Inviting Parents To A Child-free Wedding

child-free wedding

Next weekend I’m babysitting a friends kids (and actually her nephew as well) because they’ve been invited to a wedding where children were not included on the invitation for the reception.

Which did lead to a little bit of discussion and light debate around the school-gate last week over the question: Is it okay to invite parents to a child-free wedding?

With a bit of a groan and a shrug I say “Yes. Yes it is.”

It’s their wedding. It’s their day.

I’m getting to an age where I’ve seen a lot of friends get married and the two things that seem to stress people out more than anything else when it comes to planning a wedding is 1) the budget and 2) other people (usually family) trying to run the show and tell them how a wedding should and shouldn’t be.

Without going full bridezilla, a wedding is about the bride and groom. It’s about them planning their big day however it is that they want it to be.

And if children don’t fit that picture, then so be it.

BUT – and this is a pretty big BUT – if the couple plan a child-free wedding and then invite people who are parents then I think they have to graciously accept that their invitations may be declined.

It’s a two way street:

You aren’t obligated to invite anyone you don’t want to.  Nobody is obligated to come.

Doesn’t that seems fair?

Nobody Is Obligated To Attend

I know it would be upsetting if it’s family, or close friends, or someone you really really really wanted to come isn’t able to, but some parents don’t have anyone to look after their kids (especially if it’s a family wedding and so all the people they’d usually ask are attending the wedding themselves – hence – looking after my friends kids so she can go!) Some parents can’t afford a sitter. Some parents plain don’t want to leave their kids at home. Whatever it is – that’s up to them.

Also, as much as it might seem like an injustice – even if you planned a child-friendly wedding and people brought their children, who then later got married themselves, and didn’t invite your children in return…. it’s still their wedding…it’s still their day…

I’ve been to weddings where children were welcome and involved in the whole day. I’ve been to weddings where children were welcome at the ceremony, but not the reception. I’ve been to weddings where only the children closest to the bride and groom were invited. I’ve also not been invited to a cousins wedding because I was 15, which was not considered adult, and so I was not invited.

Children – as much as we love their dearly, especially our own – do change the dynamic of a social event. If that doesn’t fit what the bride and groom have envisaged for their wedding….Say it with me once more with feeling:

It’s their wedding. It’s their day.

And while it’s totally understandable to be upset you’re unable to attend, or disappointed that a guest you were looking forward to seeing declined the invitation, it would be a shame to shun family or lose friends over what is essentially one day (albeit a very important one for the people actually getting married) of your life. 

Have you been to or planned a child-free wedding? How did it go down? 

Rachel Stewart

Rachel is the founder of Parenting Central. She is raising two children, boy and girl, with her partner. Rachel is obsessed prams, car seats, carriers and all things baby. She has worked in the baby industry for several years, for both suppliers and also in a retail setting and has developed a passion for connecting parents with the right products to make their lives easier. When Rachel isn't playing with prams she's enjoys crocheting, drinking coffee (sometimes wine) and spending a little too much time on Facebook.


  1. Of course it ok. But i am definitely one who would allow newborns/bf babies under 1 to come.

    But kids not only cost $$ for food and then possibly entertainment, many of the parents i invited to our wedding were happy if not EXCITED to have a night out kid free night. But notice is required. Let parents know with the save the date cards, which would normally give at least 4-5months notice to find babysitters etc 🙂

    1. Thats very true. I’ve been invited to a wedding next year, invitations havent been sent yet, but I’ve had the heads up already that it’s preferable that there be no children at the reception. So I’ve been able to pencil in a babysitter.

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