When Your Children Aren't Named on the Wedding Invitation

Children attending wedding
  Lumi Images/Secen-Steets / Getty Images

When people plan their wedding, some of the most labor-intensive tasks are making the guest list, sending the invitations, and managing the RSVPs. In the process, children of the guests may be overlooked. In other cases, some people have limited space and resources or prefer a kid-free wedding. They may choose to not have children invited to the ceremony or reception.

Wedding Etiquette

Quite often couples are choosing to have more elaborate and therefore costly wedding ceremonies and receptions. Many families find that their children have not been invited to these events and have questions about how to handle the invite. The outer envelope of a formal envelope will traditionally only name the parents of the family. Check the inner envelope to see if perhaps your children are named there. If they are not, then you may still have a few options.

If you feel close enough and are comfortable with the bride or groom, you could check with them or their parents. First, determine if perhaps the couple has made the decision to not invite children to the wedding. If this is the case, you should simply make the decision to either attend or not based on your personal child care arrangements. 

You might not be comfortable asking if your children are included in the invitation. Don't make a big deal of your decision. Simply send the RSVP letting the couple know whether or not you can attend, but assume that your children are not invited. In general, most couples put a lot of time into their guest list. If your children were not included on the invitation, it is probably best that you do not take them to the wedding.

Out of Town Weddings

If you are invited to an out-of-town wedding and your children were not, you do have some options. You can leave them home with childcare. If that's not an option or you want the whole family to travel to the wedding destination, it's perfectly acceptable to reach out to the bride and groom (or the hosting family) to ask about childcare options. They may have a babysitting option or know of someone who can watch your children during the ceremony and reception.

Children's Behavior

One of the main reasons people may not invite children to their wedding is that they don't want to be disrupted during one of the most important days of their lives. If you bring your children, you need to make sure they understand proper etiquette. If you haven't already done this, spend some time in the weeks before the event teaching and practicing proper behavior.

Some basic rules on children attending weddings include:

  • When you bring your children to a wedding, you are the one responsible for their behavior. Don't expect anyone in the wedding party to watch them for you.
  • Bring some simple activity that will keep your child entertained. This should be something quiet, like a coloring book, self-contained puzzle, or picture book.
  • Don't allow your children to be involved in the bridal bouquet toss or the garter toss. This is for the adults.
  • Know where your children are at all times. Chances are, there will be quite a few strangers there, and this can make the situation uncomfortable and awkward if you lose track of your kids.
  • If you see that there are some children who are there, but yours weren't invited, the bride and groom may have a policy of only allowing the children in the family to attend.
  • Bring a small snack if your child is a picky eater. You don't want your child throwing a temper tantrum because they are hungry but doesn't like what's being served.
  • If there are other families with children, offer to take turns watching the little ones so the adults can dance, have conversations, or just be able to get away for a few minutes.