This can be an awkward one, but no worries, I've got you covered with ways to do it tastefully.
5 Tips on how to politely say, "No Children At Our Wedding"
Let me first clarify that I LOVE children & that I have no personal preference between kids at weddings, or kids not at weddings. In fact, I understand reasons for both, so before any parents get angry with me, just know that this article is only here to help those couples that have specific reasons for why they only want adults at their event.
You know, I find it quite odd that we have rules and etiquette for almost every aspect of formal writing, especially when it comes to wedding invitations...but believe it or not, there isn't an actual right or wrong way to ask your guests, "please leave your children at home." I mean, it is 2020, we live in a generation where most people aren't offended if you bluntly ignore their phone call and send them an immediate text saying, "hey, whats up?" Ohhhh but yikes...tell Mary and Jack not to bring little Johnny to YOUR wedding, in a way that rubs them wrong, and you might as well wear red horns and a tail on your big day too. It's silly that people take this request offensively, and quite honestly, the majority of people really don't. The reality is, you can't satisfy everyone, but you can try your best to execute it in a way that comes off polite. So, I'm here to tackle this for you all, and I've come up with 5 tips to do it..."softly".
TIP #1: Be Specific On Your Invitations
Obviously you aren't going to write the kid's names on the invitation if you don't want children there, but so many people make the mistake of addressing their invitations in a format that gives their guests the freedom to assume that you meant they could bring the whole squad. If you make this mistakes (like below), take it as a warning - you are opening a door with a floor mat that says, "everyone is welcome, bring em all!"
Imagine you're addressing invites & your guests are the Duggar parents (Jim Bob & Michelle), you know, the ones on that TLC show with 19 kids. I'm using.a dramatic example, but the truth is..it could happen.
DO NOT WRITE THIS: Mr. and Mrs. Jim Bob Duggar and Family
DO NOT WRITE THIS: Mr. Jim Bob and Mrs. Michelle Duggar and Family
DO NOT WRITE THIS: The Duggar Family
DO NOT WRITE THIS: The Duggars
All of those examples are insinuating that Jim Bob & Michelle can bring their 19 kids, and quite frankly, their kid's kids, their spouses, and whoever else is in the Duggar family.. Be more precise that only Jim Bob & Michelle are invited by addressing the invitation more like: Mr. & Mrs. Jim Bob Duggar (ALSO it's probably Mr. & Mrs. James Duggar, but you catch my drift)
I can't promise you that this option is bulletproof, because out of all 5 of my tips, this one is probably the least likely to keep all of your guests from bringing their children. Funny enough, this is actually the closest to being the "true right way" or "proper etiquette" for stating who is and who isn't invited, but apparently it's the least clear to guests. For example: I'm single, and unless an invitation clearly states my name AND guest, I'm not bringing anyone else - that should be common sense. I know I would catch the hint, but again...you'd be surprised how many people overlook that envelope.. If you want to go an extra step (or two), to try and make things even more clear, you can add any of the other steps below.
Tip #2. Include the memo on your wedding website
I get almost a 50/50 response from couples on having a wedding website. Do I think they are absolutely necessary, no. Do I think they can be somewhat helpful, sure. It’s really dependent on your wedding. For example, if you are just making a wedding website to post photos/bios of your bridal party, photos of you and your fiance, and an essay on how you met...it's probably not as necessary (but you do you, boo.) On the other hand, if you are having out of town guest (accommodation recommendation), you have specific requests (i.e. adults only, a specific dress code, etc.), or you want a place for your guests to quickly find your registry/honeymoon fund - you absolutely should consider making things easier for you and your guests, by investing some time into creating a wedding website.
The way I see it, most wedding websites are free, so if you want a place to drop another subtle hint to your guests, this is a great places to do it.
A wedding website can be much more casual than your invitations, so you've got a lot more wiggle room to be playful with this.
You can post something like:
"In the hopes that you can let your hair down with us, we have chosen for our wedding day to be an adults only occasion."
Like Tip #1, this option isn't 100%, just because some people won't visit your website. If you've done both #1 and #2, plus you add one of the below tips on top of that, you've set yourself up for the best scenario that people actually get the message.
Tip #3: Do a little extra work on your RSVP cards
I know, I know, you and your fiance are suppperrr busy, but this tip can not only eliminate parent's bringing their children, it can also eliminate guests bringing uninvited plus ones (because no one really wants Ashley to assume she can bring her Tinder date, that costs you $30/head...am I rigghhht?)
So although this option entails a little more leg work for either you or whomever is doing your invitations, it's the safest way to keep things controlled & you don't even have to say anything about kids.
Try Something Along These Lines On Your RSVP Cards:
PLEASE KINDLY RESPOND BY AUGUST 1, 2020
M. __________________ (write out the names of who you are inviting)
we have reserved ____ (write in #) seats in your honor.
___ JOYFULLY ACCEPTS ___ NUMBER ATTENDING __REGRETFULLY DECLINES
(ALLOW THEM TO FILL IN THE LAST ROW)
I really think this is the most clear way to explain to your guests, "don't bring anyone but yourselves"; HOWEVER, If you're worried some people won't understand that this means, "no kids," keep scrolling to the next tip - which literally spells it out to them.
TIP #4: Blame your venue or the space
First, I am not insinuating you lie to your guests, but the truth is - most venues aren't providing on-site babysitters, or kid-friendly atmospheres. As a venue owner myself, I know our venue isn't childproof if kids aren't being watched, and wish more people would realize that the majority of venues aren't accommodating to children. That's just how it is. Even worse, a lot of people bring their kids and then expect/assume that someone is going to watch their kids while they enjoy the night. Not to mention...if you are serving alcohol at your event, there really is no reason to have children. I mean, when is the last time you saw parents bring their kids to a bar?
All of that being said, you're more than allowed to tell your guests there are venue restrictions if there isn't accommodations for kids, and you can say it in a few ways that will essentially make you look like the good guy. Somewhere in your invitation/detail card (wherever), you can write something along the lines of:
-"Due to venue (or space) accommodations, our wedding will be adults only."
-"Respectfully/or Due to venue restrictions, attendees must be over the age of 21 (18) (16)"
With this option, its 100% clear to guests AND you sound polite.
TIP #5: Offer Child-Friendly Options
This option is a little different from the ones above because it actually allows children to come to your event, but in a way that is great for everyone: you, the parent, and the child. So why don’t we all just use this option? Well, this option is dependent on if you have the $, resources, and space to make it work - so basically, it’s not easy for everyone to do this, but if you can make it work, it’s a really good solution that allows you and your guests to kick back and have a good time.
Secret Tip (that’s not so secret), HIRE A NANNY/BABYSITTER to keep the younger guests occupied during your event. Moms & Dads will appreciate the touch, and may just grab one of your signature cocktails to celebrate the stress you’ve relieved them.
The reason this option is so great is because:
1. Your guests can still come without having to find/make arrangements for their kids
2. Your Nanny/babysitter can keep the kids in a space (if your venue has an option) where they aren’t running around in the middle of your reception.
3. You can offer a cheaper/“kid-friendly” menu to the kids instead of paying for them to eat the more ”expensive adult food”
-For example: We had a bride who served pizza and popcorn, played a kids movie and had coloring in our upstairs suite. The kids absolutely loved it and stayed occupied while their parents were able to enjoy the night celebrating.
Of course, like I mentioned - this option may be the hardest one to put together, but it’s a good option nevertheless.
NO MATTER WHAT, JUST DON‘T SAY, “NO KIDS”
You've heard the saying, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it”, and this is EXACTLY what that saying is referring to. DON’T just put, “NO KIDS,” on an invitation. While that does get straight to the point, it doesn’t sound tasteful.
Again, like I stated in the beginning, I personally love kids, and many times, they have made some of the most memorable parts of the weddings that I’ve worked or attended, so let’s just make it clear that I am not saying you SHOULD not have kids at your event, I’m just giving you advice for how to do it if you do decide to go with this option. Remember, you may lose a few guests if you say they can’t bring their kids, and that’s mostly based on the fact that some parents just don't have the accommodations for someone to watch their little ones. Don’t be offended if they can’t come due to that.
On the contrary, if you are a parent, don’t be offended if a couple asks you to leave your babes at home. There are a lot of reasons couples choose this option including but not limited to: they are serving alcohol and don’t feel comfortable having kids present, the venue isn’t kid-friendly, the overall cost per head (yes, couples still have to factor in your kids, even if they only nibble on the food), and they may even know specific kids that can’t handle the event and have chosen to just be fair and say no kids in general to keep things easier. Also, with Covid-19, couples are finding themselves with difficult expectations while planning their special day, one of those being limiting large guest lists, which will most likely start with cutting the younger guests. None of these reasons are a jab at parents, or a jab at children, it’s simply just reality. .No matter the case, ALWAYS remember that it’s their event AND they are paying for it, so don’t be the guest who pretends to not see the hints they’ve made to specify, “just bring yourself”. Believe me, I wouldn't be writing this article if it didn’t happen, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing it if I didn't have couples always asking how to do this task without feeling rude and upsetting parents. Help them out and cut them some slack, because yes - this can be awkward.
Whether you are the parent who has been asked not to bring their children, or you’re the couple asking them not to bring them - just remember don’t be insensitive and everyone will be happy!
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