Should You Invite Kids to Your Wedding?

Kid Friendly or Adults Only? That is the question.

Family-friendly or child-free wedding | Newlyweds pose with their three adorable flower girls

Milton Ridge | Tricia Oxford Photography


Deciding whether or not to invite children to your wedding is a deeply personal decision— that depends on a lot of factors! The key here is to hash out this issue with your partner early and come to a unified agreement. Then, to let your guests know your stance in a detailed yet graceful manner. The earlier the better, as parents may need to make special arrangements either way.

Keep in mind that you don't have to adopt an all-or-nothing mentality. You can make some strategic exceptions for close friends and family—like inviting just your flower girl and ring bearer to the reception, or letting your new-mom Matron of Honor bring her little one along.

Also keep in mind that local weddings make it far easier to have an adults-only affair.
If you're having an out-of-town or destination wedding, it's much harder on parents to attend if they can't bring the kiddos along. The style of wedding matters, too: Kids simply won't be as content at a late-night black tie gala as they will be at a sunny outdoor wedding.

Whatever you decide, you'll want to make the wording on your invitations and wedding website *über-specific* as to who's invited—and who's not. If you've opted for a no-kids event, refer to it as an "adults-only celebration" and write just the names of the grown-ups on the envelope and invitation insert. If you're inviting everyone, adding the words "and family" after the parents' names on the envelope will make that clear, as well as adding the childrens' individual names to the invite. You can also note that "X number of seats have been reserved in your honor" to make it crystal clear.

Pro Tip: If you opt for adults-only but want to avoid questions and hurt feelings, add an explainer line or personalized note to the bottom of your wedding invitation and website. We love the adults-only wedding wording found here.

Two Ringbearers hold up heart-shaped wedding signs that say 'look for me on the dance floor' and 'I was told there'd be cake!'

The Stable at Bluemont Vineyard | Lisa Boggs Photography


To help you make your decision, here are a couple PROs and CONs of inviting kids to your wedding:

PROS

Your parent-friends will appreciate having the choice.

Finding childcare can be tricky for parents. And if they’re forced to attend your wedding sans kiddos, there’s a chance they may not be able to secure a babysitter for the night—especially if they’d be traveling to attend. Which means they would miss your big day, too. Allowing children at your wedding gives parents the option to enjoy a solo night out, or to bring the kids along at their own discretion, depending on their unique situation.


There are lots of creative ways to keep kids entertained.

Providing a child-friendly atmosphere at a wedding has never been easier, as there are tons of creative ideas out there for entertaining the young—and young-at-heart! Whether you set up lawn games, set up crafts and coloring at a kid’s table, or have the DJ mix in some kid-friendly tunes to get the dance floor going, you can rest assured that the kids at your wedding will have a blast.

A young flower girl in a flower crown busts a move on the wedding dance floor

The Portofino Hotel and Marina | Caitlin Alohilani Photography


CONS

Tantrums tend to come at the most inopportune times.

From your vows and first dance to the most endearing speeches, weddings are full of meaningful moments. Which gives children plenty of opportunities to “chime in”. If you decide to invite children to your wedding, it’s best to adopt a go-with-the-flow attitude. View any unexpected meltdowns as funny additions to your wedding video that you’ll laugh at later. You can even communicate to your parent-friends that if untimely tantrums DO occur, you’d appreciate them swiftly escorting their little one to another part of the venue.


Kids add to the guest count...which adds to the budget.

No matter how small the guest is, they’re still going to add to your bottom line. The number of attendees at your wedding will determine not only the size of your venue, but also how much food you'll have to provide. If your budget is already tight, that's a good enough reason to rein in the guest list to adults-only.

A cute young ringbearer crying as he walks away from a formal wedding portrait

Red Trolley Studio


If you DO decide to invite kids to your wedding, here are some creative ways to have a fantastic kid-friendly event!

Offer Childcare

If you can swing it, there are amazing childcare companies out there, such as Happily Ever Laughter in California. They actually send fairytale characters to keep children enchanted with whimsical activities so the grown-ups can sit back and relax. Faeries, Pirates, or other fantastical characters arrive at your event with magic shows, face painting, balloon twisting, outdoor games, obstacle courses, and more. Plus, their performers have passed a background check and many of them are CPR certified for parents’ peace of mind!

A young wedding guest is delighted by a childcare entertainer dressed like a fairy

Happily Ever Laughter


Put Together A "Play Station"

Turn the traditional kid’s table up a notch by creating a full-on “Play Station” for your little guests! The ideas here are endless—but definitely go beyond the basic coloring books and crayons. You can set up a crafting station and let the kiddos go crazy with pipe cleaners, pom poms, and glue sticks. Or DIY some giant lawn games like Jenga, Tic-Tac-Toe, or Connect Four. You can even go big and rent some old-school arcade games! From pinball to Pac Man, all kids—young and old—will have a blast.


Serve Kid-Friendly Fare

The chances the children will eat a full plate of Chilean sea bass are slim, so mix up the menu by providing kid-friendly finger foods they’ll actually enjoy. Ask your caterer about customizing a kid’s menu with things they’ll not only eat, but get excited about! From colorful fruit skewers to an interactive make-your-own-tacos table to milk-and-cookie shooters for dessert, making the meal fun will keep the kids entertained—and even eating!—during dinner.


Filed under Expert Advice

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