Friday, March 14, 2014

Adults-Only Wedding Etiquette

Most will agree that weddings provide occasion to celebrate, rejoice and embrace the union of two individuals who ultimately join two families the moment they say "I do." However, it remains a matter of opinion whether children should make the final guest list. From an etiquette perspective, there is no definitive answer; therefore, the final decision belongs to the happy couple.

Careful Consideration

    Before having your wedding invitations printed, carefully consider whether to include children. Consider your guests and weigh their family situations against your reasons for not wanting to include their children. If you opt to exclude them, remain firm in your decision and do not relent with some. Attendees who made childcare arrangements will certainly take offense to find some children present.

Invitation Wording

    Hosting an adults-only wedding does not fall into the etiquette faux pas category; however, blatantly announcing "No Children" on your invitation does. Traditionally, the accepted method to communicate an adults-only wedding is to address the invitation to the adults in the household. Example: "Mr. and Mrs. John and Lucy Smith" or "Mr. John Smith and Guest," not "Smith Family."

Backup Plan

    Since some guests can miss the subtlety of a traditionally-addressed invitation, a backup plan is in order. offers some tactful ways to convey the need to find alternate arrangements: using word-of-mouth or specific wording on the response cards like "Adult Reception."

Prepare Yourself

    Don't expect every parent on your guest list to gleefully accept your wishes on excluding children. Finding a sitter may prove difficult or costly for out-of-towners, while others firmly believe that weddings are family events. Whatever their opinion, prepare yourself to graciously handle anyone who must decline your invitation based on the "Adults Only" stipulation.

Creative Alternative

    If having an adult wedding reception is a priority, but you do not want to preclude anyone from attending, see if your venue has an off-room you can use as a "children's room." Hire a sitter and equip her with coloring books, crafts and other inexpensive activities for the kids to enjoy. This will ensure that all parents on your guest list will be on hand.

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