Family & Relationships: I Had a No Kids Allowed Wedding—This Is What Happened

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a man and a woman in a wedding dress© Alex Hodor-Lee

In my opinion, a great wedding follows the holy trinity of party: yummy food, great music and flowing alcohol. So when my fiancé and I were wedding planning, we decided our top priority was to have a great party for our guests and a custom ceremony. We also made a promise to do our very best to not get sucked into wedding incidentals like linens and table settings. And since, “Wow, your party was EPIC and the kids area was LIT,” has been said by no one ever, we opted for “no kids allowed” at our nuptials.

Now before your head explodes thinking about the blowback you’ll receive from your guests, hear me out because I have some great reasons for keeping the kids at home.

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The kids aren’t imperative to your day

I know this sounds harsh, and to be fair, we didn’t have any kids from previous relationships or with each other. If we did, I have no doubt that children would have been invited. But for us, we live in New York City, the majority of our friends don’t have children and the majority of our guests traveled a long way for a good time. We opted for a small wedding party with no flower girl or ring bearer because that tradition just didn’t speak to us. Remember, our priorities were food, music and alcohol so if it didn’t fall under one of those categories then it just didn't get our attention.

You want everyone to party

Understandably, being responsible for your kids disallows you from participating in certain liberties. Children can have dirty diapers, bedtimes, and mood swings, plus, they can be a real bummer if you’re trying to stay out late or take tequila shots. No kids means the parents can cut loose and enjoy the party you’ve set up for them. Then again, maybe it doesn’t stop them at all from partying and instead kids are left unattended. Which leads me to my next point...

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You want to avoid a playground party

Our wedding was held at the historic Allan House, built in 1883, with indoor and outdoor space. Perfect for a wedding, not perfect for unattended children. Not inviting children closed the risk of skinned knees on cobblestones and screaming adults trying to track down their kids. I remember being a kid; my little brother would constantly slide across the dance floor in his slacks. Super cute but not really the vibe I was going for.

Simplified planning and lower cost

I want to say that cost shouldn’t be an issue on your big day, but budgets are very real. Especially as you craft your guest list and kids quickly balloon that list. We couldn’t do a family-focused wedding justice, so we opted to stick with what we know: we know how to throw a party for 30-somethings so that’s what we did.

Even though we felt fully justified to omit children from our invite list, I dreaded telling our families. I was also unsure of how to tell our guests without sounding like a bratty 7th grader who only invited the cool girls to her birthday sleepover (I didn’t want to go anyway, Carmen, and no I won't let it go). To be honest, not inviting kids felt weirdly personal and I was nervous about how it would be interpreted.

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Before telling our parents, we agreed that this needed to be a hard rule of 18 and up only, so no kids and no exceptions. If you make one exception for one kid then it does become personal and frankly, rude. So we did a blanket rule and added this note to our wedding website: “We kindly ask you to leave the kids at home so you can party with us.” I know, it was so bold. But, also direct, to avoid any miscommunications.

Our parents were taken aback at first. I think they had a vision of our wedding that was filled with flower girls and ring bearers. But the reality is my fiancé and I weren't very close to any children. My soon to be brother-in-law just had a baby but he was too little. My step-sister has some beautiful kids but my fiancé had never met them so it felt strange to force tradition when it just didn’t fit.

As the RSVPs came in, not one guest called me to ask for an exception. I even had some guests call us to tell us how excited they were to leave the kids at home and have a night out. For us, it was a lot of anxiety waiting for the responses but in actuality, our guests were totally cool with it. They were still going to attend and still enjoy a night of bbq, tacos and tequila sans kids. And why wouldn’t they? In a world where parents are constantly a package deal with kids, it must have been nice for them to have a night off from, “mom, when are we leaving?” By 9:30pm they would have been slumped over the dinner table, begging their parents to take them home. And I don’t blame them, because to them it’s an oldies party.

Plus everyone drank a lot of tequila and we all did The child should see that.

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