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No Kids Allowed! Can We Put "Adults Only" On Our Wedding Invitations?

Follow these steps to keep your guest list kid free.

Photo by Steve Koo Photography

Considering an adults-only wedding? Whether you don’t have the space for a kids’ table, have a budget that won’t allow hiring on-site babysitters, or simply just don’t like children (which is a totally valid reason, FYI), deciding whether or not to include kids at your wedding is a choice every couple has to make. And if you opt to exclude anyone who doesn’t meet your “adult” criteria, you have to let your guests know! So what’s the most polite, tactful, and effective way to communicate this to your nearest and dearest? Our experts have a few tips that should make it pretty clear.

You might be worried that guests with kids will be offended about being invited without the rest of their brood, but you’d be surprised by how many will actually love the chance to have a grown-ups’ night out where they can have their own fun. But even with all that enthusiasm, writing “adults only” on the invitation isn’t the right way to go—that’s what will upset the guests who want to bring their kids along, and there’s a better (and more subtle) way to do it.

First, decide exactly what qualifies someone as an “adult.” Do they have to be over 21? Out of college? Paying their own rent? Stick to your guns here. Unless a guest is nursing an infant (which we think merits a free pass), draw the line and be firm. That means no exceptions for your favorite niece or younger cousin, which is guaranteed to ruffle feathers with parents whose kids didn’t make the cut.

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Next, spread the word. Tell your families, wedding party, and other close friends and relatives that you’re going kid-free for your wedding. They don’t need to shout it from the rooftops on your behalf, but if they know what you’ve decided, they’ll be better informed to answer questions from other guests.

Third, put it on your wedding website. If there’s an FAQ section, include “Can we bring kids?” and clearly state that, while you love all those little ones in your lives, you really want your family and friends to be able to have a fantastic time without worrying about their kids. Some may still be travelling with their children, so consider including information for a local babysitting agency that they could hire for the evening.

See more: 6 Things You Must Do If You're Throwing an Adults-Only Wedding

Lastly, be very clear when addressing your wedding invitations. “Mr. and Mrs. Luis Chavez” means only the couple are invited, while “The Chavez Family” means Mom, Dad, and the kiddos, too. Only include the names of those who are invited to the wedding on the envelope as the first sign that kids aren’t invited. If you’re worried some guests won’t get the hint, you can add a count on the RSVP cards. Beneath the line where guests can write their names, add “___ of ___ guests” and fill in that second line with the number of guests included in each invitation. Does it take a little more time (and thoughtful envelope stuffing to make sure each RSVP card matches each envelope)? Yes. But it will avoid any confusion or instances of a couple trying to RSVP for their family of five.

If you do have guests RSVPing for the entire family, hop on the phone as soon as the card comes in. Let them know that the invitation is actually only for the parents, and that, due to “budget constraints,” their children aren’t invited. Even if the budget isn’t the reason, that’s a much more understandable excuse than “Well, we think kids will be noisy or distracting,” right? Stick to your guns, even if they are upset or push back. It’s your wedding and your guest list, and they should respect your decision.

This may seem much more complicated than just writing “adults only” on the invitation, but it’s the proper etiquette to follow and should make your guests feel much more comfortable—it’s only awkward if they aren’t gracious about your decision!

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