Dear Crystal,

My fiancé and I have decided to have an adult-only wedding reception as we are trying to reduce costs while keeping the event smaller and less complicated.  We have made sure to inform our guests by including the verbiage “adult reception” on our wedding invitations and wedding website. Most of our guests support our decision; however, one guest has asked to bring his six month-old baby to the wedding even though he read on our invitations that this is an adult-only wedding reception. How do I politely inform him that we want to stick to our original idea of an adult wedding reception? Do you think I am being rude by not bending the rules for this guest?

“Not Good at Confrontations”


Dear “Not Good at Confrontations”,

It’s OK to stick to your guns on this one, and as it turns out I too had an adult-only reception for my wedding celebration. An “adult wedding reception” isn’t out of the ordinary, and guests should respect your decision. Making one exception means you’ll have to make more, so a response like the following might help:

To your guest with the six-month-old -baby, you could say something like this:

“We unfortunately want to stick to our plans for an adult reception, but we’re happy to help you designate appropriate child care for the reception. Sorry for any inconvenience, (insert guest’s name). We look forward to celebrating with you soon!”

In this case, a six-month old baby has a bedtime well before the reception commences, so you can let the parent know that by leaving the baby with childcare, he will be able to enjoy himself more at the reception.

Another idea, of course, is to try and avoid those confrontations altogether by choosing language in the invitation that lends itself towards allowing guests to draw this conclusion on their own. Here is a list of terms and phrases that others have used and may help:

  •  “Join us for a contemporary cocktail reception”
  •  “Join us for a late evening of drinks, dancing and splendor”
  •  Having “Number of Adults” on the RSVP card helps indicate the plans for adult reception.

And, at the other end of the spectrum, what if you have a guest with a child who simply shows up with Little Bobby or Suzy in tow to the event venue?

This one has to be the worst possible scenario overall, but does in fact happen – as I just met a person who took me through a play-by-play account of the drama that ensued. You need to think ahead for the guests that may not. Have your wedding planning professionals prepared to help direct such guests to a private area to explain that children are not invited to the celebration, and be prepared to have a separate room handy to sort out the details. This is certainly the scenario you want to avoid the most, and my suggestion to help alleviate even the most remote possibility is having someone (other than you) agree to help with the RSVP confirmations about a week in advance confirming attendance, reminding guests that it is an adult-only celebration and confirming childcare and other arrangements are in place, so your pals can have a blast with you without having a last-minute babysitter crisis.

The key to any response is being polite, but also letting the guest know that you mean business. By offering to assist in locating childcare, or perhaps suggesting other guests they can team up with for babysitters, your guest should understand your wishes. Good luck!


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