Whether it’s due to budget constraints, venue capacity, or just personal preference, childless weddings aren’t as uncommon as they used to be.
There are many legitimate reasons to opt for an adults-only reception, and the decision is entirely up to you. In most cases, parents often appreciate the opportunity to let their hair down and celebrate this exciting milestone with you, minus any additional responsibility!
However, the topic of children at weddings can still be a touchy subject for some. If you’re feeling a bit uncomfortable about your decision to host a child-free celebration, it can help to have a few strategies on hand to avoid any discomfort in the run-up to your day.
Planning a childless wedding without feeling selfish comes down to effective communication, empathy, and understanding. From setting expectations early to dealing with travel and babysitting dilemmas, read on for our top tips on planning an adults-only reception your guests will love.
Photograph by Sally Pinera
Table of Contents
Determine any exceptions in advance
If you have decided to organize a wedding without children, it is important that you are clear about the exceptions to the rule first before proceeding with the communication.
When creating your wedding guest list, make sure you and your partner are on the same page when it comes to the little ones. Do you have a blanket ban on all children, or will there be flexibility for nursing mothers with newborns, immediate family members, or guests who may be traveling abroad or to other states?
You will also want to determine if “child free” also applies to older children. Are teens over 13 welcome, or will it be an event for 18 and over only?
Making sure that both you and your partner are aware of any exceptions to the “adults only” rule will prevent the wires from crossing later on the dance floor, especially if guests come up to you to see if your children can attend.
Communicate with guests respectfully
The secret to planning a smooth, child-free wedding is communication!
Setting expectations for your guests early and directly is definitely the most respectful approach, and usually the most welcome.
Please note that parents will have to make alternate arrangements for their children in order to join you for your special day. It is important to be considerate of this and advise them of the nature of your wedding as soon as possible.
The topic of children at weddings can sometimes be sensitive, so you’ll want to be aware of the wording you use when communicating with guests.
From recording dates to invitations to the wedding website, a varying level of detail is often recommended for each touch point.
Photograph by Kurt Boomer
Save the dates
Save dates are designed to be short and sweet. Guests don’t expect too much detail at this stage, so there is no need to make specific reference to the fact that this is a child-free celebration.
However, you can begin to subtly set these expectations by targeting the exact guests to save the dates, rather than using phrases like “The Thompson Family” or “The Robinsons.”
This kind of generic wording could be easily misinterpreted, so use the individual names of each couple or father instead.
Your wedding invitations are an opportunity for you to elaborate on additional details regarding the nature of your event. This is where your guests look forward to learning more about your wedding day plans, and they can start making their own preparations to their liking.
When it comes to proper writing, you should always be clear and direct, while remaining tactful. A strong “No Kids Allowed” is probably not going to be received too warmly!
Instead, be considerate, understanding, and respectful. You may not have room in your invitations to go into too much detail, but a simple phrase can be used to get the message across effectively.
“Although we love your little ones, please keep in mind that our wedding reception will be for adults only.”
Always choose the phrase “adults only” instead of “child free” or “child free”, which may appear negatively. On the other hand, if you have opted for a wedding website, you may choose to keep your invitations simple and instead direct your guests online to find out more.
Photograph by Clary Pfeiffer Photo
A wedding website is designed as a communication platform between you and your guests. You can definitely use your wedding website to provide some additional details now regarding your plans for the event.
Although you don’t need to justify your decision to plan an adults-only celebration yet, you may want to include some information to help your guests understand your intentions. Referencing external factors such as the suitability of the venue or the capacity of the guest list is a good tactic to remove any emotion from the matter.
If you are making some exceptions to the “child-free” rule, you may want to treat this in a subtle way to avoid any discomfort during the day (although most guests are more than understanding!).
“Although we love the little ones (and especially yours!), Unfortunately our venue is not suitable for children under 12 years of age. Thanks for your understanding!”
“Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, this will be an adults-only celebration (with the exception of newborn bubs and their mothers!). We can’t wait to see you there! “
While it’s important to get your message across clearly, you don’t want it to be a central point on your website or emphasized in any way. Capital letters and bold and oversized fonts are definitely a no-no! Be tactful and simply enter these details in your FAQ or information tab on your wedding website.
If you’re still feeling stuck, take a look at the writing samples on our wedding website for more ideas and templates to help you with these more difficult situations.
Photograph by Mister & Misses Do
Be careful with travel
For couples planning a destination wedding, you will want to be especially vigilant about the parents who are on your guest list. A destination wedding means more planning, preparation, and costs for your guests, and that’s even without put the children in the equation.
It is important to recognize that your decision to plan a childless wedding means that some parents simply will not be able to attend. Traveling with children, preparing for vacations, and arranging childcare in an unfamiliar location can be a big question for some families, no matter how much they would like to be there.
Instead, consider some ways that you could make the experience easier for the parents if you really have your heart in involving them in your wedding celebrations.
Can you talk to your accommodation about any trusted recommendations they may have in the local area for childcare? If it is within your means, could you hire a babysitter to take care of the little ones for the entire event?
Whether it’s a vetted childcare provider list and contact details on your wedding website or a pre-arranged caregiver for the event, your guests will certainly appreciate the extra assistance and assistance. Especially if this means the difference between answering yes or no to your big day!
How to entertain the kids
If you have a few little ones accompanying you to the wedding, one of the most difficult tasks may be keeping them busy.
To allow all the adults at your wedding to let their hair down and have fun, it’s a good idea to have a few kid-friendly activities on hand for the duration of the reception.
Consider creating a designated “children’s area” or separate children’s table in a quiet corner of your premises, with activities tailored to their ages and interests. Coloring or craft activities can be a good distraction for younger children, while older children may appreciate items such as board games, cards, or Jenga.
Today there are hundreds of kids printables available online – why not create your own activity packs, DIY style? Or, if you’ve been lucky enough to have a wedding venue that has a spare room, something as simple as a movie marathon may be all you need to keep the little ones busy.
If you can do it, hiring a trusted babysitter for the entire event can really be a blessing. Although it may seem like another added cost, a designated babysitter can really give you peace of mind knowing that your evening will be free from chaos, allowing all parents to be truly present at your celebrations!
Photograph by Jonnie + Garrett
Helping Parents Prepare
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that the wedding day guest list is entirely up to you. Planning a wedding without children is nothing to feel guilty about, and you should never feel that you have to justify or defend your decision!
However, a little empathy and understanding for the parents on your guest list can help them prepare for your celebration.
From clear communication to helping with travel arrangements and activities, just keep the tips above in mind to help you plan a childless wedding that all of your guests will appreciate!