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Wedding Etiquette: How To Say “No Children”

You’ve made your guest list and now it’s time to invite everyone. For whatever reason, you have decided that this is an “adult only” affair and as the bride and groom, you are perfectly reasonable for doing so. However, some guests need this fact to be made abundantly clear and there are a few polite ways of communicating the “no children” rule without offending anyone in the process.

wedding etiquette no children

The subtle approach

Address your invitation to the adults only. On the invitation itself or on the envelope, write “Mr and Mrs Willows”. Generally Mr and Mrs Willows should understand that the invitation is for them only and does not include their children.

If you are including an RSVP card, state the exact number of seats that you are reserving for Mr and Mrs Willows. Try something like this:


Photo credit: Evelyn Clark

The direct approach

While it is certainly not encouraged to write “Adults Only” on the invitation or RSVP card, there are a couple of direct ways of making it known that children are not invited.

At the bottom of your invitation, you could write “Regret no children” or simply phone or email each guest that has children and kindly inform them personally that their children are not included in the invitation.

Some guests find this rude, but you will certainly get your point across.

Sugar-coat it

Bearing in mind that no fancy font or pretty wording can satisfy an already offended guest, there are some sweet poems you could add to your invitation, RSVP card, or even to your FAQ section on your wedding website, which will let guests know not to bring their children. Try something like this:

While we love to watch children run & play,

this event is an adults only day.

Or this:

Wedding ceremony followed by an adult only reception.

A few tips:

Enlist the help of friends and family members to help spread the word. Having someone else inform your guests that their children aren’t invited is a great way for you, as the bride and groom, to avoid offending people while still communicating the message.

Don’t make any exceptions to the rule. If your rule is “no children under the age of 16”, then stick to it. Allowing one or two friends to have their children attend, while telling everyone else to leave their kids at home will almost definitely offend people and it will come across like you chose the children you like and asked everyone else to arrange a sitter.

I’ve done all of the above and my friends are still asking if they can bring their children. Now what?

You’ve been subtle, you’ve added a lovely poem to your invitation and it has been addressed to the adults only, but the RSVP card has come back with “2” scratched out and replaced with “4” and the names of the two children who are now apparently coming to your wedding. It’s time to make an awkward phone call.

Some guests will assume that even though children are not invited, their children are the exception. It’s time to be brutal and pick up the phone. Try saying something like this:

We are so excited that you are able to come to our wedding! Unfortunately our venue can’t accommodate children, so even though we love Sammy and Jo, we can’t have them at our wedding. Could we help you find a babysitter for the night?

What about the children that are in the bridal party? Should they be invited?

It is only right to include your flower girls and ring bearers at your reception. Generally those children will be cousins, nieces and nephews, or the children of close friends, so you may very well want them at your wedding reception. To avoid offending other guests, this should be communicated upfront. Add a note on your website or invitation that says something like this:

Other than children on the bridal party, this is an adults only affair.

By being upfront, you may still offend someone, but at least you have a rule and you can stick to it without having double standards.

If you have any cute poems or examples of invitation and RSVP wording that you have seen, or if there is something creative you are doing, please share that in the comments section below.

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