Sunny Plans: Adult Only Wedding Etiquette Rules
How to gently break it to guests with kids that you’re having an adults only wedding withouth making frenemies.
So, you’ve decided to have an adults-only wedding and reception. Ignore that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach; you are not a soulless! A lot of couples are choosing more and more to have kid-free weddings. In fact, you may find that some of your guests would love an excuse to take an adults-only vacation and have a list of babysitters on hand. So how do you break it to your friends and family with little ones that your wedding is “for adults only?” The decision to label your festivities “18 and over” means you have to be gentle (but firm) with your guests; it’s simple if you follow these rules:
Rule No. 1 – It’s not a good idea to include the words “adults only wedding” on your destination wedding invites. Aside from making your invites sound like an invitation to an X-rated party, it comes off sounding very bridezilla-ish. Children are a sensitive topic for parents and seeing “hey, NO KIDS and I MEAN IT!” on invitations makes them feel as if they’re being punished for having children. So just how do you communicate this delicate topic to your guests? Rule No. 2.
Rule No. 2 – State the number of people and their names on your invitations and response cards clearly. If “Mr. and Mrs. Johnson” doesn’t convey the message clearly, the RSVP 2 already labelled out on the reception card should. However if you get an RSVP back and the person has crossed out your 2 and written over your three or four; then you know you’ll have to call them up personally and be honest (this could even be a job for your maid-of-honor or mother-of-the-bride). Be prepared for some “not-so-subtle” hostility but be firm. “Aunt Marge I really do want you to be there but we’d really like to keep it adults only. You know I love little Rebecca and Henry but wouldn’t you and Uncle Simon love some alone time on an exotic island?”
Rule No. 3 – Make it seem like more of a sophisticated affair rather than a “leave your screaming brat at home” affair. If you decide to call up your parenting guests, hint towards your idea of making this reception a place where adults can have a few cocktails and reminisce with other adults. You know there will be alcohol, a few cheeky jokes thrown around, possibly cigar smoking and a best man who wants to really let loose with his material. Tell your guests slow dances will be all for them and the romance doesn’t have to end with the bride and groom!
Rule No. 4 -Blame it on the budget! If all else fails, don’t be afraid to call them up personally and explain that you want a small, intimate wedding and budget restraints won’t allow for children. You don’t have to dive into super personal budget details but if you feel close enough with your guests then by all means, explain away. Just remember; you do not owe it to any guest to explain how much your dress or your reception band cost.
Rule No. 5 -Make no exceptions. If you say adults-only, you have to mean adults-only. If you allow your sister and her brood to be the exception to the rule, expect other guests whose children were not allowed to stare daggers at you during the reception and feel slighted afterwards. This isn’t an issue of whose kids are more important than the others, it’s about what you and groom feel will create the environment you want for your wedding day- simple. Give everyone the same reason and hope they appreciate your honesty and position in such a delicate situation.
Don’t be afraid to be honest but do so with tact and an understanding that some guests might feel slighted about your adults only wedding. The best you can do is to remain calm and light-hearted with guests who are a little less than understanding. Never the less, it’s your wedding day and (hopefully) you’ll only have to do this once!