We’ve discussed ways in which to incorporate children into a wedding celebration (and how to keep them occupied) — see my “No Kids Allowed” post for more information. Here’s another child-related question.
A bride asks: “My future husband comes from a very large Greek family. It’s traditional at weddings that “everyone” gets invited. Those kinds of numbers are simply out of the question for us, so my fiancé and I have agreed that we will exclude all children, perhaps even those in the bridal party, and invite only adults. My question is how to let guests know that ours will be an “Adults Only” event. I want to do it as tactfully as possible, while making sure that guests who receive an invitation are clear about our intentions.
Dear bride: You’re not alone in your wish not to have children at your wedding! The problem is a tough one and so are the solutions.
According to etiquette authorities, the only truly proper way to indicate “no children” is by not including the children’s names, or “and family” on the invitation. Frankly, I’m not at all sure that would work, so I offer the following possible solutions:
You can begin by using word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that it’s “adults only,” no children under a specific age, and ask them to spread the word for you.
If you have a wedding Web site, include the “no children, please” restriction on your site. Because a Web site allows you the luxury of room to say what you want — how you want — you can add something to this effect: “We love children and hope we can get together soon to visit with you and yours. We hope you’ll understand that we have opted for an “adults only wedding and reception.” If you wish, you can elaborate further and actually explain why you have chosen to do so by adding “because we are such a very large family… ,” “because there will be alcohol served… ,” “because expenses won’t allow us to invite everyone we would like to…,” “because there is only room for [number of] guests in the venue… ,” or, ”because the affair will run late into the evening.”
If you send save-the-date cards, you can break the news and introduce the concept of a “no kids allowed” wedding ceremony and reception. You can do so gently by saying that yours will be an “adults only” affair.
Another approach is to include one of the following on your response cards (not on the invitation itself): “We’ve reserved two seats for you,” or “Number of Adults” followed by a blank line.
Make very sure that, if you are excluding children, you mention the age cutoff. What may seem a child to you may be viewed as an adult by the child’s parents. Wedding experts disagree whether it’s okay to make an exception for the children you’ve chosen to be in your wedding party. If you are really concerned that some of your parent-guests will be offended, then I suggest you forgo any children, including those you picked for your wedding party.
If, despite your best efforts, someone shows up with a child, suck it up and find the kid a seat!
To submit your own question to the Wedding Guru, email Judy at firstname.lastname@example.org.