So you have decided your charming, Southern wedding will be child-free. Now how do you tell your guests? Here at Gruene Estate we have seen all different styles of beautiful hill country weddings, with and without kids, go off without a hitch. Either way is a right decision…it ultimately is a personal choice made by the bride and groom. So, if you’re opting for a kid-free wedding, how do you make it clear that children are not invited? Whether you want to keep costs down, you aren’t sure how to entertain children at your wedding, or you just really don’t want to have children at the wedding (and that’s okay!), not having them attend has become more common. However, this can be a very emotional issue, so letting guests know that their children aren’t invited can be a bit awkward.

While you may have always dreamt of a child-free day or were hoping to give parents an excuse to have a night off, parents can sometimes be sensitive when it comes to whether their little ones are included in the celebration. Our best advice is to give plenty of notice! If parents know within plenty of time that it’s a child-free wedding they’ll be able to make alternative arrangements easily.

To keep your planning stress-free, we’ve written down a number of ways to let guests know that your wedding will be child-free or will only allow children to attend parts of the day. We have also included some do’s and don’ts. Trust us, our Southern roots have taught us a thing or two about being polite.

Make it cute.

This is our favorite way of going about the message. This way shows that you love kiddos and you know your guests love their kiddos, but for whatever reason, you’ve made the decision not to invite children. Approach the situation delicately with something thoughtful and cute:

  • Although we do love all your little cherubs, we would request that our wedding remain adults only. So, book a sitter and dust off those dancing shoes!
  • While we love to watch the children run and play, this is an adults only kind of day.
  • Sweet dreams to children under 16!
  • We would love to give all our guests the opportunity to let their hair down and have a good time without having to worry about little eyes and ears so we politely request no children.

Direct and straight to the point.

This is not for the faint of heart but sometimes the best way to make it as clear as possible. Somewhere on your invitation and/or RSVP card you make it clear that children are not invited to the wedding. Below are a few direct statements you can consider:

  • Please make childcare arrangements, as this will be an adult only event
  • Adult wedding and reception
  • Please respect our wishes for a child free reception
  • Adults only affair
  • This invitation is extended to adults only
  • With respect, we would like our special day to be an adult only occasion

Children are welcome at the ceremony, but not at the reception.

If you’re perfectly happy for children to attend your ceremony but not the reception, then try something like:

  • Children are welcome to attend the ceremony, but the reception is an adults-only affair.
  • Children at the ceremony, we’d love them on the scene. Reception time, however, is an adults only theme.
  • Wedding ceremony followed by adult only reception.
  • Children are welcome at the ceremony, however the reception is an adults-only affair.
  • Children are welcome at the ceremony, however, to allow all our guests to enjoy an evening of relaxation, we ask that our reception be adults only.

Children are welcome for the reception, but not at the ceremony.

On the other hand, if you are ok with kids at your reception only, here are a couple of ways to make that clear:

  • Children outside the wedding party are not invited to the ceremony but are welcome to the reception.
  • We would like our special ceremony to be an adult only occasion, however children are welcome at the evening reception.

Aside from wording on the invitation, there are few other key do’s and don’ts that we recommend to make sure that your elegant wedding can be stress-free and child-free.

Do clearly address your invitations.

Make it clear from the start that your wedding is adults only. The best way to do this from the very start is to address each invitation to only those who are invited. If it is addressed to the family, some guests will assume their children are invited. You can also write in their exact names on the response card (the same way you addressed them on the outer envelope). All they will have to do is check “will attend” or “will not attend.” Ideally, this will make it clear that only “Mr. and Mrs. Thompson” are invited. 

Do mention it on your wedding website.

Your wedding website is a place to share important wedding info—both the basics and added details not typically included on your invite (think: registries, transportation, dress code and more). That makes it a perfect place to slip in a note about keeping your charming celebration adults-only. This is also a terrific opportunity to recommend any babysitting or “day care” options in the area. This is not necessary but definitely a thoughtful touch.

Do give a call to any families that assume their children are invited.

It’s normal to start hearing from family members who are questioning why your younger cousins, nieces and nephews aren’t allowed to come. Address the sensitive issue right away by calling and explaining, unfortunately, you can’t invite everyone you’d like. Blame it on budget constraints if you want, but remember, you don’t have to give a lengthy explanation. You’re not going to please everyone, but it’s okay to say an adults-only wedding is a personal decision you’ve made and leave it at that.

Do have a flower girl or ring bearer at your wedding (if you want).

Just because you have asked guests not to bring children does NOT mean you cannot include flower girls, ring bearers and junior attendants at your ceremony. The tricky part about this is figuring out what you want to request for these kiddos once you all head to your reception. Our recommendation is work with their parents well in advance to decide if they will stay for the reception or if you can hire a babysitter to pick them up between the ceremony and the reception

Don’t make it an “Adults-Mostly” reception.

This can get complicated. While you can have children in your wedding party and still have an adults-only reception, be mindful not to bend the rules for other people with children. If you let some guests bring their families and not others, it might look like you hand selected which children were and were not invited—which could lead to an uncomfortable situation. Avoid that for yourself so you can enjoy every minute of your day

Don’t waver.

Even after you have clearly addressed the invites, shared by word of mouth and posted on your website, be prepared to get some pushback from a few select people. Just remember, this is your day and you and your S.O. get to decide who’s invited to the wedding. End of story.  It’s best to handle the situation head on and not avoid talking with any upset parents. At the end of the day, the best you can do is be thoughtful and if there is something you can do to be helpful for the upset family, do your best to assist… just always remember that it is YOUR day.

Don’t be upset if a few people decide not to come.

Even after you have done all the above, you may still have some families that just can’t make it work, or frankly don’t want to. And that’s ok. Above all, remember what this day is about. It’s about a celebration of love between you and your fiancé. You will be surrounded by those who love you, celebrating you two as a couple, and if a few people are missing because of your decision to not have kiddos at your wedding, that’s A-OKAY. We promise, you will still have a day and night to remember.

Photos by Southwest Creative Co.