How to tell your family that your wedding will be adults-only

Guest post by stingzgrrl

I want to send an email to our family members letting them know that the wedding will be adults only. It’s important to me that they hear it directly from us; if it travels through the grapevine, we are both almost positive that it will come out so horribly twisted. While I still can’t control the way anybody interprets the message, doing it this way at least allows us to control the words that they see/hear.

My future husband Joe’s family is tight-knit, and I think most of them rely on each other for babysitting services, so I don’t want them to be completely surprised when they start getting things in the mail that say “adults only.” While they obviously won’t be able to make arrangements so far ahead of time, it’ll get them thinking about finding alternative childcare arrangements that don’t involve a family member.

This was really difficult to write, so I’m glad I’m giving myself plenty of time before I send it, but here's what I've come up with…

Hi happy family,

I hope this email finds you well! Now that we are officially about a year and a half away, I wanted to let you know about an important wedding decision that Joe and I have made.

After looking at all our possible options and having many difficult discussions with both moms and each other, we’ve decided that our wedding will be an adults-only event. We’re working hard to make sure that this is a fun night, and we want you to be able to enjoy yourself without worrying about what your little ones are getting into.

Please know that this was not an easy decision for us to make. We understand that the nature of a family event means that many of your go-to sitters will be unavailable. While it’s obviously too early for you to make other arrangements now, we wanted to give you plenty of advanced notice so that you wouldn’t be surprised or caught off-guard when you start getting things from us in the mail.

More information will be forthcoming, but we really wanted to make sure you had plenty of notice about this issue.

I know this makes things a little more difficult, but we do hope that you’ll still be able to join us.

Love you all and see you soon,

Heather and Joe

How are you dropping the “no kids allowed” bomb? Any copy-and-paste wording you'd recommend?

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Comments on How to tell your family that your wedding will be adults-only

  1. We’ve been making phone calls to family members with children – so far, this has been well received. We haven’t delved into the friends’ list yet, but hopefully there will not be an issue there, either.
    We made allowances only for our two young nieces (in the wedding) and nephew. All three will stay until cake and then a babysitter will come and pick them up. Since we’re getting married on our one niece’s birthday (Halloween), we wanted to have a cake just for her, and we wanted them involved in our wedding while still allowing my sister and brother-in-law to relax and celebrate with us.

  2. We’re including a cute informational pamphlet with our wedding invitations that will address the no child issue. We’re going to include the movie rating box with a “This Event is Rated PG-13 for adult language, adult humor, and recreations of movie gore.” We really felt that a Halloween horror movie themed wedding was not a place for children, and also that they’d probably rather be out trick or treating anyway. In addition to that I do not like children and am very uncomfortable around them. For our closer relatives we just told them in person. The Crow broke it to his mother that his two nieces don’t make the cut, and my mother handled my aunt regarding her 10 year old granddaughter. He had to deal with a huge guilt trip but stood firm, and seeing it on paper will reinforce the fact that it’s rated PG-13 for more reasons than just “Brink doesn’t like kids.”

  3. I know when one of my husband’s cousins got married they said no kids. My SIL freaked and ended not going (we did not go as we already had plans arranged that weekend). I told her ASK when the cousin meant by no kids. Usually when some people say no kids, they usually mean 13/12 or under. Her kids at the time were 16, 13, and 10. On the flip side if you can’t trust your 16 year old kid to babysit the younger ones over night (wedding was 300 miles away from where they live), then something is wrong. Plus they are close with their neighbors across the street to check in on them.
    I think also it is the culture of the family. In my family weddings have always been adults only. But to the credit of my husband’s side of the family, one of his cousins did hire babysitters and a clown and put the children in the church basement during service and during reception, they rented a small room next to the ball room and carried over the “children’s party” at the reception. While probably expensive to hire 2 babysitters and a clown all day (from around 9am – 5/530pm on a Sat), parents where happy and the kids were happy.

  4. A lot of my cousins have wee ones (i.e. under 5), so many of them are happy to have a night with just grown ups! The only way we’re telling them is through early STDs and the wedsite. One of my fiance’s cousins who lives out west we’re going to call directly, since she may be flying hundreds of miles to get here.

    I’m thinking of having a family-friendly pre-wedding event to make up for the lack of kids at the wedding, so people don’t feel (overly) slighted. Stag and does are the norm in my family, but
    drunken shenanigans aren’t really my thing, so I’m thinking more of a carnival thing in the afternoon for the kids.

    • I really like the idea of the pre-wedding family-fun shindig! A carnival sounds fun, you’ll get to see the little ones, and the parents can feel like their kids were ‘part’ of the wedding celebration.
      ps. – My first thought when I saw “STD” was sexually transmitted disease, though I figured one wouldn’t give any diseases to tell people something 🙂

    • “Due to the limited space in our venue, our wedding will be adults-only with the exception of nieces and nephews the brides. Unfortunately, we cannot grant “plus ones” to all of our guests. If there is somebody special you would like to bring, please contact us and we will consider adding to the guest list as space allows. We are trying to include as many family, friends, and loved ones as we can. Thank you for your understanding.”

      This is what we have on our website, but save-the-the-dates haven’t gone out yet. Do you think this is appropriate?

  5. We just told people that we had limitations on space, and while we loved their children very much, it just wasn’t possible to accommodate them. We had 7 children there, immediate family only. We made personal phone calls to those friends who had children. Some chose not to come and it was sad, but it was going to create a situation that we weren’t going to be happy with, and I am so glad we did it this way. A few friends thanked us for creating an opportunity for them to go out for an evening without the kids.

  6. We told family members individually at our engagement party (for those who were present), and then via phone calls for everyone else. Initially everyone seemed okay with the idea. We also put a note on our website and in the invitation as a reminder. For some reason a lot of people said they didn’t remember ever having that conversation with us, which led to a HUGE firestorm once the invitations went out and everyone “discovered” that their children weren’t invited. Several close family members didn’t end up attending. (Interestingly, all of our friends with kids had no problems with this, and loved the opportunity for a date night/weekend by themselves – it was all family who caused drama!) If you’re going to tell people well in advance, my recommendation would be to remind them again before invitations go out, to try to minimize any fall-out.

    We also picked a venue that required us to take out a large insurance policy if there were going to be people under 21 present. We thought it would make the conversations about children easier (there was an article on OBB years ago along those lines), but we just got a lot of flak for not picking a kid-friendly venue.

    (Maybe our families are just really petty – hopefully others won’t have the same problem!)

  7. No problems so far for us. We made it clear on our website and the invitation that our venue was not child friendly and that we were not including children 10 and younger. Since most of our family members with kids that age are out of towners, we are offering a baby sitting service for those kids (offsite, not at the venue). If anyone is bothered, no one has said anything to us! FSIL was actually super excited to have an excuse to leave the babies for the night 🙂 We’ve just been trying to frame it as a win-win-win: Kids are safe, kids aren’t bored out of their minds at a grown-up party, parents get a night off.

  8. Thus far, all of the ‘kids’ that would be involved are 10 and above, with most being 12 and will be above 13 by the time our wedding rolls around. They are all very mature for their ages (or at least are well behaved), so I have thankfully not had to deal with this! Besides… They can keep each other entertained.

  9. For out of town guests who might have to bring their kids, but they’re not allowed at the ceremony, I had a friend who found a local babysitter and had the kids come over to her house while the guests were out enjoying the wedding. It’s not always reasonable to think people can leave their kids at home, especially if they’re really young or the venue is far away.

    • I wouldn’t be comfortable leaving my child with a stranger. Most parents wouldn’t be.

  10. A friend and mine got married recently and was having trouble deciding how to un-invite all the kiddos. Her theory was that parents wouldn’t be able to fully enjoy themselves while having to look after their little ones. But instead of enforcing a no child policy she set up a kid zone away from the main reception where an outside vendor brought arts, crafts, cribs, bubbles, movies, and games. They had a staff of babysitters and after dinner they even treated the children to a magic and juggling show followed by face painting and balloon twisting. It turned out to be the best of both worlds where the parents had a great stress free time and all the kiddos had a blast as well.

    • Um, I want balloon sculpture at my (entirely hypothetical) wedding now. Thanks, hahaha!

    • My sister recently got married and she planned a small “kids party” for the older kids (6-13 or so) that was at the pool on the other side of the hotel. She actually framed it as a wedding reception hosted by her 6 year old son. She ordered pizza and cupcakes and hired a few babysitters (the parents paid the sitter). For her 2 sisters with very young kids and babies (mine included) she hired 2 baby sitters to watch the kids in our cabin. Again, the parents paid the sitter but it took a lot of the stress of trying to find a baby sitter in a town we didn’t live in. Instead of me cold calling baby sitters she had it all lined up for us.

      If you have the ability (or desire) add a line to the letter that offers to either hire the baby sitter (at parents cost) or give some numbers to recommended sitters in the area. My sister just asked a few of her students if they wanted some extra money.

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