The Kiddie Conundrum

Bees, I feel like this is another one of those super polarizing topics where everyone has an opinion. Myself included, of course.

To kid or not to kid? That is the question.

There isn’t one right answer for everybody here. But for Stallion and me, the right answer is that we will be having an adults-only wedding. We’re holding firm at an 18-year age minimum—we’d do 21, but BM K will only be 20 when the wedding rolls around. Way to mess up my rules, K.

When deciding whether or not to include kids, one of the biggest concerns is financial—even with special (read: less expensive) kids’ meals, it adds up quickly! If we were to invite the kids of all our guests, we’d be looking at another 25–30 mouths to feed. And we’re not even close with any of these kids, to boot. I mean, we’re not even having kids in our wedding party.

And then there are the potential behavior issues, which Mrs. Zebra can attest to. Even the best behaved kid can have a bad day, you know?

And then there’s the fact that we’re having a late night, open bar, party-your-face-off type of wedding. There won’t be much, if any, entertainment that’s kid friendly (see above: financial concerns).

And then, of course, I am pulling the “that’s how things are done in my family” card. In my family, weddings/parties have generally been adult affairs as far back as I can remember. There were tons of events growing up that my sisters, cousins, and I weren’t invited to, not because our aunts and uncles and grandparents didn’t love us or because we were ill behaved demon spawn, but because the parties were for grownups. That was just how things were; we never felt hurt or left out of anything. There was even a wedding or two while I was in college that I wasn’t invited to because I was still considered “one of the kids.” The concept of having children at my wedding at all was actually pretty foreign to me until I started the planning process and realized that not inviting the whole family is kind of controversial. Whoops.


Utterly chic BM B and me, back when we weren’t invited to weddings (personal photo)

Anyway, the matter was never really a question for me. Stallion’s family is more of a mixed bag—he went to some weddings as a kid, but more recent family weddings have been adults only. He took up my view on the subject pretty quickly.

So how are we handling it with our guests?

  • Consistency. No kids in the wedding party, no kids just for Guest X or Guest Y, no kids—period. If you’re not comfortable doing this, you can still be consistent by inviting in circles—for example, only kids in the wedding party, or only nieces/nephews. Just stick to your guns—once you make an exception for Guest A, it’s a lot harder to say no to Guest B.
  • Word of mouth. Our parents know our stance, and if it comes up in conversation, we/they will mention that the wedding is for adults only.
  • Stating the obvious. The invitations will be addressed only to the invited guests, i.e., “Mr. and Mrs. David Beckham,” not “The Beckham Family.” If we are feeling especially motivated when it’s time to send invitations, we may include a line on the RSVP card that states the number of seats allocated for a given guest, but that’s not too high on my priority list.
  • Speaking up. If anyone does RSVP with their kids included, we’ll call them up and explain that the invitation was only for those people to which it was addressed. If they absolutely will not attend without the kids, we’ll get together with them another time in a more family-friendly setting.
  • Providing alternatives. Given the travel involved for most of our guests, if anyone want to bring their kids to Cape May, just not to the actual wedding events, we’ll happily recommend local babysitters.

What we are not doing: putting “NO KIDS ALLOWED!” or “ADULTS ONLY!” on our wedding website or on the invitations. We’re confident most of our guests will understand who’s actually invited without us having to bash them over the head with it, and anyone who misunderstands probably isn’t doing so out of malice”¦

”¦just like we’re not excluding children out of malice. We’re not child haters; we may even have a few of our own someday. And when that day comes, we’ll remember that there are certain events where they will be welcome and certain events that are just for the grownups. And there is nothing wrong with that.

Did you include children at your wedding? How did it work out either way?


Mrs. Filly

Boston, MA
Wedding Date:
April 2014
Loose Ends
Bamboo for Two: Bridal Party Shots
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  1. Member
    msmeow 1988 posts, Buzzing bee @ 3:53 pm

    So you’re only inviting David and Victoria but not the little Beckhams? But they’re sooooo cuuuuuute!

    Sorry, I couldn’t resist! 😀 😀 😀

    I completely understand having a child-free wedding, we’ll most likely do the same thing. You’ve probably never been to a Slovenian Catholic wedding but let me tell you, they take a loooong time! I don’t even think it’s fair to the children to expect them to sit down quietly for such a long time, especially when they’re not used to it. I was my cousin’s flower girl when I was 8 and while I was apparently a little angel and dubbed “the best behaved child they’ve ever seen” by most wedding guests, I still remember being sooooo boooored!

  2. Member
    Mrs. Rubber Stamps 821 posts, Busy bee @ 4:16 pm

    Totally understand, Miss Filly! We had a daytime wedding but couldn’t foot the bill for a dozen or so kids. The only ones allowed were my nieces & nephew. Whether anyone attending had an issue with our choice, we were blissfully unaware of it.

  3. Member
    luluvohn 1194 posts, Bumble bee @ 5:01 pm

    We’re doing our invitations the same way. I think “Adult Reception Only” and things like that can get a bit tacky. We already sent out our Save the Dates addressed to only adults, and the invitations will go out the same way. We’re considering using the “___ seats have been reserved in your honor” but I’ve seen how that can further confuse people, so we might also leave it off and hope for the best.

  4. bighornsheep Member
    bighornsheep 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 5:32 pm

    Mr Big and I initially wanted a relatively kid-free wedding, but we know it couldn’t happen with the amount of nieces and nephews I have.

    I come from a family which is all about inviting everyone, so we’ll have about 7 kids under the age of 10 at the wedding. I’m really hoping that their parents will keep them contained during the special moments and speeches. Mr Big and I initially wanted a special section cordoned off just for the little kiddies, but we’re still deliberating that idea.

    We won’t have any kiddies in the bridal party too, so I totally get what you mean :)

  5. bighornsheep Member
    bighornsheep 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 5:33 pm

    Also, I used to have tie-dye overalls, lol!

  6. Member
    MaryRachel 307 posts, Helper bee @ 6:02 pm

    My FI feels really strongly that kids be invited (and is upset that my friends already said they won’t be bringing their two year old), but I kind of wish we had just the kids in the bridal party (his niece and nephew). The rest are cousin’s kids that neither of us has any relationship with. You did a really nice, non-polarizing way of explaining yourself by the way. I usually cringe a little when people write posts about possibly-inflammatory topics but yours was so nice I just had to comment!

  7. Member
    DBS5127 220 posts, Helper bee @ 7:07 pm

    The biggest deciding factor for us in having kids at our wedding was the numbers – at the time of making our guest list, there were only 4 under-21ers on it – FI’s two cousins, FI’s nephew (ring bearer), and a family friend of mine, who I’m honestly closer to the kid than the parents! Now, I have two pregnant cousins, so there’ll possibly be two more little babies at the wedding. Still, it works for our venue/time/overall feel. If there were tons, I don’t think we’d invite them.

    And I’m totally with you on remembering not being invited to “grown up” events as a kid. It didn’t bother me!

  8. panda Member
    Mrs. Panda 1359 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:11 pm

    we had one small kid at our wedding and that was it. He was incredibly well behaved too, which made it easy to not worry about him. We have some great memories with him (he was laughing so cutely during the ceremony, it was adorable), but I can definitely see the appeal of an all adult affair. end of the day, your day, you should spend it how you want!

  9. Member
    tyme4awednn2014 222 posts, Helper bee @ 9:18 pm

    My family is full of children, I really don’t want any of them there, including my own. I can’t think of what to do with her, so the easiest option is bringing her along. I am also making an exception for my niece, who must fly in with her parents from Germany.
    I’m going to gently hint to my sister about not bringing her kids, 2 are elementary aged & will be bored. 1 will be in the Terrible Two’s. I don’t think it’s a good idea to spend all that money for either situation.
    All others are simply not invited. Something in my invitation will specify adults only. I know that the assumption will be that children are allowed because I have one. That’s not the case & I want to be clear with my guests, tacky or not.

  10. Member
    graciej 197 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:52 pm

    Conundrum is right! This one is tricky. We’ve agreed no children of friends as a blanket rule. We aren’t close to any of our friends’ children except for one friend’s 2 and 4 year olds who are in the bridal party. I feel that especially since they will be travelling from interstate they should be able to come to the reception and they can be an exception to the friend rule as they are in the party. But I worry they’ll be bored as there won’t be other kids their ages.
    For family, my school-age cousins will be invited as that’s our family’s way. There’s a 3yo and 2 babies under 1 who are second cousins and for them, I’ll discuss it with their parents. If they will enjoy the night more by having their little ones with then, I’m ok with that. If not, they can make the decision not to bring them. It will hardly be a cost consideration at those low numbers.
    I agree, I think being specific with guests names on the invitations is the best way to make it clear and that’s what we intend to do for friends whose children we are not inviting.

  11. Member
    ms_purple 2675 posts, Sugar bee @ 7:16 am

    We’re inviting children of all family members. Most of them are over the age of 13. Only two are very young, our nephew will be 1.5 when we get married an another cousin has a daughter the same age and will have a newborn by the time our wedding rolls around. They’re all invited, but in talking to the cousin who is pregnant now, she talks a lot about finally being able to have a drink again and party at our wedding. So it seems unlikely she’ll bring the kids. We just wouldn’t want them to miss our wedding because the kids were not invited.
    On the other hand FBIL is having his wedding 6 months after ours and limited his guest list to immediate family, aunts, uncles, first cousins but NO children at all. He knows this may limit the guest list but is actually happy about it. He told us he hopes a lot of people decline their invitation due to the cost of their wedding. Yikes. Tough spot to be in but most of the family is understanding. They realize the costs are higher where he is (east coast) and they might not be able to afford the whole family traveling out there regardless.

  12. Member
    laceydoilies 1628 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:16 am

    I think it is definitely tricky! We (me and FH) decided on no children at our wedding after experiencing children first hand at other weddings and non-interested parents. Numbers would have increased only slightly, but not by much (unless our friends suddenly are having babies). The only parent that really mattered was my sister and she is on board (in her view weddings are no place for children), so it is not as difficult for us as it is for others. My parents are fine with it, as is FH’s mother and sister.

    (I also find that it would possibly be so boring for the kids and then it would be past their bedtimes)

    I also remember my parents going to so many events and hosting dinner parties which we were pretty much discluded from (except to say hello and good night to their friends) so it is not such a big thing for my family. It never felt like a slight.

    If others want kids at their wedding that’s fine, just not for us :)

  13. Member
    kit_kath 1327 posts, Bumble bee @ 7:34 am

    Similar to you, kid-friendly wedding are not common in my family. Typically if there are children it’s only immediate family. We have a couple first cousins that are in the tween/teen area, so our cut off might be 15. But basically no kids outside of first cousin’s (so cousin’s kid isn’t coming, family friend’s kid, etc).

  14. Member
    daniellekira 573 posts, Busy bee @ 11:28 am

    We didn’t want kids at our wedding either, but there were two: our flower girl and a GMs son. I have a family member who didn’t come to the wedding over me not having her son there and now throws shade at me all the time. I don’t understand how someone can be like that. My parents went to weddings where my sister and I didn’t get to go. That is what babysitters are for. Really sad, but most people were more than ok with the idea of having a night out to themselves.

  15. mspalmtree Member
    Mrs. Palm Tree 1122 posts, Bumble bee @ 11:33 am

    I think this a really well written article, Miss Filly! I totally understand adult-only receptions and I’m a huge fan of them, personally. It wasn’t possible for us (would have caused WAY too much of a stir and it wasn’t a battle I cared to fight – plus I couldn’t imagine our wedding without FG’s Pad and Pie) but it’s definitely a legitimate option.

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Lone Star, Guest @ 12:30 pm

    I agree with your post. I mean, our dinner wasn’t served until 8 pm, there was open bar from 7-11:30 pm, I’m not sure who started circulating the memo that events such as this are supposed to involve children at all. I know I never went to any weddings as a child unless I was flower girl. The people who are hurt about this are pretty selfish. Our wedding was kid-free and we had some pretty nasty incidents with people demanding their kids be allowed to come. It really put a damper on our day, sadly, but we did stick to our guns (mainly becuase the two children in question were ALWAYS the center of attention with my in-laws and I wanted my husband to be their center, for a change!). Just be prepared for someone you are certain knows your rules to suddenly shout “but I thought that didn’t apply to MEEE”!

  17. Member
    ilikeballet 277 posts, Helper bee @ 2:50 pm

    I was on the no kid boat but my husband’s family has too many children. It was a battle I didn’t want to fight. Also, keep in mind that even though you address the invitations to Mr. and Mrs. X, they will most likely RSVP back with Mr. X, Mrs. X, and children x. It happened on quite a few of our RSVPs.

  18. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 5:11 pm

    @MsMeow: Hahaha, I’m not even making an exception for the Beckhams! I’ve never been to a Slovenian Catholic wedding but I’ll take your word for it – honestly, my attention span can barely handle regular Catholic weddings. (I’m burning in hell for that.)

    @Mrs. Rubber Stamps: If anyone had an issue with your choice, they were more than welcome to not attend, you know? Inviting in circles is the way to go.

    @luluvohn: Sounds like we’re on the same page! I feel like blatantly spelling out adults only all over everything is kind of insulting to the 99% of people who will understand, you know? Of course, now that I’ve said that, I’ve probably jinxed myself.

    @Miss Bighorn Sheep: I’m sure the kiddos will be just fine! A special kids area is awesome if you can swing it financially (which we obviously could not).

    @MaryRachel: Oh wow, thanks so much for the feedback! It’s definitely a touchy subject so I did my best to tread carefully; I’m glad it worked. Hopefully you and your FI find a compromise!

    @DaniLyn: Numbers were a huge consideration for us – 4 is no big deal, especially if you already have good relationships with them. When I was a kid, I never cared about not being invited to grownup events, and now that I’m one of the grownups, I’ve realized that I haven’t missed much, haha.

    @Mrs. Panda: That is adorable – I’m so glad it worked out for you! I am LOVING your recaps, by the way – keep them coming!!

    @Tyme4AWedNN2014: That’s crazy, just because you have a child shouldn’t mean it’s a kid free for all! Hopefully your guests get the message.

    @graciej: I think you’re doing it exactly right – inviting in circles is the best way to go.

    @Ms_Purple: Well … your FBIL certainly has one way of looking at it; lots of declines would save money, haha. As an East Coast bride, he’s right – it’s horrifically expensive here. The cost of living in general is nuts compared to the a lot of the country; it’s not just weddings!

    @laceydoilies: I totally agree – it’s tricky, but you have to do what you want. Want kids? Invite them all. Or just invite some. Or if you don’t want them, don’t invite them. Just don’t be judgey of those who make different choices! Can’t we all just get along?

    @Kit_Kath: Can’t go wrong inviting in circles!

    @daniellekira: Ugh, that’s awful. I wish people wouldn’t be so judgey/hateful over other people’s choices. You had an adults only wedding; it’s not like you beat up her children. Grow up, people.

    @Mrs. Palm Tree: Thanks! I totally understand having to choose your battles … some hills are not worth dying on.

    @Lone Star: Ugh, seriously?? You know what the worst is? I’ve got an older cousin who got married when I was in high school, and I wasn’t invited to the wedding because they had an adults only wedding – fine, that’s no big deal, that’s how things are – but now that they’ve got a kid, all of a sudden adults only weddings are rude and unfair and they can’t possibly leave their special snowflake behind for a night. if my eyes were rolling any harder, they’d be stuck in the back of my head.

    @ilikeballet: Oh noooo. I hope not. I’m prepared to make some phone calls if anyone does that, but I’m hoping it doesn’t come to that. I hate awkward conversations.

  19. Member
    asichka 245 posts, Helper bee @ 11:04 pm

    Our reasons are that we don’t want to have to worry about wild kids breaking stuff because their parents are enjoying themselves too much to watch them.

    Our families have kiddies, but very few that we are close to, and their parents are not the kind who’d complain about the exclusion.

    BUT there are those other friends and relatives who might bring their kids along (as commonly happens in the community), and I don’t want any of my guests to experience the inconvenience of not having a place to sit because one invited guest is taking up 3 chairs or have food run out because the uninvited kids got served before invited guests.

    So we are putting “Adults only” and “___ seats reserved in your honour” in the cards, and anyone who still brings their child will have to find somewhere to leave them (probably with the bouncers at the door!) before they can come inside.

  20. Guest Icon Guest
    MissJules, Guest @ 1:19 pm

    My Fiance and I are getting married at a place that charges full price for children over the age of 10 and up to 10 kids under the age of 10 are free. This will be an evening wedding and we are having a pretty large wedding 200-ish and really want to have an all out party. Both of our families are really large and we have several children over the age of 10 with family and friends- some of which we aren’t really close with. We decided to only invite immediate family and wedding party children. Other than that the wedding will be adult only. The invitations will be addressed to “Mr and Mrs” and the RSVP will have the amount of people we are reserving seats for. I know some people will have something to say, but ultimately, it is our day and if someone has a problem with it, then they don’t need to be there- we can get together some other time.

  21. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs.W, Guest @ 1:41 pm

    My (newly minted) husband & I decided very early on in the planning process that we didn’t want kids at the wedding. We were set on a 21yr age limit, but lowered it to 20 for my cousin.

    We had been to a family wedding a few months prior to getting engaged where there was a baby, and we decided that we didn’t want to worry about or experience an infant or bored child during the ceremony or reception.

    We LOVE kids, and we plan on having some of our own in the future. We just wanted our wedding to be adult-only. NONE of our family members understood our decision, and my mother even went so far as to invite the (young) teenage son & teenage daughter of two family friends (not even relatives!!) There was a lot of arguing and quite a few blowups, but my mother went back and explained to both sets of friends that while my fiancee and I love them both, they weren’t able to attend the wedding. Eventually my aunt ended up bringing my 16 yr old cousin, and he barely moved from his seat.

    If your family is supportive (and not undermining), then go for it. Good luck! :)

  22. Member
    vineyardbride105 73 posts, Worker bee @ 2:50 pm

    Amen and Thank You! We had a mixed response to our kid free wedding. We didn’t have kids because:

    1) Money. Our guest list of 130 would have gone up to 170 if we included kids. This also wouldn’t have been conducive to our more intimate feel.
    2) We like to party. We had a open bar and ran out of wine by 6 (so we had an emergency delivery of more!). The dance floor was not empty once the entire night. It was not a kid friendly affair.
    3) My DH is 30, five years older than me. Some cousins and Aunt didn’t realize most of his friends have new-borns or toddlers. We would have been overrun with the little ones. I think most parent (at least our friends we asked about it) really appreciated the night out!

    Like I said, most people we talked to appreciated the opportunity to get a baby sitter and party. However, I was VERY upset to learn that one of DH’s aunts, let’s call her Vicki, did not attend because she was watching her sons (that attended the wedding) children. I’m sorry –what?! Even more ridiculous, the kids other grandmother lives in the same city!! Vicki’s husband even told DH’s grandmother that she HAD to stay home and watch the kids because it’s SO ridiculous that we didn’t invite them. I just find it all so silly. Guess what, for all the reason’s listed above, we didn’t want to have kids at the wedding. Don’t take is so personal. Geez!

  23. Guest Icon Guest
    Mrs. Lotus, Guest @ 4:06 pm

    I just got married last month and we had a no kid wedding, well sort of! I allowed the wedding party’s children to come which happened to be all of my nieces and nephews and one of my DH nieces ( a whopping 11 children which is enough). The children left with a babysitter at 7:30 :). I would say about 1/5 of my guest list did not make it because of this fact. One of DH cousins wife was furious that we were not allowing her girls there. I should add that we don’t really know her children. I did offer babysitting and info for babysitters but no one took me up on it. One of my cousins ended up brining her children to the ceremony anyway, thinking that I wouldn’t see. Nope not this bride I noticed! In the end I really don’t care who offended, it was our wedding and this is how we wanted it.

  24. msfilly Member
    Mrs. Filly 827 posts, Busy bee @ 2:06 am

    @Asichka: OMG, you’re having bouncers? So badass – I love it.

    @MissJules: Full price for kids over 10? You’re kidding me! Our venue has some sort of discounted kids’ price, but I honestly didn’t look too much into it because I knew we wouldn’t be including them anyway. $80 for a plate of chicken nuggets and fries? HAHAHAHAHA.

    @Mrs.W: THANK YOU – not wanting kids at your wedding doesn’t make you an evil child hater, you know? Glad you stuck to your guns and it all worked out.

    @VineyardBride105: Um, #2 makes me think you guys had the greatest wedding of all time :) People get so up in arms about this stuff – come or don’t come, who cares, but don’t get all bent out of shape over whether or not your special snowflakes are invited, you know?

    @Mrs. Lotus: I agree – as long as your day was how you wanted it, nothing else really matters. That was really kind of you to offer babysitter info! I’m planning on doing the same, not sure if anyone will take me up on it either.

  25. mswaterfall Member
    Mrs. Waterfall 1403 posts, Bumble bee @ 8:37 am

    I just want to chime in to strongly recommend doing the “we have reserved _ seats for you” thing. We didn’t, because we figured it was clear enough who was or wasn’t invited… and we had about 10 different people try to add guests and such and it gave me so much extra stress having to call them all back and have to tell them no, you can’t bring a plus-one… Just save yourself the trouble of having to follow up with people and be preemptive! Also, I’m guessing that most parents will probably assume that their children ARE invited!

  26. Guest Icon Guest
    MissJules, Guest @ 8:44 am

    @Miss Filly: Yes full price over the age of 10 which after taxes and the administration fee is like $160ish per person- not to mention the fact that our venue is a minimum of 175 people so we already have a big wedding. Most of our friends have children and our extended families have children and grandchildren (quite a few which are in the preteen age and thus over the age of 10) We kept it at immediate family children and wedding party (which happens to be immediate family anyway). Once you start making exceptions, its pretty hard to stop at 1. We are only having 3 children under the age of 10 (but pretty close to it) and the other “children” will be 19 and 20. You have to put your foot down somewhere.

  27. Member
    Miss_Mimosa 190 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:54 pm

    I completely understand the no kids rule at weddings! I have a 2 nieces and a nephew that will be the exceptions to that rule and if anyone says anything about it, it is on! ha! I think most people understand though.

  28. Member
    nerdybird 1443 posts, Bumble bee @ 9:53 am

    I majorly lucked out! we only had a couple of babies and a couple of teens to worry about.

    the way I figured, any kid over 13 and under 1 year are no biggie to me. they’re not going to walk around and get underfoot. I knew my friends would take their baby out of the room if it started crying. but it was moot – the one baby that wound up attending stayed quiet.

    my 13 year old niece was so bored though! fortunately, she had a laptop and wifi so all was good.

    but if there were a bunch of kids that could run around and be annoying? no way. uninvited for sure.

  29. Member
    lastgirlstanding 374 posts, Helper bee @ 7:16 am

    I am the last of my friends to get married (hence my screen name!) and they ALL have children. I thought this would be an issue come invite time.

    To my surprise, my friends with kids all said the same thing: “Why would we want our kids at a wedding? There’s an open bar and we want a night out!”

    So it was a non-issue. They didn’t want to bring their kids. lol


    I will have three friends with newborns (less than 3 months) at the wedding. I have no issues with them bringing the new babies, as a) I don’t have to pay for a meal and b) I understand they have to feed them every few hours.

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