February 17

Dear Divas: How to (Tactfully) Request an Adults-Only Wedding

Dear Divas,

I live in California, but was invited to an old friend’s wedding on the East Coast, so I scheduled time off work, purchased plane tickets for my family and booked a hotel—all BEFORE the bride told me it’s an adults only wedding. Now I either have to try to find a sitter for my two year-old daughter in a completely unknown state or my husband is going to stay in and watch her while I attend the wedding solo.

I feel like all of this could have been avoided with better communication. What’s the best way to let guests know your wedding is for adults only?


Frustrated in Fremont

Dear Frustrated,

We’re so sorry to hear about your dilemma, but we are glad you are voicing your concerns. By not letting guests know about an adults-only policy early, engaged couples can seriously upset their guests or even force them to change their RSVP if they are traveling from out of state, like you are.

If you are getting married and you’d like your guests to keep their little ones at home, it is considered inappropriate to write “No Children” on your invitations. Here’s what we recommend instead:

  1. Write only the names of the parents on both your inner and outer envelopes.
  2. If parents call to inquire about whether or not they can bring children, be gentle but make your intentions clear. We suggest something like, “We will be unable to accommodate Jenny and James. They would be frightfully bored, and I would hate for you to have to leave early to take them home.”
  3. Hire a babysitter or two for the evening. Do your research and make sure you find someone reliable and with good qualifications. That way out-of-town guests and locals alike will be able to find accommodations for their little ones!

If you are still having trouble finding a sitter for your toddler, ask the bride for help. She should be able to reach out to friends and coworkers to find a good sitter in the area who can give you and your husband the chance to enjoy the wedding without worrying about your little one’s safety.

If you have a question for our staff of experts, send it to blog@weddingpaperdivas.com. We’ll post it on our site and give you some of our very best advice!


8 Comments   |   Posted in: Invitations & Stationery, Wedding Etiquette & Etiquette Tips, Wedding Planning
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About Katie

Katie M. is a Writer at Wedding Paper Divas. She has the privilege of viewing nearly every piece of stationery before it goes up on the website, giving her the ultimate inside scoop on upcoming trends in the stationery world. She loves classic designs with a surprising twist, and enjoys finding new ways to express her ever-evolving personal style—a blend of traditional glamour and bohemian whimsy that makes Wedding Paper Divas a perfect fit! In addition to her love for writing, Katie is obsessed with health and fitness, skincare, UC Santa Barbara, all things adorable, the beach, dancing, cooking, getting real mail, fresh flowers, discount shopping, and shoes (who isn’t?). Katie is a contributing editor to Diva Dialogue. Be sure to check out her recurring feature, “Rant or Rave.”

8 thoughts on “Dear Divas: How to (Tactfully) Request an Adults-Only Wedding

  1. Katie Post author

    We recommend sending reception cards with that information included. In general, including any type of “no children” wording on the invitations is considered a faux pas!

  2. Elizabeth

    We are also having an “adults only” reception, but are offering babysitting services for our out-of-town family and friends. We are still running into issues, though!

    One guest politely refused to leave her two babies (aged 2 yrs and 9 months, respectively) upstairs in one of the bed and breakfast rooms we rented out with a babysitter. She’s not leaving us with much of an option. The kids will either be part of the party downstairs, or she will be upstairs with them – missing our formal, seated dinner! (Which we have paid for, and leaving an empty seat downstairs…)

    It’s hard planning a wedding, and I’m sure if the bride would be upset if she knew about this dilemma!

  3. chandra

    I had this problem at my own wedding! We did exactly as you said…put only the parents names on the invites, gently spread the word through our family that we weren’t having kids at the wedding, and even put on our wedding website that we wouldn’t be having kids at our wedding but would be happy to make babysitting arrangements for people travelling to our wedding and bringing their kids, and we STILL had people who could not be bothered to understand we weren’t having kids at our wedding. They made us feel like we had done something wrong. People should understand that you should not assume your kids are invited to a wedding…ask the bride and groom before you make arrangements. They have enough on their plate as it is!

  4. Amanda

    Faux pas or not, we are including a “no children” request on our invitations. My fiance and I are paying for our wedding on our own, and do not want any loud children at our wedding Mass. At the end of the day, it is our wedding and it seems that for every parent who understands, there are a handful of people who think that they can simply ignore the “gentle spreading of the word”. My advice is to include it on your invites if an adults only setting is really important to you- it will only be considered a faux pas by people who value their comfort over your big day.

  5. Amor

    Just a thought…

    It may seem inappropriate for the bride and groom to invite adults only, but I think it’s just as inappropriate if not more for guests to assume that their children are invited. Since a wedding event is primarily meant to honor the bride and groom, guests should avoid advancing their personal interests over those of the matrimony.

    It’s not about you! It’s about the bride and groom. =)

  6. Joyce

    It may be “faux pas”, but I don’t care…I am wording the additional reception card on the invitation as “ceremony and reception are for adults only, however we understand this is an inconvenience for our out-of-state guests. Therefore we are providing a babysitting service through ….”. Also in the RSVP card parents can RSVP specifically children needing a babysitting service. Problem is when my sister was married she did the whole only writing the parents’ names on the envelope and many parents didn’t get it and brought their children along anyways! The result? Tons of kids taking over the dance floor, crying, disrupting, and making a mess. I love kids but not when I am spending thousands of dollars on my wedding; it just isn’t an appropriate place for children. I learned from my sister’s experience and am making things perfectly clear, yet convenient for the out of town guests to make accomodations.

  7. Julie

    We included the phrase, “adults, ages 16 and over only, please” on the Save-the-Date cards, so people could make airline and motel reservations with that in mind right off the bat. We also repeated the phrase on the Reception RSVP cards, right under the space for the adults to place their names to respond. This is the Bride’s Day. It’s not about the children – there are other times for them to shine. Weddings and Receptions are not it. When we are putting out this much money for the wedding of my daughter’s dreams, I see nothing wrong with “banning” children who do not know how to act in adult situations.


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