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5 Polite Ways to Tell Your Guests Not to Bring Their Kids

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I am for sureeee a kids person. Love babies, love toddlers, love little flower girls with lots of sass, they’re great. And I can’t wait to see my own little man perform the role of the most adorable ring bearer there ever was come October, when my sister gets married. Not sure what we’ll be doing with him once the reception begins, because most of my family (and even my husband’s side) will be at the wedding. But we’re slowly figuring it out. Love my guy, but mama would rather her Shirley Temples be dirty that night, and a child attached to my leg, rubbing his eyes and getting overtired by the minute can ensure that sure as hell won’t happen.

For a lot of soon-to-be-married couples having kids at the wedding is a total nonstarter (maybe something they had a discussion about even before starting all the wedding planning) - and I don’t blame them. We had a few minis at our wedding, years ago, and they were the epitome of well-behaved. One of the little girls even came over to me with her daddy during cocktail hour and said that she, and I quote, “wanted to talk to the princess.” Dying. Literal heart explosion. But if the circumstances weren’t as chill as they were, we could have very well said well ‘f*** us’ for writing ‘family’ on our invites.

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It’s a party, there will be tons of people, drinking, eating, dancing, taking an absurd amount of selfies throughout the night, so unless you’re fortunate enough to have on-site babysitting bouncers (basically, right?) at your disposal, sometimes it just makes sense to tell your friends and fam to leave their loveys at home. As Daniel Tiger says, ‘grown ups come back.’ So, guilt trip be gone.

We get it, it’s an uncomfortable situation to have to tell your guests they can’t bring their bottle-toting babies, potty-training toddlers, or super-cute-but-kind-of-annoying kids to the wedding. But if you want to avoid any confusion or stress-induced calls with regrets because childcare is a no-go, then we’d say you should tackle the awkwardness ASAP. If you’re feeling unsure about how to communicate your wishes, then talk with your stationer. He or she will have soooo many pieces of advice, and can probs talk you through all the tactful ways to word things, so you won’t end up feeling like an asshole.

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Be specific with how you address your invites.

If you don’t want the under-18 set crashing your big day, then don’t invite them. If you’re sending invites to friends or family who you know have kids, then address the invite to the adults only. Mr. & Mrs. Steven Smith. As soon as you say ‘The Smith Family,’ you’ll be opening up the floodgates, for Smith Thing 1, Smith Thing 2, Smith Thing 3… Your guests are smart, capable people, they should get the picture, if you’re pointedly leaving their children out of the correspondence.

Call it out somewhere on the card.

To reiterate your point all the more, ask your wedding invitationer what you can do to say that it’s an ‘adults-only’ affair. Maybe you’re okay with kiddos coming to the ceremony, but would prefer they go home for the reception - or vice versa (magic moments weren’t exactly minted by babies crying in the church just as the bride is walking down the aisle). It helps to have things written in bold font, but don’t make it so distracting that it takes away from your actual invite.

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Follow it up with a clever response card.

The response cards are one of the most creative places to show your spirit as a couple and make anything that your guests should really take under advisement clear. You can go a little cheeky and say something like “We love your kids, but thought you could use the night off! Adults-only, please and thank you!” Or use the opportunity to gauge where your guests’ heads are at. So, think about nixing the M___________ will attend and replace with ‘We have reserved _____ seats for you.’ This way, if you were hoping they’d write 2, and instead they write 3 or 4, you’ll know they didn’t quite get the memo and assumed all of their crew was 👍 for your ‘I Dos.’ If so, you’ll need to chat with them more formally - to flesh things out.

Include your adults-only request on your wedding website.

If you have a wedding website, go ahead and put a note up there about your child-free consideration. It’s your wedding, and you can certainly celebrate however you wish. But for anyone who may have questions or wonder why their kids were seemingly banned from your bash, you can use your website to illuminate things. Yes, you’ll have nieces or nephews in the bridal party, but they’ll be going to bed well before the party starts picking up.

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Perhaps your venue just can’t accommodate the sheer number of girls and boys who’d need to be in attendance, maybe you just think it’s uncomfortable to rage when their are rugrats running around, or you just can’t imagine their parents being able to have any fun if they’re tending to their tinies all night. There also might be an lovely amount of candles burning around the event, that could easily get knocked over by tiny hands.

Whatever the case is, you can share a little explanation here. You can also go out of your way to suggest childcare options (some venues have kids clubs or babysitting resources), just to show your squad that you’re not trying to leave them high or dry.

Play some telephone
(just try to keep the message straight).

Sometimes it just takes an open and honest conversation with your friends to help them understand where you’re coming from. It definitely helps if you can help them strategize childcare, if that’s truly what’s holding them back from being able to say ‘YES.’ And when all else fails, just use your support system, mother of the bride, mother of the groom, bridesmaids, aunts, cousins, etc. to run your romper-room-less request up the flagpole. 

Just prep them with a boilerplate response to ensure they’re not going rogue or making promises they can’t keep (my mom was notorious for thinking everyone could come to my wedding, bless her heart, she meant well). I.e. ‘Kim and Jack are adamant about having an adults-only wedding, they just want everyone to relax and have fun without worry! It’s nothing personal!”

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