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Q: My best friend is about to be married. She has asked me how she can word on the invitations "no children please" without hurting people's feelings or making them angry. This is her first wedding and she wants everything to be perfect, and is very concerned that with children present there will be cryi... read more

Q: My best friend is about to be married. She has asked me how she can word on the invitations “no children please” without hurting people’s feelings or making them angry. This is her first wedding and she wants everything to be perfect, and is very concerned that with children present there will be crying and such. I have searched through numerous sites online searching for an answer for her and have been unable to find anything that addresses this issue. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated.

A: Your friend is right to be concerned about children at the wedding. Most weddings are not geared for children. The weddings are simply too late and boring for kids. In addition, the parents can hardly enjoy themselves if they must keep an eye on their little ones. There are actually a number of things your friend should do.

  • The first is to hold the wedding in the evening. This is the first signal that it is not the appropriate place for children.
  • The second is to clearly address the invitations. If the children’s names are not listed on the envelopes, they are not invited to the affair.
  • The third is to include the words “adult reception to follow” on the invitation. This, of course, would only be done if children were permitted in the back of the ceremony.
  • The fourth is to “touch base” with those guests with children who make lack social savvy and could potentially make the horrid mistake of arriving with a child in tow. About two weeks before the wedding, the bride, her mother or her future mother-in-law would call the guest and say “Susie we are just so glad you are going to be coming to the wedding. It has been forever since we saw you last. Oh, please be sure to bring pictures of dear little Dorothy. We can not wait to see how she has grown! I hope you did not have any trouble finding a sitter for the night.”

These signals should be enough indication that the wedding is for adults only.

Jodi R. R. Smith is a nationally known etiquette expert and author. She is the president of Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting. You are invited to email her your etiquette emergencies at Salem@Mannersmith.com

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