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children wedding

Your Guide To Inviting Children To A Wedding (Or Not)

Written By Chateau Briand | 10/25/19 | 5 min read

We know—having to accomodate children at your wedding can be a bummer. For starters, when it comes time to trim the guest list, anyone under the age of 18 is a good place to start. Not only that, some people might feel as though they can’t let loose and truly party when there’s a bunch of toddlers running around on the dance floor.

Sometimes allowing children to be in attendance at your wedding is not only unavoidable, it’s also the right thing to do. Oftentimes family members or close friends have young children that they don’t want to leave at home with a babysitter—and sometimes their go-to sitter is someone you would also like to invite to your wedding. So when you open your wedding guest list to kids, you’re actually doing a favor for your adult guests who have children.

Including youngsters on your guest wedding guest list won’t turn your nuptials into an episode of Sesame Street. In fact, even with kids in attendance, you can still have an elegant Long Island wedding at a refined catering venue. You’ll just need to add a few kid-friendly elements. There are a few steps you can take to stage the wedding of your dreams, while simultaneously being a good friend to guests in the kid-having season of their life.

First Of All, Is It Appropriate To Not Invite Children?

Let’s get this out of the way. Yes, it is completely appropriate to include a “no children” caveat on your wedding invitation. This is no faux pas, in fact, keeping kids off the wedding guest list has become the social norm these days. This is typically the case when the wedding takes place during the evening or is especially formal. 

Politely asking guests to leave their children at home works particularly well when the wedding takes place at a catering venue that is local to the majority of guests. This means guests who are parents are more likely to attend your wedding because finding a sitter for one night is much easier than finding one for days on end. This is why if you host a destination wedding, it’s harder to say “no children allowed.”

You need to decide very early in the wedding planning process whether or not you’ll be inviting children. This will help parents make accommodations and will help you avoid awkward situations down the line. 

Be Straightforward On Your Wedding Invitations 

So you’ve decided not to invite children to your wedding. Or maybe you have. Either way, you should explicitly include this information on your wedding invitations. The traditional way to indicate whether or not a child is invited is actually to include his or her name on the invitation. Or you could just have the parents’ names on the envelope and the child’s name on the inner invitation under the parents’ names. 

However, if the youngster is over the age of 18, he or she should receive their own separate invitation, even if they still live at home with their parents. Keeping it vague and stating, “And Family” on the invite is an invitation for confusion.

As for how to politely say “no children” on the wedding invitation, there are a few ways to go about it without sounding rude. Here’s a few lines you can use: 

“We respectfully request no children under 16 at the reception.” “Although we love your little ones, this is an adult only affair.” “The bride and groom request that this be an adults-only reception.” “Please celebrate with us at an adults-only reception immediately following the ceremony.”

No matter what, your guests will appreciate the straight-forward approach!

Important Note: Chose a clear rule and stick to it. Inviting one guest’s child and not another guest’s is a bad look and will likely lead to hurt feelings and too much drama for your wedding day.

So You’ve Decided To Invite Children To Your Wedding. Now What?

Firstly, if you’re especially close to some guests, their offspring could perform one of the crucial wedding duties usually reserved for children. There’s ring bearers and flower girls, of course—and while those are typically reserved for your siblings children or your own children, if that isn’t an option, you can definitely go outside of the family circle to fill those roles. 

And youngsters can even be included in the wedding party. Including a “junior bridesmaid” or “junior groomsman” is especially en vogue these days. Just think about how adorable a child would be dressed up in a fancy dress or refined suit!

Children could be granted other ceremonial duties at a wedding—they could act as ushers, hand out programs and/or mass books, or help pass around rose petals and bird seed (because no one throws rice anymore). It all depends on the child’s personality, of course. Some of the more introverted kids might not be too thrilled about interacting with anyone other than their parents—and that’s OK!

How To Keep Kids On Their Best Behavior At Your Wedding Reception

That last thing you want is for your pint-sized guests to have a mini-meltdown during your wedding reception. Not only would that take away from the fun of the wedding, but it would also leave their parents feeling badly about their children’s behavior. Go the extra mile for your family and/or friends to ensure everyone has fun and no one sheds any tears.

Keep Them Fed: Children are far less happy when they’re hungry, so keep your youngest guests well fed. You might even want to consider staggering the meals so that children are fed first. Children rarely have the patience to sit and slowly enjoy conversation over a multi-course meal—instead, they’ll likely want to bolt from the table as soon as they’re finished eating. So, serve the kids first so that their parents can enjoy an adult dinner with friends without tending to their children. 

Hire Pro Childcare: This would be the ulta-grand gesture bestowed upon your friends who are also parents. Instead of tasking the parents to keep tabs on their children—causing them to miss out on all the fun—you could opt to hire a professional babysitter who would be in charge of keeping an eye on the young ones, while also keeping them entertained with activities and away from the wedding cake. 

Hire An Entertainer: This is in the same vein as hiring a childcare pro, but with the main point of giving children their own party atmosphere. There are many different options here, like a caricature artist, someone who makes balloon animals, a magician, storyteller, superhero or princess impersonator, and more. Keep those kids happy and distracted while mom and dad canoodle with friends over some adult beverages. 

Keep Crayons On Hand: Remember that you don’t have to break the bank to keep kids happy. Something as simple as a handful of crayons and drawing paper could keep some kids entertained for quite a while. Chances are your wedding will have plenty of tables—utilize these as drawing surfaces. Grab some thick white butcher paper and cups of crayons in an effort to keep the youngsters busy and out of trouble. 

Naptime Is A Wonderful Thing: As we all know, kids tend to get a tad cranky when they’re over-tired. And this goes for children of all ages (and some adults, too). Consider finding a quiet spot at your wedding venue that could double as a room for naptime when the chaos of the long wedding day gets to be too much for your youngest guests. 

Weddings For All Ages

If you had your heart set on an adults-only wedding, but obligations to friends and/or family make including children on your guest list a necessity, don’t fret. You can still stage the wedding of a lifetime—just be sure to keep the kids in mind when making your wedding plans!