One 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.
If 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.
If 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