In order to avoid the possibility of kid related catastrophes, a bride and groom may wish to exclude children from their wedding and reception. If you are thinking about the option of an “Adults Only” wedding reception, its critically important that you consider the matter carefully and realize that some may indeed find this to be a tad offensive, tacky, ungracious, or downright cold.
However, your wedding day is YOUR day and the bottom line is that you have a right to have it “your way” on your wedding day. Following proper wedding invitation etiquette and protocol is crucial to not giving anyone the wrong impression. Traditional wedding etiquette provides a few ways to make this clarification known without hurting feelings.
Rule #1. NEVER use phrases such as NO KIDS, NO CHILDREN, etc., on your wedding invitations. This is not considered polite and is bad wedding etiquette.
There really is no easy way to tell your guests that their children are not invited. The most subtle approach is to spread the “no children” restriction by word-of-mouth. Word of mouth works fairly well and is best. Assign this task to the maid or matron of honor or members of the bridal party or you can post it on your wedding Website. If you are excluding some children, the rule is that you must exclude all children. There must not be different rules for different people or some individuals will be deeply offended and hurt – and rightly so.
Many couples these days have kid-free weddings, but find that some friends and family members may be unable to attend. You might want to consider providing guests with the names and numbers of local babysitters. Note on the reception “RSVP” card that an adult reception will be held after the ceremony. The only correct wording for your “save the date” cards is “Adult Reception,” “Adults Only Reception” or “Adult Only Ceremony and Reception.”
If the children’s names are not included on the envelope of the invitation, the recipients should know that the children are not invited. You list only those whom you wish to invite on the outside of the inner envelope. Only those listed are invited. The exclusion of “and family” or the child/children’s name(s) on the envelope should be understood as “no children allowed.”
“The way an invitation is addressed, whether on the inner or outer envelope, indicates exactly who is invited, and, by omission, who is not invited to the wedding.” ~ Emily Post
You can tell family members why you do not want children under the age of 17 or whatever age you choose. To avoid any miscommunication, clearly state what you mean by “children.” Some parents may assume that older kids are all right, while you may want no one under legal drinking age in attendance.
The only possible exception to this would be any children who are in the wedding party. However, the jury is out in this one. While some etiquette experts feel that it may be alright to make an exception to this, there is a stronger belief that if the reception is to be adults only, no children should be included as part of the wedding party. Otherwise, parents of children who were not allowed to attend may feel slighted that clearly some exceptions are being made to allow children, while they were instructed to leave their kids behind.
Children can sometimes create noisy distractions at weddings. They often don’t care for the food at receptions, yet because they require seats, the bride and groom must pay for their meals. The per plate charges can be as high as $40.00 per plate and up – even for children. Opps! There goes the budget. The cost of feeding a child at the wedding can be considerably less than the cost to feed an adult. However, not all caterers or reception sites have children’s menus from which they will serve kids under 12 years of age.
Mention on your “Save the Date” cards that this will be an “adults only” affair, and that you hope this ample notice will allow for plenty of time to secure babysitters or make appropriate arrangements. While you might not get the results you hope for, you can attempt to simply pass the notion of “no children allowed” via word of mouth.
If someone is courageous enough to ask if they might bring their “well behaved” children, be sure you know in advance how you will respond. “We all deserve some adult time every now and then,” you might say. “We thought our wedding would be the perfect event for the adults to let loose and not have any obligations.”
If someone slips up and brings their children, let it go. Although this is a major etiquette faux pas have someone assigned to take care of this situation. It’s not worth ruining your day.
If you don’t mind having the children at the ceremony but want an adult reception, you could arrange for the use of a room and hire a babysitter to care for the children during the reception. You of course would have to provide meals for them as well, so you would incur more expense trying to please everybody. You really are better off just talking with the families involved.
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Celebrate Intimate Weddings
Copyright © 2011 – Larry James. This article is adapted from Larry’s “romantic” Wedding Website. Larry James is an award winning, full-time, non-denominational wedding officiant and performs the most “Romantic” wedding ceremony you will find anywhere! Every wedding ceremony is customized to your complete satisfaction. He is the author of 3 relationship books including, “How to Really Love the One You’re With: Affirmative Guidelines for a Healthy Love Relationship.” Call to check availability: 480-998-9411. You will find more than 455 pages of Wedding ideas, tips (90 tips and growing), ceremonies, and more at: http://www.celebrateintimateweddings.com. Something NEW about weddings is posted every 4th day on Larry’s Wedding BLOG – http://CelebrateIntimateWeddings.wordpress.com.
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