More and more people are asking the question - "how do I tell parents that we don't want their children at our wedding?" The reality is that more and more brides, and grooms as well, do not like the idea that children will be coming to their weddings. And that's okay. Here at Southern Bride we are all about being practical, dispensing of traditions that don't work for you, and retaining the ones that do work. If you don't want children at your wedding - you don't have to. Consider your feelings on the matter validated! (And this is coming from a parent as well).
Adults only weddings are not uncommon affairs, but there does seem to be a certain amount of guilt about explicitly not inviting your close friend's kids. So the issue of how to "deal" with the children of your guests is coming up more and more often. Here are some tips on how to let your wedding guests know that you are after a child-free wedding day:
"...But children are meant to be at weddings!"
For some, weddings are inextricably linked with children. Most wedding scenes we see in movies involve cute and huggable children running round. But reality can differ. Check me out as a little four year old flower girl. I decided at my cousins wedding that I didn't like beards... and the photographer had one. Hence a grumpy face, tears and a sullen attitude most the day!
When children get bored, they usher in trouble. They roam around, fidget, cry and grizzle. They aren't out to ruin your day – noise and chaos is just what kids do.
Bored children can be nightmares for adults, especially to their parents and the couple getting married. Just the thought of crying children, children messing up with her gown and that of the bridemaids can give you the cold sweats. Another sad fact is that some parents are not very sensitive to the impact of their children's behaviour on others. Other parents will not be able to relax, because they'd be policing their children all day.
How do we tell parents we are having an adults only wedding?
The very best way to avoid inviting children is to be up front and mention it in the wedding invitations. Don’t dance around the topic, hoping people will pick up on subtleties - make sure guests know where their children stand.
Couples who want an adults-only wedding can do a few things:
- Print guest names on the wedding invites - and do not mention their kids’ names.
- Spread by word of mouth that children are not wanted in the wedding, either by explaining to each individual family or with a polite handwritten note accompanying the wedding invite
- Mention the number of seats reserved for a particular set of guests. For example, on their RSVP card, Mr and Mrs Bennington are reserved only two seats at the reception. That means that Mr and Mrs Bennington’s five kids do not have places in the wedding.
- If you're comfortable with being a bit more explicit than just omitting names and relying on Chinese whispers, then a straightforward ‘adults only’ line printed on your invitations should do the trick. Please don't go for the overused "we want to give parents the night off" wording - as a parent I find this condescending - just be up front.
- Being up front and calling & telling parent-guests that kids will not be welcome in the wedding can also be a viable option. For some, the gesture will not seem that polite but as long as it is done in a tactful way you cannot be blamed for someone else taking offence.
If the guests still fall clueless and insist on RSVPing for their children, you will need to call them in advance of the wedding and explain children will not be attending the wedding. This can feel brutal, but it is nicer than seeing the children at your wedding and feeling annoyed. It's also kinder to other wedding guests, who have respected your wishes and left their kids with a babysitter. Imagine how unfair it is to leave your kids behind (as that's what the couple have requested) only to turn up and see a ton of children running round at the wedding.
Exceptions to the “no children rule”: Newborn babies
Many engaged couples have not had children yet so are unsure what sort of baby will produce what sort of drama - so they run with a blanket ban over babies and children in general. But I ask that you are sensitive to the needs of parents with newborn babies, especially if they are RSVPing in advance of actually having the baby, as sometimes can happen.
I highly recommended you extend an invitation to babies under the age of 6 months, if you really want the mother to attend the wedding. Younger babies, especially those 3 months or less, will be exclusively breastfed or bottlefed and will generally be unable to part from the Mum for any longer than a couple of hours. Parents might be unwilling to be away from their children for a long period of time, so you may need to accept that not inviting the child means the parents will not be attending.
New parents tend to be especially sensitive to more than a peep from their wee one, and a quick feed from the breast or bottle usually settles these young babies down. Even my son who was a colicky baby was settled with a feed and a jiggle on the hip (well, during the hours that a wedding would be on anyway… let’s not get into getting him to sleep at 10pm at night!).
As babies grow past 6 months they become more mobile and harder to distract or settle. Toddlers and preschoolers are more likely to cause chaos!
I'm not sure if my child is invited to this wedding?
For parents, if there is any doubt whether your children are allowed to attend the wedding, then it is best to contact the couple and clarify whether your wee ones are welcome. Don’t take it personally if the couple say no.
If your children are welcome to attend, be mindful of your children’s behaviour and temperament. Take along activities to distract them (non-messy, flying or noisy ones though!). Bear in mind you would not want to ruin the wedding just because your kid suddenly threw a tantrum. Assume the position of the couple. How you would feel if you were on their shoes, and children are creating scenes at your wedding. It would not be pretty and cute, right?
If you can swing it, get a babysitter and leave your kids at home when you attend a wedding – especially if there are not many other little ones around. They might get bored throughout the wedding ceremony and cause stress and frustration, as you’re outside soothing a grumpy baby while everyone else is enjoying themselves. Plus you want to be able to sit back and relax some adult company for once!