The Seating Chart Is Your Best Friend

by admin on September 2, 2013

I have read your site for 12 years or so and am a firm believer in following etiquette rules.

I am getting married next year. My fiancé and I are paying for the wedding and we decided on a medium-sized, elegant wedding. His family wanted us to throw a huge bash with 500+ guests and we made the responsible decision to pay for what we can afford – a beautiful location with 120 guests.

I have a dilemma, however. My fiancé has 11 nieces and nephews, so there will be children at the wedding, but we do not wish to have very many children there. This is for a few reasons – the first being we don’t have enough space, the second being the cost, the third being that we want this to be an elegant affair.

An example of our dilemma: I have about 10 co-workers I will be inviting to the wedding. Most of them are single with no children, but I have a few friends that have spouses and multiple children. I have worked with these co-workers for 7+ years, but have never laid eyes on their children. I will be inviting them and their spouse, but do not wish to invite their 4+ children, whom I don’t even know. How do I handle conveying that message without being rude?

I know that most etiquette books say to list the guests names specifically on the RSVP card, but I’ve also read that most guests do not pay any attention to such details, assume the whole family is invited, and bring the children to the wedding.

The location we have reserved allows you to reserve the location at half the price if you keep the guest count under 120. We will be right at the limit and if it exceeds 120 guests, they will charge us the full price of the venue (several thousand more dollars). If everyone I am inviting does not understand that their children are not invited guests to the wedding and bring their children, we will be far over the 120 allowed guest count and we will end up paying thousands of extra dollars for children that I have never even met.

I’ve read everything I can get my hands on about how to handle it, but none of it seems quite right. I truly trust your opinion more than even Martha Stewart! Please help!   0827-13

I am assuming you want the 11 nieces and nephews in attendance but not the children of the co-workers.

At least in my sphere of weddings people do not automatically assume children are invited when the invitation is addressed only to the parents.    So, you may be working yourself up about something that is not as likely to happen.   It’s far more likely a guest will bring along another adult guest…that I have seen too many times.

A question I often ask couples intending to invite co-workers is, “Do you socialize outside of the work place with them?”   If no, why are they on the guest list to perhaps the single biggest personal event of your life?  If you have never met these people’s spouses or children, just how closely intimate are they to be worthy of an invitation to a particularly non-work related, personal event?    You have chosen to have a small wedding and with that comes a more stringent criteria for who is invited and who is not and maybe you need to re-evaluate the choice to invite co-workers and spouses.

Assuming you go forward with your current guest list, the best you can hope for is that they indicate on the RSVP card that they are bringing children which means you’ll need to have an awkward conversation prior to the wedding to apprise them of the fact that the children were not invited.

The second tactic is to have assigned seating with a seating chart.   It becomes glaringly obvious if there are unwanted guests in attendance when there is no seat reserved for them at an assigned  table.    There was a wedding crasher at my daughter’s small wedding. The poor woman was an added guest of a male usher and she apparently had no idea she had not actually been invited.  The moment she realized this was inadvertently caught on video when the camera was left running while focused on the reception entrance.    You can see her scanning the table seating chart several times, realizes she is nowhere on it and makes a tearful exit with the usher following after her.   This did not prevent the both of them wiggling her into his table, btw.

{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Lisa Marie September 2, 2013 at 7:07 am

I agree with Admin you might be getting worked up for no reason. When we are invited to a wedding, I start looking forward to a great time out with my husband and friends without my children. She is also right in are you quite sure you want to include your coworkers? Many will understand you want to
keep it a family and close friend affair.


AngePange September 2, 2013 at 7:13 am

We have a number of guests who have babies coming to our wedding. The babies all vary from about 8 months old to 2 or 3 years. In my opinion, children of that age are not old enough to appreciate the wedding, and generally tend to provide a distraction by crying or get bored. We have therefore decided to not invite any children. Because we are having an intimate ceremony (only 40 people) we have similarly not given an open invitation to guest “and partner” or plus one. To avoid confusion, on the invite we stated “All Guests by Invitation Only. Regret No Children.” One guest, who is NOTORIOUS for finding his dates on Internet dating sites, has queried whether he can bring a date. I have advised him that of he is actually seeing someone at the time of the wedding (I need at least two weeks notice for the purposes of informing the venue) I will consider letting her come if there is space. But I have advised him that he is not to seek and find a random blind date. He was very understanding and most other people (with kids) are glad to be having a “grown up” night out.


Wild Irish Rose September 3, 2013 at 9:47 am

I too chose to have no children at my wedding. This meant my sister-in-law did not attend, as she had a six-month-old child at the time. Her choice–of course she and my BIL were invited, but she chose to stay home with her baby. It annoyed my husband’s parents, but that’s too bad. My MIL made the comment that I would not hear a crying baby, and I reminded her that even if that were true, my GUESTS could hear it. My sister, who had a five-month-old baby at the time, was furious with me, as was my mother, but I stood my ground. I paid for the wedding. I made the call.

I’ve never experienced people just bringing their kids to events uninvited, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. Address your invitations to “Mr. and Mrs. X” and leave off “And family” or words to that effect. If your invitees indicate that they are bringing their kids, then you just have to have the talk with them. If they choose not to attend, so be it. And I’m with everyone else who wonders why you feel the need to invite co-workers unless they are also fairly close friends.


Josie September 3, 2013 at 1:31 pm

AngePange, I like what you stated on your invitation: “All Guests by Invitation Only. Regret No Children.” It leaves no room for mis-interpretation (if that is even a word). My invitation stated at the bottom “Adult Reception following at …..” No one brought any children. I hadn’t heard that any of my relatives were offended by this, but I do have awesome relatives who would probably never show up on a story on this site. That goes for my husband’s relatives, also.


Powers September 3, 2013 at 9:27 pm

Unfortunately, however definitive the phrasing, it’s rude, because it gives the impression that your guests need to be reminded of basic etiquette. (There’s apparently an exception to that rule for “RSVP”; darned if I know why.)


KenderJ September 4, 2013 at 3:07 pm

Actually, I don’t think there is an RSVP exception to the etiquette rule. I was told a long time ago that the RSVP was for the information on how to RSVP, phone number, address to send response note, name of person to respond to, etc. I think it only morphed into begging people to respond as people stopped following etiquette about responding to invitations.


Lo September 2, 2013 at 7:36 am

Honestly, I would go make it no-kids across the board rather than inviting some which is guaranteed to cause hurt feelings no matter how close you are to people and how close those kids are to you. People get touchy about their kids. We don’t have any but I’ve seen it in our family.

That being said, coworkers probably won’t bring their kids to the wedding if they aren’t on the invite.

I agree with admin that you don’t really need to invite coworkers.


Rodinne September 4, 2013 at 2:39 pm

I cannot imagine being the coworker of the bride or groom and getting upset because my children, who have never met the happy couple, are not invited, but the couple’s own nieces and nephews are. If I were that sort of person, I can’t imagine anyone wanting to invite me.


Lou September 2, 2013 at 8:34 am

I got hitched earlier this year with around the same amount of guests as you and only had one child there – my 10-year-old godson, who was a junior usher (he was so excited about the wedding, I honestly couldn’t leave him out!). Like you, I was concerned that, despite being very specific about who was invited on the invitations, some people would just rock up with their kids regardless.

What worked well (perfectly, in fact) was emphasising to certain key people who I knew weren’t backward in coming forward, that the wedding was child-free apart from one special exception (bridesmaids, my older cousin, our parents, an aunt or two). They were then able to bring the point up in the inevitable discussions with other friends and family members about travel logistics, outfit choices etc in the run-up to the wedding – they were secure in the knowledge that the info was straight from the horse’s mouth and could head off any confusion before people ran away with the wrong idea.

So for your situation, I’d recommend mentioning to one or two of your closest/most direct friends/coworkers, maybe in an offhand ‘general wedding chit-chat’ way, that your wedding is to be family children only because there just isn’t enough space for all the little rugrats. The message should then filter down the grapevine and will, at the very least, inspire people who were ‘wondering’ to ask you directly, at which point you can smile warmly and say ‘So sorry, we had to make the difficult decision to keep it at family kids only. But I really hope you can make it all the same, and of course feel free to take home an extra piece of cake for little Jayden!’

Hope this helps, good luck for your big day!xx


Kirsten (the first!) September 2, 2013 at 8:38 am

I have unfortunately been to far too many weddings where people brought their uninvited children, in one case where the couple hadn’t invited any at all, so that work colleagues’ kids were there when the family’s children weren’t.

I think that when it comes to children and weddings, there are three options:
No kids
Family only kids
All kids

I honestly can’t understand anything wrong with inviting your relations under 18 but not inviting colleagues’ children whom you don’t know and have never met.

If you do invite the colleagues – I think suggesting they’re all dropped is a bit unfair if you want them there! – then you could always give them the invitation saying something like, “I do hope you and your husband can come.” You can also take their RSVPs – “Ooh, that’s another two – I’m so glad you’re both coming!” But ultimately, if someone wants to be presumptuous – I would never assume my children are invited! – there is not that much you can do to head it off.

I never do quite understand gate crashers. If someone had gate crashed our wedding, they’d have had nowhere to sit and nothing to eat. Horrible if someone’s assured them they can come, but that needs to go back on whoever brought them. I did wonder if we would have any, and did decide not to pay extra to host someone we hadn’t invited!


karyn September 2, 2013 at 9:58 am

for my first daughter’s bat mitzva–we each had invited a table of work friends.people we liked a lot and had heard a lot about our daughter over the course of the years….but had not met her.with subsequent childrens bar/bat mitzvas we made the decision that anyone invited had to be someone that the child knewand had a relationship with…….i think ultimately when looking at the pictures 10 years afrer the event–you dont want to be saying–who the heck is this?????

imo….i would not invite any work friends unless they were also friends outside of work……….i have made many lovely riends thru work….but it is the rare on e that i keep up ith when they leave or i leave that workplace.


Cat September 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

This is a bit of a pickle. I would like to believe that people would not bring their children unless they were specifically invited, but this site, if nothing else, convinces me that they will bring them, regardless of what the invitation said. “Well, we couldn’t find a baby-sitter and we just knew you wouldn’t mind if we brought our five kids and the five friends that were at our house for a sleep-over.”
I would not invite my friends from the workplace and I would not discuss my upcoming wedding there either. Any questions can be met with, ” Due to budget constraints, it’s family and close friends only.”
For friends I know who have children, I might spend some time on the phone, making a friendly call to chat about the wedding and then dropping a hint, “We were so sorry that our budget wouldn’t allow us to invite all the children of our friends. I hope everyone understands.”


Katie September 2, 2013 at 11:02 am

OP, if this is stressing you out so much (and I understand, especially if it’s to the tune of a few thousand dollars), take the time now to nip this all in the bud. You don’t want to be worrying on your wedding day that a handful of people brought their children so your guest list is 122 and not 120. Like Cat suggested, call up the friends with children and say you’re sorry you can’t include their children. I bet most of them will be like, “Oh, don’t worry about it!” and the few who thought their kids were invited will get the message.


RC September 2, 2013 at 4:48 pm

^ Totally agree.


NostalgicGal September 2, 2013 at 12:55 pm

I’m leaning with other posters… on unless you are socially interacting with your cowokers outside of work, maybe you leave them off the invite list.

And you might just because the penalty is so high, trim your guest list to a few under 120; so just in case.

On your invitations and RSVP cards, especially the cards, write in the specific names of those who are being invited; and nicely word on the card that ‘Please, due to restrictions at the venue we must ask that your party be limited to only the names already listed, thank you’ …. (Miss Jeanne may have a better way to word that)


Gramma Dishes September 2, 2013 at 12:58 pm

You say that most of your work friends you’ll be inviting are single/no children. The others are married and do have children. Are you going to allow your single work friends to bring a guest? I’m getting the impression that you’re not planning to. That’s kind of like rewarding your married friends for having a spouse. In a year, all that may change anyway. Some unmarried ones might be married and some married ones might not.

Also, I assume you work with more people than just these ten. Will other coworkers feel hurt that they weren’t invited too?

Since you’re cutting the numbers so extremely close to the bar, I think you might possibly want to reconsider inviting any of your work friends at all, unless (as several other people have mentioned), you also socialize with them outside of work.

As for everyone else, I think it’s okay to just make clear to everyone that except for immediate family members, no children are invited.


Powers September 3, 2013 at 9:29 pm

Er, yes, one of the rewards of having a spouse is that you get invited together to social events. Why is that a problem?


mrsvandy September 2, 2013 at 1:45 pm

I was also worried about people adding children or assuming they got a plus one. We solved this problem by adding the line ” We have reserved __ seats in your honor” on our rsvps. At the time it felt harsh but it worked well. I was glad I did make it very clear, because another wedding in our friend circle the year before ours didn’t, and they had a few extra guests due to people assuming they got a plus one.


Cami September 2, 2013 at 5:28 pm

We went to a smallish wedding where they found a way to handle this problem due to some relatives notorious for bringing their EIGHT children to weddings to which they were uninvited, even when given multiple verbal warnings (in addition to leaving the kids’ names off the invitations). An usher with a spine of steel was assigned the job of maitre d and the other ushers served to show guests to their tables (the usher would present all women with a favor of a flower in a small bud vase as they were seated).

All guests approached him to get their table number. When the family with the eight kids in tow showed up, the usher regretfully informed them that there was only seating for the parents, not the children. He kept firmly refusing them and eventually, motioned to the people behind them and had the ushers seat them. The family of TEN then left.


Agania September 7, 2013 at 2:48 am

Bravo Cami. This is exactly what OP should do. It was also what I was thinking of writing but you beat me to it and expressed it so much better!


kingsrings September 2, 2013 at 9:35 pm

I know someone who is planning a wedding right now, and she tried to solve this issue by just placing the names of the invited adults on the invitation, thinking that that would obviously be a clue to the parents that their kids weren’t invited. Wrong……the parents simply wrote in their kids’ name on the invite! Now she doesn’t know how to delicately get out of this pickle, ugh. Unfortunately, there are some parents out there that either simply don’t believe in ever not including their little darlings in any and every event. Or they take it as a great personal offense to be told that the event is adults-only. I vote for finding a polite way to put on the invite that this is an adults-only event. That’s the only way to nip anything in the bud.

And EHell Dame – how embarrassing for that poor guest of the usher! That broke my heart. I’d be so embarrassed and humiliated if I ever came to an event only to find that I wasn’t supposed to be invited, and that it had now messed things up. What an incredibly thoughtless and inconsiderate usher. If you can’t bear to attend a wedding solo, then don’t go at all! Nobody is entitled to a date unless it’s stated. I hope she left him after that debacle!


admin September 3, 2013 at 5:00 pm

Nope, Kingsrings, she actually married him. We suspect he lied to her with some story that we deliberately slighted her because my daughter and son-in-law were not invited to their wedding.


Nuit93 September 2, 2013 at 9:50 pm

I’ve seen response cards that were VERY specific about how many people were welcome. One looked like this:

Option 1: “Yes, the two of us will be there!”
Option 2: “One of us can make it, but the other sends regrets.”
Option 3: “Sadly, neither of us can make it but we send you the best!”

Don’t leave room for other options.

Worst comes to worst, have a bodyguard at the door to shoo away uninvited guests. My opinion is that anyone who chooses to disregard the wording of an invitation so blatantly is not someone that I’d feel that bad over losing contact with.


Mer September 3, 2013 at 2:56 am

If this is a separate whole group from your work (like your team or something) and you issued invite to everybody in that group, I don’t see problem commenting this issue in your workplace after invites have been sent. If nobody brings them up, make an innocent question if they received the invitations already. And if they did, just chat up “Great, I did hope they got delivered quickly. I hope my great dad has received his too, he lives so far away. Well oh, anyways, we talk more when you know if you can come or not. It’s a pity we could not include coworkers’ children due space limitations but we hope that you can come.” Or something similar.

If you are in friendly terms with them, I don’t think this has any problems. I think it’s nicer that these things are communicated well enough _before_ anyone has time to make assumptions. It’s too late to handle it well when the rsvp have been sent because if the invitee assumed initially wrong and thought s/he would take the kids along, informing at that point makes them either embarrassed or annoyed and might cause problems with getting babysitter if this they originally did not plan for it.


Mer September 3, 2013 at 3:08 am

I forgot to say, that I don’t know how it is there but around here the acceptable exception to the rule that spouses should be invited together are coworkes and hobby groups (and similar) when inviting all of them. It’s seen maybe as inviting them as a group and they are “representatives” of the hobby or workplace instead of representing individuals couples Mr. and Mrs. Smith and so on.


JSchoolJunkette September 3, 2013 at 10:15 am

We had an across the board “no child” policy with one small exception. My DH’s brother and his wife had recently welcomed the family’s first grandchild. The baby was 7 months at the time of the wedding, and knowing that my SIL is exceptionally considerate and would immediately leave the room is the baby got fussy, the niece was the only child at the wedding. (I did get endless joy from the glimpses I caught through the church’s back doors of the baby rolling across the church foyer.)

But to we did have to call some people to let them know it was a child-free affair. Our cutoff age was 14 (A band, passed cocktails, sit-down dinner, a late night. It was no place for young children), and we had a few people write in their infants’ names. A groom’s side guest even wrote his and his wife’s name in on the card of said “3” were attending. Thankfully, my in-laws are absolutely lovely and handled that for us. Most handled it graciously and without incident.

If you’d really like these people there, but worry they may not make it without their children, I have a suggestion. Consider hiring someone from a friend’s daycare to serve as a sitter for the little ones at another location. We opted for this after the cocktail hour so that our niece would be in safe, trained, and vouched-for hands. Order them pizza and have movies and board games. They’ll have a great night, the parents will have a nice date night, and you won’t need to worry about going over on your venue numbers.


Library Diva September 3, 2013 at 11:25 am

I was also needlessly concerned about this for my wedding. We invited four minors: my husband’s youngest cousins. I worried that others with children would try to bring them; that we’d take flak for inviting these four cousins and no others (all first cousins and their spouses would have nearly doubled our guest list; we just didn’t have the money); I worried about all sorts of things. None of them happened. The four children were really well-behaved and had a great time at an adult party, and our other friends with children were *more* than happy to leave their kids at home.


Jen September 3, 2013 at 11:44 am

At my wedding, we didn’t invite children expressly because of one couple’s completely misbehaved kids. Of course, they were the only couple who brought children (which we should have expected, I suppose.) So I think preemptive measures are definitely in order. I really like Cat’s suggestion of “For friends I know who have children, I might spend some time on the phone, making a friendly call to chat about the wedding and then dropping a hint, “We were so sorry that our budget wouldn’t allow us to invite all the children of our friends. I hope everyone understands.” ”

I have a question for the others on the site, would it be rude to have general conversations about the venue with people? Casual conversations along the lines of, “Wow! We love this venue but they charge thousands extra if we go over the guest limit! I really hope no one brings uninvited kids or plus ones!” Is that acceptable or is it rude because it mentions money?


Wendy B. September 3, 2013 at 11:47 am

Maybe it’s a regional thing, but I would personally be worried that people would bring uninvited guests. Because it happened at my wedding. People who didn’t RSVP showed up. I was annoyed. Fortunately, we had a feeling it would happen and prepared, but…

I’d do as the admin suggests.


ImJustSaying September 3, 2013 at 12:01 pm

This is a little off topic but what are thoughts on having a separate area for children of guests + flower girls and ring bearers where movies will be played and toys will be available? I have yet to see a child under 5 sit still though any length wedding ceremony and those over 5 don’t seem to enjoy it either. The parents either have to take them out or cries/toddler mumbles are heard throughout the ceremony.
My personal plan is to hire 3-4 seasoned baby sitters for a flat fee ( based on # of children) to care for the children in another space at the venue (if available). Children are entertained Parents share the couples moment and then we all party at the reception (possibly with a follow-up kids table).
This is all hypothetical but I know the children at weddings discussion is a valid one.


Charliesmum September 4, 2013 at 8:43 am

A friend of mine did that at her 2nd wedding – because of the ages of most of her friends, we all had children under the age of 10 or so. She hired a couple of minders, supplied toys, videos, crafts, and picked a venue where there was a seperate room for the kids. Everyone had a fantastic time knowing that the kids were having fun and we could enjoy some grown up fun.


skv September 5, 2013 at 9:42 am

I went to a wedding where my young children were flower girls. The bride and groom had thoughtfully made individualized colouring books for each of them, as well as a care package with crayons, small games and a stuffed animal waiting beside their dinner plate. She also ordered them special ” kids” meals. Her thoughtfulness made a long day much easier!!


Jocelyn September 7, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I think it’s always good manners to offer the sort of hospitality your guests will prefer. 🙂
Having a play room down the hall, with attendants, where kids can have fun if they’re not enthralled with the reception, is a nice solution. But it has to be at the same venue as the wedding, lest children panic and not be able to find their parents easily. Kids can come in, do the line dances with the grownups, then go back and watch videos and play. Serve kid-friendly food, and they won’t complain about missing out on the rubber chicken. 😉
It always strikes me as sad when brides are so determined to exclude children, when you consider how often children follow a marriage. 😉


C September 9, 2013 at 3:21 pm

I think the main thing to remember is that everyone’s situation varies. Some people have a lot of kids in their social circle, some have a few. Some have a very adult atmosphere in mind for their wedding, some want it to be a big family bash. It’s just important to respect what the couple wants for their wedding.

That said, I’ve heard the play areas go down very well, are a lot of fun, and are much appreciated!


June First September 3, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Allowing the nieces and nephews but not coworkers’ children should be fine.
It would probably be easiest to take the coworker aside and quietly tell them that you simply don’t have room for children other than nieces and nephews.

For our wedding, we had a handful of people RSVP that their kids were coming, so we just took a “more the merrier” approach since many were toddlers. (This helped with couples traveling from other parts of the state.)
Several of the adults RSVPed and (ahem) did not show up. One of the couples texted me on the afternoon of the wedding that they wouldn’t be able to make it.

I will add this: A couple of new moms complained that I hadn’t set aside a place for them to nurse their babies. I don’t know if this is normally the responsibility of the bride, or if I just know entitled people.


Agania September 8, 2013 at 9:19 am

There were no kids at our wedding. Most guests were “Whoo hoo, date night, yay!” There was one couple whose second child was literally weeks old. Their older daughter stayed with grandma but they asked me if they could bring newborn. Of course! I told them that I would seat them at a table near the back of the room, furthest from the speakers. I also pointed out that there was a small room nearby where she could nurse in privacy and peace.

I guess the difference, June First, is that she took responsibility for her situation and approached me. It certainly did not occur to me during planning but once she voiced her needs they were easily provided. I think your friends could have asked you rather than just assume that they would be your focus on this very important day for you and your husband!


Lisa September 3, 2013 at 2:17 pm

Although it certainly isn’t your responsibility, perhaps you could make your wishes clear and avoid gatecrashers by arranging child care at a convenient location near the wedding venue. Hire a few babysitters and let your guests with children know that, due to the space limits, nonfamily children aren’t invited but they can drop the kids off at your arranged child care spot. I would think most adults with children would be happy to attend sans kiddos with free babysitting.


Sarah Jane September 3, 2013 at 2:55 pm

Sorry, I just think “Invited guests only” or “Please, no children” clauses on wedding invitations are just bad, bad taste.

Go with word of mouth. Much less chance of sounding tacky, condescending, or just plain cold.

I saw a terrific idea on a wedding blog that would help with this issue: on the RSVP cards, write the following: “(Number) of adult seats have been reserved in your honor.” It makes it clear that the adults are included without making a grand issue of the fact that the children are excluded. Very subtle and positive.


ciotog September 3, 2013 at 3:31 pm

We did our RSVPs electronically, through a popular wedding website, and while we’re having a very kid-friendly wedding, one of the nice features of the RSVP interface is that only those invited can input their names. No write-ins! That wouldn’t stop some from showing up anyway without RSVPing, but I think it will dissuade some others.


Tara September 4, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I find it interesting that people wonder why you wouldn’t invite work friends that you don’t “spend time with outside work”. You spend 8 hours every single day with some of these folks which is probably more time than you spend with your spouse and definitely more time than you spend with your friends. Of course you would include some of them.


Jenn50 September 5, 2013 at 7:26 pm

That was my thought too! After 8-10 hours a day, I don’t need to socialize outside work to feel close enough to want my coworkers at my wedding.


Jeni September 4, 2013 at 5:02 pm

I would honestly not worry about going over your 120 person “limit” for one simple reason: not every guest you invite will RSVP “yes”.

In terms of guests bringing uninvited children, just follow up via phone when you receive an RSVP with more people than you expected on it. With a polite spine, there’s no reason people shouldn’t understand. Plus, it’s your wedding, you create the guest list, stand by it. Most parents will probably be happy to have an adults only night out.


Johelen September 5, 2013 at 12:23 am

If a couple is free to invite specific adults to one’s wedding, why not specific children? I don’t see any problem with inviting whatever specific children you want. I don’t understand at all why the only options are no children, family only children or all children.

Invite exactly you want. I really like the idea of the RSVP cards that say “2 (or 1 or 4, etc) seats have been reserved for you” Please RSVP by X date.


Rachdm September 5, 2013 at 10:56 am

At my wedding two months ago, we abided by a similar rule of inviting only specific children. Small children were invited – mainly kids of our friends, usually 2 and under. The few older children invited were my nephew and neice (6 and 4) and two teenage girls who are children of family friends. All invited guests were clearly listed on the inner envelope, kids included. Several couples brought their children that were invited and several couples decided to have a date night without the kids. One of the sweetest moments at the reception was seeing my friend dance with his infant daugher (she’ll be a year in October) when we invited all the fathers and daughters to dance while my dad and I were dancing together. We did have one hiccup however, with a coworker who rsvp’d for his entire family. I had a quick phone call to clarify the issue and while awkward on my end, there were no hurt feelings and coworker and wife seemed to have a great time without their children.

There was also a hiccup with the rsvp cards and seating chart when an rsvp came back from my husband’s aunt and uncle listing that there were 6 people attending. We had invited the aunt and uncle, their three adult daughters (with husband/fiance/boyfriend) and one of the adult daughter’s daughter all on separate invitations (4 invitations in total). It took several phone calls and texts on the part of my mother-in-law to finally figure out who were the 6 people attending from their family. And in the end, only 4 people from their family attended!


Sara September 6, 2013 at 4:13 pm

I would NEVER assume, unless her name was specifically listed on the invitation, that my daughter was included in a wedding invite. And I wouldn’t think twice about it if I got a wedding invitation addressed only to me and my husband.


JamieC0403 September 6, 2013 at 7:56 pm

I have yet to be invited to a wedding where children aren’t invited – thankfully. My husband is in the military so if a family member, or friend we’re close enough to to travel for the wedding, is getting married its going to necessitate travel, in which case the only people who we’d trust to watch the kid are all at the wedding themselves.

My cousin recently got married and I had to check to make sure they were inviting children, since the invitation was only addresses to me and my husband. We wouldn’t have brought our son if he wasn’t invited; but if he wasn’t invited we wouldn’t have been able to attend.


VoteGilligan September 6, 2013 at 10:56 pm

It is fine to say, “Due to space limitations, we cannot accommodate children we do not know.”

Of course, our wedding has a grand total of 120 people…and 27 are children. We’re just a big bowl of “bring all the kids!”


Angel September 7, 2013 at 10:21 am

I think you’ll find that the majority of invitees will not assume that their kids are invited too. But there’s always a few that will assume. So I would just go by word of mouth–and drop hints big time, like, the venue is small, we have just enough space for x amount of people, it will probably go on late, etc., etc. Unless the person is totally clueless, or just a complete a-hole, they are not going to question you on it. And if a person is that clueless I would re-think inviting them altogether.

I am a big fan of table seating, having a seating chart and planning ahead. I don’t know that I’ve ever been to a wedding with open seating, even the most casual affairs have always had a chart. I even did a seating chart at my daughter’s communion party. Some people did not follow it but most people were okay.


Jocelyn September 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm

I’d like to speak up on behalf of the usher’s lady friend. The last wedding I attended, I had emailed with the bride to let her know I’d be there, she’d replied- and yet, when I got there, my name wasn’t on the seating chart anywhere. One of the bride’s aunts happened to see me staring at the chart, asked if she could help, and I told her that I’d emailed my RSVP to the bride. She hurried away, and next thing I knew, the bride’s mother came and apologized, saying that of COURSE I should stay. They found me a seat at a table of single women and although I knew none of them, we were able to find common ground in how we each knew the bride, and had an enjoyable dinner and a lot of fun watching the dancing. It is entirely possible that either the groom or the bride OK’d the usher bringing a guest…but the name didn’t make it all the way to the person making the seating chart. And if they didn’t, it was beyond tacky for them to circulate a film showing her moment of embarrassment as revenge.
I think that the comments should not refer to the guests’ age. Just saying, ‘Due to space limitations, we cannot accommodate guests beyond those we have invited by name.’ Because really, you wouldn’t want a married couple to bring their in-laws who are visiting, would you? I mean, too many is too many, regardless of their ages.


admin September 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm

I created the seating chart and there was no mistake. Due to space limitations we did not invite casual girl/boyfriends of guests. And I have the video and it was not circulated anywhere.


ImpossibleGirl September 7, 2013 at 4:11 pm

My twenty-something cousin recently got married, and I believe on the reception information card down at the bottom was a small line that simply read “Reception Adults Only”. Short, sweet and to the point. I don’t believe in dropping hints or using word of mouth. Neither was I offended, though I don’t have children. The reception was definitely not oriented towards small children, with plenty of alcohol and loud music. A good time was had by all.

When I get married (God willing), I plan to use similar invitation location/phrasing. Admin, you’re always advocating a polite spine; at weddings, the best time to use it is far in advance.


kingsrings September 9, 2013 at 7:02 pm

I’m wondering why having it stated on the reception invite is considered offensive, wrong, or insulting? I don’t get it. My mother’s friend’s daughter had an adult-only reception, and they included that on the invite. It was accompanied by an explanation of how the venue didn’t allow children at such events, and how they were so sorry for any inconvenience. I don’t know if that was really true or not, or if they were simply taking the easy way out.


Kathleen September 10, 2013 at 8:03 pm

There will always be the odd crasher at a wedding, but I agree with keeping an eye on the RSVP’s and following up with any that include more guests than expected. I have also heard people complain that children are not included when family kids are, but that’s the reality of weddings. You cannot accommodate everyone. One thing that is good to do to not increase child tension is to make sure that of the younger children who ARE invited, someone sober is responsible for getting them home before the overtired, whining stage. (I completely agree with limiting child attendance at weddings–nothing worse than parents getting ripped at a wedding while their kids are running amok, then thinking they’re okay to drive them home.) Best wishes on your special day!


Hanna September 15, 2013 at 9:17 am

I wondered how to handle this with my own wedding as well, given that I had 5 nieces and many, many close family friends who had children. I did not want any children there except my nieces, but writing “Mr. & Mrs. Smith” seemed to work for us. Surprisingly, no one brought their children. Now that I think of it, I may or may not have put “Adult Reception” at the very bottom of the invite.

There are some people who are very sensitive about their children. I have one sister who thinks her daughter is God’s gift to all people and “Why wouldn’t you *want* her there?!” while my other sister usually never bring her girls to events because she likes to have adult time, and if she can’t find a sitter, she stays home.

I’ve found out the hard way that a lot of people are sensitive about their children though. For a baby shower I was co-hosting, we invited the mother-to-be’s close co-worker/friend, and also invited her 18-year old daughter who was living at home, and engaged to mother-to-be’s BIL. The woman also had a 10-year old daughter. On the invite, it was specifically, “Jane and Sue Doe,” leaving off her younger daughter. She, however, did not appreciate that her 10-year old was not invited, so she did not attend and didn’t let her eldest daughter attend for the same reason. And you know, you may have people like that, but you just have to brush it off and let them deal with their own insecurities.

I would put “The adult reception…” or “Adults Only” on the invite. I hope that’s not an etiquette faux pas, but it seemed to really work for us!


insertclevername January 31, 2014 at 3:59 am

I would be offended as well. You invited one of hee children but not the other. Regardless of age, this can lead to massive sibling tension and should never be done, regardless of age.


insertclevername January 31, 2014 at 3:59 am

And eliminate one of the regardless of ages.


Kellie September 15, 2013 at 9:22 am

We had many more issues with ADULTS inviting plus 1’s, than we did people bringing along their [uninvited] children. Still, to this day, 1 year after our wedding, it still irks me how one of my MIL’s friends (who we didn’t know well to begin with, but MIL insisted be invited) insisted on bringing her boyfriend along, who my husband and I had never met. I even specifically put on the invite, “Jane Doe.” MIL’s friend calls my MIL up and says, “It only has my name on the invite. Is it still ok to bring John?” MIL says, “Oh yes, I’m sure that was just a mistake, they probably meant to put his name but probably just didn’t know what it was.” WHAT.

No children came with their parents.


Heather October 2, 2013 at 7:53 pm

When I got married, I had children in the wedding party (my nieces)… but then was firm that there were no children for the reception. I had my sister-in-law ask a friend (who got paid) to be babysitter for any guests who would have trouble with getting their own babysitter. This was all mentioned and arranged beforehand. It even worked out that the church and reception were both quite close to the home of a friend who was breastfeeding… so she simply left the proceedings once or twice to take care of that and came back. It was perfect. But it’s true that everyone cooperated.


Aerrigad August 5, 2014 at 3:16 pm

My invitations specifically stated “Adult reception to follow”, but I ended up with two different sets of children at my wedding.

The one friend assumed her 3-year-old son was included because she went everywhere with him, even though the invitation was addressed to just her by name.

My soon-to-be BIL and SIL brought all three of their children, because “of course we didn’t mean them!”


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