Inviting Children to Your Wedding Reception

It is a privilege, not a right, for guests to bring their children to a friend or family member’s wedding. You and your groom are free to decide whether or not to include children among your invited guests. Even Miss Manners says so. Before making your decision, consider the feelings of your big and little guests, and then weigh some of the information and options listed here.

What a child thinks. Weddings, as seen through the eyes of small children, are stuffy, formal affairs that are excruciatingly long. How many times have you seen yawning or napping little ones at friends’ weddings?

What the parents think. Parents may or may not be relieved when they discover that their children aren’t invited. Most will understand and welcome the chance for an adult night out. Other parents are going to be offended. They view weddings as family affairs and resent having to find and pay a sitter. You can’t please everyone, so make whatever decision is comfortable for you and stick to it.

Pros of inviting children.
  • Parents will appreciate not having to find and pay a sitter.
  • No ill will is created among families because children aren’t invited.
  • The party will be a family affair, and most grandparents enjoy this tradition.
  • When other children are present, it provides a social outing for them, too.
Cons of including children.
  • If they are bored they may misbehave and upset the good time of others.
  • Kids need a special menu.
  • You may need to hire a sitter or two to entertain the kids, so the adults can mingle and dance.
  • Short activities for kids should be planned to keep them occupied and out of mischief.
Inviting certain children.

You may choose to invite only those children of a certain age, for instance, aged 12 and older. Or, you may want to invite children of family members only. Whatever you decide, make certain that you have a personal conversation with each family invited about the parameters of your invitation. Don’t let the invitation speak for itself or wait until the wedding day to try to explain why some children are present, when others weren’t invited.

How to address your invitations. Most etiquette mavens will tell you that it is inappropriate to write “No Children, please” on your invitations. It might be possible to communicate this idea by only writing parents’ names on the envelopes, but don’t count on it. Another option is to refer to the reception as an “adult reception”. Again, speak to each invited family and tell them what your wishes are. There’s no need for explanations, but they do need to understand who is invited and who is not.

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