We can't have child-free weddings, can we? Suppose we are being honest for a moment. In that case, not EVERYONE likes kids, especially other peoples, or wants them running at their wedding. Those cute little acts they get up to and their parents find adorable can quickly drive others up the wall.
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Below we will help you decide if a child-free wedding is really for you and, if so, how best to navigate this sensitive subject.
Aren't They Automatically Invited?
Many couples will naturally assume that if you are inviting a couple, then that invite will automatically be extended to their children. It is evident, right? However, you can't invite someone to your wedding and ask them to leave their little loved ones at home. It's not the "polite" thing to do!
Suppose you have children (these should be invited). In that case, you will understand that even leaving the house with little ones can feel like a complex military operation. If you don't have children, Michael McIntyre described the typical routine very well:
Rambunctious toddlers running around can be difficult in an empty room with nothing and no one to run into. However, most would give Houdini a run for his money in rooms filled with people and furniture!
They can also be impossible to control or predict. Some of my favourite moments have come from children piping up mid-ceremony with unrelated questions. Yet few of us relish the idea of our vows being interrupted by a crying baby. A sound that is known for its magical ability to kill ALL romance!
If you dream of a relaxed and romantic day for your wedding, then you may have at least considered a child-free wedding.
I Don't Want To Seem Selfish!
The main obstacle to planning a child-free wedding is the parents. Most toddlers and children aren't going to be offended to find out they haven't been invited. In fact, sitting still, staying quiet and behaving is the least fun thing you can ask them to do.
Don't be surprised, however, if some parents act as if you have suggested putting their children up for adoption or even worse. Unfortunately, some still see the idea of "adults only" invites as rude or selfish. Some may go as far as being insulated by the fact you don't want their children to attend, as if it is a personal slight against them. You may also find that some parents decline your invitation entirely.
Below we will take an in-depth look at the advantages and disadvantages of hosting an adults-only wedding. We will also take a closer look at how to avoid being labelled as selfish and be polite and respectful to your potential guest with children.
Child-Free Weddings The Advantages
There are plenty of reasons child-free weddings have become increasingly popular. Below we have listed the five main reasons couples choose to say "no" to kids on their wedding day. Below we discuss each of these in more detail.
1. No Interruptions To Your Ceremony
We LOVE our kids, but there is no escaping that, at least when they were younger, they had a fantastic ability to be annoying! Unfortunately, unpredictability doesn't sum up the ability of any child's moods to swing instantly from giggling and happy to screaming and shouting.
Most of us have difficulty regulating our emotions even as adults, and this is supper amplified in little ones. For example, a few wedding ceremonies are improved by screaming and shouting, no matter if it is due to pure excitement or frustration. Children rarely can comprehend the importance of a moment such as your wedding ceremony; furthermore, they get bored quickly!
We can't say how the rest of your guests will behave, but by not inviting children to your wedding, you remove the risk of shrieking toddlers and crying babies. These are especially noticeable during all those poignant moments, such as wedding vows and speeches. If you are having your wedding videoed, be aware these noises are likely to be recorded as well! Keeping children well entertained during the wedding breakfast is also a struggle. Adult guest will be more than happy to spend a few hours enjoying the lovely free meal you have provided, children are unlikely to be so grateful. Not having kids at the wedding breakfast will make it far more relaxed for everyone.
If children aren't central to you and your life, your day will likely feel far more relaxed and romantic without them.
2. You & Your Guest Can Let Your Hair Down
As parents, we can confirm that it's impossible to truly let your hair down and have fun with the kids in tow. Today they are old enough to look after themselves, but when they were younger, one of us was always in 'Mummy Mode' or 'Daddy Mode' at events.
Attending events without them meant we could both relax and enjoy ourselves more (sorry, kids, but we still love you!).
If no one is worrying about where the kids are, what they are doing, who they are with etc., everyone is more relaxed. Without kids to keep an eye on, no one has to worry about who is and isn't drinking (one of you is always sober designated). There are no juggling nap times to try and match events (they never do), and no one missing while comforting a screaming toddler.
In short, every one of your invited parents will be able to have a night off from being mum and dad and let their hair down.
3. You Can Invite More Friends
This one is easy to overlook, but if you extend your invites to include children, you will likely need to invite fewer adult guests.
Unless you have an unlimited wedding budget, the number of guests you can invite will be limited by both your venue and budget. That makes sense.
When we sit down to write our wedding guest list, we typically start with the maximum number of guests we can/want to invite. We will then split this (almost) equally so that we can each include our friends and family.
So let us look at this based on the average UK wedding size of 80-day time guests. Each of you can invite 40 guests or 20 if everyone is bringing a partner or plus one. Simple enough! Things get more complicated, however, if we now extend the numbers to include children.
Today the UK average number of children per family1.7, but only some couples have children can, so we can use 40% as an approximate number.
The above numbers have been rounded up to the closest whole child.
Above, you can see the impact of inviting children to your wedding on numbers and why you might need to cut back your guest list considerably.
While children are smaller than adults, and catering is typically cheaper, they still take up a seat at a table. So if you have a formal wedding breakfast, they will need to be accounted for. If your venue has a maximum capacity of 100 sit-down guests, then 34 seats placed could be taken by children.
By asking your wedding guest not to bring their children, you can invite many more guests.
4. Save Money
As we have already discussed, the attention span of most children is limited. So no matter how pretty they find the dress or how vital their role is, they will get bored or become distracted at some point.
Keeping children entertained and thus well-behaved can be a full-time job. This is why many couples choose some form of children's entertainment. This can be anything from as simple as colouring books to a room full of toys or even hiring children's entertainment. During the summer months, many couples may also consider outdoor activities. Often these include garden games or even a bouncy castle, although good luck keeping the adults off these!
Each of these ideas is an additional cost that will need to be paid. On top of this, your younger guest will also need to be fed, which while less expensive than an adult's meal, still all adds up!
Saying no to kids at your wedding is a quick and effective way to cut back costs. You can put extra money towards other priorities to make your day as magical as you dreamed.
Those of you with children will be well aware of the lengths we go to childproof our homes. Everything is padded, plugged, locked and secured, and still, we feel anxious that we missed something.
Now, try to remember the last wedding you saw or attended. Tables decorated with glass ornaments, plenty of candles, sharp knives, china tableware and glasses EVERYWHERE! If it were our own home, we would run around panicking and locking EVERYTHING away.
Additionally, many wedding venues were not conceived with child safety. While we can all expect that everything has been done by our venue to minimise risks, to minimise and to eliminate are two very different things. Many of the UK's favourite wedding venues were not originally designed to be child-safe or family-friendly. Many more were built before rules and regulations regarding health and safety had even been considered.
Picturesque lakes and ornamental ponds look amazing and may make the perfect backdrop to your wedding. Still, they aren't the safest feature for little ones. Steep steps and loose ground may be perfect for that country house vibe, but less fun if you are still learning to walk. In addition, some venues are simply not suitable for children. You may even find that children are simply not allowed at specific venues due to insurance issues.
Unless you are planning a dry wedding, alcohol is another genuine consideration. Even for the most disciplined and sober parents, briefly losing sight of the little one at a wedding is more certainty than a hazard. It is almost inevitable that a high-speed knee-high toddler will eventually be knocked by a distracted adult. Once drinking starts, small kids mixing with drunk and disorderly adults is genuinely a recipe for trouble.
Child-Free Weddings Disadvantages
Above, we have discussed the advantages of planning a child-free wedding, but before you jump in, let's discuss the downsides. First, most of the children we consider excluding in a child-free wedding will be too young to realise, so most of these relate to guest feelings.
1. Offending Guests
Offending friends, family and loved ones is by far the most significant risk of banning children from your wedding. Unfortunately, without proper communication, some parents may interpret this as a direct attack on them, their children or their parenting.
It is not uncommon for an adults-only wedding to have some children in attendance. As a result, younger family members often take page boys and flower girl roles. However, we have photographed flower men before now!
Typically it is here and where the lines between who has and hasn't been invited that can cause the most offence.
Many of your parenting friends and family will thoroughly understand your decision to have a child-free wedding. Some may even actually appreciate the night off. It is likely, however, that others may need to be more understanding.
If you are planning an adults-only wedding, it is best to have any awkward conversations before the invites go out. Speak to your friend and family affected, and explain how and why you have made your decision. If you plan on inviting children other than theirs, be upfront about this.
These are unlikely to be comfortable conversations but don't feel pressured into changing your mind, and you will be glad to have had them early.
2. More Invitations Declined
10% to 20% of the guest you invite will decline your wedding invitation. This is not any time of slight; sometimes, life simply gets in the way. However, if you're planning a child-free wedding, you can expect this number to increase significantly!
Here are three reasons why:
- Parents may decline on principle - they are insulted that their children aren't invited.
- Breastfeeding mothers may not be able to spend all day apart from their children, especially if breastfeeding exclusively.
- Childcare can be expensive! Furthermore, if you don't already have an arrangement, leaving your child with someone else for the first time can make you nervous.
Guests already travelling to your wedding will plenty of additional costs to consider. While close friends and family may be happy to cover this expense as part of your day, adding further complexity may make it impossible. For example, it may be too expensive if they can't bring their children and need to arrange a longer time for child care attending your wedding. Even if cost isn't a consideration, leaving their child or children with someone else for more than a few hours may not be an option.
3. Increased No-Shows
While having your invite declined may be disappointing, a no-show can seriously harm friendships. A no-show means your guest responded to your RSVP but failed to attend. It is a reserved place and a meal you have paid for, so no surprise no-shows easily can cause arguments.
Obviously, no-shows are a risk at any wedding. Still, when they happen, there is usually a valid reason. Parents face additional challenges every time they plan to leave the house. Unfortunately, these challenges don't disappear because you aren't taking your children with you. Children's sickness & childcare issues can all scupper the best-made plans, even at the very last minute.
4. Being Considered Selfish
While adult-only and child-free weddings have been increasing in popularity, they still split opinions. Couples choosing child-free weddings can still be considered selfish, as extreme as that may sound! Asking your loved ones to pay for childcare or leave them with relatives can be perceived as being rude. For many, weddings are still considered family occasions, one of the rare opportunities for the entire family to get together and celebrate. Banishing a whole generation can be seen as unfair and self-centred.
What if you are part of a large family where these events usually are more family-orientated, but you are dreaming of a child-free wedding?
Consider organising a more relaxed family get-together separate from your wedding.
At the end of the day, this is your wedding. Who you do and do not invite is entirely up to you. Close friends and family are most likely to support and embrace your decision, whatever they are. Being judged as selfish by others is only going to be a problem if it is something you deeply care about.
How To Avoid Causing Offence?
Your wedding day is about you as a couple, and who you invite is entirely up to you. You likely have already weight the pros and cons before deciding what works for you. If a child-free wedding is something important to you, then it isn't something you should feel guilty about.
It is doubtful, however, that your intended goal is to set out to offend anyone. Starting married life in the wake of ruined friendships and severed family ties isn't anyone's idea of the perfect start to a marriage. Fortunately, there are several ways to soften the blow of a child-free wedding while still getting what you want.
- Communication is vital - Phone close friends and family with children and tell them in person. It is much harder to get angry with someone in person than with something they have written. Be polite, ask them to understand your reasons, but be sympathetic to their concerns.
- Avoid writing "adults only" or "no kids" - Pointing out "no children" are invited is only likely to cause people to be offended. Instead, write your invites in a way that clarifies who is and isn't invited by using their names. For example, Matthew & Julia rather than the Fitzpatrick Family.
- Use subtle reinforcement - If you write your invites correctly, you have already started this. Still, you can reinforce this by highlighting the number of seats reserved on their RSVP.
- Offer an olive branch - Childcare can be a real issue for some of the guests you want at your wedding. If this is the case, consider hiring (and paying for) an on-site babysitter or mobile Crèche. We have listed just a few we have found below.
- Cheshire Mobile Creche
- The Wedding Childcare Company
- All Events Childcare
- The Wedding Childcare Company
- Freckles Childcare
- Plan a family reunion/celebration - Planning another separate party while already planning your wedding may seem the very definition of insanity! Offering to organise a family reunion at a later date, however, can soften the "no children" blow.
Whatever you decide, remember this is your wedding and stick to your guns. Stand firm on whatever decision you have come to, and don't let guests try and talk into letting their kids come. Allowing some guest to bring their children but not others is guaranteed to cause drama.
Kids at a wedding can be fantastic! As both wedding photographers & parents, we love photographing them and their crazy behaviour. Just because they are so much fun to photograph. However, this doesn't always mean they are a great addition to your wedding.
Choosing to include children in your wedding should be a personal decision. If you are dreaming of a romantic, relaxed & intimate wedding day. Filled with high-end elegance and sophistication, children may not be the best guest. On the other hand, if you are picturing a festival wedding. Full of casual food, loud music and entertainment, having everyone with you, no matter their age, may be ideal.
There is no right or wrong answer, only what is right or wrong for you as a couple. For example, suppose your only invite other people's children to make them happy. Is this going to negatively impact how you feel about your day?
Children are typically highly unpredictable. This unexpected nature makes it a joy to photograph them at weddings, but it can also be disruptive. They rarely behave how wanted and are unlikely to want to participate in group photos. This is why we encourage parents not to try and force them to participate. Instead, let us capture them naturally, having fun.
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