What if You Don’t Want to Invite Kids to Your Wedding?

Kids-at-weddings-Kristen-Booth-PhotographyImage from Kristen Booth Photography submitted exclusively to the Mountainside Bride

Hubs and I have a mid-afternoon, Southern picnic style wedding. Kids were welcome. But I’ve gotten a few emails recently from some of you brides who don’t want kids at your wedding. They can be expensive, as your head count goes up at your reception, or if you need to get child care so mom and dad can tie one on. They are also high maintenance, often requiring kid-friendly activities to keep them entertained.

So if you want to have a grown-ups-only wedding, but don’t know how to tell people, Sara, from Burnetts Boards, who had a wedding without children, is on the blog today with some tips for making the decision and sticking to your guns with friends and family.

From Sara:

Engaged couples generally fall into two categories: those who can’t imagine their wedding without a sweet little flower girl sprinkling rose petals down the aisle while a mischievous ring bearer greedily eyes the cake – and those who can.

Deciding not to invite small children to your wedding can turn into a touchy subject among your family and friends. Some couples just can’t seem to cut the umbilical cord for a night. The first thing you need to do after deciding not to invite the children of your friends and family to your wedding is to set an age limit. For instance, if your main reason for not wanting the little ones around is to avoid screaming and crying during your vows or bad behavior during the reception then decide on an age you think most children can control themselves and anyone under that age, don’t invite. How do you do this?

Plan A: Don’t Include Children’s Names

Don’t include their name(s) on the invitation. Wedding etiquette dictates that unless there is a +1 spot on the invitation, then anyone whose name is not on it is not invited. If you already know that there are going to be some confused phone calls and questions about the kids then include the contact information for trusted babysitters with your invitation or on your wedding website. This should get the point across without any further clarification needed.

You must, however, be prepared for those friends and family members who are going to call you up or pull you aside next time they see you to question you about your no children decision. These are the ones who take it as a personal insult that their children were not invited to your wedding. When you tell them that you’re worried about a child screaming during the ceremony, or in the middle of your commemorative speech to a loved one who wouldn’t be there they are going to insist that their little boy or girl will be on their best behavior. When someone starts doing this to you it’s time to initiate plan B.

Plan B: Blame the Budget

Plan B is simply this: pull him or her aside whenever you see them next (or drop an email or respond to their phone call) and tell them that your budget simply doesn’t allow it. Whether this is true or not shouldn’t matter since no one in their right mind is going to argue with you about how you are spending your money at your wedding.

Explain to them that at $100 dollars a head (or insert a number of your choice) for catering and all the other things that come with it like chairs and table rentals, that if all the children in both families were invited you simply couldn’t afford to have everyone else there. And you can’t allow exceptions for their children because that wouldn’t be fair to all the other families with children.

If someone does start to argue with you about your wedding budget and that an extra however many dollars it will cost for the children is ‘nothing’ – then offer to let them cover the extra expenditures since you can’t afford it.

Plan C: Enlist the Help of Sympathetic Family Members

If Aunt Lindsey refuses to talk to you because you didn’t invite your cousins and their brood of children then Aunt Lindsey probably needs to see a therapist. (just kidding) but if this is the case, enlist a family member (mother or father) to talk to Aunt Lindsey for you. Aunt Lindsey will eventually get over it.

Another Super Stealth Tactic: The Late Evening Wedding

Evening and late night cocktail receptions certainly help. But again with the uber attached parents this could still be a problem no matter how you word your invitations. These are the kinds of parents who ONLY talk about their children…who make it seem like their diapers contain pure gold and their toddler is the most advanced child on this planet and will surely grow up to cure AIDS and solve the Middle East peace problems. I’m sure we all know a few of them or have family members like that. My own wedding was an example of this. Sunset to late night, high-end, swanky hotel drinks before and after… I didn’t think it would be an issue. I thought parents would welcome the night off from parenting but alas, not so. The only thing that saved the peace was using the budget as an excuse and EVEN THEN we had one parent remark afterwards that if we “had struck a course from our meal then the kids could have come” … I’m not even joking. That was said.

sarah burnettSara is the publisher and editor of Burnetts Boards, a wedding blog dedicated to inspiration boards, styled shoots, and fabulous fashion. Please check out her blog and leave a comment. (And tell her Christie send you :-)

P.S. If you’re a bride and you need help styling your wedding, Sarah creates custom boards at her readers’ requests.

Christie Osborne
Christie Osborne has lived in or visited every mountain range in the US. Once a mountain bride herself, she's dedicated to helping mountain brides plan their weddings and find the perfect vendors. She's known in the blogging world for her no-nonsense attitude, and she loves to ski. Follow Mountainside Bride on Twitter Facebook and Pinterest.
Christie Osborne
Who else is seriously over the moon for this exquisite #bouquet?http://t.co/bHsfTi1n7I Photo: @Chelsea_LaVere http://t.co/Hp46c2HuFD - 14 hours ago
Christie Osborne


  1. says

    Agreed! It’s actually a question I get somewhat often. I’ve also seen it on various forums. It’s always so scary to stand up to friends and family about personal wedding decisions. Sara, offers some clear and actionable advice. So glad she shared!

  2. says

    …okay, this is just a little bit genius and so spot on!

    during the holidays, one of the flower girls I *thought* we should invite to our wedding went from sweeter than pie to Voldemort’s spawn in less than 60 seconds and I caught myself saying “you rude little thing” aloud. The entire night I kept thinking how this not-so-cute but very loud little one could turn our wedding day into more of a daycare center filled with temper tantrums.

    *runs off to enforce plan A*

    • says

      LOL omg – “Voldemort’s spawn.” – love it. Sorry that happened though ;-)

  3. says

    YES! These are TREMENDOUSLY helpful tips! While we had it easy (adults only resort for our destination wedding nuptials) I know that there’s usually a much finer line for couples to walk. I’ll definitely be passing these tips along to my brides and my fan pages!

    • says

      Plan D: An adults only destination resort. Brilliant!

  4. says

    I had (and wanted) children at my wedding and it was a blast. but, it was outside, in the country, and had a very small guest list. It was a total blast. However, that was my version of a fun party and I recognize that it’s not for everyone. It’s YOUR party – you get to call the shots.

    • says

      Agreed. Hubs and also had kids at our wedding, but as a DINK couple, we also appreciate grown-up time. And as a blogger, I respect the decisions of all of my readers. Kids aren’t for everyone. In fact, kids or no kids, whether for a wedding or as a familial decision is very personal. Thx for the comment, Doll!

  5. Courtney says

    Yikes! Sad. Children are just as important in our lives as adults are. As for budget… I’ve seen a kids meal offered of chicken tenders and fries. Not sure that would break the bank.

    • says

      Absolutely Courtney! Kids were important to us in our wedding as well. But the decision to invite kids isn’t for everyone. I’ve heard from plenty of brides who opt for a no-kids policy at their weddings.

      Such decisions also extend into married life. For example, Hubs and I are not having children. We LOVE kids, and we LOVE our friends kids, but it’s just not for us personally. I’ve gotten a lot of push-back from certain people about our decision. Both Hubs and I are fertile. We can have kids if we choose to, but we choose not to. We have very personal reasons for not having children.

      I asked Sara to post about this because I’ve had brides ask me how to have the wedding they want without a lot of family upheaval and resentment. I invited children to me wedding, so I defferd to an expert.

      I just want to take a moment to say, thanks so much for your comment Courtney. It’s brides like you that offer a fresh and alternative perspective to the original post, and the MSB community appreciate that kind of diversity :-)

      I trust that, just as the Mountainside Bride community celebrates your (and my) decision to invite kids to our weddings, that you too can honor the decision others make to not invite kids :-)

      • chelsey says

        Our wedding would cost us nearly 20 to 30 dollars per head. With many of my friends having 3 kids plus significant others. … .. that’s adds up pretty quick. We’re going the no kids route.

  6. says

    Whether to ask kids is such a difficult decision. Great advice though Sara, sounds like you went through the mill at yours for it! We’re still on the fence, but verging towards not having kids at ours. It’s not exclusively for our own sake either, we’re trying to take into account other guest enjoyment (some of whom will be roped into kiddie-watching whilst the parents skive off!) Love the tip about using the budget- had not thought of that at all.

  7. says

    Sara, I love all these tips, thanks!
    We have chosen to not invite children to our wedding too and have had really mixed reactions, including some really hurtful comments and I think it’s important to remember that it’s the bride and groom’s decision where the guest list goes.
    I think people are quite rude when it comes to assuming who is invited to weddings. Not always intentionally either! I just think some people take it personally when their children aren’t invited. We really love kids and especially the kids of our friends. And as we have always celebrated their life events such as christenings and baby showers, we too would love them to celebrate ours. I’ve been to weddings with children where the flower girls were so well behaved and cute. And other weddings where I couldn’t even hear the important vows because of poor crying children. It’s a scenario which could go either way and it’s up to the couple which one fits them best :)