As a wedding invitation designer, I hear a lot about wedding guest-related stress. Especially the angst that comes from who to invite – particularly when space or the budget is tight. One of the more common and sensitive areas that I’m asked for help with, is expressing a couple’s desire to have an Adults Only wedding day.

So how can you make your wishes clear, without getting the feathers of your guests-with-kids ruffled?

The very best way to avoid inviting children is to be upfront and mention it in the wedding invitations. Don’t dance around the topic, hoping people will pick up on subtleties – make sure guests know where their children stand.

Photography by Tony Evans Photography via Nat & Zander’s Charming Rippon Lea Wedding

Couples who want an adults-only wedding can do a few things:

1. Print your guest names on the wedding invites – and don’t mention their children’s names. If you receive an invite that doesn’t have someone’s name on it, they’re not invited, right?

2. Mention the number of seats reserved for a particular set of guests. For example, on their RSVP card, your guests will have it noted that you’ve reserved two seats at the reception. That means their five kids do not have places in the wedding.

3. Make it Clear. If you’re comfortable with being a bit more explicit than just omitting names, then a straightforward ‘adults only’ or “we are unable to accommodate children” line printed on your invitations should do the trick. Please don’t go for the overused “we want to give parents the night off” wording – parents can find this condescending. Short and sweet works best.

Photography by Tennille Fink via Renee & Tyson’s Romantic & Industrial City Wedding

4. If budget and space allows, consider arranging an onsite babysitter, or suggesting babysitting options for out of town guests. This is another signal to guests that the wedding is not a child-friendly event.

If the guests still fall clueless and insist on RSVP-ing for their children, you will need to call them in advance of the wedding and explain children will not be attending the wedding. This can feel brutal, but it is going to be a whole lot less stressful than seeing their children at your wedding and feeling annoyed. It’s also respectful to other wedding guests who made other arrangements for their children. Imagine how unfair it is to leave your kids behind, often at considerable cost and hassle only to turn up and see a ton of children running around at the wedding.

As long as you are clear about your wishes, firm and fair, then you shouldn’t have any issues. Your guests are not mind readers!

Ms Zebra Says: It’s a tricky slope to navigate without offending anyone – but it’s your day after all! Great tips from Amanda to ensure all guests are understanding of your request for an adults-only affair.

Hello! I’m Amanda, designer and lead coffee maker at Be My Guest. Practical, down-to-earth stationery design and designers. Creativity has always been an outlet for me. It’s not just creating something I enjoy, but the challenge of problem-solving. I love the process of creating… taking raw materials, lines on a screen and turning it into something beautiful, practical and awesome.
Check out Be My Guest’s range of wedding stationery here.