While it used to be fairly common for kids to attend weddings, many modern weddings are adults-only. Oftentimes it's because the event is later at night, or it could be that the hosting couple are keeping costs in mind — a dinner for kids costs the same as one for adults and a 6-year-old is unlikely to appreciate the surf 'n turf.
But some argue that kids are a part of the family and should be included in a family event, which is what a wedding is (according to them).
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So what do the experts say?
Emily Yoffe (Dear Prudie) says "no kids" is a fine rule — in a column replying to a mother who eschewed her own son's wedding because he didn't want his nephews there, she writes: "Your son and his wife didn't want children at the wedding. That is a perfectly reasonable decision to make, even if two of the children excluded were his nephews. It may have annoyed everyone, but what the people with children do is hire a babysitter, keep their complaints to themselves and enjoy a child-free afternoon."
Martha Stewart weddings also leaves the decision up to the bride and groom, suggesting that while kids can make for a lovely wedding, there are times and places for weddings during which they may not be welcome. Stewart suggests 16- or 18-years-old as cut-off points (and to stick to those ages, even if it means excluding a favorite cousin who's younger, as to be fair). "You should never print 'no children' on the invitation (and strictly speaking, parents should not bring children unless their names are specified there)."
If you are considering not allowing children at your nuptials, there are some considerations to take into account.
First, for plenty of parents, time off from their kids to attend an adult event is something they look forward to — but don't assume this is the case. For some, the expense outweighs the value of kid-free time (even more so if the event takes them away from home for the night).
As Chaunie Brunie writes on YourTango: "For us, to attend the ceremony and a reception, I’ll easily shell out over 100 bucks on a babysitter, plus the wedding gift. It’s a horrendously expensive date night and I’m sorry (and no offense to you and the love of your life), but that’s really asking a lot of your guests with young children."
That's why some betrothed couples decide to include kids at weddings, but provide a babysitter and/or entertainment for them that's separate from the adult reception (so it's effectively a kid-free celebration — most kids are bored at wedding parties anyway). This can be a great compromise that only adds a minimal cost to the overall expense of a wedding without adding a large financial burden to parents.
Keeping in mind all of the above, at the end of the (wedding) day, it's your event, and you get to wear what you want, serve the food you like and decide who you do and don't want at your celebration — including kids. If you are going to have an adults-only wedding, follow these suggestions from the Knot:
- Do address invitations to the invited parties only
- Don't leave room on reply cards to write-in names—provide pre-printed names of invitees and a space next to them to check off
- Don't write "adults only" on the wedding invitation
- Do include information about the event being for adults on your wedding website
- Don't bend the rules for one or two people who complain
- Do stick to your guns! This is your big day and you'll (hopefully) only do it once. Relatives' opinions aren't part of the deal.
Weddings bring together family, friends and coworkers for an unusual mix of people you know — many of these people haven't ever met before and are unlikely to again. It's a recipe for difficulties and misunderstandings, and that's why who's on your invite list — and who isn't — is so fraught with potential dramas. The most important thing is to know what you want and to be clear about communicating; you'll have nothing to be sorry for if you do.