Couples share their stories.
kids with wedding signs
Credit: Elizabeth Messina

Creating a wedding guest list is hard. Do you go the more the merrier route, or strictly enforce a no-kids policy? To help you decide, we sought advice from couples who did and didn't include little guests, and a planner who's seen it all.

We did...without a babysitter.

"We initially decided no kids except flower girls and the ring bearer, but ended up stretching the list for those who otherwise couldn't come," says Michelle Reigle. "I don't think anyone noticed them running around-I definitely didn't, anyway! The kids were well-behaved during the ceremony, and at the reception they had their own table and mostly kept to themselves, playing yard games outside. One of my nieces wanted to dance with me all night, which was so special."

We did...with a babysitter.

"We let each family decide if they wanted to bring children along," says Leigh Crandall. "Our planner recommended a babysitting service, which we hired for our venue. That way, parents could check on kids during the reception and the babysitter was close by. The kids actually gravitated toward one another, so they wanted to be with the sitter instead of the adults. Everyone was able to enjoy the party, and I think the kids had a great time, too!"

We didn't.

"We decided not to invite children, with the one exception of my 4-month-old niece," says Rachel Gantz. "One of the reasons we made the decision was based on my experiences at weddings where kids distracted other guests and caused parents to stress over keeping their children quiet. We let our guests know by addressing the invitations to parents only, and we made it a blanket rule to avoid any hurt feelings. We had an evening reception, so in many ways it ended up being nice for our friends with young kids to have a chance to enjoy themselves."

A planner says...

"Discuss it as you're shaping the vision for your event, then stay consistent rather than excluding some children but not all," says planner Stefanie Miles of Stefanie Miles Events. "If you exclude kids, address the invitation appropriately, and consider a follow-up call to communicate your reasoning (for example, you're having a formal sit-down dinner) and smooth over any disappointment. If you include kids, consider providing child care or seating them in a special space. Incorporate details that will create a fun experience (a separate play space, an activity at their seats, a creative meal designed just for them) and make them feel special, too."


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