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