No Kidding: Enforcing Your Adult-Only Wedding


I had it easy. I knew early on that I wanted to include children at my wedding. Young relatives and children of close friends were all invited. Some had roles to play during the ceremony. I had not only one, but six flower girls. I planned activities to keep them occupied at their tables during the reception and seated them with their parents rather than a designated kids table so that their parents could look after them during the wedding.

There generally isn’t a gray area here: you either want children at your wedding or you don’t. And for those who don’t, scrutiny from wedding guests is a likely outcome. Many people assume they can bring their children to your wedding, but the good news is this is your wedding and you get to call the shots. The bad news is explicitly stating this to your guests without sounding harsh or rude can feel awkward. But here’s how to make it clear with three easy steps.

Spell It Out
First, make sure your invitations leave no room for confusion by simply stating “Adults Only.” Myriam Michel, owner and event planning consultant of Boston’s M&M Elite Planning, suggests adding only the parents’ names on the outer and inner envelopes. She adds, “The couple could also include a note to close friends and relatives who may be sympathetic about their situation about costs and space restrictions and be their brand ambassadors on spreading the word to the less understanding.”

Call In Backup
Second, if your budget permits and you don’t want to be seen as the kid-hating couple, hire an on-site babysitter for out of town guests. This will go a long way for those who want or need to travel with their children. It gives parents an opportunity to check in on their kids during the wedding and also let’s separation-anxiety prone children to see mom and dad throughout the day. If you’re having a hotel wedding, reserve one room large enough for all the kids to hang out, or a couple if they need to be split up by age. Sites such as,, and are great resources for information on and hiring guidelines for one-time sitters.

Try Tough Love
Finally, be firm. Decide what age limit is best for you as a couple. A relative of mine recently had an age minimum of 16 for their guest list but it’s common to see 18 as well. Whatever you decide, stick with it. Being fair will prevent hurt feelings and help ensure your day goes more smoothly.

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