Adults Only

Inviting or not inviting children to your wedding

Last week I wrote about the wedding guest list and how to deal with excluding people, adults you may not want to invite for a variety of reasons. Today let’s talk about the kids!

I’ve often written about including children in the wedding, if the couple marrying has children. In my view, it’s really important to include your own children in your ceremony – it’s a big day for them as well. They are more than witnesses to this moment, they are a part of it, and should be included in meaningful ways.

But for couples without children, how do they decide if their wedding should include kids as guests, or should they have an adults-only affair?

Both choices are fine, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Here are some pros and cons to consider.

(Rhinehart Photography)

Yes to children at wedding 

  • You love the idea of flower girls and ring bearers and always imaged that would be a part of your big day
  • Your best friends have kids and you kind of like them, too.
  • The children are close family members
  • They are old enough to behave and are probably excited to be there

If you are leaning towards a kid-friendly wedding, ask yourself: can you provide some child care, maybe get a babysitter at your venue.? If you are at a hotel, the little ones can be put to bed before the night is over – if parents feel safe leaving them in their room and returning to the party. Parents can check on their children frequently – but for some it will be a deal-breaker. It depends on their age, of course.

Can you provide activities for children to enjoy? At a bare minimum even crayons and paper at the reception would help, but you can go all out on this as well with games, toys and activities.

Older children can play other roles, such as handing out programs, escorting people to their seats, and taking care of younger children.

If you plan well, a child-friendly reception can be fun and memorable! And if you plan well, you can even get little ones through the ceremony without a fuss.

The lollipop trick didn't work (Rhinehart Photography)

No to inviting the children 

  • If you are having a formal dinner reception, a black-tie affair, or something very fancy, it is totally appropriate not to invite children. For a more relaxed style affair, a luncheon for example, it may seem a bit harsh to not include your nieces, nephews, or friend’s children.
  • Your friends and relatives with kids would love a night or weekend out without the kids. Talk to them about it and find out.
  • You’re just not that into kids at this time in your life.
  • You are having a late-night affair, too late for children to stay up.

What ages are we talking about anyway? What about teenagers? Are they old enough to be included, and will they enjoy the festivities? Be sensitive to the feelings of teens, they don’t like being thought of as children. You can create your own age limit of sixteen or even twelve or thirteen and draw a line that helps ease your guilt. 

I’ve seen little kids crying and being disruptive during the ceremony and I’ve seen them be angels. You never know for sure how young children will react, they may feel very stressed being in a new situation.

If there will be little ones at your ceremony or reception, there are a few things you can do to mitigate potential problems. I suggest giving lollipops (if ok with parents of course) which will keep talking and  squawking at bay. Small toys or stuffed animals might help occupy a young child. I sometimes make a brief announcement to assure parents that its perfectly ok to get up and walk out with your child if need be. We will all understand and don’t want anyone to feel stuck or embarrassed. What a relief to hear that for the parents who may feeling uneasy or embarrassed. No one needs to feel bad – kids will be kids. But will they be the kids at your wedding?

How cute is this? (Rhinehart Photography)


thank you Lisa Rhinehart for your beautiful photography!



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