Tip Tuesday: "Adults Only" Wedding Ettiquette

I have gotten a lot of questions lately about how to tactfully address the topic of not inviting children to your wedding celebration so I figured this post might help clarify a few things. 

First of all, let's get clear on some terminology. Things are not always black and white and there is a difference between "Adults Only" and "Adults Mostly."

 Opal Moments Photography

Opal Moments Photography

Adults Only- If you are holding your wedding at a winery or tavern (or other location where it might not be appropriate to let your second cousins' hellion children run amuck in the presence of copious amounts of alcohol and things to fall off of), you might want to opt for an Adults Only Reception. This will not only give you the piece of mind knowing that no one has to police the tweenagers trying to sneak sips of your signature cocktail, but it will also allow you to focus on planning an awesome party where your friends and family can let their hair down and have some fun. 

Adults Mostly- If you couldn't imagine celebrating your wedding without your mini-tourage of nieces and nephews but you don't want to open the flood-gates for e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. to bring their offspring (I mean, really people?! Did you have NOTHING better to do the winter of 2009?!) it is okay to be selective about whose children you invite to be a part of your big day. The general rule is that "no kids" doesn't apply to children in the wedding party or immediate family but it is your prerogative who you do and do not invite.

 Gina Petersen Photography

Gina Petersen Photography

So how do you go about communicating this to your guests?

  • Carefully crafted correspondence. We don't recommend an UPPERCASE BOLD ITALICIZED "NO CHILDREN" directive on your invitation, so you should think about including a reception card or link to your website which states your intentions for an "Adults Only" celebration. Try a few of the following to figure out which carries the tone your going for:
    • "In order to allow all guests, including parents, an evening of relaxation we have chosen for our wedding day to be an adult only occasion. We hope this advance notice means you are still able to share our big day and will enjoy having the evening off!"
    • "To give all our guests the opportunity to let their hair down and have a good time without having to worry about little eyes and ears we politely request no children."
    • "While we love to watch the children run and play, this is an adults only kind of day."
    • "Sweet dreams to children under 16"
  • If your venue is not appropriate for young guests, please be clear with guests:
    • "Due to restrictions at our venue, children are not invited."
    • "Management request no children under 16 (or whatever age this may be)."
    • "By request of management no children."
    • "Regrettably children are unable to attend."
  • If you're just being selective about the children that you're inviting, avoid stating a "Adults Mostly" policy entirely and make a point to clearly indicate who is invited (and therefore, who is not invited).
    • Addressing the invitations to "Mr. & Mrs. Timothy Parker" rather than "The Parker Family" is step one. 
    • Consider including an inner envelope that gets even more specific ("Tim and Jane Parker")
    • If they haven't gotten the picture by then, try some sneaky subtlety in the RSVP wording and go ahead and hand-write the number of invites you are extending to the adults. 

We have reserved _____ seats in your honor

___ of ___ Attending
___ of ___ Declining


  • It is your wedding and your choice how it is celebrated.
  • Whether you are making this choice to help relieve some pressure on the budget or in order to create the ambiance you truly want, we know that there was some serious considerations made and that you are not a heartless, child-hating human. 
  • Don't let your friends or family guilt you into inviting all of their kids just because you have a small army of flower-girls who you actually want there. You are hosting the party, not them.
  • Although it's a sweet gesture, you are not responsible for providing childcare for the children of your guests. If you don't pay for their babysitter when they go to a movie, don't feel like you have to provide a nanny for them to come to your wedding.