Having a child-free wedding? It's important you get your 'no children at the wedding' wording right on the invitations or save the dates.
This is partly because the whole children at weddings issue can be controversial. Whether you want to keep costs down, aren’t sure how to entertain kids at your wedding, or your venue doesn’t allow under-eighteens, not having children there is an absolutely valid choice; it's up to you how you organise your own wedding guest list. However, some parents can be sensitive when it comes to whether or not their little ones are included - so choose your wording carefully.
We know there are couples who choose to communicate that they're having a child-free celebration by addressing their wedding stationery to the parents, and not naming the children. We'd caution against this - you run the risk that they'll assume their kids are also invited. Make your adults-only policy clear from the off, not least because it's only fair to give parents plenty of notice to make childcare arrangements well in advance.
To keep this part of your planning as stress-free as possible, we're giving you a number of ways to let guests know that your wedding will be child-free. We've also covered different scenarios, including only having children attending parts of the day or just inviting close family members' children. Whatever your situation, we have a politely worded 'no children at our wedding' message for you!
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- 40 Unique Save the Date Ideas Your Guests Will Love
- How to Handle a 'No Ring, No Bring' Rule
The Rules of No Children Allowed Weddings
- Be consistent - the rule has to apply to every guest. The only acceptable exceptions are children of immediate family and/or of your bridesmaids and ushers, and/or any page boys and flower girls, so long as you let other guests know.
- Don't be upset if parents can't attend. You are perfectly justified in having a child-free wedding; they are perfectly justified in not attending if it's inconvenient or they don't want to be away from their children.
- Don't let anyone guilt-trip you about your adults-only policy.
- Accept that some parents may need to leave early.
- If you're having a destination wedding, you may want to reconsider the kid-free policy - it will be more difficult for parents to travel abroad without their children, or find childcare in another country.
- It's a lovely gesture if you want to pay for a creche/professional babysitters, but it's not obligatory.
- If you are particularly close to any friends' or family's children, it's a nice idea to include a personal note with the invitations to reiterate that you're sorry not to include them.
What to Say When... Your Venue Doesn’t Allow Children
'We are very sorry, but due to restrictions at our venue, we cannot accommodate children.'
'Due to safety reasons at our venue, we are unable to extend this invitation to children.'
'Due to the nature of our venue, we are unable to invite under-18s to our wedding.'
'Our venue has a strict no-under-18s policy, so we are unable to welcome to children to the wedding.'
What to Say When... You Are Allowing Certain Children
'Unfortunately, as much as we’d love to invite all of our friends’ children, we can only accommodate a few close family children. We hope that you will understand this decision and that you will still be able to join us on our special day.'
'In order to meet guest number restrictions, we are only able to extend our invitation to the children of close family and/or our wedding party.'
'Due to space constraints, we are only able to invite the children of immediate family to our wedding.'
'We are unable to accommodate children beyond our page boys and flower girls.'
'We are only able to accommodate the children of the wedding party.'
What to Say When... You Want to Keep It Simple
'We are sorry that we are unable to accommodate children at our wedding.'
'We would like our special day to be an adult-only occasion.'
'Please be aware that this will be an adults-only wedding.'
'We are unable to invite children to our wedding. We hope that the advance notice means you are still able to attend.'
What to Say When... You're Inviting Children to Part of the Wedding
'We are delighted to welcome children to the ceremony and early reception. However, from XXpm onwards, the wedding will be adults only.' Optional extra: 'We will be providing a creche, please see our wedding website for further details.'
'We respectfully request that under-18s do not attend the reception.'
'Children outside the bridal party are not invited for the ceremony, but are welcome for the reception.'
'We would like our special day to be an adult-only occasion, however we would like to open the invite up to your children at the evening reception at XXpm.'
'Following the ceremony and drinks reception, please join us for an adults-only reception at XXpm.'
What to Say When... You're Keeping Costs Down
'As much as we would like to invite all the children of our loved ones, we will only be able to welcome over-18s at our wedding due to budget constraints.'
'While we adore your children, our budget will only allow us to accommodate adult guests at our wedding.'
'We regret that due to cost restrictions, we are only able to invite over-18s to our wedding.'
What to Say When... You're Allowing Babies
'Please note that this is an adult-only wedding. However, you are welcome to bring infants under 12 months.'
'Adults only (exception for infants under 6 months).'
What To Avoid Saying If You're Not Inviting Children to the Wedding
"We thought you'd appreciate a night off!"
Even if the parents would like a night off, this comes across as a bit patronising - and sounds rather flippant in the face of how difficult it can be to find childcare, particularly overnight.
"To give you the opportunity to really let your hair down, we've decided not to invite children."
Again, this has the patronising factor - and also rather implies your wedding will have frat-party vibes.
"In order to allow all guests, including parents, to have a good time, we have chosen for our wedding day to be an adult-only occasion."
Any wording that implies parents can't have a good time with their children present is unlikely to go down brilliantly.
To make sure guests have all the information about your big day, we suggest setting up a wedding website - there are some you can even get for free!