Should Children Be Included in Your Wedding Festivities? Part 3: The Plan

In Parts 1 and Part 2,  I explored the pros, cons and practicalities of having children be a part of your wedding day.

As I stated in Part 1 of this blog, I thought my small children were perfect and a delight to be around. But, I wasn’t one to shy away from a date night without kids….I often LIVED for those nights. But “back in the day”, I think parents had a lot more identity separation from their kids than many do today. Is that right or wrong, better or worse? I have an opinion and I’m sure you do too!

That being said, had I received an invitation to a wedding at that time that said “kids not invited” or “no children, please”, I might have felt a bit wounded. Anthony Luscia of Martha Stewart Weddings agrees such brusqueness is probably not the way to do it. So, I totally agree with Elizabeth Muhmood Kane of Bridal Musings that a noted included with the invitation that states, “As much as we love your little ones, our wedding/wedding venue won’t be suitable for children under 10….” or similar would not have near the same sting. It’s the event that’s the issue, not children. Luscia also suggests putting a message to that effect on your wedding website and have family and close friends spread the word. One exception you might consider are nursing infants.

It can be helpful to have a special place for parents to go to nurse or when the babies are crying. At Stonegate Manor, we have the Wedding Cottage which is a quiet place to sit and nurse or soothe a little one. A polite way (and probably a big relief for parents) is to put a cute sign near the entrance where your ceremony will take place that says something to the effect of: “If you need to nurse or soothe your child, please don’t feel bad about leaving the ceremony. The Wedding Cottage is available for just that purpose!”

Bryan Rafaneli, a planner at Martha Stewart Weddings suggests “Being passive about your wishes will only result in hurt feelings” and so it’s OK to call parents and explain to them directly. To me, that seems like a lot of time and effort and, if not well thought through, could actually resurrect the issue and create questions for couples who’ve already gotten the message and have interpreted it in a way they are fine with. In my opinion, awkward! However. If an RSVP is returned with children written in, either you or one of your parents (if they are hosting the wedding) should jump on the phone immediately. Just state your decision and do not feel the need to justify it or defend yourself.

However, HelloMagazine suggests that if you know for some people it’s going to be an issue, calling and explaining BEFORE sending out the invitation is not a bad idea. If children are included, HelloMagazine makes the great suggestion of adding a line on the RSVP card for how many children and their ages. This will let parents know their kids are included and will let give you a better idea of how to prepare.

For some, age matters and a couple may not think of their 16 yo daughter as a “child”. So, including a specific age, as in the example above, is a great idea and avoids confusion. Of course if you know the couple have an older child that you are comfortable inviting, their name can also be included specifically on the invitation. Another great idea I would never have thought of myself comes from Jaimie Mackey of She says, “On your RSVP card, in addition to a space where guests are to write their names, add a line that asks them to specify how many guests will be attending the ceremony and wedding reception, along with a space where you can fill in the total number of guests invited. This would read something like “___ of ___ invited guests,” and for families where only the parents are invited, you would put “2” on the second blank. This lets guests know that they have a maximum of two spaces to fill.” If people are still confused after that, I think nothing but a phone call will work!

Bottom Line: Decide what you want. Stick to your guns. Make no exceptions. If you wish, come up with a reason to share but remember, you don’t have to. It’s your party!

Elizabeth Kane: The Complete Guide to Kids at Weddings 

Anthony Luscia & Bryan Rafaneli:     Common Wedding Guest List Problems

HelloMagazine:   Wedding Etiquette:  Should Children be Invited or Not?

Jaimie Mackey:  No Kids Allowed!  Should We Put “Adults Only” on Our Wedding Invitations? 









The author, Prudy Nelson, is the Owner/Manager of Stonegate Manor, Southwest Michigan’s premier estate wedding venue located just north of St. Joseph in Benton Harbor, MI.   Prior to becoming a Wedding Professional, she was in Pediatrics for 30+ years.  She is a mother, grandmother and an expert in both children and weddings.  It should be noted that Stonegate Manor is a child-friendly venue!  :-))