Whether it’s due to budget restrictions, venue capacity or simply personal preference, child-free weddings are not nearly as uncommon as they once used to be.
There are plenty of legitimate reasons to opt for an adult-only reception, and the decision is completely yours. In most cases, parents often appreciate the opportunity to let their hair down and celebrate this exciting milestone with you, minus any added responsibilities!
However, the topic of kids at weddings can still be a touchy subject for some. If you’re feeling a little uneasy about your decision to throw a child-free celebration, it can be helpful to have some strategies on hand to avoid any awkwardness in the lead-up to your day.
Planning a child-free wedding without feeling selfish all comes down to effective communication, empathy and understanding. From setting expectations early to dealing with travel and childcare dilemmas, keep reading for our top tips on planning an adult-only reception that your guests will love you for!
Determine any Exceptions Upfront
If you’ve decided to host a child-free wedding, it’s important to first get clear on any exceptions to the rule before moving forward with communication.
When creating your wedding guest list, make sure you and your partner are on the same page regarding the little ones. Are you having a blanket ban on all kids, or will there be flexibility for nursing mothers with newborns, immediate family members, or guests who may be travelling overseas or interstate?
You’ll also want to determine whether “child-free” applies to the older kids, too. Are teenagers over 13 welcome, or will it be an 18+ event only?
Ensuring you and your partner are both aware of any exceptions to the “adults-only” rule will avoid any wires getting crossed later down the track, particularly if guests approach you to double check if their kids can attend.
Communicate with Guests Respectfully
The secret to planning a seamless child-free wedding all comes down to communication!
Setting expectations for your guests early and upfront is definitely the most respectful approach, and usually the most well-received.
Keep in mind that parents will need to make alternative arrangements for their kids in order to join you for your special day. It’s important to be considerate of this and give them a heads-up to the adults-only nature of your wedding as soon as possible.
The topic of kids at weddings can sometimes be a delicate one, so you’ll want to be mindful of the wording you use when communicating with guests.
From your save the dates to your invitations and wedding website, a varying level of detail is usually recommended for each touch-point.
Save the Dates
Save the dates are designed to be short and sweet. Guests aren’t expecting too much detail at this stage, so you don’t need to specifically reference the fact that this will be a child-free celebration.
However, you can subtly begin to set these expectations by addressing your save the dates to the exact invitees, rather than using phrases like “The Thompson Family” or “The Robinsons”.
This kind of generic wording could be easily misinterpreted, so use the individual names of each couple or parent instead.
Your wedding invitations are an opportunity for you to elaborate on additional details regarding the nature of your event. This is where your guests are expecting to learn more about your wedding day plans, and can begin making their own preparations to suit.
When it comes to appropriate wording, you should always be clear and to-the-point, while still remaining tactful. A blunt ‘No Kids Allowed’ is probably not going to be received too warmly!
Instead, be considerate, understanding and respectful. You may not have room on your invitations to go into too much detail, but a simple sentence can be used to convey the message effectively.
“Although we love your little ones, please note our wedding reception will be an adult-only affair.”
Always choose the phrase “adults-only” rather than “kid-free” or “child-free” which may come across in a negative light. Alternatively, if you’ve opted for a wedding website, you can choose to keep your invitations simple and instead direct your guests online for more information.
A wedding website is ultimately designed as a communication platform between you and your guests. You can definitely use your wedding website to provide some additional detail now regarding your plans for the event.
While you still don’t need to justify your decision to plan an adults-only celebration, you might want to include some insight to help your guests understand your intentions. Referencing external factors like venue suitability or guest list capacity is a good tactic to take any emotion out of the issue.
If you are making some exceptions to the child-free rule, you may want to address this in a subtle way to avoid any awkwardness on the day (although most guests are usually more than understanding!).
“Although we love little ones (and especially yours!), unfortunately our venue is unsuitable for children under 12. Thank you for your understanding!”
“Regrettably due to venue restrictions this will be an adults-only celebration (with the exception of newborn bubs and their mamas!). We can’t wait to see you there!”
Although it’s important to get the message across clearly, you don’t want this to be a focal point of your homepage or emphasised in any way. Capital letters and bold, oversized fonts are a definite no-no! Be tactful and simply slot these details into your FAQs or the information tab of your wedding website instead.
If you’re still feeling stuck, check out our wedding website wording examples for some more ideas and templates to help you with these trickier situations.
Be Mindful of Travel
For couples planning a destination wedding, you’ll need to be especially mindful of the parents on your guest list. A destination wedding means more planning, preparation and costs involved for your guests, and that’s even without putting kids into the equation.
It’s important to acknowledge that your decision to plan a child-free destination wedding means that some parents simply may not be able to attend. Travelling with kids, preparing for a holiday and arranging childcare at an unknown location can be a big ask for some families, no matter how much they’d love to be there.
Instead, consider some ways that you might be able to make the experience easier for parents if you really have your heart set on them being involved in your wedding celebrations.
Can you speak with your accommodation about any trusted child-minding recommendations they may have in the local area? If it’s within your means, could you hire a babysitter to take care of the little ones for the duration of the event?
Whether it’s a list of vetted childcare providers and contact details on your wedding website or a pre-organised minder for the event, your guests will definitely appreciate the assistance and extra help. Especially if this means the difference between RSVP’ing yes or no to your big day!
Keeping Kids Entertained
If you do have some little ones joining you at the wedding, one of the most difficult tasks can be keeping them occupied.
To allow all of the adults at your wedding to let their hair down and have fun, it’s a good idea to have some kid-friendly activities handy for the duration of your reception.
Consider creating a designated “kids area” or separate kids table in a quiet corner of your venue, with activities tailored to suit their ages and interests. Colouring or craft activities can be a good distraction for younger kids, while older kids might appreciate items like board games, cards or Jenga.
These days there are hundreds of kid-friendly printables available online – why not create your own activity packs, DIY-style? Or, if you’ve lucked out with a wedding venue that has a spare room, something as simple as a movie marathon might be all you need to keep the little ones occupied.
If you’re able to, hiring a trusted babysitter for the duration of the event can really be a godsend. Although it might seem like another additional cost, a designated childminder can really give you peace of mind knowing that your evening will be chaos-free, allowing all of the parents to be truly present for your celebrations!
Helping Parents Prepare
At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that your wedding day guest list is entirely up to you. Planning a child-free wedding is nothing to feel guilty about, and you should never feel like you have to justify or defend your decision!
However, a little bit of empathy and understanding for the parents on your guest list can really go a long way with helping them prepare for your celebration.
From clear communication to assisting with travel arrangements and activities, simply keep the above tips in mind to help you plan a child-free wedding that all of your guests can appreciate!