Children at Your Wedding | To Invite or Not to Invite?

Welcome to part III of my etiquette series where we’re exploring the oh-so-fun questions of what the heck do we do with X?   If you’re curious about Wedding Mailings or Envelope Addressing, be sure to check out my two previous posts here and here.  Today’s question is what to do about children?  The two options are to invite them and make plans so they’ll have fun too or don’t invite them.  Let’s talk about both!

Don’t Invite Them

The only appropriate way to exclude children from a wedding is to have an inner and outer envelope with your invitation suite to signify that children are not invited.  Before you even ask it out loud, it is a big, major etiquette no-no to write, “no children please” anywhere on your invitations. Don’t even think about it!

So how do inner and outer envelopes work? Remember Suzy and John Smith from yesterday’s blog post?  Their children’s names are Sally and John Jr.  If you want Sally and John Jr. to stay home during your wedding, the outer envelope would be addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.   Inside the envelope it would list, Mr. and Mrs. Smith.  This scenario very clearly states that Sally and John Jr. are not invited.  When the Smiths reply they should reply for 2 people, John and Suzy.  If for any reason, they mistakenly send their RSVP card back with John Jr and Sally's name listed, it is acceptable for you to call them and say, “Hi John and Suzy, I just received your RSVP and we’re so delighted to hear back from you.  I did notice you sent in an RSVP for John Jr. and Sally.  I am so sorry to inform you but we have not made arrangements for children at our wedding. Our meal and entertainment is geared towards adults only and I know John Jr. and Sally probably wouldn’t enjoy themselves.  I hope you are still able to attend, as we would love to celebrate with you two.”  Even if someone isn’t well versed in etiquette, an inner and outer envelope displays a level of sophistication that typically helps identify a wedding as a bit more formal and not as “kid friendly” just by nature of the traditional 2 envelopes. 

Invite Them

Let’s say you would love for kiddos to come to your wedding!  You can still have both inner and outer envelopes if you would like, but it is not a requirement as it is in the scenario in which you wish to exclude children.  If you use an inner and outer, here is what it would look like for our favorite family.  The outer envelope would be addressed to Mr. and Mrs. John Smith.  Children are listed under parents on the inner envelope, in birth order with first names only.  The inner envelope would be addressed to:

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Sally, John Jr

If you want to invite children, but don’t want to incur the added expense of an inner and outer envelope, you can simply invite “The Smith Family.” In this scenario, we recommend adding a line to your RSVP card to allow guests to indicate the total number of guests attending so you’ll know if the kiddos are coming or not.

Perry Vaile Photography

Perry Vaile Photography

Having kids at a wedding can add a source of entertainment, laughter and lightheartedness for all!  Children can get the party started on the dance floor early (sans alcohol) and make pretty darn cute additions to any wedding party.  We recommend making plans to make them feel special, such as providing a meal appropriate for their age, and having a small appropriate gift such as toy soldier or doll.  In certain circumstances, it can be helpful to have a small room just for kiddos with coloring books, movies and kid-approved lounge furniture!  As adults, most of us can still remember being the kid at a wedding, so before you say "no kids", you may just want to reconsider what your wedding may be like if you let the little ones come!

Next week we’re talking china, glassware, and flatware- oh my!  As thrilling as setting a table sounds, you won’t want to miss it!

Have an etiquette topic you’d like me to cover? Feel free to send us an email or leave a comment below.  Until next week…

BK