Adults Only, Please – How to Gracefully Ask Wedding Guests to Leave Their Kids at Home

Awkward. That’s what most people feel when faced with the task of asking guests to leave their kids at home. So how do you tactfully do this without creating a rift between family and friends?  There are couple of ways to handle this.  None of them are perfect or will guarantee someone won’t be offended, still there are definitely better ways of handling this request than others.  When you exclude a group of people, there will be fall out. But you can be prepared!  The choice you have is how to handle it.  Here are our suggestions for gracefully asking wedding guests to leave their kids at home.

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Example of a Wedding Paperie wedding invitation addressed to couple only.

Good Ideas:

  • The envelope. A simple, slightly vague way to handle the no child issue, is to address the wedding invitation to just the couple: Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Leslie James. It’s specific some many people will get the hint because if you’d wanted to invite the whole family you would have addressed the invitations with Mr. and Mrs. Mike and Leslie James and family or simply The James Family. Some may not get the hint and will RSVP with the headcount indicative of them bringing their kids.  This is where you have to have a police person following up.  I suggest finding the person closest to you who can deliver even the worst news is a sweet, non threatening way.  Have that person call the guest and let then know in no uncertain terms, kids are not invited to the celebration.
  • Including a small line at the bottom of the custom wedding invitations.  You can word it something like: “Adults only please.” Keep it in a small, subtle font, big enough not to be missed but not big enough to steal the scene. You could also be funny about it but you need to make sure your audience (wedding guests ) will understand the humor.  Like, “Ceremony and reception intended for mature audiences only” or “No one under 17 admitted.” You could also state (if this is true) “Due to limited venue space, adults only please.”
  • Include tickets. You could create tickets to go with your wedding invitations.  Again, this has to be for the right crowd, and you don’t have to include it for those who don’t have kids. Two tickets= two guests. Sold out show. You could have a little basket for guests to  place their tickets in at the wedding.  You can go the extra mile and make them raffle tickets, have the DJ announce the winner and raffle off a half dozen wedding cupcake, cookies, or nice bottle of champagne.

Bad Ideas:

  • Hoping and Praying kids won’t come. If people don’t know, they will bring their kids.
  • Stating: No children allowed or even Please no kids.  It’s just too harsh, instead focus on a positive statement like, “Adults only please.”
  • Relying on word of mouth, exclusively. When used in conjunction with other techniques this is fine as a supplement.  But if you are counting on your mom and mother-in-law-to-be to spread the word alone, this may or may not work.  If you have a small wedding, it could work, if you have a large wedding, it definitely will not work because you just aren’t going to be able to cover everyone and undoubtedly someone will forget.
  • Ok, now that you know how you are going to tell your wedding guests that they can’t bring their tiny humans, you have to prepare for the fallout that may come your way.  There will be at least one person up in arms about this choice.  One of them may even be as bold as to call you about it and tell how it puts them out. Your job: do not take it on.  It is your wedding and you can plan it as you see fit.  You just have to know that some people will not like your choices. What to do if the someone is irritated and tells you about it:
  • Respond in an email: Dear Millie, I am sorry you are (choose one): a)having a hard time finding child care for our wedding. b) feeling frustrated that your kids were not invited. We hope that over the next two months you are able to secure care for your kiddos and able to attend our wedding.  Love, Dave and Michelle.  Keep it short, apologetic but firm and truthful.  The point is, they can feel however they want, it’s still your wedding and you get to set the boundaries, period.
  • Have your mom call.  It’s hard to argue with the mother of the bride or mother of the groom.  If she’s not available, have your aunt, sister, cousin or best friend do it.  You do not have to call them back. You are the bride and they will try to work you over.  Last resort, have the best man or father of the groom do it.  They may be less likely to break down and say, “fine bring your kids, you’re right it’s only 2 more heads to count” to 5 complainers.
  • Blame it on the venue. Size and space is limited and you have to make choices. Explaining this take the emotional piece out and people may not be as sensitive about it.

We hope this helps you establish a nice and palatable way to explain to your guests that you would prefer an adults only wedding.

 

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