This post contains affiliate links and/or links to my own products. I never recommend anything I don’t love or wouldn’t use myself.
The short answer is – it depends! Do you want kids at your wedding? There is no right or wrong answer–it’s a decision you and your fiancé have to make together.
In order to decide if you want kids at your wedding, consider what you want for 1) the vibe, 2) the venue, 3) the time of the ceremony and reception.
Three factors to consider when inviting kids to your wedding:
- The vibe of your wedding: Do you want an intimate romantic dinner? Then kids might not fit into your dream wedding. It’s not fair to expect them to sit quietly at a candle-lit dinner. Kids are best for when you want things loud and fun. Invite kids if you want a spontaneous, fun vibe. Imagine your cute nephew doing a dance-off with the best man–kids make for some of the most memorable, unscripted moments!
- The venue of your wedding: Does the venue allow kids? A setting like a brewery or an art gallery might be a no-go. If you are planning a long religious ceremony, children might interrupt or get bored. Also consider safety issues if kids are invited. For example, guests will need to be vigilant when bringing their kids to a venue with a pool or beach.
- The time of the wedding: Daytime weddings are best for kids. Depending on the ages of kids, their bedtime might be quite early. If a wedding starts at 5pm, some guests with kids will be leaving at 8pm. If you do want to invite kids to an evening wedding, make sure shuttles leave early enough that cranky kids can be brought home.
Whatever you decide for your wedding, make sure the rule is applied consistently so there are no hurt feelings among friends and family. For instance, if you are only inviting guests 13 and up, you shouldn’t make an exception for your 10 year-old cousin.
How common is it to have kids at a wedding?
According to a survey I did on Facebook of over 100 brides and grooms, most people have some kids at their wedding.
It is common to have kids at a wedding, with most couples saying that they plan on inviting kids to their wedding in some capacity. 35% of respondents said yes to allowing kids. 47% of respondents said only a few, referring to exceptions made for their own kids or the wedding party. Less than 20% of respondents said they weren’t having any kids at their wedding.
Here are some examples of what inviting kids to your wedding looks like:
- Only allowing your and/or your partner’s kids
- Inviting kids who will play a role in your wedding like a flower girl or ring bearer
- Allowing children to attend certain parts of the wedding like just the ceremony or the reception
- Having kids at the reception but hiring a babysitter so they are corralled while the parents have fun
- Welcoming kids at specific ages, like 1 and younger or 16 and up
Allowing kids in some capacity is a good compromise between kid-free and kid-friendly. This method allows you to see the little family members in their cute little tuxes and dresses, but not sacrifice your vision for your big day.
Looking for ideas of what to do with kids at your wedding? Check out this post on ideas to make your wedding more kid friendly.
Is it okay to have a kid-free wedding?
Absolutely! It’s a day about you and your partner. You control the guest list, so if you don’t want kids–don’t invite them. You would be in good company. According to my survey, 18.3% of couples are not inviting children. Just know that some guests may not attend if they are unable to find a babysitter.
How to communicate kids are invited to your wedding
Traditionally, the envelope of the wedding invitation communicates who is invited. SO, if kids are invited, list the name of each family member or write “The Smith Family” on the envelope. And that’s all you have to say.
If children are invited to only one part of the wedding, include their name on the envelope but be specific when you talk to the family member in charge. For example, if you are inviting your niece to be a flower girl but prefer to have an adult-only reception, talk to your sibling about your expectations. Realize that you may need to work through child care logistics with your sibling so that they can bring their child home and return themselves for the wedding. This could mean everything from an in-law picking up the child after the ceremony, to your sibling’s spouse bowing out of the reception so your sibling can enjoy the night child free.
Most parents are used to making these types of arrangements without a lot of drama. But you will find occasionally that parents are offended or find it difficult to arrange if they don’t attend adults-only events often since having children.
It is not traditional to write any specific instructions related to kids on the invitation itself. Emily Post would majorly frown upon doing so. However, many modern couples find themselves wanting to say something in writing to make it clear to guests who are bringing children. For example, you can write on the RSVP card, “All are welcome at the ceremony. Adult-only reception to follow.”
How to communicate kids are not invited to your wedding
If the invitation is going to be for just grown folks, address the envelope to the invited guests only, i.e. Mrs. Joanne Smith and Mrs. Jane Smith. For most guests, that will be a clear indication to leave the kids at home. And it is the traditional way to address an invitation to only adult guests.
It’s also good to note that information on your wedding website. You can say something like, “Due to venue restrictions, we unfortunately cannot accommodate children” or “We are hosting an adult-only wedding.” Some people will probably still call you and ask, so practice saying “we love seeing little Jackson, but this time it’s just 18-plus.” Stay firm and don’t make exceptions or you’ll have upset guests.
If you are having a destination wedding, make sure to give ample notice to leave the little ones at home. It will take additional planning for guests to secure a babysitter for multiple days (or bring along their mother-in-law). Tell guests as soon as you know that your destination wedding will be kid-free–either via save the dates or by sending a quick text.
It is not correct etiquette to write “No Kids” or “Adults Only” anywhere on the wedding invitation or details card. But more and more couples are including a line about kids on the invitation itself. A simple “Adults only reception to follow” gets the point across. Not need to explain in more detail than that unless asked.
What if someone brings their kid to your wedding uninvited?
It’s seriously unlikely someone will show up with a toddler in tow, if you told your guests that children aren’t invited. But if you’re worried, it’s good to plan for the worst case scenario.
We recommend just ignoring the fact that your guest brought their kid so you can avoid conflict and focus on enjoying your day. Sure, that guest is being super rude, but if you are trying to avoid a scene we recommend looking the other way. You also don’t know if there were emergency circumstances that forced them to bring their child at the last minute or no-show at your wedding.
Now if you want to confront them, either on principle or because of a safety issue, you should. We recommend deputizing a third-party, like an usher, wedding planner, or stern uncle to deliver the news. Their message should be straightforward but kind. “I don’t know if you know, but kids aren’t invited to the wedding. I’m sorry but you have to take Lakynn home.” If you have a venue rule that says no kids, this is easier to explain as a safety issue that’s out of your control.
How can I make my wedding kid-friendly?
If you decide to invite children, you want your wedding to be fun and safe for them. (And stress-free for the parents too!) Consider how to make aspects of the ceremony, food, and activities enjoyable for kids. We have a list of ideas here.
It’s not easy to decide whether to invite kids to your wedding. Kids can change the environment of the wedding in unpredictable ways (some fun! Some not-so-fun…) Whatever you and your fiancé decide, make sure you communicate clearly and early about who’s invited.
Need additional tips from other like-minded brides? Whether you’re planning a wedding at the last minute or on a budget, check out our free, exclusive Facebook group – Wedding Planning Club