There’s no right or wrong answer to this question, as your wedding and reception will be as unique and individual as you are. However, this is an important question you should ask yourselves before embarking on the detailed planning of your celebrations. The answer will affect your decisions and, ultimately, your budget.
When considering your options, think about your guest list. Consider how many of your guests have children and whether it would cause hurt feelings among them if children weren’t included. You want this day to be memorable, but not for the wrong reasons.
If it’s important for you to have a child-free wedding, we have a few suggestions that may help you accomplish that without alienating your guests:
Make Some Phone Calls
One of the easiest ways to help defuse any situation is to address it before it becomes a “situation.” Before you send out your invitations, consider making a list of your guests with children. Give each of them a call and let them know ahead of time your plans for a child-free wedding.
It’s a lovely touch that will help your guests feel personally considered in the planning of your special day. Though you’re not allowing children to attend, you’re thoughtful enough to call your guests and let them know personally ahead of time. It will also give them a jump on planning their childcare.
Flower Girl(s)/Ring Bearer
These two roles in most weddings are filled by young children in the family of either the bride or groom.
Is it OK to have them attend the ceremony and then not the reception? If you are close to the parents of the children that fulfill these roles, you may want to ask if they’re fine with having the kids whisked off after the ceremony. In this way, their parents can fully enjoy the celebration without having to be on “parent duty.”
You may also opt to include these few children in the reception as well, and if you do, you may want to consider letting the guests with children know that when you call them. By doing so, they won’t be confused when they see these kids at the wedding after being told your wedding is adults-only.
You may also decide not to have a flower girl or ring bearer. This can make a potentially difficult situation more manageable, as that makes things even across the board. You’ll be able to have the wedding you want without having to worry about whether some will feel slighted that their kids weren’t invited to the wedding, but the ring bearer and flower girl are allowed to attend.
Have Your Wedding in the Evening
When you plan an evening event, it will make it easier for your guests to find a babysitter. Then they will be able to treat your celebration as a “night out,” which most parents actually appreciate.
Weddings are a time to celebrate with friends and family, and most families have children of various ages in them. So, if you are on the fence about whether to include the kids or not, here are a few ways you can include the kids without having them take away from the feeling you want at your reception:
- Kid’s table – There are many crafty projects that you can put out on a kid’s table to keep the kids occupied during the reception. You might provide wedding stickers and paper or sticker books, wedding-themed coloring and activity books with lots of crayons, or games for them to play like cards, memory games, and Jenga. Another idea is to have the children decorate picture frames.
If you’re having your wedding outside, you could provide bubbles for blowing, and even small squirt guns if it’s hot. If you have older kids in your group (ages 10 and older), you may be able to talk with them and to see if they will be willing to help the younger kids with crafts and games.
- Kid-friendly food – When working with your caterer, have them create a kid’s menu. This ensures that the children at your reception are fed well (and not filled up on sugar!) without paying the higher price of the full meal you are planning for the adults. If you have an outdoor reception, you can consider having a fire pit or BBQ where the kids (and adults alike!) can make s’ mores.
- Hire childcare – If you are concerned that the older kids in your group will feel like babysitters and not guests at your reception and your budget allows, you can hire a childcare professional to help “run” the kid’s table. The older kids can keep an eye on your tots to be sure they are having a good time and staying supervised. They will also be able to instruct them in fun group games that will keep the children engaged in a really fun way. This gives the attending parents a chance to relax and enjoy your celebration without having to make sure their kids are having a good time and staying out of mischief.
Inviting Kids to Your Wedding
Inviting children to your wedding will involve a bit of planning on your part, but you can have your cake and eat it too, so to speak. If you plan well and include elements that will keep your young guests occupied during your celebration, they will have the memory of being a part of your day. And you will have the memory of the celebration you wanted with the focus being on you and your partner and not the supervising of the children.
If you decide to make your wedding and reception kid-free, that’s your right! This is your day, and it should be exactly how you want it to be with no regrets. Plan ahead, get creative, and be sure to communicate your wishes to your guests ahead of time. Your family and friends love you and will want to support you however you choose to celebrate your love with your partner.
Amanda assists with all aspects of the Foothills Event Center’s concerts, parties, celebrations, fundraisers, weddings, and other events. She observes our events as they happen, to ensure the clients and event attendees have a seamless event.