When Your Children Aren't Named on the Wedding Invitation

Kids Are Not Always Invited to Weddings

Children attending wedding

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You've eagerly opened the wedding invitation that arrived in the mail, only to discover that it's adults only. But you have children.

Or the invitation doesn't specifically state that your children are invited. There's only room on the RSVP card for you and your significant other. Now you're not sure what to do.

Children are not always invited to weddings. It's one of the many wedding planning decisions that can be difficult for the couple to make and a little awkward for guests. As a parent, you might be wondering whether your kids are invited and what your options are if they cannot attend with you. Fortunately, there are some simple ways that you can manage this situation in an appropriate manner.

Kid-Free Weddings

Managing the guest list does take a lot of work, so it's possible that children of the guests may be overlooked in the process. In other cases, the couple may have limited space and resources or prefer a kid-free wedding. It is typically not meant to offend guests with children but is simply a preference they have for their big day.

It's also possible that a couple may choose to not invite children to either the ceremony or the reception, but they may attend the other. In these cases, they may have arrangements set up for childcare during the adults-only part of the day.

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 invitation will traditionally only name the parents of the family. Check the inner envelope to see if your children are named there or if it say "and family". Some couples also explain in the invitation that they prefer children not to attend. If you don't see these, then you 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 childcare arrangements. 

In some cases, you might not be comfortable asking if children are invited. Don't make a big deal about 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's 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 either decline the invitation or leave the kids 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 arranged a babysitter for families like yours 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. It's a good idea to spend some time in the weeks before the event teaching and practicing proper behavior.

There are a few basic etiquette rules you can follow when your children attend a wedding:

  • 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 a few simple activities that will keep your child entertained. This should be something quiet such as 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 but yours weren't invited, do not be offended. The couple may have decided to only allow the children in their immediate or close family to attend.
  • Bring a small snack if your child is a picky eater. You don't want them 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. This gives the adults a chance to dance, have conversations, or just get away for a few minutes.

    Honor the Bride and Groom

    When you are invited to a wedding but your children are not, don't be offended. Show grace and poise by respecting the bride and groom's decision. Remember that it's not personal. It's simply a decision based on their circumstances.

    Edited by Debby Mayne