Why we decided to have a child-free wedding – an honest bride’s story

Here’s the second part of our bride-to-be Claire’s honest & witty blog series where she tells us how stressful it is to write the guest list for her big day.

So, whilst enjoying planning our wedding, one of the hardest parts so far has been putting together the Guest List. Our gorgeous wedding reception venue has limited capacity, it was one of the reasons that we chose it. A small intimate wedding sounded just perfect.

The church we will be getting married in is a very small chapel. It was the church where my parents were married in 1984 and for sentimental reasons I’ve always wanted to get married there too. A small church and a limited capacity reception venue sounded great to us and we agreed that we would invite just close friends and family to our day.

A few months after booking our venue, my fiancé and I decided to go there for lunch and to work on our Guest List. We started of listing our close and immediate families and then began to discuss how we would fill our remaining spaces.

Since getting engaged, it has surprised me at how many people ASSUME that they will be invited to your wedding. A friend said to me the other day, “Oh Jeremy (her boyfriend of 3 months who I’ve met once and has cancelled on all our get-togethers since) has bought a new suit for your day”.

Errrrmmm, Really?! Our invitations haven’t even gone out yet and I was a bit taken by surprise that he’d already bought a suit assuming he’d definitely be invited. All I could think of at the time was “Sorry Jeremey but that was a wasted purchase” whilst smiling awkwardly at my friend, keeping my mouth shut.

Image by Chris Mann Photography
On one of our wedding-related posts on Facebook, a friend of a friend’s mother congratulated us on the engagement and then said she hoped she’d be invited to the big day.

Although it’s lovely that so many people want to be involved in our day, having a limited guest capacity means we can’t invite everyone we’ve ever met (and their mothers) and, as I am a big people pleaser, I am finding it really hard, in fact, stressful, to write our guest list to our venue’s limit. I’m terrified people will take personal offence to not being invited.

Now the shoe is on the other foot I realise that I am being a huge hypocrite. Before I was a bride-to-be, it never occurred to me that inviting people you don’t know well seems like a complete wasted space in a wedding.

A few years ago I was a bridesmaid for a really good friend. Originally my invitation was just for me, but the idea of being a single bridesmaid at a wedding was just terrifying. I begged (and I mean BEGGED) my friend to let me bring my boyfriend of 2 months to the wedding. She reluctantly agreed after a quick double date to meet him. Her argument was that she didn’t want some random man in her wedding pictures and to look back on them and think “oh that was Claire’s random ex-boyfriend, what was his name again?”. I promised he would avoid the camera like the plague.

Luckily, that random boyfriend is now the Groom in our wedding and we are so grateful to that bride for letting him come after all!

So, we decided that +1s will be allowed, even if we don’t know them that well. After all, who wants to go a wedding alone? It’s nice to have your significant other with you on a day (hopefully) full of love and happiness and romance.


What this meant was that we’d have to make cuts somewhere else in the guest list. And who else could we leave off?

There seemed only one solution. Children.

Don’t get me wrong, I love children. There’s nothing cuter than a teeny tiny flower girl in a pretty dress swirling on the dance floor way past her bed time. But with limited numbers, when we started adding in the children of our friends and relatives we suddenly had about half of our (very expensive heads) taken up by under 6s.

I’ve read A LOT of bridal magazines, online articles and blogs where children at weddings is a topic of great debate. Would our guests come if their children were not allowed? Have we made it impossible for people to RSVP until they’ve found a babysitter? And what about the children in our families, where there would be no one to look after them as all the adults in their lives are invited to the wedding?

A few years ago we went to a wedding where children were not invited. A large group of people showed up to the church with several toddlers and pushchairs in tow, clearly choosing to ignore the wishes of the Bride and Groom. Most of them screamed their way through the (very echo-y) church ceremony, much to everyone’s annoyance. The mother of the groom was shooting “death looks” behind her to the desperate fathers trying to “shhh” the screaming babies, making more noise than the actual children at some points.

With so many of our friends and family having children we decided it wouldn’t be fair to allow some children (the good, quiet ones) and not others, so we’ve opted for an all or nothing scenario and have decided to have a blanket ban on all children, family included.

Image from Bridal Musings
The hardest part now is to tell our guests that their children will not be invited. I read in one of these “children, yay or nay?” articles that guests should always assume children are NOT invited unless the child’s name is on the invitation. But I have learned so far that guests will assume whatever they want!

I have given a few of my friends, especially those involved directly with the wedding, and others who are travelling a long way, a heads-up and the response has been generally positive. Hopefully the adults are thinking that they will be able to let their hair down and have a good time without having a constant eye to make sure that their little darlings are not going round each table finishing off people’s wine (true story)…

Other responses have not been so positive. “You know she won’t come” was one response of a friend about another friend when discussing the point that children will not be invited. I am coming to terms with this fact. If my guests do not want to come without their children then that’s their decision. Our decision has been made.

What I keep being told by people that this is my day (Oops, I mean “OUR” day, haha). We should invite the people that we want to spend the day with. And as much as I love my friends’ children, I do not want to share the attention with their mini people on this day. Just this one day I want to be about us and the future we will have together and I hope that our guests will understand.

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