A Reader Asks: Do I Have to Let People Bring Babies to My Wedding?

A USABride fan who called herself ChildfreeBee wrote in to ask this question:

We’re fixing to send out our wedding invitations and I’m wondering what to do about babies. Specifically, the young babies of friends on our guest list who just took the parenting plunge. My partner and I aren’t anti-baby but we’re pretty adamant about not wanting our own. So far, everyone has understood that we’re having an adult affair – it’s an evening wedding – but if people have young babies do we need to just accept that they have to bring them along? Can we ask them not to?

Most couples are excited to include children in weddings, whether they’re specifically delighted by colorful flower girl dresses or picking the perfect ring pillow, but we get that kids aren’t everyone’s cup of tea – especially when it comes to late evening dinner parties starting at $50 per plate. In formalwear, no less. Unfortunately for these couples, etiquette is pretty clear on the fact that the only proper way to share the fact that a wedding is adults only is specifically naming only adults on the invitations (vs. something like “The Smith Family”) and having gossipy besties spread the word.

Even more unfortunate is the fact that many invited wedding guests do not understand the significance of the names on a wedding invitation.

But of course, that’s talking specifically about kids. When you’re talking about babies – particularly young babies who might be nursing – it’s going to be a lot harder to convince new moms and dads to find a babysitter, if it’s even possible. As for whether you can just call up parents and announce that babies aren’t invited, the answer is no. At least not politely. What you can do is use your social network to spread the word that this is an adults-only kind of party. And if these new parents contact you to ask outright whether baby is welcome, which is what they ought to be doing anyway, you can at that point feel free to say no. A little courtesy on both sides can do a lot to keep relationships intact. You may find you have a couple more cards in your Declines With Regrets pile, but there won’t be any bad blood because of it.