a craft centre to occupy the kids. One word of caution: some kids get severe separation anxiety and will not take to this idea very well. Keep this in mind when you are pursuing this option.

Photo: Ralph Heinze Photography

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55 Comments  |  Filed Under: Small Wedding Ideas, Wedding Planning

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  1. Posted by Larry James on June 10th, 2011 at 7:12pm

    I love children at weddings because they are unpredictable and often offer memorable moments. . . however I sometimes have couples who prefer a "No Kids" wedding. I recently wrote about this in an article, "No Rugrats (Children) Allowed!" at: http://celebrateintimateweddings.wordpress.com/2011/05/05/no-rugrats-children-allowed
  2. Posted by Sara on August 5th, 2012 at 3:22pm

    "We had kids at our wedding. Mind you, there were only three – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way." I wish you hadn't said that. I felt so happy to read this article, and then there was so much back-pedaling and hidden guilt in the article, that it made me feel very disappointed. I wish there was an article that didn't try to make people who do not want children at their wedding not feel guilty about it, and give actually good advice on how to do it, instead of pointing out what not to do. I just find it so ridiculous that people have no problem telling someone they can't bring a guest, but a mom or dad gets a guest and their kid(s)! Unbelievable!
  3. Posted by Nadya on August 9th, 2012 at 6:27pm

    I chose to have a flowergirl of four and one of my close friend's toddler, or any guest who wanted to bring their own kids to the wedding, but I drew the line when I was informed the day before my wedding that my sister wished to bring a 2 year old that she felt oligated to babysit (returning a favour) to my wedding that I didn't even know and whose parents would not be present. My reasons were that it is dificult enough for toddlers to get through the length of a wedding, and all the strange guests, but without their parents there, it was asking for trouble. I think my sister's request was unreasonable, even though I never wished to exclude anyone's children.
  4. Posted by Sara on August 9th, 2012 at 8:08pm

    It isn't "excluding" kids, gosh that sounds so harsh! As if it's a day at the fair or a waterpark! C'mon people!
  5. Posted by lori mathers on November 28th, 2012 at 5:42pm

    I'm in a weird predicament. I wanted to have only immediate family. But my sister, whom I adore, has two kids ages 1 year and 3 years. They are little rascals! It seems every family event ends up being focused on chasing them around. And then they start crying. I want to focus of the event to be about our wedding, not chasing around a 1 year old. If I want my sister there, I would have to allow her kids. I'm so torn.
  6. Posted by Christina on November 29th, 2012 at 9:30am

    I would hire a babysitter to entertain the kids... maybe someone that they know already? Have some fun activities planned for them - that way everyone is happy.
  7. Posted by Bethany on December 30th, 2012 at 12:58am

    Its easy to say no kids when you don't have any kids! But mind you it is very hard to find a babysitter. I had the babysitter cancel on me the day before the wedding!!! I really wanted to go to the wedding but I could not go because she said no kids! If my child is acting in appropriate I can kindly step out during the wedding, but my child might be fine! Why judge me and my children!!! We want this day to be a special day for you as well and we want to be apart of it!!!
  8. Posted by Amy Arnott on January 10th, 2013 at 2:58pm

    Here is my thing with kids. My niece is my flower girl and my 2 nephews are my ring bears, they are the only children allowed. I am doing this for a couple of reasons:
    1. They are my favorite kids in the whole world! I'm allowed to have my favorite people there with me! If my fiance had any kids he wanted there they would be there as well.
    2. Not all parents take responsibility for their kids. Their kids cry and they don't do anything about it. Or they get to the reception and they act as if they didn't bring their kids in hopes that someone else (another family member) will watch them.
    3. I don't always like my friends kids. They can be bratty or just annoying. Plus, I don't always like how my favorite little ones act when these other kids are around.
    4. I think every parent should get a night where they can dress up, get dinner and dancing, and just enjoy themselves without having to worry about their kids.

    I would like to pay for a babysitter for my sister's kids, so that when it gets to late for them, the babysitter can take them home and put them to bed. Then my sister and BIL can enjoy the party without them as well. Or if not take the kids then at least watch them in a seperate room.
  9. Posted by Maggi Bircz on March 12th, 2013 at 1:00pm

    I love kids, I have 4, I have worked with kids from preschool to high school age. Do I want them at my daughters wedding, no. I have attended many different types of events where children were included, unable to hear graduations or wedding ceremonies over crying unsettled children where the parents showed no consideration by removing them. Children are unpredictable and since there is a great amount of time, effort and money being invested in the big day, it most certainly should be up to the bride and groom on this issue. Seriously friends, this should not be an issue.
  10. Posted by Anna on June 6th, 2013 at 6:06pm

    My fiance and I recently had this debate. We both love kids- we want them as soon as we are able to have them. A bunch of my friends have kids and for the most part, they are all well-behaved, adorable and entertaining and we'd love to have them there.

    However, I have a friend who has two children who have serious behavioral issues and she doesn't manage these issues AT ALL. As a teacher, I'm used to working with kids like this, but my wedding day is not the time for me to be working and I don't feel obligated to continue my job at my wedding, and you know what? I don't feel guilty about that.

    The only fair solution was to make it an adult only affair, with the exception of our flowergirl and our ringbearer. There are enough people at the wedding that if a friend calls me on it (even this specific friend) and can just let them know my reason for making the day an adult only affair.
  11. Posted by Anna on June 6th, 2013 at 6:08pm

    Just adding to my comment for clarity- of course I wouldn't name any names!
  12. Posted by Morgan on June 12th, 2013 at 6:17pm

    My fiance and I are having a no-kids wedding next spring, and we have no regrets! I've nannied before and adore children, but the kind of event we're having is very formal, has an open bar, and will go late into the night. Who would want to bring their children to that? I also know that some of my future step-family members have some absolute terrors that would most definitely put a damper on the day. I'd also like to provide an excuse for my parental friends to have a night out for themselves, because let's face it, even with a well-behaved child in tow, your focus is going to be on them - not on enjoying themselves or the couple getting married.
  13. Posted by Ella on July 1st, 2013 at 3:08pm

    It is absolutely amazing and self-absorbed how upset some parents get about their children not being invited to a wedding. Remember now, usually the bride and groom are spending a lot of money--possibly tens of thousands of dollars--of their own money on this party, and they are entitled to have it be what they want. Before you get upset that your child is not invited to something as expensive and important as a wedding, remember that this is THEIR day, not yours.
  14. Posted by Julia on July 15th, 2013 at 2:19pm

    My comments are not to look down opinion the big wedding phenomenon, but I think anyone thinking about who not to include on their list wants a big wedding. I am not really sure why people want to spend lots of money on a big wedding. If you do not want kids at your wedding, then why not just do a Vegas wedding and invite several friends to come along as witnesses. The perfect wedding does not a happy marriage make.
  15. Posted by Qiana on July 24th, 2013 at 6:18pm

    everyone should respect the bride and groom's wishes whatever they ask. children can up your guest count quickly which in turn means, more money to spend on everything. more chairs, more tables, more center pieces, table ware, some form of entertainment or babysitting services for the children, catering (just because it's a child's plate doesn't necessarily mean a discount). that all could be avoided if you opt for an adult affair. that extra expense could be delegated to other parts of your wedding, honeymoon or personal wants. guests should be considerate of how expensive these events are, and that extra guests (children, or randoms) add to your bottom line. it's something to really think about if you have a strict wedding budget.
  16. Posted by Peters on July 26th, 2013 at 4:04pm

    So - i found this site through a google search. We're on the opposite side of it all. Our 4 kids (two teens, middle school and elementary) were not included on the invite. I had never heard of an adult-only wedding so i did a search.

    We are not super close to this couple, but are like step-family. I was somewhat hurt at first realizing that the kids were not included -- daughter had chosen a dress to wear already. Sort of coming to terms with the adult-only thing though.

    Our dilemma; It's 3 hours away, in a fun town, and we were going to make a weekend of it for our kids. Now, not sure what to do. I AM NOT leaving my 17 yr old son home alone to watch the others. Grandparents are not an option. We're feeling more like a token invite now; rather than wanted family. kids will be sad when i tell them.

    Any Thoughts?
  17. Posted by Peters on July 26th, 2013 at 4:27pm

    another thought (see first post below) as I'm processing how to re-arrange our plans as we've found out our kids arent invited, and still honor this couple's invite:

    is it the number of chairs that's important, or the age of the people? If i took my 15-yr old daughter, is that against the no-kids policy? it would be so much easier to do that, than go with husband. that's not going to happen with leaving all the kids behind.

    Thots on this???
  18. Posted by Mya on September 25th, 2013 at 2:04pm

    My daughter is getting married next year. She and her fiance' just got engaged, so we haven't even sent out the Save the Date cards yet. Today, my sister informed me that she and her boyfriend are excited to come to the wedding and will be bringing HIS 3 children. He only gets them in the summer. She also informed me that our other sister will be bringing her two children and HER boyfriend's two children. We have never met any of these children! I have a knot in my stomach and don't know how to respond to this. I've seen the other responses to act with kid gloves etc. but I don't know if that approach will work in this case. The wedding venue is very expensive per person and I think it's rude to assume who will be invited. Any suggestions would be helpful. This isn't a "no kids" wedding, because there will be children in the bridal party as well as a few children of the family that will be invited...but kids of boyfriends??. help!
  19. Posted by Tiara McIntosh on September 25th, 2013 at 3:45pm

    My fiancee and I are getting married next May (2014), we're planning on having and "adults only" wedding and reception with the exception of our own children and our nieces and nephews. We realize there will be some angry guest who will complain and criticize us for this but at the end of the day it's our wedding. My fiancee and I are paying for this wedding out of our own pockets, we've worked hard for this day so I don't feel like we should have to explain to anyone why we're not allowing everyone to bring their kids. But we made this decision because we honestly want to save some money, we don't want a bunch of kids running around unattended and we want this to be about us instead of crying or screaming babies. We are not paying to have child care service at our wedding either, it's not our responsibility. I hate to sound blunt but I refuse to allow others to run over us or take over our wedding, people should be more understanding when it comes to things like this. I will make sure my guest know that no children are allowed by including this info on my RSVP card and my wedding website. There will also be ushers at the entrance, guest who have RSVP will be on a list in alphabetical order. The usher wont allow anyone who is not on that list to enter the venue, sorry but I need to make sure we don't go over budget due to rude guest. I have to be this way because otherwise I'll find myself upset about it later.
  20. Posted by Tiara McIntosh on September 25th, 2013 at 4:03pm

    Here's my response. To Peters; Sorry you were invited to a wedding that your kids cannot attend but please don't take it personal. Even though you wanted to make a family trip out of the weekend you have to honor the wishes of the couple, it's about them. The couple may not be able to pay for kids to attend their wedding or they may just prefer an intimate ceremony but it's nothing against you personally. If in the end you cannot attend due to babysitter reasons,etc. just send the couple a gift and thank them for the invite, believe me, they are struggling with the "no kids" rule so don't be hard on them or make them feel bad for having to make this decision. Good Luck!

    My response to Mya, you have to let your family know that the wedding is only open to close and immediate family members so all the extra kids are not invited. Just be nice as you can about it, pull them to the side and just tell them you're working from a budget and space limitations so no extra guest are allowed. A great idea would be for everyone to pay for a babysitter on site or at nearby location just search via care.com. If your relatives get upset then they are being unreasonable, it's not their day so they need to get over it. If you're having a hard time telling people that no kids are allowed then have another family member do it for you. Good Luck!
  21. Posted by Claudia on November 28th, 2013 at 10:14pm

    Weddings are to celebrate the union of a man and woman, not about family reunion. Small children cannot handle the etiquette required for a wedding and the reception. Be honest -- how many brides really want the attention on their special day taken away by a baby or obnoxious tike? None. How many brides want the dvd of their vows tainted by the cooing and/or screams of a bored, angry child?

    Also, most parents have dietary restrictions for children. That means added catering expense for the new married couple. Parents buckle under pressure from their children and feed them a limited diet. Who needs the added expense of providing a children's' menu at their reception?

    The best thing to do is state "adults only wedding and reception." If guests call with objections, the bride-to-be and/or groom can explain that due to financial limitations, limited space, etc., children are not going to share in the wedding and reception. Friends and family should respect the wishes of the soon-to-be couple. If they the parents continue to fuss (ironic choice of words, no?), lament that the invited guests' presence will be missed. End of discussion.

    Another way to look at it, whoever is paying for the wedding gets the final say on the guest list.
  22. Posted by Shanda on December 5th, 2013 at 6:50pm

    I don't get the weird over-production mentality about weddings these days (especially with many marriages not making to the 5 year mark). I've been to loads of weddings with children involved in my 4 decades of life and have yet to see one of these kids-at-a-wedding 'horror stories.' (I'm starting to strongly believe this is a myth.) If you don't want kids there, fine, but I'll be clear here: don't get miffed that I choose not to come, especially if I have to #1 travel, and #2 pay for babysitting. And I probably won't be sending a gift, either, but I will wish that the fertility gods smile upon you many times, so that you can also experience the hassle of trying to attend a family wedding that kids cannot attend.
  23. Posted by Donna on December 31st, 2013 at 8:37am

    It is my experience that a lot of today's parents (not all, of course) will bring their kids to anything without any consideration for other people's feelings and wishes. I think if you really don't want kids at an event, you have to be VERY clear and VERY firm, well in advance, if you want to be sure they won't bring them. I don't think anyone should feel bad or let anyone bully them if they don't want kids at any event. Sure, a lot of kids behave, but they are all unpredictable. I have used this line a number of times which may be helpful to others. I say to ALL the parents that " not all kids are as well-mannered as yours, so we are not having children at this event". Of course its often a white lie, but it seems to go over well...lol
  24. Posted by Angel on January 15th, 2014 at 3:24pm

    My predicament is not only not wanting kids acting up at the wedding but the cost. Any children under the age of 10 is a kids meal at 1/2 price and over 10 is full price. At $30 a meal, if everyone brings their children it will be an extra $1000. I can't afford that just because they want to bring their children. The wedding is at a nice place and to have it there meant cutting back on other things. People just don't understand that not only do younger kids act up but they aren't free to eat. We have to pay for it. My friend had her ceremony that was being taped ruined by a crying baby. They didn't take her out of the church either and afterwards my friend was in tears. People are just rude and don't care about the time and expense of a wedding. I have kids and I either get a sitter or I don't go. If I can't get a sitter then I write on the rsvp that we decline because I was unable to find a sitter. If the bride would rather have you there even with your kids then she will call and tell you to come anyways. If not then leave it at that. AND P.S. SEND YOUR RSVP BACK EVEN IF YOU AREN'T GOING. Just went to a wedding and she said 1/2 the people didn't send back their rsvp. Stamp on it and they couldn't even send it back. She spend 2 hours on the phone calling people because they couldn't get an accurate count. 1/2 of those people were coming and just didn't send it back. If she hadn't called they wouldn't have had enough food.
  25. Posted by Elsie May on January 20th, 2014 at 1:05pm

    We had a no kids wedding which upset a few people but everyone enjoyed themselves and didn't have to worry about looking after the kids! Would definitely recommend it
  26. Posted by Mrs Z on March 8th, 2014 at 1:20pm

    My husband and I both come from large families, and any event, wedding, new baby, funeral, is always celebrated by most family members. One of my nieces had a wedding with 8 bridesmaids/groomsmen, and they had childcare services for children 6 and under. In this way no one would be left out or have to miss such an important, joyous family-oriented event. It was so nice!
  27. Posted by Natalie on March 13th, 2014 at 1:24pm

    I plan on having a "no kids" wedding.
    I think it is incredibly rude and inconsiderate of a guest to feel like their child is entitled to attend my wedding at my expense! I am inviting you, and willing to pay for your meal because you are my friend or family member- your child is not my friend and will Add nothing to my wedding, they won't even remember it!
    Here are my primary reasons:
    1. Food is expensive! At about $40 a plate I don't want to pay for your child to play with their food and not eat it.
    2. Space is limited, and if I am paying for one more seat, I would rather it be someone who I personally know and like. Plus, my fiancé is Mexican, not to sound prejudice- obviously I am not- but it is true that they have A TON of kids. If we allowed kids our guest count would literally more than double. That is pricy!
    3. Kids have no manors. I went to a wedding once with a lot of kids- it was terrible! There was a photobooth at this wedding that surely cost around $1000. An hour into the night the photo booth was out of paper and the kids had destroyed all the props. I am sure the couple wanted their friends to utilize the photo booth for a nice keepsake, instead it was used for kids entertainment. Unbelievable!
    4. I'm having an open bar, would you take your child to a bar or nightclub? My wedding will have drinking and dancing. It's not the environment for a child anyway!
  28. Posted by Julia on March 16th, 2014 at 2:06am

    This is all very fascinating - interesting justifications for the idea to be had here, yet I have also been to many weddings, many before I had my own kids, with LOTS of children, where they were not an issue. If a baby starts to cry, they are quickly taken out of the room, and most kids are bigger than that anyhow.

    Since many couples marry with the idea of starting a family (that is, with children eventually or maybe already), it seems nearsighted at best to start the journey excluding children. For an event filled with symbology, this seems like an ill fit. Honestly, if the event is too expensive to shell out for chairs and centerpieces enough to accommodate your family's families, then maybe it would be better to just invite a smaller circle of (intact groups of) family. Because to invite the family minus kids overlooks that the kids are your family, too, and sends the message (loud & clear, to the kids as well) that they are second-rate family, too icky to hang out with the clearly better, taller, and elegant members of the family. This is more than just an awesome party; it is a rite of passage, a joining of two families through two people. Everyone who attends becomes invested in the success and joy of the two being wed - and the children, at a very early age (mine was 6 when I first saw it in his face), participate in that magic of hope as well. Who wouldn't want the future invested in their union? Again, the symbology of the move seems ill-fitting to the event.

    It may be easier to understand once you have your own unwelcome children, who will also not learn what weddings are, or why they are important, because of this unfortunate trend. Kids are a part of life, and the journey of marriage takes people through real life together - not a sanitized hollywood version of it. Best to just plunge into real life early on, learn to roll with it, and embrace the element of surprise, since there will be many as you go through the marriage. The biggest surprise may be that what you worried about was no big deal, after all.
  29. Posted by M on March 22nd, 2014 at 1:03am

    I think it is interesting that some of the comments recommend simply not inviting the couple if you don't want them to bring their kids (Julia). I am planning my wedding and would love to keep it small, but I feel immense pressure from my family to invite all my aunts, uncles and cousins. That means kids are involved. I am not close to many of them and would leave them off the invite list if I could, but I am worried about hurt feelings if I invite relatives I'm close to and do not invite those I haven't seen, much less spoken to, in years.

    Additionally, leaving a couple off the invite list because they have kids (and assuming they wouldn't want to come to the wedding if I don't invite their kids) is incredibly obtuse. I've had several friends tell me they are glad my wedding is an adults only event and they are looking forward to an adults-only evening.

    I am not second-guessing my "no kids" wedding at all.
  30. Posted by Al on April 2nd, 2014 at 12:36pm

    Well my husbands sister is getting married in a few months and just informed us that they will be having a no kids wedding.(we have an almost 6 yr old girl) Now they have been planning their wedding for a year now and not once has she said anything about no kids. My daughter has been hearing about her wedding coming up for quite sometime and has even talked with the bride about her "big day" and never has she even hinted about no kids. My daughter is really looking forward to this wedding and she knows very well what they are about as we just got married a month ago. From what I gather she is worried that my daughter would somehow ruin her perfect wedding and none of her friends and really anyone in his family has kids. My husband and I are both in the wedding so finding a sitter would be hard but honestly I really don't want to go at all and just know my daughter will be heart broken when we tell her.

    I had about 10 kids at my recent wedding and it was a beautiful day and the pics of the kids were awesome!!
  31. Posted by Katie on April 21st, 2014 at 9:51pm

    I really had no idea how controversial this topic was before I started planning my wedding. My fiance and I didn't even think twice about it - we are having an 'adult only' event and all of our friends and family, including those with children, are thrilled with the idea of having an evening to enjoy themselves! Honestly, all of these judgments just floor me:
    - For us, children do not 'make' the family. We are creating our own family by getting married, and hopefully someday children will come along and enhance it, but this whole idea that family is not family without kids is incredibly hurtful towards those who can't or choose not to have children. Therefore, our event is not 'lacking' anything by not having little humans running around.
    - The bride and groom have the final call over the guest list, as they are the ones paying. Not to sound harsh, but this should pretty much be the end of the story.
    - Even 'child friendly' receptions still mean extra work and more money, and it means that one parent will still be paying attention to their child (or should be) and not able to just 'let loose', which is really important to us. If you're able to provide such an atmosphere, that's wonderful, but don't judge those who aren't interested in the same.
    - Those who talk about their children being disappointed that they are not invited - I have to admit that in my opinion, this is on you. It is pure etiquette not to assume you're invited, even to a 'family wedding'. You have no idea the costs involved or the wishes of those coordinating the event and you should never assume that your children are automatically invited, even in you're close family. My sister-in-law approached us early on telling us she intended to get a babysitter for the weekend for her 1 yr. old daughter (and yes, she will be traveling) and that was what started the trend. If his sister is ready to dance the night away with her husband and us, we are ready to give that to her and plan to continue that theme.

    If you are able to include children in your day, that is really great. But no one has the right to judge those who happily choose the opposite, or to insinuate that we'll regret it or 'be missing something'. Believe me, our day will rock :)
  32. Posted by Shannon on May 22nd, 2014 at 2:20pm

    I've just recently become engaged and as we were having an initial guest list discussion, children came up. We both come from large families and have many friends with children...we counted 32 in all. Initial venue and catering research suggests we would pay full price for what amounts to a classroom of kids. Just a ballpark figure: That's about $200 extra in seating rental, $600 in food. Since several of the kids MUST be entertained at all times, we'd probably have to shell out a decent amount on stuff to keep them out of everyone's hair. For upwards of $1,000 (which amounts to about 10% of our estimated budget), I'm sorry, but I'd rather put that money towards a dress or a photographer or the honeymoon or just making it an enjoyable experience for the adults.
  33. Posted by MissMary on June 7th, 2014 at 10:52pm

    My goodness, so many people commenting about how rude it is for a couple planning to get married to decide on who gets to attend. Why shouldn't they? What gives you the right to say they *should* include children? What gives you the right to have any opinions on their weddings? Do you think you also get to tell people what sort of cake they should have? Flowers? Music? It's none of your business. It is the right of the couple to decide who gets to attend. Unless you are their parents (and possibly siblings) then shut it. Ultimately it should be what the couple decides. It doesn't matter if you've never been to a wedding where a child has disrupted things. It's still none of your business. Children often misbehave at Church, ceremonies, events, etc. And many parents no longer bother to discipline or take them out. It's none of your business. And no, the couple should not have to pay for a babysitter (even if that is a nice gesture & they don't mind kids at the reception) or make other arrangements. Your kids are your responsibility. If you hire a babysitter or leave them with grandparents to go to a movie then you really have to excuse for the wedding. Invitations are sent earlier than a week so you should be able to find someone. If you want to be selfish then go ahead & say you won't attend because you can't be bothered to be a mature person. If your friends have known you for a long time then they've probably spent plenty of money on your bridal shower, your wedding gifts/travel/clothing, etc., housewarming gifts, baby shower gifts, birthday/Christmas presents for your kids, etc. You're really going to repay them by saying you won't attend because they ask you to honor THEM on THEIR wedding day? Selfish & immature of you. If you get a wedding invite don't assume your kids are invited & tell them & get their hopes up. That's on you, not the bride & groom. Do you take your children everywhere? To the symphony? To a work party which is just for adults? To a bar? To important meetings with your banker or the doctor? Sorry but other people's lives aren't about your kids. Your life might be but sometimes you have to put on your big girl panties & be a good friend, lest you find yourself without any friends who want to put up with you and your self-centered-ness. No one owes you anything because you have kids, except your spouse. Back when the world had manners children did NOT attend grown-up events until they reached a certain age. And children then actually had manners so they probably would have behaved properly. You might think your kids are well-behaved but that doesn't mean they actually are or that they won't have a random off day at someone's wedding.

    It doesn't matter if a wedding is the beginning of a family. It should be up to the bride & groom to decide how to have their own wedding without you guilting them for preferring not to have children there. And saying "it's easy to say no kids when you don't have them" is silly. Do all your married-with-children friends always invite your kids to every single thing, even grown-up dinner parties? Do you ever have a girls' night with just your adult female friends? Children do not have a right to be anywhere and everywhere. Be a grown-up and make arrangements or say you can't go. Don't guilt the bride by saying "because you said no children." You are not entitled to do whatever you want at someone else's event. This "we won't go if we can't take our kids" attitude is really arrogant & selfish. Just stop.
  34. Posted by Esther on July 30th, 2014 at 12:47am

    Thank you for posting this and having this available to us that have felt the fury and full scorn from family on this matter. It's not only a safety matter at times, but again, at the request and respect of a Bride and Groom's wishes - which so many selfishly forget. They question our intentions and morals on family, when this isn't the real issue. Wedding bring out the worst in those around us, so for any other brides feeling put down or trashed, like me, I say stay firm and trust in yourself and your future husband, these decisions were never made lightly.
  35. Posted by Shannon on August 15th, 2014 at 11:28am

    When my husband and I got married, none of our guests had kids under 18, so we didn't have to deal with this issue. Since we had kids [our oldest is 7], we have gone to quite a number of friends and family members weddings. Never did we assume our young kids were invited and always, automatically, got a sitter so my DH and I attend the weddings without our kids. I have no problem with adults only receptions.

    However, we have a wedding to go to soon for an immediate family member. This person wanted our kids to be in the wedding party and in the wedding ceremony but NOT to attend the reception. This is where I have the issue. I think it is insulting to have kids in the wedding party & ceremony but not invite them to the reception.

    Personally, I think if you want kids in your ceremony, they should be "allowed" at the reception, even if it is an otherwise adults only reception. If you are close enough to the parents to have the kids in the ceremony, then you should trust the parents enough to ensure the kids behave at the reception. Otherwise, it is insulting to want the kids in the ceremony but not the reception.
  36. Posted by Mrs. C on August 16th, 2014 at 10:48pm

    I've always thought adult-only weddings were a bit odd. My husband and I attended an adult-only wedding before we had children and thought it was strange at the time. Our culture is constantly perpetuating this idea that a wedding is about the bride and groom...it really isn't. It's a celebration of family - specifically, it's the celebration of the start of THEIR family. That's the whole point of a marriage - the union of two people forming the foundation of a family. And so to exclude children from something whose very purpose is to set the stage FOR children is really counterintuitive. I feel the same way about children being excluded from baby showers or bridal showers. Now that I have my own children, the hypocrisy of excluding children at something like a wedding is even more perplexing to me. In my mind, children at a wedding are good luck (and the deliberate exclusion of children bad luck).

    That said, it is their money and whoever has the money calls the shots. Do I get offended at having my children excluded at an adults-only wedding? No. But then please don't get offended if I respectfully decline and simply just wish you the best.

    P.S. The wedding that we attended a few years ago was my brother-in-law's, and it was adults-only at his fiancee's insistence. They've been trying for years now to have children to no avail, and it's very likely that they will never be able to have children of their own because of a myriad of health issues on her side. The irony of it is absolutely incredible...
  37. Posted by Andy r on September 10th, 2014 at 6:16am

    I've sen children at weddings - including one where they had indeed prepared an area for kids (an outdoor teepee full of fun things). That wedding was also lucky enough to have little or no crying during the service.

    I've seen another where we were in an echoing church and the child was stomping up and down the aisle and making noise. The same child also managed to disrupt some carefully thought out speeches.

    If you're very lucky, it might work well.

    If you're unlucky, then any time you want carefully thought out atomsphere and emotion, the children will drag it down to the lowest common denominator of drivel - let's face it, they do spout a lot of nonsense and children's cries have evolved to be nauseating so you can't ignore them - a survival trait.

    Children are ok in a festival atmosphere - informal, and with noisy music and lots of open space to drown out the cries.

    In any atmosphere requring silence, attention and atmosphere they are highly likely to ruin it. So being "offended" that your children aren't invited is like saying "how dare you want peace and quiet? My children have a divine right to spoil it, bless them". Either that, or being completely in denial about how noisy your children can be.
  38. Posted by Andy r on September 10th, 2014 at 7:02am

    To Mrs C

    You speak of the following two items
    "That's the whole point of a marriage - the union of two people forming the foundation of a family."
    "the hypocrisy of excluding children at something like a wedding"

    Because my girlfriend and I do not want children, the first does not apply to us, and therefore the accusation of "hypocrisy" certainly does not apply.

    One in five couples don't have children, so claiming it's univerally about starting a family is a little bit bogus. Not to mention what happens when you consider gay people who can't afford to pay a surrogate mother to bear them a child.

    And even if they do want children, they won't want them everywhere. theycertainly wouldn't invite them to the honeymoon suite, for example. And later on in life when they have kids, they will still go out to private occasions without them - I hope so, anyway, because it's good for their sanity.

    To me, weddings are the celebration of a profound and mature love between two adults. I personally happen to believe it's the most beautiful love of all, and I value its depth, sophistication and understanding far more than the concept of the love between parent and child - although I do recognise that such love is also important for those who have children.

    But don't be surprised if there are many people who want a wedding to celebrate grown up themes in a grown up and sophisticated manner. It's their special day, after all, and being free to enjoy sophisticated ideas is no hypocrisy.
  39. Posted by Andy on September 10th, 2014 at 12:12pm

    A traditional church wedding is a worship service that includes a public exchange of vows before a community of family and friends who commit to supporting the new couple in their promise to remain faithful. The modern view is that it is the big event girls have been dreaming about since before they were teenagers, and everyone should accommodate the bride and groom's wishes so their day will not be ruined. The wedding industry has reinforced this idea that "it's about us."

    Some commenters say if parents can hire a babysitter or leave kids with grandparents to go to a movie then they are being selfish by not doing the same for a wedding. But a movie is a few minutes' drive away and lasts two or three hours. A wedding almost always requires more extensive travel and involves the better part of an afternoon and the entire evening. When I live, babysitters charge $20 or $30 per hour (plus travel), and for many older grandparents with health issues it may be too much to ask them to stay up late waiting for the parents to come home. No one should be obligated to accept invitations they cannot afford.

    I can agree the bride and groom should not be guilted into inviting guests they cannot afford or do not want. But neither should parents be guilted into attending if the conditions imposed would cause a real hardship, whether due to financial realities or availability of childcare or the children having separation anxiety or any other reason. Invitations are not subpoenas, and accommodation should work both ways. A host would not invite only one member of a married couple to attend a singles party, so it should not be surprising when some guests must decline with regrets when only part of their family is invited to an adults-only wedding.

    I have been on the receiving end of this dilemma many times:
    * Is it okay to bow out of a "must-attend" adults-only event when I have a nursing newborn fresh out of the NICU?
    * If I prepared all year to lead a church team on a major mission trip and my relative announces their nuptials will be on the day my team departs, do I move mountains to reschedule the team's itinerary, or can I offer to attend the wedding ceremony only and then incur the wrath of other family members who blog about me ruining my relative's big day by excusing myself early from the reception? (This is what actually happened.)
    * If my child is terrified of strangers, how do I respond to an invitation to an out-of-town, three-day wedding where most of the activities are adults-only, all relatives with whom my child is comfortable are already attending, and the cost of hiring a familiar babysitter to come to the hotel with us could easily be several hundred, perhaps even a thousand dollars?
    * Even for my own wedding, my parents surprised me by unilaterally deciding not to bring the grandmother who practically raised me, whom I had invited in person and who was looking forward to come, because "she is in a wheelchair and requires continual attention and she would spoil the mood for your guests if she suddenly needed to use the restroom or something." I was heartbroken, and for years afterward, until she left us, my grandmother would ask me each time I visited, "I must have missed it, but when did you get married?" When will we stop chasing style over substance and start appreciating what is truly important?
  40. Posted by Merne on September 26th, 2014 at 3:15pm

    Andy: I think the questions you posed have awfully obvious answers. It's rude for the couple to assume that everyone will be able to attend their wedding. In each of your circumstances, I see no unreasonable excuse for declining.

    As for the rest of the comments, I'm on the side of whatever the couple wants to do. If they say adults only, and its just not going to work for you and your tikes (cant get a babysitter, or whatever), then just decline. No big deal. The couple realizes that by having an adult-only reception, this will undoubtedly happen. Even if you find a babysitter, things fall through. Kids get sick, whatever.

    That said, my fiancee and I (two groom wedding!) are having kids at our wedding. Family is incredibly important to me (and I have a large family with lots of kids), and we'd like to adopt a child in the next 5-10 years. My family has always had weddings with children and they make everyone smile much more, and they make the dance much more laid back, and they make the pictures sparkle. Sure, they could interrupt the ceremony or the speeches, but our officiant has a sense of humor and so do we. Our officiant would just pause and crack a joke about why the parent hasn't left the room with their screaming kid yet. I hope a child interrupts me during my speech, because I plan on cracking a joke about it too. The other thing is, kids naturally leave after the cake is served and parents bring them home (or have a babysitter pick them up). Plan your cake cutting at a good time and purge out the majority of the kids, like we plan to do. Then the final few hours can be for drinking and dancing. Party!

    Its our day, and we've decided to have kids attend. Thats not to say that a couple that doesn't want kids in attendance are wrong. Even if the only reason is they just dont want them to be there, that is acceptable.
  41. Posted by Jerrica-Jem on September 30th, 2014 at 9:43am

    I had to comment on this! I was 4 months pregnant when I got married (we had been engaged 18 mo. so no it was not shot gun.. more like, couldnt wait anymore? LMAO). Also, I had a 3 year old son.

    And...I did not want kids under 10 years old at my wedding. Besides my own 1 child.

    We did not have a flower girl. My son was to be the ring bearer, but he got very sick the night before the wedding (so did I, was in the ER until 3 am and up at 7 am.. was terrible).So, my husband's 10 year old cousin filled in at the last minute.

    I had a babysitter lined up to care for my son during the festivities because I knew the family would be busy. When he got very ill, I called his grandmother and father to come pick him up. They refused because my ex was still very bitter and wanted to ruin my day. He did not understand he was not helping his son... Eventually, his mom said she would take him as long as someone brought him to her. Thank God for the babysitter - she took him to the grandmother... but not until AFTER the ceremony/cake cutting because I wanted him with us for pictures and such. Unfortunately, he was SO sick he slept through almost everything and did not end up in many photos :(

    I bring up this story, because someone said "it is easy to say no kids when you are not a parent" so I wanted to show that it is easy to say no kids when you ARE a parent. The bride and groom deserve to have exactly what they want at their wedding / within budget.

    Unfortunately, even though invitations specified "We love children, however this is an adult-only event," people showed up with whiney, poop-diaper-smelling, running around children (who almost tripped pregnant me while I was walking out being announced as Mrs.!!!). Call me evil, but damn right I scowled.

    Of course, parties seem to bring out the rude in everyone. I had people not even invited show up (my mom invited her neighbor who couldnt come, so she sent her12 year old daughter and a friend!?; a cousin I had not invited or spoken to in 15 years showed up dressed in jeans, wellies, and with a 5 year old and 3 year old... and hardly anyone rsvp'd).

    I had to put a firm foot down with my babyshower after that... I said "Absolutely no children, sorry" and had a lot of people whine about it behind my back, on fb, and to my face. I did not waver, and still had a good 40 people show up-- no kids at all. I have 3 kids, and when i go to parties like babyshowers, weddings, etc., i dont even ask to bring them. I get a sitter and enjoy an adult event out... and if other people have brought kids, thats ok! I just dont oogle and ogle over them when my focus is to be on the person the party is thrown for.

    I'm having a 30th bday party this year, and invites say "I love kids, but this is an adult only gathering. I am happy to recommend reliable and tested babysitters in our area"
    I've had 1 person take me up on it, and 1 person tell me they are not coming if their kid cant..... To which I responded, "this party is at a bar at 10pm at night. Maybe it is best that you dont come if you thought bringing a 4 year old to this event would be appropriate".... I immediately was "unfriended," but I like to think I kept a child out of a downtown bar!
  42. Posted by Lindsay on October 20th, 2014 at 8:45pm

    The way I look at it is your wedding is your wedding and everyone should have the wedding they want, however be prepared that if you make a no kid rule, dont be hurt or angry if parents choose not to attend if their children arnt welcome.
  43. Posted by Nicole on October 21st, 2014 at 4:08pm

    ""We had kids at our wedding. Mind you, there were only three – but I wouldn’t have had it any other way."

    This rubbed me the wrong way, too. It's great that you had children attend your wedding...but you also had practically no kids attend it (even many kid free weddings feature a flower girl and ring bearer). It doesn't seem to be particularly understanding of tricky cases where the fair choices are basically "no kids" or "a TON of kids" (or at least "no kids under 14/15/etc". On my family's side alone, there are 35 adults but 21 children! This puts me in a really tough spot when you're looking at keeping the guest list relatively small.
  44. Posted by Stacey on December 19th, 2014 at 12:54am

    I am requesting an adults only reception with the exception of my 2 flower girls and 2 ring bearers (which includes our son). Our venue is NOT child friendly (borderline dangerous if children are not properly supervised) and it is also small. There are too many children in the family and it would greatly effect my guest list. Additionally, the last kid friendly wedding we attended was a complete sh@t show with the kids overtaking the dance floor and not leaving even during the first dance, mother son, father daughter etc. we are not out to be ruthless, but it is our day, and we want it to go as we want it too.
  45. Posted by Darren on January 7th, 2015 at 12:45pm

    I'm in a small dilemma of my own, as for some people on here we have opted for a adult only wedding and quiet rightly mentioned by other people that its our day our choice.

    I think you have to have some rules emplace if you want your wedding in some sort of order (well not to much order).

    I have cousin who lives up north who wants to bring her child, I did do the courteous thing and called all my cousins & friends to give them a heads up (6 months in advance) that its adults only. The problem is my cousin lives with her partner and 1 year old daughter and they don't know anyone else who could baby sit (mind you they have been there for 4+ years). I totally understand there dilemma. I would just say can bring her as she is an exceptional case. But this will offend the 5 other couples who have children at similar ages who are not coming.

    Shall I just bit my tongue and say no for my cousin (which will mean she may not come) and then its equal across the bored. Or say yes and risk criticism for 5 couples, but surely they would understand if I explained to them she has no one to look after her child?
  46. Posted by Bee on January 20th, 2015 at 5:21am

    I think on this topic, there are a couple of questions one must answer on the road to understanding why complaining about an adult only wedding is absolutely disheartening. 1)Are you the bride and/or groom who have planned and dreamed of their own special memorable day? 2) Have you financially contributed to or are paying for the entire wedding? 3)Have you at all for one minute thought about the bride and/grooms wishes in your constant complaining to them and everyone else who will listen about the adults only wedding? 4)Have you at some point realized that you willingly had children and that there are many many times in life where you will need to get a babysitter or have them watched by someone other than yourself so that you can attend events, weddings, or otherwise? 5)Have you at some point realized that just because you "would never," doesn't mean everyone else has to follow suit because thus is life?

    Weddings these days have gotten out of control. They are extremely expensive to begin with and everyone wants to put in their two cents to a bride and groom who are most likely already stressed with just trying to pay for the thing, on who should be invited, how "their" wedding should go, and attempting to guilt trip them into not doing what they want. If you for one moment thought about the bride and groom's happiness, then you would respect their wishes and make the choice to be happy for them in their day and either politely decline to come, or spring for a babysitter. Life is hard if you are a parent. No one is denying that, but you kind of took up that task when you chose to have kids. This wedding you are invited to won't be the first or last time when you will see, or know, or experience, children not being allowed to come to an event. If you are absolutely horrified, then by all means, you reserve the right not to attend their wedding, but they invited you for a reason. They love you and wish for your support on their day. That doesn't mean they don't equally love your children, but how happy are they going to be going into debt trying to invite them all or having their special moment eclipsed by the screams of a fussy baby? If that is your wish for the bride and groom, then who's really being the selfish one...you or them?
  47. Posted by Joanna on January 22nd, 2015 at 12:04am

    My fiancé and I LOVE kids and we love all of our friends' kids. The issue is that there are so many of them! If all of our guests brought their kids, we would have 30 kids at the wedding. I'm still on the hunt for a fun way to communicate this on an information card to include with my invitations. If you guys find some ideas, let me know!
  48. Posted by Zeke on February 3rd, 2015 at 9:21pm

    I love all the ideas and advice I've read and some are right on the money. I dig kids, heck I'm still a big one at heart but come on people its one day out of the entire year. Get a sitter, its not the end of the world. Also at the end of the day its the Bride and Grooms day not the kids day. My fiance and I agreed on an adult affair with the exception being her sisters 3 kids and my God-child. I read an article on weddingwire that had a very simple yet stern statement to include on the bottom of the invite.

    "While we love the little ones, this is an adult only affair"
  49. Posted by Tab on February 20th, 2015 at 3:22pm

    People who expressly exclude kids from weddings look like bad people. (I do not have children, so this isn't personal.) It just makes you look like child-haters. Include the kids, they make weddings way more fun.
  50. Posted by Holly on February 25th, 2015 at 10:26pm

    We are getting married this summer & have decided not to have kids at our ceremony under a certain age. While we love children & hope to have 3-4 ourselves, we had some major deciding factors that have caused us to make that decision.

    1. My fiance has a few step-nephews that do not behave & we are worried about them (and honestly their parents) causing a scene.

    2. We also have picked a venue with a limited amounts of seating, and our guest list is reaching that maximum.

    We did struggle with this decision and have had some push against it. We have tried to be as thoughtful as possible but are paying for the wedding ourselves and cannot afford the extra expense to pay for a sitter for the children who did not reach the age cap (we decided 13 and over are OK). We hope that people understand as it was not an easy decision to make.

    Keep that in mind when you are invited to your next adult-only wedding-- it probably was not an easy decision to come to. We only have one instance where it seemed to be a big problem. One family traveling across the country to come to the wedding has 4 children. One of the four are old enough to be invited, but not the other three. We are now caught in the awkward situation- do we make this one exception or do we offer resources to have them pay for their own sitter during the wedding (the whole family is planning to come on the trip since it is an opportunity to see the whole family since we all live so far away)? We are a little stumped...
  51. Posted by Bailey on March 10th, 2015 at 4:54pm

    So my first cousin is getting married, and my 10 year old daughter is not invited. On the one hand, I do respect my cousin's right to do what she wants, and I'm certainly not going to complain to her. In all honesty, though? I'm hurt. That may not be fair, but that's honestly how I feel. My daughter is 10, not a toddler, and everybody knows she is well behaved. And I'm not some acquaintance -- I'm the bride's first cousin! My daughter is really sad about not being invited -- I mean, who loves getting dressed up for an overly fancy wedding more than a 10-year-old girly girl? I already feel like my side of the family is less-favored than the other (much wealthier) side of the family, and this makes me feel even more unappreciated. I'm really surprised at the decision, actually, as the bride is a first grade teacher! I was floored when I got the invitation and my daughter wasn't listed.

    So keep that in mind, folks, when you decide to have a kid-free wedding. You are certainly entitled, but be aware that feelings will be hurt.
  52. Posted by Dave on March 22nd, 2015 at 5:05am

    I am having the similar dilemma. my reasoning is simply kids will be kids and they do not listen to other adults they don't know. I have worked security for wedding receptions and when 10 to 15 kids are running around it not only creates a safety hazard I think it shows poor discipline on the parents part because they cannot control there kids. a good example one kid was running and jumping of a ledge i told him to stop i took him to his parents and his parents told him to stop. a few minutes later he did it again only this time he broke his finger. instances like this happened every weekend and i think that is why i am against having children at the weddings. i understand if maybe one or two kids show up its ok but when a group forms then all hell breaks lose. just my opinion
  53. Posted by Ryan on March 29th, 2015 at 6:41pm

    If it is a classy venue (expensive) then no kids. A smaller more backyard feel than bring on the misbehaved little monsters :)
  54. Posted by Caroline on April 10th, 2015 at 7:08am

    I can't believe some of the comments on here and how rude they are. Not every marriage is about having children and unless you're deeply religious I don't think this is the point of a marriage at all. Me and my other half don't want to have children at all, and that's our choice. I respect the choice of others to have children, but that does not mean I want to have them around me as I don't enjoy them personally. So we will not be having children at our wedding and I'm sure our guests will be fine with that. If any of them were rude about our choices on our wedding day, they wouldn't be very good friends.
  55. Posted by Christina on April 21st, 2015 at 3:39pm

    This says it so well- https://thisruthlessworld.wordpress.com/2012/09/05/on-child-free-weddings/

    Kids are a part of life. Excluding them with no effort to help secure sitters for out-of-town guests, making accomodations for family, making it clear that nursing infants are allowed, is just rude, selfish and plainly shows you have no idea what it's like to be a parent! Best of all is to welcome them and have activities for them at the reception at least. It is also fine IMO ask that kids not come to either the ceremony or reception, but to exclude all kids (especially immediate family members who are traveling) from the whole day is just very short-sighted.
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