Written by Sophia Young

On behalf of The Small Things Co

No Kids Wedding: How to Tell Your Guests

Weddings are special events where people can just come together and celebrate life and love. Every detail matters—from the choice of photographer to take your most precious wedding wedding photos to a solid backup plan for bad weather. After all, weddings can be an experience of a lifetime, a rare occasion where you want everything to be absolutely perfect and memorable. And for many, making sure that everything is according to plan entails setting expectations or wedding protocols.

Establishing dos and don’ts can be tricky, be it for a pandemic wedding or a post-lockdown event. Not a few relationships have been irreparably damaged, or at the very least, have caused “cold wars” to break among loved ones over a considerable period simply because of some disagreement over wedding rules and preferences. One of the most difficult to communicate is the desire for a “no kids” wedding. How on earth can you relay something that can be as sensitive as that? Don’t worry your head about it. Instead, sit back, have a cuppa, and read on about how to break the “no kids at your wedding” advisory to your beloved guests. 

Tip No. 1: But first, talk it out between yourselves.

Surprised? That’s correct—the first ones who need clarity are you and your prospective spouse. Take the time to thresh out and know with confidence what you want to achieve at your wedding. This will ensure that you avoid the he-said-she-said blaming game when disagreements arise from the pressure to conform to your relatives’ wishes. Remember that it is your wedding—not your mum’s nor anyone else’s. You alone have the prerogative to decide exactly how you want the event to turn out. If you are certain that both of you want a purely adults-only affair, then you have nothing to be embarrassed or feel guilty about. And yet, you wonder if it is a selfish thing to want a kid-free zone at one of the most significant events in your life. Diane Gottsman, an etiquette expert and founder of the Protocol School of Texas, says that a no-kids rule at weddings is perfectly acceptable. People need to respect your decision to have your wedding as such.

Tip No. 2: Set expectations from the very beginning.

Be clear with your preference from the outset to help you manage expectations and be better prepared in handling reactions and responses. This will save you from a ton of explaining just to soothe ruffled feelings, should sensitivities arise. Being wishy-washy about your responses can also mislead your guests and lead to not-so-pleasant situations. They may even misconstrue your hesitation as an encouragement to quietly bring a kid or two along.

Tip No. 3: Take note of how you say it.

Many of your guests will likely find the no-kids rule a hard pill to swallow. Yet, you can say it in several ways to make it go down better.

Soften it.
Soften your statement by letting your parent-invitees know that you adore or love their children but cannot accommodate them out of necessity. You can include their children’s names in your communication to show them that you value their kids. Make sure your tone is apologetic, conciliatory, and not at all off-putting. 

Present it in a better light.
Through your words, let your would-be guests know that you also have their best interests in mind. Point out to them that the occasion can give a much-needed respite if they can just hang loose and enjoy themselves instead of worrying about their children on the loose. 

Cite your specific reasons (yet be kind!).
In no way are you obligated to defend your decision to have an adults-only affair. However, giving your reasons can help your guests understand you and support your decision to go children-free at the event. However, note that it is not considered polite to say you are not partial to children. 

You may need to cite other valid yet more acceptable reasons as it certainly isn’t your desire to offend anyone. It never hurts to be kind.

Tip No. 4: Be consistent across all communication.

From the invites to your maps and RSVPs, make sure there is no room for miscommunication about your wedding being a children-free affair. If there’s an opportunity to make your intentions clear, then do so by all means. You can do this consistently yet subtly, without appearing obnoxious. For instance, you can write specific names in the invites instead of addressing the entire family. In the RSVPs, you can also include the names and put in the number of RSVP lines that correspond to the number of invitees (as opposed to putting in an unlimited number of lines or leaving a blank space).  

Yet another way to consistently express your wishes is to Include information in your wedding correspondence. For example, you can note in the invites or on your location maps that the venue will have no provisions for little children. 

Tip No. 5: Clarify exceptions.

It’s best not to have any, so as not to allow any room for misunderstandings. However, if you wish to make certain exceptions, make sure that your invitees are aware of them. For instance, you can relay that only children of the immediate family are expected or that the ceremony will be open to all but the reception will be kept children-free.

Tip No. 6: Be thoughtful.

Show your guests that you are concerned about any inconvenience your adult-only wedding restriction may cause them. Give advance notice and recommend child-care facilities or services, especially for out-of-town weddings. This will help your invitees make the necessary arrangements ahead of the event and ensure that they make it.

However, realize that some of your guests may not be able to make it. Be understanding of their difficulties and remain friends with them. Maybe, if your budget and time will permit it later on, you can just celebrate with them through a more casual family-type affair such as a barbie —complete with running, shrieking kids and all.