It’s not unusual for bridal couples to want to exclude children at their weddings. The problem of getting the word out to your guests is a tough one and so are the solutions.
According to etiquette authorities, the only truly proper way to indicate “no children” is by not including the children’s names, or “and family” on the invitation. Because this may be too subtle an approach, here are several possible solutions.
Try to begin with word of mouth. Tell everyone you know that it’s adults only, no children under a specific age, and ask them to spread the word for you.
If you are designing, or having a wedding web site designed for you, include the “no children, please” restriction on your site. Because a web site allows you the luxury of room to say what you wish, how you wish, you can add something to this effect,
“We love children and hope we can get together soon to visit with you and yours. We hope you’ll understand that we have opted for an “adults only wedding and reception.”
If you wish, you can elaborate further and actually explain why you have chosen to do so by adding:
“because we are such a very large family . . . ”
“because there will be alcohol served . . . ”
“because expenses won’t allow us to invite everyone we would like to,”
“because there is only room for xxxx number guests in the venue . . .” or,
“because the affair will run late into the evening . . .”
If you are sending Save-the-Date cards, you can break the news and introduce the concept of “no kids allowed” wedding ceremony and reception. You can do so gently by saying that yours will be an “adults only” affair.
Another approach is to include one of the following on your response cards (not on the invitation itself):
“We have reserved two seats for you,” or
“Number of Adults” followed by a blank line.
Make very sure that, if you are excluding children, you mention the age cutoff. What may seem a child to you may be viewed as an adult by the child’s parents.
Wedding experts disagree on whether or not it’s okay to make an exception for the children you have chosen to be in your wedding party. If you are really concerned that some of your parent-guests will be offended, then I suggest you forgo any children, including those you picked for your wedding party.
If, despite your best efforts, someone shows up with a child, suck it up and find the kid a seat!