What You Should and Shouldn’t do When Having an Adult-Only Wedding


When you are doing wedding planning, it is entirely up to you and your partner to decide the kind of ceremony you would like. This includes deciding whether to have a child-free wedding or not. 

That said, there are certain issues you are likely to face when planning a child-free wedding. For instance, some of your guests who want to attend with their kids may not fully understand your decision. For this reason, you must strike a balance between honesty and tactfulness. 

This post gives tips on planning an adult-only wedding the right way, so you don’t inadvertently hurt anyone’s feelings. 

The Right Way to Say No to Kids at a Wedding

If you plan to throw a wedding reception to which kids are not invited, you must be very clear and direct in conveying this message. 

While addressing such etiquette issues calls for awkward conversations, doing so effectively will save you a lot of misunderstandings down the road. 

Here are some of the steps you can take to communicate this wish tactfully and clearly:

Address Your Wedding Invitations Properly and Directly

It is vital to make it clear immediately that the wedding is adults-only. So, when preparing invitation cards, ensure they are explicitly addressed to individuals you want to attend the wedding. Failure to be direct on this might cause some invitees to assume they can bring their kids along. 

You can be more explicit about who is being invited if you send out official invites with both an outer and an inner envelope. The guest’s postal address is usually written on the outside envelope, while their first and last names are on the inside. 

You should be as precise as possible on the outside envelope if you do not have an interior envelope. To provide even more clarity and directness, you can write the exact names of your invitees on the response list so that they only need to check whether they will attend or not attend on the RSVP card. This helps reduce confusion regarding who exactly is invited to the ceremony. 

Avoid Explicitly Stating “Adults Only” on the Invitation Cards

While it is perfectly reasonable to have a child-free wedding, stating it explicitly in your wedding invitation cards is insensitive and a sure way to ruffle the feathers of some of your guests. 

So, instead of writing the “adults only” message on the invites, let your friends, immediate family, and wedding party members spread the word to invited guests by word of mouth. 

Indicate it on Your Wedding Website

Expressing your expectation of an “adults-only” ceremony on your wedding website is another great option you should consider when trying to convey this message to your guests. 

Your wedding website provides a perfect platform where you can provide additional information (like dress code and transport options) that may not be appropriate to put on the invitation cards. So, take advantage of this opportunity and let people know your preferences, perhaps with a brief explanation.

You can also suggest some babysitting options in the area that your guests can take advantage of if they have kids. But, again, use direct yet tactful wording in your messaging to make it more palatable. 

Have a Flower Girl and Ring Bearer at Your Ceremony if You Wish to

Just because you are planning an “adults-only” wedding doesn’t mean you can’t have a ring bearer and flower girl at your ceremony. 

However, if you intend not to have children at the reception, you will need to figure out how to accommodate them, so they do not feel like missing out on the “fun” part of the wedding. 

For instance, you can enlist a professional babysitting service to look after them at a separate location near the wedding venue. Liaise with the babysitter to ensure the kids have fun activities to engage in and plenty of fun, kid-friendly meals to enjoy. 

Do Not Make Exceptions to the “Adults Only” Reception Requirement

While it is okay to have kids at your wedding ceremony and still have an “adults-only” reception, you should not make exceptions to accommodate some of the guests with children. 

Allowing some of your close loved ones to bring children to the reception while depriving others of the same privilege is likely to rub the latter the wrong way. 

It may create the impression that you deliberately invited certain children while not inviting others, making your ceremony awkward and uncomfortable. 

Stick With Your Decision 

Let’s face it. No matter how proactive you are about conveying your decision for an adult-only reception directly and sensitively, you can still expect some pushback from dissatisfied guests. 

You should not waver or try to make concessions to please anyone. Remember, this is your big day, and all the decisions are entirely up to you and your partner. 

So, if some of your guests are upset that their kids won’t be invited, you can only explain your reasons to them in a sensitive and thoughtful manner and hope they understand.


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