How to Tell Your Guests You’re Having an Adults-Only Wedding

The choice to have an adults-only wedding or to have children on your guest list is one that most couples don’t take lightly. If you’ve decided to keep it child-free, it’s important to let your guests know about your decision beforehand. This can be an awkward topic to approach, especially when it comes to close friends and family. As a wedding planner, I often get asked how to politely let guests know that their children won’t be invited to take part in the wedding ceremony and/or reception.

The one thing I always remind my clients is that it’s perfectly OK to have a child-free wedding ceremony and reception, and you should never apologize for wanting to do this for your special day! It’s your wedding, after all! Once you’ve made the choice, the best thing you can do is let your guests know ahead of time so they have adequate time to prepare. 

Maintaining good etiquette can go a long way when breaking the news to your loved ones, and fortunately, we have a lot of experience with this.  Whether you want to keep your special day kids-free due to budget constraints, venue limitations, logistical reasons, or simply because you want to, read on for the ways I recommend letting your guests know you’re having an adults-only wedding.

photo of invitations for destination wedding
Photo by Feather and Stone Photography

1. Let Your Save-the-Dates or Wedding Invitations Do the Talking 

If you know you don’t want kiddos at your wedding, we suggest letting guests know as early as possible. One of the best ways to do this is by adding an insert to your save-the-dates. This allows your guests to plan accordingly. Another option is to mention it on your reception cards when your wedding invitations go out. This can help you avoid any awkward conversation and give them a heads-up. If you plan on opting for this route, definitely do not include it on the wedding invitation itself.  

If you’re a couple that’s looking to plan a child-free wedding there are polite ways to phrase it. You don’t have to harshly state “no kids allowed.” Some friendlier or subtler ways to phrase it include: 

  • “Adult reception (18 and older) to follow” 
  • “Although we love your little ones, our wedding will be an adult-only celebration.”
  • “Please note that this will be an adults-only wedding reception.”
  • “To ensure that all of our guests, including parents, are able to relax and enjoy themselves, we have made the decision to make our wedding weekend adults-only. We thank you for understanding.”

Also, include a checkbox for “Number of Adults Attending” in Your RSVP or response cards reinforce the fact that you’re having a kids-free wedding.” 

photo of escort cards for wedding
Photo by Joseph Rogero Photography

2. Be Sure to Address Your Wedding Invitations Accordingly 

You’ve likely spent hours narrowing down your guest list to ensure that it includes all of your loved ones on your wedding weekend. A great way to let your guests know you’re having a child-free wedding is to properly address your envelopes. Addressing your invitations to only include adults tells your guests that the only people invited from their household are the ones who are listed on the inner envelopes. Here’s an example of what your wedding invitations should look like: 

  • Outer envelope: Mr. and Mrs. Michael Sullivan
  • Inner envelope: Michael and Carrie 

In addition to letting your guests know you’re having an adults-only wedding, this is a great way to avoid any unwanted “plus ones.” (And if you do plan to invite any children to your wedding, such as close family, you can list their names in the inner envelope to let your guests know their kids are welcome). 

photo of bride and groom celebrating after saying "I do"
Photo by Joel Serrato Photography

3. Use Your Wedding Website to Your Advantage

Nowadays, most couples have a wedding website. This eco-friendly wedding tool helps you easily provide your guests with valuable information about your wedding weekend, such as timing, attire, hotels, transportation, accommodations, and more. You can also use your wedding website to informally let your guests know about your child-free wedding preferences in your FAQs or on the information page. This will save you a lot of time and uncomfortable conversations!

Since your wedding website provides you with a little more space than your wedding invitations do, you can elaborate even further. You might write something along the lines of: 

“To ensure that all of our wedding guests, including parents, are able to enjoy a relaxing night, we respectfully ask that no children attend our reception. If anyone needs help with making childcare arrangements, please let us know and we will do our best to assist.” 

As a destination wedding planner, I always recommend including details on any possible babysitting services if you’re having an out-of-town wedding. If you’re able to cover the cost of onsite childcare services, this will give your guests one less thing to worry about when it comes to celebrating you and your partner. 

photo of bride and groom with wedding party along beach in Lake Tahoe
Photo by Lane Dittoe Weddings

4. Let Your Guests Know About Any Space or Budget Constraints

Is your decision to have an adults-only wedding due to space, budget, or logistical reasons? This might be the case if you’re having a destination wedding or getting married in a remote location where transporting your guests to and from your wedding venue can be costly. After weighing the pros and cons, you might find it’s simply unrealistic to add your guests’ children to your wedding guest list. In these circumstances, we recommend stating one of the following: 

  • “Due to limited wedding venue space, adults only, please.” 
  • “Due to budget/space limitations, we hope you understand that we are unable to extend the invitation to children.”
  • “While we love your children, we’re unfortunately unable to accommodate them at the venue due to restricted numbers.” 
  • “Although we adore your children, we ask that only adults attend due to space/budget constraints.” 
  • “Regrettably, our chosen venue is unable to accommodate children. Onsite professional babysitting services will be provided.” 
  • “Although we love your children, we regretfully cannot accommodate them during our wedding weekend due to the logistical challenges of moving guests around the island.” 

Using this wording allows your guests to understand that their children simply don’t fit into your venue or budget, which can make everyone feel a little bit less awkward about the subject.

photo of bride with bridesmaids and flower girls
Photo by Joseph Rogero Photography

5. Make Note of Any Children in the Immediate Family Attending

Are you including younger family members in your wedding party? If you’re having junior bridesmaids, flower girls, and ring bearers in your bridal party, you can still opt to have an adults-only wedding reception. 

In situations where related children will be attending your wedding ceremony and/or reception, you might feel obligated to include your guests’ kids in your special day. As a wedding planner, I always remind my guests that it’s still okay to say “no” to any unrelated children attending your wedding ceremony and/or reception while bending the rules for your own family members. 

To prevent anyone’s feathers from getting ruffled, you’ll want to make your guests aware that some children will be in attendance, even though you’re having a kids-free wedding. Some examples of how to word this include: 

  • “Children of immediate family only, please.” 
  • “While we wish we could accommodate all children, we have decided to only include children of the immediate family who are a part of our wedding party.” 
  • “Due to budget/space constraints, we ask that only adults attend (aside from children included in our wedding party).” 
  • “Although we love your kids, we have decided to only include children in our immediate family on our special day.” 

The correct phrasing will ensure that your guests better understand that while there will be some children included in your special day, you are still choosing to have a mostly child-free wedding. 

photo of bride and groom walking down the aisle surrounded by candles and guests at night
Photo by Sarah Falugo Photography

At the end of the day, it’s ultimately your special day, and you and your spouse have every right to keep it free of children. As long as you’re thoughtful enough to let your guests know in a timely manner, use proper etiquette in your communications, and provide information on any potential babysitting services, your adults-only wedding should go off without a hitch! 

If you’re looking for assistance when it comes to planning a child-free wedding ceremony and reception, we’d love to help you out at HauteFêtes. Reach out to schedule some time to chat with us so we can help you begin your journey to the aisle!

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