While weddings are a special time you want to share with friends and family, sometimes the event isn't exactly kid-friendly. Still, writing "No kids allowed" on an invitation is bad form, and there are more subtle ways to get the message across. Using extra tact and then checking personally to ensure attendees get the memo will prevent confusion.
Kids or No Kids?
It's usually more polite to ask for an adult-only reception when the party is local. Families need to arrange for babysitters or other help if they have a night out. If you're planning a destination wedding, it's not realistic to expect parents to bring babysitters with them. Casual receptions, like a luncheon or barbecue, can accommodate kids easier by setting aside a table and a babysitter to keep them contained.
The best way to convey the idea that you're having a kid-free wedding is to use the names on the invitation as a clue. For instance, if the invitations are addressed to the parents and the family, it might seem as though kids are invited. However, if the invitation is addressed to the names of the parents only, it's clearer that only the adults are invited. If a couple has more than one child, one being over the age of 18, she should receive her own invitation as another clue that this is an 18-plus party.
When hosts are worried that guests may not have gotten the memo concerning kids, it's fine to extend personal invitations via phone calls. It is fine to contact friends and family members with kids and gently let them know that the reception will be adults-only.
It is important to have no exceptions at a wedding where children are not invited. For instance, if you allow your sister's children to come, you might offend those who left their kids at home. If you have kids in the wedding party, you may decide to allow them to attend the ceremony and then make the reception adults-only. That way, not only do you preserve your vision for your wedding and reception, but you avoid hurt feelings as well.
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