Thursday, February 7, 2008

Not inviting kids to the wedding: Ideas and advice

Maybe you don't have the space or the budget to invite everyone and their children. Maybe you're planning a more formal, intimate affair and children attending wouldn't be appropriate. Maybe you just don't like kids.

What should you do if you've decided not to invite kids to the wedding? Nearly a third of you responded this way in our recent poll. Whatever the reason, you need to be prepared to handle confusion, questions and concern from your guests.

Be Prepared
First, no matter what you do, be prepared for the fact that some parents may be upset and angry that their children are not invited. Some of them may not even come for this reason. You need to accept this and be polite and firm with your choices. In the end, some parents may actually appreciate a night off from their youngsters.

Spread The Word
As soon as you make the decision not to invite children, ask your parents and bridal party to help you spread the word. Casual mentions of the "no kids" policy will take away the shock factor when guests receive an invitation addressed only to the adults.

If you're sending save-the-dates, be sure to address them specifically to the individuals invited (i.e. Mr. and Mrs. John Smith instead of The Smith Family). This becomes more important when you send the invitation, but it doesn't hurt to be specific here either. If you have a wedding Web site, using the words "adult reception" wouldn't hurt.

When it comes time to send out the wedding invitations, again, be sure to address the envelope specifically to the guests you are inviting. On your reception card (or on your actual invite) , I recommend using the words "adult reception." The phrase has become very commonly used, so most guests won't find it offensive and will understand what it means.

Some people recommend clarifying the invitees on the RSVP card: either by specifying "X number of seats have been reserved for you" or printing the names of the guests. I find this to be too awkward and think you should stick with a standard RSVP card.

Babysitting Service
If you have any out-of-town guests with children, help them out by providing contact information for a babysitting service. You can post this information on your Web site, or send it to them directly in the mail or email. Unless you want to and have the budget, you aren't responsible for paying for a babysitter for your guests.

Standing Firm
Once the invitations are out, the real fun begins! You or your parents may get calls asking (or complaining) about the "no kids" policy. Or, you may have to call guests once they RSVP to the wedding and list their children on the card.

Be polite but firm (and make sure your parents are too!). Explain to your guests that you can't make exceptions because it wouldn't be fair to the other parents. Don't take offense if they get angry or decide not to come. They will (hopefully) get over it, but it will be a lot easier if they don't think you're mad at them too.

Click here to read our story on inviting kids to the wedding.


Anonymous said...

As a parent of 4 children who adore their father's best friend, and who is facing his wedding with a no kids invite, I have a few thoughts of my own on this subject. If you ask your friends to come a distance to be in your wedding, knowing they have kids, you need to be considerate and make arrangements for the children. Our best friend's bride-to-be insisted upon a no kids policy but doesn't care that we are travelling a long distance, have no one to help with the kids as they will all be at the wedding, and due to an unfinalized adoption on our 4th child, we legally can't leave him with a sitter out of town. I have volunteered to stay home with the kids and unfortunately miss the wedding, but both the groom and his family are infuriated at that thought accusing us of not caring enough about them. We are stuck between a rock and a hard place, but they will have to understand that as a parent, we have to choose our children over them.

Lauren said...

I really think both guests and hosts need to open and understanding when it comes to the kids policy. Yes, it can put guests in a tough position, but in turn it puts the hosts in a tough position if they start making exceptions.

I do think it's considerate to at least offer guests the name of a sitting service, but by no means do I think it's required. And making arrangements for everyone's kids is going well and above the expectation, even for out of town guests.

At the same time, I can't understand how couples can get upset when parents, especially out of town ones, have to make a decision between the wedding and the kids and choose the kids. But trust me, I know it happens because it did in my own family.

Remember that your friend and his bride made the decision not to invite kids, and that it was a personal decision for their own wedding. And her refusal to help make arrangements likely isn't personal--if she made arrangements for you, she'd have to make arrangements for every other guest with children as well.

I'm not sure if by "out of town sitter" you mean you can't have a sitter in the city you're visiting or a sitter at home while you are out of town. If you are allowed to hire a sitter in the wedding city, I'd suggest either asking you friend to look up a sitter service or do a little online searching yourself. If you're staying at a hotel, they may have a service they recommend.

You certainly are in a unique and tough situation and I hope you're able to work everything out. Whatever you end up doing, try not to let it come between you and your friend!

Anonymous said...

I am currently enthralled in this VERY situation- my brother and his fiance are due to be married in June. My brother asked me many months ago to be his best man, and for my girls to be flower girls and my teen-aged son to be an usher. We were honored and excited, so we accepted. Just a week ago, my brother decided to ask my wife and I what we would be doing with our 6 week old baby boy during the ceremony- I answered " my wife will hold him, I guess" not thinking anything about it. That's when he dropped the bomb on us- "uhmmm, well there's no babies at the ceremony".

To make a long story short, it has divided our family and my brother and his fiance have "un-invited" all of my family.

Some words of advice- 1. don't wait until the last moment to let this demand be known- many people have made hotel, tuxedo and airfare arrangements. It's best for both host and guest, if this is CLEARLY communicated as early as possible.

2. I can't reiterate the point enough that it seems rather unreasonable to ask parents that are travelling a far distance, to somehow NOT bring their newborn- or even worse, to expect that we turn him over to a complete stranger. Think and plan ahead and communicate early and clearly.

Personally, I don't see the logic in not inviting children- especially immediate family- weddings are all about family. Babies crying will not ruin your wedding- you will still have a beautiful ceremony and still end up both legally and religiously wed. And there would seem to be a bit of irony if not hypocrisy to allowing children to be a part of your wedding (i.e. flower girls, junior attendants, ring bearers) but yet not allowing any other children.

Chris said...

I'm going through this right now. We have made exceptions only for out of town, and family to allow kids. Yet, I have one friend who somehow thinks it's personal to him.

This is not the case. We'd rather have only adults, but realised this was difficult with family and out of towners.

I would rather spend the time with my friends, rather than have them chasing their kids.

Should they not understand that your wedding day is not about them?

Lauren said...

Chris, definitely guests need to have some understanding as well. I'm guessing your friend doesn't fall into either the out of town or the family category? It can be tough when you make exceptions, because then it does start to seem more personal to them, even if it's not.

I would caution you against thinking that your wedding day is not about your guests. Of course, it is about you and your fiance exchanging wedding vows. But it's also about your friends and family joining you to celebrate that moment. Whenever I plan any event, whether it's a wedding, corporate banquet or fundraiser, I always try to plan an enjoyable experience for the guests first and foremost. At a wedding, the bride and groom are just two of those guests...the guests of honor to be sure, but you can't forget everyone else.

Does that mean you have to invite kids? No. But just try to keep that philosophy in mind when you make decisions. For example, if you know some of your guests may be upset that their kids are not invited, let them know you understand it may be an issue for them. Take a few moments to look up the number of a sitter service and pass it along. And don't be upset if they are unable to attend.

Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Lauren, you might need a lesson in reality. A wedding is a family event. Hell, it's the formation of a NEW FAMILY! Not having children, no matter what age, at a wedding is ludicrist! But to pander to your blog's idiotic sense that this is simply the "Bridezilla's" event: plain and simply the wedding invitation needs to state, "No Kids". That way; Grandma, Auntie Anne, Uncle Joe, the dog, god, and the apes at the zoo all know the bride is a Kook, no questions asked! Friends, family and the ape at the zoo with kids will not waste their time making costly travel plans to attend such a Kook's wedding. While if you had a clue, your advice of "making arrangements for out of town guests to have their children looked after" is a nice suggestion, it is not based at all in reality. Oh sure...let's travel accross the country with the kids, and all of the hastle that entails, to attend some Kook-asses wedding, just so we can have a complete stranger look after our kids?!? Better advise is to "chill" on this 'Bridezilla' culture you promote in your blog. You don't want kids...that's fine...just admit in the invitation that you, the bride, are not really well grounded, and this whole daddy's little princess thing has gone completly to your head, and you've totally lost touch with reality. "NO KIDS" in the invite.
And to be fair, if it is the groom's decision to not have kids...just tell him to shut up and stand in the spot, and smile like usual.

Lauren said...

Thanks for your comments...obviously this is still a heated topic, which is why I wrote about it in the first place! Please make sure you read my entry on advice about inviting kids to the wedding before you assume my side on the issue (see the link at the end of the entry.

Personally, I LOVE kids at weddings. But not everyone does, and for others it does come down to a budget or space issue. My goal wasn't to promote the "bridezilla" culture, but to eliminate the entitlement way of thinking of brides, grooms and guests too. If you decide not to go to a wedding because you can't take you kids, that is fine and the couple needs to be okay with that too.

To me, what it really comes down to is this: it is one day--a big day for sure, but in the big picture just a day. Whatever decision the bride and groom make on this issue, it should not come between family and friends, which obviously it does. No wedding-related issue should drive a wedge in a friendship.

Anonymous said...

Lauren,you're still missing the point, love or hate kids...again, that's fine...either way, but state it up front in the invitation. Your advise is to send out invitations, THEN spread the word about not allowing kids. What I am saying is put your desire to not have kids in the inviations, straight-up, no candy coat. Otherwise, like I stated, a wedding is a family event it's the formation of a new family; kids come from families, it's not the Stork, there is an assumption that the kids are coming also. Kind of like if you are going to have a Formal Wedding/Casual Attire wedding you put that info in the Invite: you don't candy coat it by spreading the word later. "Oh, by the way, Coat and Tails, recommended", in a phone call from Anutie Anne?!
And given that you would obviously tell your guests how to DRESS on that special day in an invitation, you would tell them whom from their family is invited and who is not.
Quit dancing around the subject, if you're a Kook and you don't want kids, put it in the invitation.

Anonymous said...

We are planning a wedding on a boat, limited room and budget. This is our second wedding and I have a daughther 9. The only kids that we decided to invite, is her (of course) and the nieces and nephews of both of us. (10 kids in all, still in our mind too many). We are spending alot of money on our wedding, for it to be elegant and special and we are looking as it as an adult night out. We don't have anyone from out of town and we are giving people plenty of notice to get a baby sitter. I have already been told if you don't invite their kids they probably won't come. Well that is there loss. I guess, I will pull from the "B" list. I don't mean to sound like a "bridzilla" but it is my wedding and I should invite who I want and if I wish no kids then no kids. Besides the people that get put off by me not inviting their kids, and choose not to come must not be really be happy for us and are not our true friends anyway. They are looking for a free nite out for the whole family. Bottom line I think the guest should be gratefully enough that they were invited to spend the special day with us, and if we ask that they don't bring their children they should respect our wishes. Some of my friends and family have unrulely children and I don't want them to ruin my day. I wish people would just understand.

Anonymous said...

My future sister-in-law recently said to me that she hoped I had my wedding in certain year so her child would be a certain age by then, making the complete presumption that I was inviting children.

Personally, although I love family and children, sometimes there are simply times for adult events and not everyone wants children at an evening wedding, or any wedding for that matter. Some do, some do not. I doubt we would get the same argument if people were having a cocktail party, since somehow it would be assumed it was adult. funny how when it comes to weddings, people start to get in a tither about THEMSELVES and THEIR life, etc. and not about the bride and groom whose wedding they are attending.

Each couple is able to decide for themselves what guests they invite, whether people agree with it or not- bottom line, it's NOT about them. Period. Weddings are about family, but it does not mean every member of said family is invited.

I think people with children need to think back to the days before they had kids so they can remember and understand the perspective that sometimes, people just simply want an adults only event.

Laura said...

In the post it was noted that the bride and groom aren't obligated to pay for child care during the wedding, but for me, it's a no-brainer: given the monumental expense of a wedding, an extra hundred bucks or so (or more!) for a few hours of qualified on-site babysitting is well worth it.

I don't want kids under 10 at my wedding, and it's in part because as I remember it, having to dress up and sit still and stay quiet at a young age was excruciating. (Hell, sometimes it still is!) So I'm making arrangements to have a sitter (or two or three, depending on the number of kids) on hand, and the kids safely tucked away out of sight somewhere where their parents can check in on them during the evening if they like.

Personally, I feel anything else would be a huge inconvenience for guests with kids, and I would hate to (further!) alienate friends and family who might already be a little miffed at the idea that I don't want little Alexis and Mikey running around the dance floor or screaming their heads off during my vows.

Anonymous said...

I don't think people that don't want kids at their weddings are not grounded or "daddy's little princesses" either. To be perfectly honest, my wedding is on a beach, open bar, with fire pits to keep people warm...why would I want kids running around watching adults get drunk and them possibly getting hurt by playing too close to the fires?? I have nothing against children, I just don't think this is an appropriate setting for them to be at in my own situation. I am paying for the wedding myself so I am not a daddy's princess nor am I not grounded! Don't be so blanket in your ridiculous statements.

Anonymous said...

I guess I am a "Kook", whatever the heck that is exactly! I love kids, have a few myself, but have decided on a no kid wedding. We will have my kids, my neices, nephews...basically family. But honestly its for a few reasons we voted on the no kid rule: #1 I have been to a few weddings w/kids where unattended little ones have ruined a cake, ruined tables, and broken items! Not cool! #2 we are having alchohol, and I don't feel its appropriate and or possible for parents to party it up and have fun...and watch thier kids the way they would need to! #3 Its an additional cost we have decided was way too much (as our catering charges same price per head for kids) also the facility does not allow outside food brought in! #4 I am hoping my friends/our friends will look at it as a fun date night out! Get a hotel...have some fun! ...Also, I am giving guests enough notice (most over a year to make arrangements)...

I am not at all trying to be a bridezilla...and my friends have some awesome kids...but for one night...the party is for the BIG kids...and we are going to celebrate...and have fun! ;o)


Anonymous said...

The anonymous person who said having kids at a wedding is ludicruos is, in my opinion, a nut job. You're not a grounded person because you don't want kids at your wedding? and it's not reality? Something tells me this person had a very bad wedding, is involved in a very bad relationship and is absolutely miserable with their life. We aren't having kids at our wedding. Even though we have 5 nephews/nieces who are under 5. I'm an only child...the groom has borthers with kids. The groom doesn't want the kids there...It's INAPPROPRIATE for a SATURDAY night wedding with an expensive buffet dinner and an end time of midnight. There will be liquor, dancing, and it's a formal event. I think that parents should be happy they get a break from their little one to come have an adult time. If they can't swing leaving the little one behind, that's fine too...just don't come. As Chris said, and many people lose sight of, this is not anyone else's day except for the people getting married. Everyone who is invited and doesn't like something, needs to keep their mouth shut and not come. It's people like the ludicrous blogger who make planning a wedding an absolute nightmare for a very happy couple, which i'll say again, apparently this person is not.

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Anonymous said...

This blog has really helped me decide 'not ' to invite kids to our wedding next year. I was afraid of upsetting family and friends but now I feel confident to sent out save the date/invites with a specific adult only message. We have chosen a boutique hotel for an intimate indulgent these and kids just wouldnt be appropriate. My groom is happy to tell people our deicison but I'm more worried and it's been stressing me out for weeks. It looks like people with children assume the child will be invited. inviting kids would take up one third of our guest list which would mean leaving may valued friends out which we just don't want to do. I would be interested to hear from people who didnt invite children and if they had any upset guests and how did they deal with this? At the end of the day it's our day and we hope people will understand our decision

Anonymous said...

I am considering an adult only wedding and it is heartbreaking for me to think that some of my closest friends won't be there because of a 'no kid rule'. Especially since I went to their wedding shower(s), reception(s), and baby shower(s). I care dearly about the people I am inviting to my wedding, but certain circumstances like space and money just can't allow for the whole family to come. I would hope that they would make the effort and choose me for one special day as I had choosen them for theirs.

Anonymous said...

I simply solved the problem by the people that complained and threatened not to come, I simply informed them that their presence was no longer wanted. I dont like children being around in the first place, my closest friends and family were not suprised at this request, they expected it. My husbands family learned quickly.

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