Etiquette Answers; "How Do I Limit The Number of Kids on the Guest List with Tact?"

Wedding cost more than ever and paying the full cost per-head for children can be more than some couples can stomach. Adult only or limited children weddings are extraordinarily popular, but how on earth do you pull that off without offending your friends and family. Today, In my new monthly feature Etiquette Answers, I’m sharing a few tips to help make this choice a little easier to carry out. 

Flower Girl Philly wedding


1. Decide Early

Even before you select a venue try an make a ballpark guest count. This will not only be helpful when it come to narrowing down where the big day will take place but it will come in handy when making the yes or no to kids decision. As news of your engagement spreads well meaning folks wishing you congratulations are going to inquire about your wedding plans. It would be horrible to say or imply one thing about your guest list early on and then need to retract it later when you have made up your mind. Try and make a call as to inviting children early on so that you are the one managing your guests expectations. 

2. The Cut Off

Having a blanket rule in place can be the easiest way to deal with the kid cut off situation. No children under age 10 to be invited and so forth. Figure out what age range you are comfortable having at the wedding and make a delineation from there. Will children in the family be invited but not children of friends? Most folks are going to be pretty understanding of a teenager and above wedding or just children in family wedding. Decided what arrangement you are most comfortable with. 

3. Children Who Are Participating 

Are you planning on having a flower girl, ring bearer as part of your wedding ceremony? If so this can make cutting children from the list a bit stickier. Naturally any children who are participating in the wedding need to be invited to the reception as well. Be sure to keep the parents of those children in mind and also invite any siblings that they may have as well. Parents may opt to arrange for care for younger children, but any older siblings should certainly be on your guest list. 

4. Invitation Wording 

be very clear to whom the invitation is for. Don’t address an invitation to the ‘Smith Family” unless you intent every member of the household to be in attendance. Be clear to invite Mr & Mrs. Smith or Mr. & Mrs Smith and Kyle Smith if a child is invited.

5. Its Ok If They Can’t Come

If you are going to make the decision not to invite children you do need to be prepared for the consequence that some of your guests may not be able to attend. it may be a simple matter of traveling and needing child care or it could be for completely different reason, but know that you may get more NO’s if kids aren't going to make the cut.  

In the end the decision to invite or not invite children is up to you and your sweetie. Be clear from the get go how you would like to handle this delicate situation and what course of action you will take to clear up any questions that may arise from it. Ultimately if you do choose to limit the number of children be prepared that some level of backlash or disappointment may follow. Be kind and speak to the guest with questions directly, don't leave this task to a third party. 

Photo: Eugene Wei