How to Plan a Kid-Free Wedding and Reception Without Ruffling Too Many Feathers

An upset couple look at wedding plans

Many brides and grooms are choosing to have kid-free ceremonies and receptions, asking their guests to politely leave their little ones at home. While some parents rejoice at the thought of a night out without their kids, others may be miffed that they can’t bring them along to a family event.

If you’re considering a kid-free wedding due to budgetary restrictions—or you just don’t want to take a chance on hearing a fussy baby in your wedding video—you completely have the right to do so.

Let’s go over everything you need to do to inform your guests that your wedding is going to be kid-free (and how to do it without ruffling too many feathers).

Upset little girl in a wedding dress

Yes, It Is Appropriate to Not Invite Children

Children can be adorable at weddings. Whether they’re stealing a dance with the bride, trying to catch the bouquet at the end of the night, or simply looking dapper in their evening wear, kids can add a lot of joy to an already happy occasion.

But kids can also be fussy. They can be loud when you’re trying to have an intimate moment during the ceremony. They can throw cake around on an elegantly decorated table. They can also distract their parents from enjoying the ceremony and reception, which is, after all, kind of the point.

Even if you adore children, you have the right to invite or not invite anyone you like, no matter how small. If you’re planning on having an especially formal ceremony and reception, or if you wanted your reception to be a big party where it wouldn’t be appropriate to have children, you likely have your reasons for not wanting to invite them—and that’s OK.

Above all, don’t let anyone bully you into changing your mind if kid-free is what you envision for your wedding. At the same time, you should also be understanding of parents with young children who may have to arrange for expensive childcare or make special accommodations if they have to travel to your wedding.

A young girl ring bearer walks down the aisle at a wedding

You Can Still Have Flower Girls and Ring Bearers

Just because you choose not to invite children to your wedding doesn’t mean that you can’t have flower girls or ring bearers. While you may not be wild about the idea of having a gaggle of kids at your wedding, including a niece or nephew in the ceremony may be important to you.

If you’re still not into the idea of having kids at the reception—even the ones who were included in the ceremony—you should consider hiring a babysitter that can keep the kiddos entertained and fed for a few hours. Plus, their parents would likely be grateful for the help and the much-needed break.

Inform Guests on the Invitation

If you’re choosing to forego children at the wedding, you need to tell your guests as early as you can so there will be no misinterpretation or misunderstanding for the parents on the guest list. The best way to do that is to include that it will be an “Adults Only Ceremony and Reception” on the invitation.

If that phrasing seems to harsh or direct, you could also just address the invitation to Mr. and Mrs. So-and-So, leaving out “and family.” Additionally, you could fill out their RSVP card for them by putting them down for two guests, which should clear up any confusion.

Couple on a laptop

Put a Note on Your Wedding Website

Don’t want to clutter up your invitations with any more information? Let your guests know that your wedding and reception will be a kid-free zone by writing a disclaimer on your wedding website.

Keep in mind that if you go this route, you will need to inform your less tech-savvy friends and family that kids will not be invited to the ceremony and reception personally. Reach out to them through a quick phone call or email that lets them know the details of the ceremony and reception.

Understand That Some People Are Going to be Upset

One rule in life (and wedding planning) that you’ll learn is that you’ll never be able to please everyone—especially when you decide to exclude children from your guest list. The choice to have an adults-only ceremony and reception is a personal one that you and your partner have likely thought a lot about, but that doesn’t mean that every friend or family member with young children will understand.

Try to be understanding and polite if they confront you about your decision, but stick to your guns. Don’t provide exceptions for some friends or family members because that might not go over well with other parents who followed your rule.

Consider Hiring a Sitter

You may be at a point in your life where a lot of your friends and siblings have children, and not allowing them at the ceremony and reception may be nearly impossible to enforce. In this case, you might consider hiring a babysitter or two during the ceremony and reception. You’ll get your quiet, intimate ceremony, and the parents will be able to attend without distraction and make special arrangements. It’s a win-win for everybody.

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