How Do We Tell People We Don’t Want Their Children at Our Wedding?

jill greenburg

Most of our friends now have children. If we invited them all to our wedding there would be nearly 35 kids, we were only planning a guest list of 75 and don’t know how to let people know without upsetting them. We know some people will struggle to get sitters but I’m worried it will turn into a screaming child frenzy if we invite them all. Do we do a blanket no children or invite some, the ones we are closest to and risk upsetting people on the day? Added complication is my two nephews will be there who will be 1 and 3 and my flower girl who is 6. Any help/advice appreciated! – Sarah-Jane

Sarah, I completely empathise, this was the exact situation we had with our wedding too! While we didn’t have a flowergirl or ring bearer, we did have a couple of nieces and nephews there, but chose not to invite our friend’s children.

I want to kick off my reply by saying I am not anti-children, or criticising people who choose to have them, but they’re not really for me. While some people can’t imagine their wedding without kids running around all day, I certainly fall into the camp of those who can.

Although proper wedding etiquette states that unless there is a +1 on the invitation, only people whose names are on the invite should actually rock up, there will always be some people who ignore, or don’t understand, this and will assume their whole brood is more than welcome. To avoid any potential confusion we phoned our friends with kids to explain the situation outright. Pretty much everyone was fine with this, and some were thrilled to have a night away from their sprogs! Babysitters for the win!

If you’re struggling to figure out how to explain why some children (like your flowergirl) are invited but others (like your work friend’s three little darlings) are not, then you can always cite ‘budget constraints’, or ‘space limitations’ as the issue, even if it’s not true.


We only had one person who decided that since she couldn’t bring her child then she wasn’t going to come to our wedding at all. As harsh as it may sound, her feelings around our decision didn’t keep us up at night. We could have spent weeks worrying and trying to please everybody, but the reality is that you never can, however hard you try. Whether it’s children, your choice of food, or the kind of music you play, there will always be someone who’ll wish you’d done something differently. But you know what? It’s not their wedding, it’s yours.

You may well be met with resistance about your decision, but the most important thing is to be consistent and treat everybody equally. If you start making exceptions for that one person who kicks and screams, you’ll only later upset those who didn’t fight your position!

Stick to your guns, Sarah. Decide what the two of you want, and what makes you happy. After all it’s your wedding and you don’t have to justify what you’re doing to anybody else. There’s nothing worse than planning your wedding to please other people.

Might you upset some people? Probably, but that can’t be helped. Weddings are often fraught with politics. So many couples spend way too much time and energy trying to keep everyone else happy that they forget about the real reason they’re doing it at all – to celebrate them!

Remember, it’s YOUR wedding and YOU’RE the one footing the bill. If they’re really good friends they’ll understand the choices you make. And, honestly, if they end up throwing a temper tantrum, then maybe they should stay at home with the children after all!

Bonus Reading: Are babies the next logical step?



  1. Kat

    i don’t disagree in principle with the ‘no kids’ rule- weddings are damn expensive and 35 out of a 75 guest list is just too many! But one thing I would say (having been the mum who has to stay home and miss out) is that if the kid is very wee- a newborn for example still feeding from mum- you are not really giving the parents a choice of attending or not. I missed our friends wedding last year as they felt they couldn’t break the no kids rule even tho I was feeding my very tiny baby. I was a tad miffed. Being a new parent isn’t easy without being further cut off! Just a thought that one rule sometimes doesn’t quite fit x

  2. Louise

    We got married last May, and although you could say we had a “no kids” rule, it was a little more complicated than that. We invited neices and nephews, and then anyone who had a child who was still of an age where they could be breastfed, were invited along with their siblings if they had any. As mentioned above some children are too small to be left with a baby sitter, and we didn’t want close friends and family missing out because of this.
    We did movie ticket stub style invites, to go with our movie themed wedding, that all said “Admits 2” or the amount in their family we invited so this got round the problem of people assuming their children were invited when they weren’t.
    We had no issues on the day, and people without their children invited were happy to have a ‘day off’ and those that were invited were happy they had their children included.. No one questioned, well not to me anyway(!) why some children were invited and some not. We ended up with a small cluster of kids aged from 6months to 11, who all partied with, and looked after, each other all night!!

  3. Dave

    For mine and my wife’s wedding we said no kids except babies and those “involved in the ceremony” ie bridesmaid. Sorted out those with babies that couldn’t be left behind with relatives and no one could really argue against it. Only one couple chose not to come and to be brutally honest we weren’t that bothered. You can’t please everyone. I explained to some of my friends when they enquiries that if we invited all the kids then 15 friends plus partners would’ve have missed out. What would they have done in our situation?

  4. We had a pretty much no children wedding, with the exception of my cousin who was about 10 at the time, who was awesome. Apart from the fact we had our night do in a pub, the idea of kids running around everywhere was my idea of hell on toast. The handful of people we knew that had kids were totally cool with it and I was thankful of the grandparents and babysitters! I suppose my main worry was that the ceremony would be interrupted by the noise of babies and children and the party we wanted on the evening would become more like a primary school disco.

    In the end it was all perfect, because we did what the two of us as a couple wanted to. Which is probably the most important thing when it comes to your wedding. 🙂

    I’ve now entered the world of weddings (as a photographer) and have come round to the idea more, especially when I see a little girl request ‘Let It Go’ from the DJ and then sing her little heart out and when you see a toddler run off with as many jelly sweets as they can get their hands on.

  5. We are going to a wedding on Sat that is adults only and to be honest I CANNOT WAIT!!! A proper night out without having to watch myself, where I can fully relax, stay over in a nice hotel without having to squeeze a cot bed in the corner of the room to be able to dance (and drink) ’till dawn is exactly what I need!! Nobody has battered even the smallest eyelid at having to leave their children at home. Don’t worry too much about it too much!! xx

  6. Lucy

    we had a no kids policy ( except my son who was an usher) at our wedding too as there were just too many to cater for and my general experience is that most kids find weddings boring and play their parents up and parents are thankful for a break. This was no problem except two guests decided to bring their teenage children despite their names not being included on the invite- thankfully there were some cancellations so this was not a problem. On the flip side we ourselves have been excluded from an evening wedding invite on New Year’s Eve because we had a new born despite other guests children being invited- even if we could have got a sitter on NYE I would not have left her. It’s tricky but seeing both sides now I would be as open and honest as possible and include people with babies as they really won’t impact on your big day whilst making sure your friends feel included.

  7. I’m a photographer so have covered weddings both including children and those not. From my point of view, either has equal appeal because I’m there to get great photos and not worry about what they are up to!

    One wedding had the most beautiful chocolate covered, several tiered, cake, with artistic waves of chocolate lace and hard worked at decorations. The staff had very considerately put it out of view in a separate room before the grand reveal. It must have been hugely expensive, and they didn’t want to risk anything.

    I suddenly realised that the volume had dropped and the running around ceased – a sure sign to anyone with kids that something is up!

    I tracked the silence to an opened door to the cake room…..just in time to photograph the children snapping off huge chunks and stuffing it down! (Never miss a key memory me!) The cake looked ruined! One look at my less than welcoming expression and they absolutely legged it – leaving me with the crumbly evidence! I realised that if I got the caterers to move the cake around on it’s base, most of the damage would be hidden from view.

    I don’t believe the couple ever noticed and the cake cutting photographs were taken at just the angle to hide the missing confectionary.
    So really, my message on having children at weddings is that if you are really bent on wedding perfection, everything in place and will get upset if something is doesn’t go exactly to plan, don’t have children. They will play, they will run about, they will make noise and given half the chance, sample what they shouldn’t! In their defence, they’ll also really add to the atmosphere, get the dancing started and will be the subject of many an “aaaah!” photograph.

  8. Wendi

    My husband and I got married this past June. Being closer to 50 than not, most of our family and friends have children of all ages. Neither of us has children, but we love kids and our 11 nieces and nephews mean the world to us. They were the only children we invited. The decision was made for financial reasons. We did let a couple of friends know this ahead of time. No one questioned our decision. No one complained. Some did comment that they were very excited to have a “date night.”

    I have to say that 2 of my favorite memories involved the children. One was at the end of the ceremony. We were married in a ballroom and most of our guests were seated pretty far from the action. When we turned around we saw the kids and my sister-in-law sitting on the floor behind us. We had no idea they were even there! It was so sweet. The other is the photo scavenger hunt my husband created for the kids. They each had a list of twenty pictures to take. They had a ball and it was a great ice breaker for the adults. We got some fantastic pictures out of it, too.

    Don’t worry. Invite who you want. There will always be people who disagree with your decisions. If there are people who you think might be upset, talk to them before you send out the invitations. True friends will understand.

  9. Samantha Hughes

    I have a 4 year old and love it when an invite states no kids. Weddings are a time to let your hair down and have some time to your self so most parents dive at the idea of no kids. Don’t read into it to much as alot of parents would choose not to take them anyway. Deal with the people with child care issues separately and don’t worry about what other people think. Honestly my guest list was the stressful part of my wedding and I was adamant no kids other then neices and nephews. I had some moans but thought how many of those would come away if I was to get married abroad. Probably none so why am I worrying. Go with your head.


Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *