Problem Solved: Bringing Children to a Wedding

flower girl acting upOne bride-to-be asks: Do guests expect to bring their kids [to weddings]? Should I invite close family members’ kids? Is there a polite way to say, “Don’t bring your kids!”?

Unless you make it clear that the wedding is for adults only, parents will likely assume they can bring their children, though this may vary from region to region.

As for inviting close family members’ children, I would recommend this: Invite all the children or none. If one guest is allowed to bring their kids and another isn’t, this will likely cause friction. There is one exception: If  there are children in your wedding party, then you can usually get away with having them at the wedding and not inviting other children.

flower girl in a big white dressIf you’d rather not have children at your wedding, don’t feel guilty. Children are unpredictable — you have every reason for concern. I’ve witnessed all sorts of kid shenanigans at weddings: from a flower girl getting sudden stage fright and running down the aisle to her mother instead of doing her flower girl duties (which fell to the maid of honor) to another flower girl who frowned and faced the audience during the whole ceremony. (And no, I’m not talking about the now famously cranky Grace Van Cutsem at the royal wedding.) It seems that requests to leave the children at home have become more common in recent years. In fact, some venues don’t even allow children.

resting flower girlIf you don’t want children at your wedding, address the invitations to only the adults in the family. Peggy Post of the Emily Post Institute claims that you should leave it at this and not write, for example, “no children” on the invitation. While I agree that this exact wording should be avoided, you may need to address the subject more directly to avoid misunderstandings. Some parents may think you’re addressing the invitation to them because they are the ones who will read it, rather than indicating who is invited  (especially if they are unaccustomed to adult only receptions).

To make your point clearer, you may want to include “Adults only” or “Adult reception” at the bottom of the invitation. If you don’t want this on the printed invitations, consider clearly indicating it on your wedding website.

Another way to go is to arrange for babysitters for the wedding. Some venues have rooms where you can set up the children with some games and chaperones. (I recommend setting them up with pizza as well.) There are even services that specialize in babysitting at events. Another option is to provide the names and numbers of babysitters in the area to parents so they can set up the service on their own.

If you have thoughts/advice on this subject, please share!

Photos by Michael Graham Photography


  1. Kids like to steal attention- whether they’re at the alter, in the crowd, or on the dance floor.. It is the bride’s day, she should be the center of everyones attention..
    leave the kids at home.

  2. I just recently was at a wedding where there were three small babies attending…they cried throughout the entire ceremony.I couldn’t even hear the vows.
    To avoid this for my own wedding I have told parents, so that they can “fully enjoy the festivities”, that I reserved a trusted neighbor for the big day to watch kids at my parents’ house.

  3. We specified in every way we could think of to let our siblings, their children and everyone attending my son’s wedding know that it was the bride’s wish that this would be a formal wedding, suits and ties required by men and cocktail dresses for women, and that there was a free nursery provided for children under the age of eight years old, and the nursery personnel were well experienced with babies and children. My niece and her husband, who should have known better, showed up in jeans, polo shirts, and brought their three year old. They thought my son and his fiance were being “snooty” in trying to “dictate” what people could wear. When the child started to cry during the reception I asked them to take her to the nursery or take her home and they have not spoken to me since. That was 17 years ago–the child is in college now. My son’s wife made sure that no pictures of them were taken. Family can disappoint you badly sometimes.

  4. Wow, Judianna, that’s quite a story! That reaction is especially surprising considering there was a free nursery provided, which is a very generous service to offer. It’s hard to know how people will take things, and as we all know, you can’t please everyone. But a formal wedding doesn’t make sense for children and sounds like you, your son and his wife made a sincere effort to accommodate people. There’s only so much you can do.

  5. Unless there’s a ‘play room’ provided, weddings are mostly boring for children–and uncomfortable if they are forced to wear ‘the good clothes’. Get a sitter and leave them at home; if this is a hardship, then send a nice card and your regrets.

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