Wedding Etiquette Forum

Children at weddings

Hey there everyone!  I am looking to get some advice for an etiquette concern with  our wedding invites.
My fiance and I have both decided that we do not want any children under the age of 13, at our ceremony and reception.  There are several big reasons for this decision, they being, 1) weddings are, overall, not an appropriate place for children.  Kids get bored and lonely and there is nothing for them to do.  In an effort to entertain themselves, they make noise, run around and get into trouble.  And, at our wedding, we will have open bar for our guests, and I am VERY uncomfortable with children being around this kind of drinking. Of course all of our friends drink responsibly, but they do tend to get goofy and curse when they drink, which I would not want kids exposed to. 2) The venue we chose has a very STRICT policy on the attendance of children, and that is that they must be accompanied by an adult at all times, and that anytime they are found to be unaccompanied they will be removed from the venue (which would mean their parents have to leave, as well). They also have a policy regarding any damage that children may cause; it becomes the responsibility of  the bride and the groom, and they lose their damage deposit. 3) Head count and budget.  My Fiance and I are on a really, really tight budget for the wedding.  We are trying to keep the head count at 200 or less.  As our list stands now, with all our guests (friends, family, coworkers) we are at 187 people....which is perfect!!!  BUT, if we were to add the kids that belong to all our friends, coworkers, extended family, and my FH step-sibblings' kids, we would have a guest count of 230 .Which means we would go way past our limit, and get charged additions on our contract, plus at $54.48 per person, getting charged for 43 kids is A LOT of money. It also means there would be OVER FOURTY children UNDER the age of 13  (which is the cut off we are going to suggest) in attendance. That would be too many young children hanging out, running around etc, at an adult-event.  Like I said there will be drinking, the event runs until late at night, and we do not have anything planned that would be suitable or fun for kids (once again, budget issue).
My FH and I have discussed this issue together and are very happy about it, as it solves the budget worry, and the fear the kids may get into trouble at the venue (they have waterfalls, ponds, and rockfaces that kids would love to get into). We have also talked to our parents and immediate friends, who all think it is a great idea....some, who have kids who would be excluded, say it is a chance to get outta the house sans kids and have an adult night. So that has helped ease our minds that we are not being jerks.

So now that you know our situation, here are our concerns and questions we hope that some of you may be able to answer.

Our worry is that some people will, in fact, be mad, upset, or angry their child was not invited. We are also concerned that since teenagers are allowed (13+), if this may create a scenario where people question why one kid is there, when theirs is not.  Have any of you ever had a no kids wedding?  How did parents react to the news their kid(s) were not welcome to attend?  Moreoever, how did people react when their kid was not old enough to attend (if there was an age cut off), but came on the day of and saw other kids there?  If any of you have ever been met wth this specific issue???

And, finally, as far as wedding invite etiquette goes; how should I address the invitations, to those families with children, and let them know (very kindly) that their children are not welcome to attend the wedding?? This is the area I know could hurt feelings, and I do not want to do that. I love all my friends and families kids, and don't want them to think that I do not.


Thanks for any feedback, help or information you are able to give us.  We assumed this would be one of those wedding topics people may have a lot of ideas/opinions on, since it relates to etiquette and how you treat your guests.

Re: Children at weddings

  • Just address the invites to the parents only:  "Mr. and Mrs. James Smith" not "The Smith Family" or "The Smiths"

    People have weddings without kids all the time, so I'm not sure what the big deal is.

    Also, people have weddings with kids at them all the time too.  It's the parents' responsibility to make sure their kids don't drink or get into trouble - just like at any other social gathering.
  • Mrs.B6302007Mrs.B6302007 member
    5 Love Its First Anniversary First Comment Combo Breaker
    edited August 2010
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_children-weddings-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:fb40c713-f3fd-4d87-8558-718b074ea1baPost:d334e905-c4f0-4331-9561-a957815933c0">Children at weddings</a>:
    [QUOTE]Hey there everyone!  I am looking to get some advice for an etiquette concern with  our wedding invites. My fiance and I have both decided that we do not want any children under the age of 13, at our ceremony and reception.  There are several big reasons for this decision, they being, 1) weddings are, overall, not an appropriate place for children.  Kids get bored and lonely and there is nothing for them to do.  In an effort to entertain themselves, they make noise, run around and get into trouble.  And, at our wedding, we will have open bar for our guests, and I am VERY uncomfortable with children being around this kind of drinking. Of course all of our friends drink responsibly, but they do tend to get goofy and curse when they drink, which I would not want kids exposed to. 2) The venue we chose has a very STRICT policy on the attendance of children, and that is that they must be accompanied by an adult at all times, and that anytime they are found to be unaccompanied they will be removed from the venue (which would mean their parents have to leave, as well). They also have a policy regarding any damage that children may cause; it becomes the responsibility of  the bride and the groom, and they lose their damage deposit. 3) Head count and budget.  My Fiance and I are on a really, really tight budget for the wedding.  We are trying to keep the head count at 200 or less.  As our list stands now, with all our guests (friends, family, coworkers) we are at 187 people....which is perfect!!!  BUT, if we were to add the kids that belong to all our friends, coworkers, extended family, and my FH step-sibblings' kids, we would have a guest count of 230 .Which means we would go way past our limit, and get charged additions on our contract, plus at $54.48 per person, getting charged for 43 kids is A LOT of money. It also means there would be OVER FOURTY children UNDER the age of 13  (which is the cut off we are going to suggest) in attendance. That would be too many young children hanging out, running around etc, at an adult-event.  Like I said there will be drinking, the event runs until late at night, and we do not have anything planned that would be suitable or fun for kids (once again, budget issue). My FH and I have discussed this issue together and are very happy about it, as it solves the budget worry, and the fear the kids may get into trouble at the venue (they have waterfalls, ponds, and rockfaces that kids would love to get into). We have also talked to our parents and immediate friends, who all think it is a great idea....some, who have kids who would be excluded, say it is a chance to get outta the house sans kids and have an adult night. So that has helped ease our minds that we are not being jerks. So now that you know our situation, here are our concerns and questions we hope that some of you may be able to answer. Our worry is that some people will, in fact, be mad, upset, or angry their child was not invited. We are also concerned that since teenagers are allowed (13+), if this may create a scenario where people question why one kid is there, when theirs is not.  Have any of you ever had a no kids wedding?  How did parents react to the news their kid(s) were not welcome to attend?  Moreoever, how did people react when their kid was not old enough to attend (if there was an age cut off), but came on the day of and saw other kids there?  If any of you have ever been met wth this specific issue??? And, finally, as far as wedding invite etiquette goes; how should I address the invitations, to those families with children, and let them know (very kindly) that their children are not welcome to attend the wedding?? This is the area I know could hurt feelings, and I do not want to do that. I love all my friends and families kids, and don't want them to think that I do not. Thanks for any feedback, help or information you are able to give us.  <strong>We assumed this would be one of those wedding topics people may have a lot of ideas/opinions on, since it relates to etiquette and how you treat your guests.</strong>
    Posted by lowryp0202[/QUOTE]

    It's also one of those wedding topics that's asked about every 10th thread.  Since you're new, be sure to spend time scrolling througha few pages of threads to see if your question has been answered in another thread.

    There sure are lots of generalizations about kids and weddings in this post.  I've never understood the argument about there will be drinking so I don't want kids there. Don't these kids go to BBQs and other gatherings where folks are drinking while the kids play?

    Anyway, just address the invites to mom and dad.  If they add their troublemakers on the RSVP call and tell them that children who show up will be sold so they're better off leaving them home.  If mom and dad decide not to come w/o their snotbucket, then hey, you win because it saves you money!
    The Bee Hive Est. June 30, 2007
    "So I sing a song of love, Julia"
    06.10.10

    BFAR:We Defined Our Own Success!
    image

  • DItto PPs about just addressing the invitations to those invited. If people add their children to the RSVPs, call them and say something like, "I'm so sorry, but the invitation was only for you and Mr. Smith. We looking forward to seeing you at the wedding!"

    You could also have the RSVP cards worded so they read "___ of 2 (or appropriate number) attending" or "Guest Name 1 __Accepts __Declines Guest Name 2 __Aceepts __Declines." This cuts down on the likelihood of getting extra RSVPs, though may not completely eliminate people adding their children.

    Be prepared, though, that you may get declines from some people if they can't bring their children.
    **i'm a little drunk on you and high on summertime** Photobucket
  • See, I'm torn here.  You never mention a dress code unless a venue requires it.  I kind of feel that this falls into the same category:
    2) The venue we chose has a very STRICT policy on the attendance of children, and that is that they must be accompanied by an adult at all times, and that anytime they are found to be unaccompanied they will be removed from the venue (which would mean their parents have to leave, as well).

    Just note sure how I would make that little tidbit known.

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  • Your argument that weddings aren't appropriate for kids strikes me as very odd. I'd guess most people think the act of getting married is a huge family time time.  While not every family has kids, most do.  Can kids misbehave, act up, be a distraction? Yes.  Some people welcome that as part of being a family and celebrating together -others don't.   I don't happen to like children IN weddings but I don't have a problem with them attending. As a parent, having a child attend a reception until a reasonable hour is ok too. I don't agree with parents who take small children to receptions that go until late hours though.

    I do understand not wanting children at receptions due to a particular child's repeated poor behavior, space constraint, costs.  My own DD and her FI have decided no children under 15 at their late afternoon and evening reception.  My DS and his fiance have decided all children are welcome to their afternoon wedding and reception.

    My point in all of this is, I disagree with the statement that weddings aren't appropriate for children. Children need to attend various events, it's how they learn to act appropriately as adults. You do take them to restaurants, you do take them to appropriate parties (not drunken orgies), funerals etc.  These are all life events.
    If the kid misbehaves you immediately remove them so they learn poor behavior has conseqeunces but you don't leave them at home through lifes events.  Does that mean as a parent you might be leaving a social event, dinner at a restaurant, etc early? Yes but it's the choice you make when you decide to have children.

    We took our 1 year-old son to a very nice restaurant. We were calmly eating our dinner, son was playing with some small toys and eating in a chair seat next to us. We had just received our check, DH was getting his wallet out when the wait staff decided to reward our son for his great behavior with a helium balloon. He went crazy with excitement. We hustled out as soon as we could but as we were leaving, the couples on either side of us told us they hadn't even noticed him because he'd been so well behaved - until the balloon arrived. He was used to going out from the time he was about 6 weeks old.  Take your children out, start with something small as babies and build on it. Teach them appropriate behavior and that inappropriate behavior has consequences.

    OK - that was my soapbox and rant for the day.  Carry on!
  • AdeleDazeemAdeleDazeem member
    First Anniversary 5 Love Its Name Dropper First Comment
    edited August 2010
    Just address the invite to the parents (and anyone else over the age of 13 that you are inviting).  If anyone RSVPs with younger kids, you have to call and explain that their darling child isn't invited.

    For the record, your reasons for not inviting kids made me eyeroll a lot.  I was still invited to Thanksgiving dinner at my aunt's house even though there was open bar (gasp), cursing (gasp) and open water (gasp).  My cousins and I grew up happy and healthy.  If you don't want kids are your event, then fine.  But don't go into such a long winded (and slightly ridiculous) argument about it.
  • I'm going to echo PPs that it's perfectly fine to have an event suitable only for adults or teens and adults.  However your reasoning does make me want to roll my eyes so I wouldn't state it to anyone if I were you.

    Simply address the invitations just to those you intend to invite and no more.

    Please be prepared for hard feelings if the invitation splits a nuclear family.  Again, plenty of people just get their panties in a bunch because they feel that weddings are for the entire family.

    And also be prepared that you may have people with nursing infants decline if the mom can't nurse.

    Beyond that, you are free to host an event the way you see fit.  Please don't be upset if people decline for any reason and others shouldn't be upset for any reason.
  • If you don't want kids are your event, then fine.  But don't go into such a long winded (and slightly ridiculous) argument about it.

    That's pretty much what I was thinking, though I would go beyond slightly.

    OP, there is no way to prevent hurt feelings when you choose not to invite kids to your wedding.  Just as you feel strongly that weddings aren't appropriate for kids, there are other people who believe just as strongly that weddings aren't complete without them.  If you choose not to have kids there, you must make that choice knowing that you are probably going to upset some people in the process.
    Married 10/2/10
  • tldhtldh member
    First Comment
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_children-weddings-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:fb40c713-f3fd-4d87-8558-718b074ea1baPost:d334e905-c4f0-4331-9561-a957815933c0">Children at weddings</a>:
    [QUOTE]2) <strong>The venue we chose has a very STRICT policy on the attendance of children, and that is that they must be accompanied by an adult at all times, and that anytime they are found to be unaccompanied they will be removed from the venue (which would mean their parents have to leave, as well). They also have a policy regarding any damage that children may cause; it becomes the responsibility of  the bride and the groom, and they lose their damage deposit.</strong> Posted by lowryp0202[/QUOTE]

    I also rolled my eyes at a lot of your reasons.  However, this one is a valid legal reason.  The contract we signed for our venue has the same clause in it.  Because almost everyone will be coming from out of town, when the STDs went out, FI and I e.mailed a copy of the contact clause to everyone invited who had children.  We told them that as much as we love their kids, they cannot come to the wedding and to please keep this in mind before booking flights and taking a day off work for travel.  The last thing we wanted was somebody buying non-refundable airline tickets and then finding out that their kids cannot come.
    image
    AKA GoodLuckBear14
  • Kids at a wedding get lonely?  I'm afraid I stopped reading after that.  

    But, getting the gist of  the question from everyone else's answers, ditto PP.

  • Personally, your "reasons" would offend me if I was a parent invited to your wedding.  If you chose to share your "reasons", you might want to stick to the legal one only.  My parents always took my brother and I to weddings with open bars.  They actually enjoyed dancing with us, spending time with us, and entertaining us.  You know, being a family.  They didn't go to weddings to get wasted and grind on the dance floor and yet still managed to have fun-how most responsible parents know how to do. 
    image


  • Glad to know my eyes weren't the only ones rolling
    The Bee Hive Est. June 30, 2007
    "So I sing a song of love, Julia"
    06.10.10

    BFAR:We Defined Our Own Success!
    image

  • Rolling really hard, Ms. B.  Did I miss Julia's picture thread yesterday?  I like what Brilibby had to say here.  
  • Yeah I agree that your reasons are ridiculous.  All I got from it was "blah blah blah, I hate kids, blah blah blah, I think they'll ruin my wedding, blah blah blah, let me find BS reasons to disclude them."

    I'm sorry I will never believe anyone has valid reasons that kids shouldn't be at your wedding, so just admit it you don't want kids around.  For the record we had kids as young as 2 at our wedding, with a full open bar, cursing (lots of it, thats what you get with sailors at a wedding!), grinding on the dance floor, and tons of people drunk.  The parents of the children chose when they wanted to leave, and made sure the kids were supervised at all times.  Not that they normally let their children roam around free in a huge venue and a room full or strangers anyways. 
    As for the damage clause.  Does it speficially say you are responsible for damage caused by children?  Or are you assuming the only possible damage would be by children?  Last I checked, drunk grown ups can cause just as much damage as kids.
    imageBabyFruit Ticker
  • tldhtldh member
    First Comment
    In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_children-weddings-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding BoardsForum:9Discussion:fb40c713-f3fd-4d87-8558-718b074ea1baPost:d949e231-7e92-40b5-bdc9-85cf8f56e098">Re: Children at weddings</a>:
    [QUOTE]Yeah I agree that your reasons are ridiculous.  All I got from it was "blah blah blah, I hate kids, blah blah blah, I think they'll ruin my wedding, blah blah blah, let me find BS reasons to disclude them." I'm sorry I will never believe anyone has valid reasons that kids shouldn't be at your wedding, so just admit it you don't want kids around.  For the record we had kids as young as 2 at our wedding, with a full open bar, cursing (lots of it, thats what you get with sailors at a wedding!), grinding on the dance floor, and tons of people drunk.  The parents of the children chose when they wanted to leave, and made sure the kids were supervised at all times.  Not that they normally let their children roam around free in a huge venue and a room full or strangers anyways.  As for the damage clause.  Does it speficially say you are responsible for damage caused by children?   Or are you assuming the only possible damage would be by children?  Last I checked, drunk grown ups can cause just as much damage as kids.
    Posted by dnbeach12[/QUOTE]

    When you have a clause like the children's clause here in your contract, they cannot come.  Period.  If a parent turns their back and the kid runs off, the family will be told to leave.  That makes for a nice reception for them, doesn't it? 

    As for the damages, I don't think OP is saying only kids will cause damages, but they are more likely to do so.  I'm getting married in an historic house where everything in it is either original or an antique that was brought in.  I'm not about to spend my wedding day wondering what other people's kids are doing and worrying about what I'd be paying for.

    My parents brought us to weddings as a kid and I was the one who would sit at the table the whole night drawing or watching people.  My brothers would tear around the place.  There were more times than I can count that the youngest was picked up by the scruff of his neck are taken outside.  Same family, same parents, vastly different behaviors with the kids.
    image
    AKA GoodLuckBear14
  • In Response to <a href="http://forums.theknot.com/Sites/theknot/Pages/Main.aspx/wedding-boards_etiquette_children-weddings-2?plckFindPostKey=Cat:Wedding%20BoardsForum:9Discussion:fb40c713-f3fd-4d87-8558-718b074ea1baPost:8c812952-dde9-459d-9135-e47e7d341394">Re: Children at weddings</a>:
    [QUOTE]Rolling really hard, Ms. B.  Did I miss Julia's picture thread yesterday?  I like what Brilibby had to say here.  
    Posted by ohwhynot[/QUOTE]
    I didn't do one.  I was swamped yesterday and didn't get on the boards until late.
    The Bee Hive Est. June 30, 2007
    "So I sing a song of love, Julia"
    06.10.10

    BFAR:We Defined Our Own Success!
    image

  • Birdie1483Birdie1483 member
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited August 2010
    I'm not a parent, but I majorly roll my eyes anyone someone throws around the "i dont want the kids to be around drinking" excuse, amongst others. I really dont like when people presume to know how to parent kids better than the own parents. If the parents dont want their kids to be up late around drinking and curse words, they will make the decision to leave them home. It really shouldn't be anyone else's concern unless they perhaps hear the parent saying "fuuckity fuuck fuuck you" around their kids and then you can perhaps silently judge to yourself.

    However, I understand your concern with the clause, so I would just do what PP said - address the invites to only the parents and not stress about it anymore. If anyone resonds with their kids on the card, then call them up and explain the venue restrictions.
  • I know a LOT of responders have gotten mad at my reasonings, which I assumed would happen.  I understand this is a touchy idea/subject, and understand everyone has their own opinion on it...which is why I wanted everyone's feedback.
    This was something written into the contract.  I guess at past events they have had several small children fall and get seriously hurt, and some nearly drown : (  Most all of our friends have kids in the 2-7 age range, and they are all big adventurers.  I would hate to see something like that happen to them.
    The venue coordinator we spoke with had said people find that portion of the contract odd, and it was never an issue until recent years, after they had so many incidents, so you are exactly right when you say it is a legal issue.
  • Thanks for the advice....I was kinda unfamiliar with the site...so I will read thru more next time.
  • I get the sense that you think children are actually puppies. Or monkies. You lost me on your reasoning.
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    Infertile, living childfree, advocating like a BOSS
  • Birdie1483Birdie1483 member
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Comment
    edited August 2010
    OP, I understand your concern because of the clause in your contract. That is a valid reason IMO to not have kids at your wedding. I don't think anyone would argue with you on your decision because of that reason.

    A lot of people don't have kids at their wedding for various reasons, but I get annoyed when people use excuses like they're afraid little Timmy will be scarred for life because he saw Aunt Rita get sloshed and grind on the dance floor. I feel like people should leave parenting decisions up to the parents and not worry so much about what is appropriate for other people's kids.

    Unless there will be swords and daggers at every corner where kids might run into them and stab themselves that would cause you genuine concern, I think decisions like the best time for the kids to go to bed and whether being around people drinking and cursing is appropriate or not is best left up to the kids' parents.  I don't think I would last a day on The Bump.
  • ditto pp who said this has been asked many many times before, i would recommend scrolling through old posts for similar questions. there might be more insight there.

    while i disagree with you on reasons why the wedding is an inapropriate place for children, i can agree to disagree and offer some ideas.

    i think 13 isnt a great cut off, lots of maturing happens around then, you might get some very mature 13 year olds and immature 15 year olds.

    as for deciding on the cut off, look at the ages of the kids who aren't invited. if there is a family with a 12 year old and a 14 year old, i would either go lower or higher on the cut off so that the family isnt split.
    if there is ONE 13 year old and everyone else is under or several years older, than go with whatever the next age up is. this will make a bigger gap between the excluded kids and the included kids, so its easier for guests to understand.
    (if someone's non invited kid is 12 and they saw a 13 yr old there, they might wonder why)


    as for how to address the invitations, address the outer envelope to "mr and mrs smith" not "the smiths". address the inner envelope Jane and John.

    in the rsvp: state, "we have reserved 2 seats in your honor"
    mr john smith ___ declines ____ accepts and prefers ____ beef or ____ chicken.
    mrs jane smith ___ declines ____ accepts and prefers ____ beef or ____ chicken.

    this doesnt leave any room for little bobby or suzie to be included. (if someone sqeezes them in, just call to clarify)


    make no mention of the kids. its rude to mention those who are NOT invited.

    you can do a blurb on a wedding website about how much you love children but have chosen to have an adult only reception.

    if anyone asks, blame the venue. they have strict rules against children.

    you can easily send an email or fb message to anyone who you think might be upset and appoligize, and let them know how you adore their children and you "hope to see them all soon at (insert upcoming event here)" i wouldnt do this to everyone but if you think they will get upset, or if they say something, it would be nice for them to know that you do love their kids, it has nothing to do with the children.


    yes you will get parents declining the invite because their children arent involved and you will get parents happy to get out of the house without the kids.
    keep in mind that out of town guests are less likely to come if they cannot bring their children.

    10-10 siggy favorite summer picture Image and video hosting by TinyPic http://hiscb.blogspot.com/
  • Totally understand the legal issue It makes sense from a liability standpoint.

    With that said - If you want kids at your wedding, find another venue.
    If you don't, just invite the adults and accept that some people will not come.
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