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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Comments

  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!!
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