Etiquette: Do you have to invite children to your wedding?

Etiquette: Do you have to invite children to your wedding?

Baby, bride and groom by snailbooty

We can answer this easily: no. The choice of whether to invite babies to a wedding is completely up to the couple. Babies can look absolutely darling in formal-wear, but let’s face it, that can lose its luster when one cracks a scream in the middle of your wedding vows. Older children, while they may not cry as much, may be harder to control in other ways—like hiding under reception tables. Peekaboo, Aunt Hilda!

If you choose not to have children at your wedding, not everyone may like it, but it is indeed up to you two. Wedding etiquette does not dictate when children should be included, says renowned etiquette expert Emily Post. There are a few things it does dictate, though. Here, we’ve outlined them for you, and also how to handle the situation when a guest objects! (How dare they… :) )

United you stand

Just make sure you and your groom approach the “no-kids policy” with a united front—you wouldn’t want him to be opposed to kids and you to be telling people “well, I’m fine with it, but John really doesn’t want to, so…” That looks wishy-washy. Make a decision as a couple (the first of many, sigh) and stick with it.

Be decisive

Don’t let one best friend bring her child and say “no way” to another friend. Exceptions are sometimes made for the immediate family and bridal party but in general, stick to your guns. Making exceptions for one couple is insulting to other guests who respected your decision. 

Get the word out…

The wedding invitation is where guests can find out if children are welcome, and where the couple should note exactly who is invited. While it’s tempting to mark “adults-only reception” on the invitation proper etiquette suggests that you should not.

The way an invitation is addressed, whether on the inner or outer envelope, tells the tale of exactly who is invited, and, by omission, who is not invited. If you’re inviting children, the envelope would be addressed to “The Smith Family” or “Mr. and Mrs. Smith, Hannah,  Chloe and Josh.” Alternatively, an adults-only invitation would just feature the Mr. and Mrs. portion.

Even if a child is included on the invitation, parents may decide to leave their little one at home to cause less stress for everyone involved, including themselves. If they do not note on the invitation that the invited children will or will not be attending. Be sure to follow up with them about it to confirm a headcount.

Children stealing the attention by toginessex

Give a heads up

If you have a friend who you think might be upset by the whole no-kids thing. Then give them a ring when you know the invitations are going out. The call will hopefully soften the blow, show them that you are thinking of them. And give them a longer amount of time to make necessary arrangements for babysitters. It will also give you a chance to answer any of their questions directly. But remember—stick to your guns!

In addition to this, you can also talk to close friends and relatives and ask them to help spread the word about your preference to keep the event to adults.

Address the clueless

Some people will not realise that their little cherubs weren’t invited and RSVP for the whole family anyway. And others may totally disregard it to see what they can get away with. Now you need to call to correct the situation. Say something like: “Kirsty, we are so happy that you and James are able to attend, but we’ve decided not to have kids at the wedding. We hope you both can still make it.” If your guest pushes back and says that they won’t be able to leave their kids at home. Be gracious and tell them how sorry you are that that is the case.

While you yourself might feel hurt that your friend or family member is now not coming, try not to be. Just as they shouldn’t be offended by your choice. You shouldn’t act offended by theirs. Instead, make plans to celebrate with them with the kids in tow at another time.

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