Etiquette

Not Inviting Kids to Weddings- How to handle

I am one of the last "kids" to get married in my family. Because of that most of my cousins and couple friends have kids. I would like to have my wedding kid free with the exception of my nieces (5yrs, 4yrs and 2yrs) and my youngest cousin who will be 9yrs at that time.

My question is, how do I handle this? I am mainly worried about out of town cousins that I would love to come, but without their kids. I am almost certain they won't come just because they won't have a built in babysitter (my aunts).

Is there a way of getting a sitter for the kids? I have never hired one (or more than one) before. Is it going to be expensive? We are on a tight budget.

The people pleaser in me is having a hard time with this. Any and all advise is welcome.

Thanks!

Re: Not Inviting Kids to Weddings- How to handle

  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    So the first question I have for you is whether or not you have other nieces and nephews who'd be excluded, and other cousins who'd be excluded. However, it sounds like you want to invite all of your nieces/nephews and all of your cousins, which is just 4 kids, but no other kids. That's totally fine.

    Do you need to hire a babysitter? No. It'll be expensive, and you'll have to hire several babysitters. Some parents do NOT like when other people pick their childcare for them, and you'll need a location at the same place as your ceremony and reception for the kids. It's a huge hassle, and honestly, I've never seen it done.

    It is entirely FINE to not invite children, and it's FINE to invite just these 4 kids (assuming the above is true).

    If you decide to just invite these four kids, here's what you do:

    - let it spread through word of mouth that you're only inviting people ages 18 and older
    - when you send the invitations, address them ONLY to the people you're inviting (so, just the parents)
    - Whatever rule you make for your guests, the same rule applies for your partner. So you can't have your partner invite children from his/her side, and then exclude them from yours
    - if people RSVP and include their children, call them up and explain that the invitation was just for them
    - if people show up and bring their children, whom they didn't RSVP for, you are well within your rights to turn them away (although most of the time, this doesn't happen, and when it does, people generally find a way to let them stay)

    If people call you angrily and try to change your mind, and/or point out that you ARE inviting SOME kids, you can explain, "We cannot afford to invite everyone's children. It's just not feasible. However, the children we are inviting are one of my/our cousins, and my nieces. That's my call. I hope you will still come and celebrate with us, but I understand if you can't."

    DO NOT write anything on your invitations about how your event is adults only.
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  • Thank you! That was my next question, does it go on the invites... because the truth is that it isn't 18 and over because of my nieces and cousins.

    To be clear I would be inviting all my nieces (no nephews yet) and all my cousins. The only kids that would be excluded is kids of friends and kids of cousins really
  • When it comes to kids, limited kids, or no kids at a wedding it must be made very clear to everyone where the lines are drawn. Whatever you decide you must stand firm. Make no exceptions. Once you make one exception it will cause all sorts of problems.

    You can invite all the kids.

    You can only have the kids in the wedding party invited.

    Only kids under or over x age.

    Only kids of imediate family members (children of you & Fi siblings).

    You must understand that if no kids are invited or limited kids then people may decline the invitation. If having your reception at a hotel you can get a room or two for the kids. And have one babysitter per x number of little ones. This option you would foot the bill. Another option is to find good babysitters in your area that parents can hire for the night of the wedding. You would do the leg work and it would be up to the parents if they want a sitter at the hotel.
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  • Ditto PPs. You're within your rights to have a child-free (or child-limited) wedding, but the flip side of that is that some people won't be willing or able to attend because they can't or won't leave their children with baby-sitters. 

    You do have to be careful not to split up families. If you're inviting only your nieces and your first cousins, regardless of their ages, you're fine -- most people will realise it's family-only. 

    Hiring a sitter is a nice gesture, but unnecessary and possibly pointless -- several mothers of young children on these boards have said they wouldn't leave their kid with a sitter they didn't know, hadn't vetted, etc. 

    Be prepared for people to try to include their kids. Be prepared to stand firm that they're not invited. Be prepared for people to decline.

    If you can handle all of that, you'll be fine.
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  • huskypuppy14huskypuppy14 Boston Suburbs member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    erollis said:
    When it comes to kids, limited kids, or no kids at a wedding it must be made very clear to everyone where the lines are drawn. Whatever you decide you must stand firm. Make no exceptions. Once you make one exception it will cause all sorts of problems. You can invite all the kids. You can only have the kids in the wedding party invited. Only kids under or over x age. Only kids of imediate family members (children of you & Fi siblings). You must understand that if no kids are invited or limited kids then people may decline the invitation. If having your reception at a hotel you can get a room or two for the kids. And have one babysitter per x number of little ones. This option you would foot the bill. Another option is to find good babysitters in your area that parents can hire for the night of the wedding. You would do the leg work and it would be up to the parents if they want a sitter at the hotel.
    I disagree with this statement. As long as you're not excluding children from the same immediate family you can invite any children you want. Children are guests just like adults are. Now, it may cause less drama to invite in circles, but it's not against etiquette to do so.  

    I agree with most of what @phira said above, except for the part where the bride and groom have to have the same rule.  Most likely some extended relative on the grooms side, isn't going to know what the relation the kids (cousins, nephews, second cousins, etc) on the bride side are. And it's really none of their business- you plan your guest list with who you know and are close to.  If my FI doesn't want to invite his second cousins because he's never met them, or doesn't like them or whatever reason, that doesn't mean I can't invite mine.  Only you know your family dynamics, so go with what you think is best. 
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  • erollis said:
    When it comes to kids, limited kids, or no kids at a wedding it must be made very clear to everyone where the lines are drawn. Whatever you decide you must stand firm. Make no exceptions. Once you make one exception it will cause all sorts of problems. You can invite all the kids. You can only have the kids in the wedding party invited. Only kids under or over x age. Only kids of imediate family members (children of you & Fi siblings). You must understand that if no kids are invited or limited kids then people may decline the invitation. If having your reception at a hotel you can get a room or two for the kids. And have one babysitter per x number of little ones. This option you would foot the bill. Another option is to find good babysitters in your area that parents can hire for the night of the wedding. You would do the leg work and it would be up to the parents if they want a sitter at the hotel.

    I disagree completely.  This line of thinking comes from entitled parents.  Children are like any other category of guest.  You dont have to invite all your neighbors, all your coworkers, all your church family...or any and all (or no) children.

    Does it work best to invite in circles?  Yes.  Is it required?  No.  I am a firm believer in inviting those with whom you have a relationship.  If you have no relationship with the kids of your coworkers but you do with your neighbors, you don't have to invite the coworkers' kids. 

    As a parent of 5 and Nana of 6 I disagree that it is EVER the responsibility of the couple to arrange or pay for childcare for their guests.  When you have kids it is your problem to arrange daycare.  What parent leaves their child with a complete stranger?  It is also your responsibility to suck it up if Little Susie wasn't invited but some other child was.  All kids do not have to be invited. 

    One of my DD's had a completely childfree wedding.  The one getting married in June is only having nieces/nephews, children of the BP (the out of state BP are leaving their kids at home we have discovered), and first cousins.  My DD is 31 and her FI is 38.  ALL of their friends have kids.  Those children are not being invited.

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  • AddieCakeAddieCake Beyond the Wall member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    The only kids we invited were the 2 stepsons of one of my bridesmaids, my 2 cousins who were part of the wedding, and 3 babies. So....circle-ISH, but not quite.
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  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!

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    image 59 Invited
    image 36 Yes
    image 2 No
    image 21 Unknown
    chiualover
  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!
    @buddysmom80 that is perfectly fine. As long as you don't put "adults only" or "no kids" also address the envelopes to Mr and Mrs John Jones and leave it at that. Technically if you don't list kids on the envelope, then they don't get invited, but people think their kids get to go everywhere too.
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  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!
    @buddysmom80 that is perfectly fine. As long as you don't put "adults only" or "no kids" also address the envelopes to Mr and Mrs John Jones and leave it at that. Technically if you don't list kids on the envelope, then they don't get invited, but people think their kids get to go everywhere too.

    Thanks!!! OP maybe this is something you should do.

    @melbellup to the bolded, I know that too well! My one BM asked if she could bring her daughter because "her feelings were hurt that she's not going"...

     Wedding Countdown Ticker




    image 59 Invited
    image 36 Yes
    image 2 No
    image 21 Unknown
  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!
    Or they assume they have two seats they can fill however they want.  For example the husband is unable to attend the so the wife brings their child in his place.  I saw that exact situation happen at an event (not a wedding) that was absolutely no children allowed.  
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  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!
    @buddysmom80 that is perfectly fine. As long as you don't put "adults only" or "no kids" also address the envelopes to Mr and Mrs John Jones and leave it at that. Technically if you don't list kids on the envelope, then they don't get invited, but people think their kids get to go everywhere too.
    But not everybody knows this.  Some people are used to children always being invited to weddings so they assume an invite is for the whole family.  The last wedding DH and I were invited to did not include DS which was one of the reasons we were unable to attend.  I was talking about it to a friend and she had no idea that if a child was not listed on the envelope it meant they weren't invited.  
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  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!

    Or they assume they have two seats they can fill however they want.  For example the husband is unable to attend the so the wife brings their child in his place.  I saw that exact situation happen at an event (not a wedding) that was absolutely no children allowed.  

    Stuck in the Box:

    So if that's the case instead of putting Mr & Mrs John Jones, they RSVP back with Mrs. Jones and Johnny, it would be fair to say that the host should call and explain that the seats weren't for children?

    FWIW the only people I'm inviting with kids are my one BM, FI's BM, and a co-worker. Everyone else has no kids, or adult children.

     Wedding Countdown Ticker




    image 59 Invited
    image 36 Yes
    image 2 No
    image 21 Unknown
  • pinkshorts27pinkshorts27 Oregon member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments First Anniversary First Answer
    We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!

    Or they assume they have two seats they can fill however they want.  For example the husband is unable to attend the so the wife brings their child in his place.  I saw that exact situation happen at an event (not a wedding) that was absolutely no children allowed.  

    Stuck in the Box:

    So if that's the case instead of putting Mr & Mrs John Jones, they RSVP back with Mrs. Jones and Johnny, it would be fair to say that the host should call and explain that the seats weren't for children?

    FWIW the only people I'm inviting with kids are my one BM, FI's BM, and a co-worker. Everyone else has no kids, or adult children.

    Yes the host should call back and state that the seat for Mr. Jones is not able to be filled by Johnny and then apologize and say they cannot accommodate little Johnny. Don't make excuses because that opens it up for debate. 

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  • phiraphira Bahstin member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    @laurynm84 That's true. I hadn't thought about it that way. I was mostly thinking about my own situation, knowing how upset my family would be if I had an age limit in place for which cousins I invited from our side, but no such age limit existed for my partner's side (when his cousins are the same age as my cousins).
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  • We're not inviting kids to our wedding either. Someone made a suggestion to put on the RSVP card "two seats have been reserved in your honor". I think that would make it pretty clear, but I don't know if that's the right thing to do, any input on that would be great!
    @buddysmom80 that is perfectly fine. As long as you don't put "adults only" or "no kids" also address the envelopes to Mr and Mrs John Jones and leave it at that. Technically if you don't list kids on the envelope, then they don't get invited, but people think their kids get to go everywhere too.
    We are doing both of these suggestions for the invitations to our (hopefully) kid-free wedding. 
    The only individuals under the age of 18 will be the flower girl (age 5, my first cousin's daughter and the absolute only child in our family), the ring bearer (age 7, the son of one of my BM's that I've known since he was a baby), and my junior bridesmaid (age 11, the sister of the ring bearer). 
    I'm hoping both of these tactics work. There's only 1 couple I'm worried about- the wife has already told me that the hubs "doesn't know yet", but she and their 16 month old and yet-to-be-born second kid are "super excited and can't wait". I'm not looking forward to making that phone call if they put the 16 month old in the hub's place. 
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  • So my ring bearer has an older brother and and older sister.  They are ages 4, 6 and 8.  The flower girl has a brother.  They are ages 5 and 7.  They were the only children I wanted at the wedding. But....future hub's niece wrote all over the rsvp card.. "2 or 3 will attend.  I did not want kids at my reception either so I totally understand you not wanting to have kids, Just let us know."  Then the  future hub's sister (mother of said niece) said "Well if they cannot ring the baby (3yo), they just won't come."  And then it was "well, they will come to the wedding but leave after and go back to the hotel."

    If the niece read the invitation, she would have noticed that the 3 yo was not mentioned.  And her mother in law lives 1 mile away and has the child overnight a lot.  So what is the deal?  Why can't they read?  Why can't they enjoy a night out, have fun and not chase a toddler around all night????  Why?

     

    So another question....do I set a full place for them?  Am I going to be charged $55 for the children as well?

     

    Out of respect for the bride and groom, I personally would cause as few waves as possible and be delighted that I was invited.

  • So my ring bearer has an older brother and and older sister.  They are ages 4, 6 and 8.  The flower girl has a brother.  They are ages 5 and 7.  They were the only children I wanted at the wedding. But....future hub's niece wrote all over the rsvp card.. "2 or 3 will attend.  I did not want kids at my reception either so I totally understand you not wanting to have kids, Just let us know."  Then the  future hub's sister (mother of said niece) said "Well if they cannot ring the baby (3yo), they just won't come."  And then it was "well, they will come to the wedding but leave after and go back to the hotel."

    If the niece read the invitation, she would have noticed that the 3 yo was not mentioned.  And her mother in law lives 1 mile away and has the child overnight a lot.  So what is the deal?  Why can't they read?  Why can't they enjoy a night out, have fun and not chase a toddler around all night????  Why?

     

    So another question....do I set a full place for them?  Am I going to be charged $55 for the children as well?

     

    Out of respect for the bride and groom, I personally would cause as few waves as possible and be delighted that I was invited.

    Have you actually let her know?  Or are you just listening to gossip from you FI family and assuming they are bringing the toddler?  

    As for why can't they read?  Some people do not know that wedding invitations are not for the whole family.  I recently had a friend tell she didn't know that if the invite did not include the kids' names on the address they weren't invited.  

    Also, some people do not want a night away from their child and if they do they may want it on their terms.  
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