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

Jill Greenberg

June 25, 2014

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?