One fool-proof way to have an adults-only wedding (+ invitation wording!)

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My Little Satyr

How can I make it clear from my invitations that while I love kids, I don't love them at my wedding? I want to have no kids at my wedding, but I don't want my guests to be mad at me. Is it even possible?

-Gemma

As usual, my recommendation comes down to being proactive instead of reactive. Instead of making it negative (“How can I say ‘NO CHILDREN ALLOWED'?”), simply pick a venue and time that support adult-only activities. In other words, have a night wedding at a 21+ venue like a bar or lounge. There's nothing like an 9pm ceremony and a dude checking IDs at the door to keep the kiddlets away.

It might sound like I'm joking, but I'm totally serious. It's pretty much impossible to have a child-free afternoon wedding without hurting someone's feelings, because it's clear that you're the one making and enforcing the NO KIDS ALLOWED rule. Then people get frustrated with you. As a guest, most don't want to hear about what they can't do at your wedding, who they can't bring, or what they can't experience.

Weddings in family-friendly locations like parks and gardens and restaurants and churches are usually family affairs, and you're fighting a challenging, uphill battle trying to turn these family venues into something they're typically not. When you try to say “no kids” at a venue where kids are usually allowed, it makes you the meanie bouncer who's in charge of telling your guests what they can't do. (“Yes, I know it's a lovely garden with a big lawn to play on, but please understand NO KIDS ALLOWED.”)

But a bar? It's obviously an adult-only venue, and bar weddings and bar receptions are awesome. When you have your wedding at a swanky lounge or reserve a rooftop hotel bar for your reception, it's not your responsibility to enforce the rules or figure out how to word the invitation. You can outsource your bouncer duties to the guy at the door checking IDs and the liquor control board.

On your invitations, just note (Venue is 21+) on your invitations. Here's an example of a lovely design that we hacked example text into:

Cadillac Wedding Invitations
Cadillac Wedding Invitations

Want tons of REAL LIFE examples of people who didn't invite children to their weddings? Click here!

Comments on One fool-proof way to have an adults-only wedding (+ invitation wording!)

  1. Honestly, this post kind of makes me sad. I am choosing to not have small children at my evening wedding, and while we don’t have a venue picked out, I definitely don’t want to have it in a bar. Our reasoning for no children has nothing to do with not liking them or being a meanie, but rather not being able to afford them and being limited on space. So many of our friends and family have small children that if we were to allow them to bring all of them, we’d have to cut 30 of our friends off our guest list. To us it’s more important to have our friends who love us present at our wedding than kids who don’t want to be there. I realize some people will be angry that they can’t bring their kids, but weddings are expensive and they should respect our wishes.

  2. I like the idea of having a playground nearby so bored kids can be whisked away to play. It might be stated that “Playground(s) in the vcinity, please bring a child chaperon so the kids can enjoy it when they wish” most parents would be smart enough to understand what that means. Having kids myself-I think talking to the owners of very small children(babies especially, who some parents do not feel comfortable leaving with a chaperon) to see if they would be comfortable having a close(closer than their car, but not with in ear shot)tent or building that they could nurse, play and hang out in if the baby becomes a screamer.

  3. While we arent serving any alcohol, and arent having our wedding at a bar, the simple timing of our wedding gives a nice, clear “no kids” sign. 7 to midnight? What sane parent brings their child to that? We also have a little note on our wedpage saying that “due to the evening timing of the wedding, as well as the historical nature of the location, we regret that we can not accomodate any children”. People immediatly imagine their munchkinds breaking some 300 year old antique, and understand the rule.

  4. Perhaps it is important for couples arranging their weddings to consider ALL the possible responses they may receive and the alienation they may be inviting (perhaps even unsuspectingly). It could help them make an informed decision for the happiness of themselves and their guests.

  5. One thing I’m doing at my wedding is providing a childcare specialist. We’re paying to have her hang out for several hours during the wedding. There’s a great little playground, craft table, and a quiet library with books and DVDs for cranky kids. But you could also do something similar, paying a retainer and then telling parents that children are invited to this kid-party event (which just HAPPENS to coincide with the same hours your wedding is happening!). She’s charging $25/hour flat rate, no matter how many kids end up hanging out! If cash is tight, you can tell folks that a sitter is available, and then break down her rates so parents can pay. But I think it’s nice to give them an option, instead of blasting the “NO KIDS ALLOWED” at them (which I know you’re not trying to do).

  6. I want to start by saying Dave and I LOVE kids, but we wanted to have a grown-up party and that is part of how we ended up choosing the karaoke bar.

    Another possible alternative if you don’t want to go that route – hire a professional babysitter. I was just at a wedding that had 20 small children in attendance. The couple chose a venue that had a seperate room the were able to turn into a playroom and they hired a professional babysitter to stay there and supervise all night. Both the parents and the kids LOVED having that option and it worked very well.

  7. This is a really brilliant idea and tactful way of handling the adult reception. For others who are generally okay with having kids at the reception but are concerned about cost, check with your caterer for kid-friendly alternatives on the menu. Our caterer is providing chicken fingers for our little guests, and the kids are not included in the overall headcount for the “adult” meal and bar.

  8. After thinking on how to tactfully say “Please don’t bring your children to our fabulous pirate-themed affair” my partner and I decided to add a line to our invitation:

    “And ye be warned: All parrots, dogs, and children will be fed grog and rum”

    It was funny enough (and in context enough) that we avoided at least some (although not all) of the child-free drama.

  9. rachel – i think the reasons you stated in your comment are reason enough for your friends to not bring their kids! Who doesn’t understand cost or room on the guestlist? I’m having similar issues and I can empathise – whilst I love kids, I want my school friends whom I’ve known for 15 years to attend the wedding before my cousins young toddlers.

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