Adults-Only Wedding Wording

Aug 3 2012

Adults-Only Wedding Wording

How do you tell guests that their kids are NOT invited to your wedding?

This no-kid conundrum seemed to be the stickiest wording situation Tim and I came across while making our wedding invitations. I read articles and browsed forums on adult-only weddings, each with their own tips for tackling this tricky subject. However, after reading them I realized something: We aren’t having an adults- only wedding. . . we’re having an “adults-mostly” wedding!

Our exceptions to the no-kids rule:

  • Children under 1 year (nursing infants)
  • All nieces/nephews/cousins (regardless of age)
For us, the exceptions were based on both chronological age and familial hierarchy (e.g., our siblings can bring children, but our cousins and friends cannot). The “kid cutoff” was a tough decision to make, but it was a decision grounded in both practical and personal reasons.

So how do you find the right wording for an “adults mostly” (but not adults-only) wedding?

This word puzzle was perplexing—even for a writer! We knew that we wanted the Invitation wording to be the following:

We thought it might sound a little cold or exclusive to write “adults only” directly on the Invitation or RSVP Card (and besides, it wouldn’t apply to our “mostly adults” situation). We wanted to find wording that would be polite, inclusive, and friendly.

In addition to being courteous, we also wanted to be clear about who is invited (and therefore who is NOT invited). While some wording sounded too blunt, we also felt other wording sounded too subtle. Could we find the sweet spot for this sticky wording situation?

To complicate matters, the wording also needed to be flexible in order to accommodate invitees whose children ARE invited to the wedding. We couldn’t use a blanket statement such as “adults only”. We needed to come up with wording that was flexible enough to fit our “adults-mostly” wedding.

Wording Ideas for an “Adults-Only” Wedding:

#1: Putting “Adults” on the RSVP Response Line


_____ Adults accepting
_____ Adults declining


#2: Putting” Adults” at the Bottom of the Invitation

Adult reception to follow


#3: Setting a Limit to Number of Seat Reservations

We have reserved _____ seats in your honor

___ of ___ Attending
___ of ___ Declining


Wording Solution for Our “Adults-Mostly” Wedding

Ultimately, our wording solution was this:

  • writing the names of invited guests on the outer envelope
  • emphasizing who was invited on the RSVP Card by writing their names under the subheading “Invited Guests”

RSVP Card for Invitation

Although not perfect, the wording satisfied our goal of sounding polite, yet clear–while still allowing for exceptions to the no-kids rule. So how successful was this? Well, we’re still figuring that out! :)

If any RSVP Cards come back with the names of uninvited children, my mom (moms are the best!) helped come up with a general plan of how to approach the guest:

  • Acknowledge their response
  • Address the miscommunication
  • Express desire for their attendance

Hi Jane,

Thank you for the RSVP! We noticed that you added little Jack to your response. In order to keep the seating capacity below the maximum for our venue, we unfortunately are not able to invite Jack to our wedding. We apologize for the miscommunication! We hope you will still be able to join us on our wedding day. We’d love to have you there!

Did you have an “adults-mostly” wedding? I’d love to hear how you handled the wording for your Invitations and RSVP Cards!

{Blissfully married now, Tim and Rachel successfully navigated this sticky wording situation with care and kit-gloves.}

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12 thoughts on “Adults-Only Wedding Wording

  1. I agree this was the hardest part of the wedding. We had a very large wedding 320 seated. We ended up putting on the RSVP card number of adults attending. We also did an enclosure card that said, Please join us for an adult recpetion at six o’clock. That way it was in two places. Good Luck.

  2. Pingback: Truly Engaged: Visual Wedding Planning Tools | Truly Engaging Wedding Blog

  3. Thanks for the post. I am having an adult only wedding and reception and I was surprised by how tricky it can be. I used the wording for the RSVP cards I posted above just now and about to send the proof back to the printer so thanks for that as well :)

  4. Pingback: Kids – They’re So Cute But…do I Want Them At My Wedding? « Wedding Ideas, Top Wedding Blog's, Wedding Trends 2014 – David Tutera's It’s a Bride’s Life

  5. Thanks so much! We are also having an “Adults-Mostly” wedding and have been stressing a little bit about how to do this without offending people. Your ideas are definitely helpful. Cheers!

  6. Thanks You Rachel !! Informative Post – Adults only Reception , No Kids Please are most commonly used phrases
    Please keep sharing
    We are into wedding Invitation Designing –
    alot of our customers have benefited from your post !!

  7. We did an adults-mostly reception and used an inner envelope for our invitations to clearly specify which members of the household were invited. Honestly that seemed to work for us and we didn’t get any RSVPs for kids who weren’t invited or any questions from our friends/family if they could bring their children who weren’t invited.

    We also had our wedding on New Year’s Eve so I know there were no arguments from parents who wanted a night out!

  8. Thanks for your comments, Sarah and CONGRATS on your wedding! I really like your idea of being clear and upfront about who is invited–especially with adults/mostly adults only weddings. Using an inner envelope like you did is a great solution. Glad you navigated that sticky situation with grace and success!! Well Done :)

  9. We used this phrase:

    “Thank you for understanding that this is an adult only event.”

    It just seemed like a softer phrase than “adults only.” We had no problems with people wanting to bring kids…thankfully.

  10. Just received my first ever wedding invite to my cousins’ wedding where on the reply card the number of adult guests invited was filled in for me (1) and the number of children invited was left blank.The message although somewhat ambiguous was received…my 7 year old daughter was not invited, she was crushed as this was the first wedding she would have ever attended. Additionally my boyfriend of over a year was also not invited. After checking in with others invited it seems children under a certain age are not invited and only spouses, not significant others may attend. It’s a distasteful and hurtful decision and if you are considering this approach for your invitations I urge you to reconsider. If you are thinking that perhaps the decision was a financial one, I can assure you the finances of both families equal the GDP of a small country. Additionally, I have been gracious as the bride (my cousin) and her sisters paraded dozens of boyfriends through the years to every family function imanigable from my own wedding to my husband’s funeral. I welcomed them all. I get it, it’s the bride’s day and all that, but give some thought to how your message is being perceived by others and reflects on you.

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