Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Updates: “Wants Kid-Free Wedding” Responds

It’s time again for “Dear Wendy Updates,” a feature where people I’ve given advice to in the past let us know whether they followed the advice and how they’re doing today. After the jump, we hear from “Wants Kid-Free Wedding” who had decided not to invite kids to her upcoming wedding and wasn’t sure how to respond to a guest who said she may be bring her two kids “if that’s okay.” After the jump, find out how the situation was resolved.

I spoke with my friend who was more than understanding! We both kept going on about how bad we each felt. She even said that they didn’t want to bring the kids. I explained to her that the only kids that were going to be there were immediate family and one other newborn. She and her husband are going to chat about it with their potential sitters (their parents), will get back to me before a date we decided on, and let me know whether they’re bringing the newborn and if they can definitely come. I mentioned we could look into a sitter for her, but I think they’re going to try their own first. It’s a relief to have it discussed, and that they were beyond understanding. I also completely understand if the couple (and any couple for that matter) can’t come. My family, my fiance’s and my own went into this knowing that not everyone can afford or has the time to attend our wedding…I never assumed it comes before other things in their life!

Backtracking a bit…I actually did look into writing “adults only wedding” on the invite, but from most wedding sites said it was “tacky” to do. The advice I got was to specifically mention names on the inner envelope. For example, if the invite was addressed to James and Sarah and family, that meant kids too. James and Sarah meant just the couple. Unfortunately, sounds like this was the wrong idea!

I thought I cut the line pretty clear on things in terms of kids who can come…I didn’t invite “kids I like” – I invited immediate family only (two first cousins & my only nephew) and any newborns who I assumed, need to be with their parents. I didn’t write newborns names on the invites, however (they aren’t even born yet!).

As you can tell, I really didn’t put much thought into it because I didn’t even foresee this being a problem! I thought inviting immediate kid relatives (nieces, nephews, first cousins, brothers/sisters), which I don’t have much of, would be a good line to draw it at. Also, we don’t have a ring bearer/flower girl, not that that makes any difference.

Funnily enough, after I wrote this in, I got another request from a friend asking if she could bring a date. She was invited with a group of my high school friends, a few who are single and some who are engaged/married/in long-term relationships (whose significant others were invited). I didn’t give plus ones to everyone, unfortunately (budget did not allow for it). I guess these things tend to happen as weddings get closer – we should have eloped! 😉 By the way, I’m also looking into adding a sitter suggestion on our wedding website, in case other couples have similar questions!

I’m glad your friend was understanding and hope she and her husband are able to make it to your wedding. About wording wedding invitations: you’re right that it’s improper etiquette to write “adults only” or “no children” or something to that effect on invitations. Traditionally, whomever the invitation is addressed to is supposed to be enough indication as to who is invited to the wedding (if the kids’ names aren’t on it, or if it doesn’t say “Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Family,” then the kids aren’t invited), but as times change, maybe etiquette needs to change with it. If this is an issue many people are having, maybe it’s time for the Gods of Etiquette to allow some sort of “adults only” wording in invitations to help eliminate these kinds of misunderstanding. What do you guys think? We could start an etiquette revolution here!

If you’re someone I’ve given advice to in the past, I’d love to hear from you, too. Email me at wendy@dearwendy.com with a link to the original post, and let me know whether you followed the advice and how you’re doing now.

58 comments… add one
  • avatar

    silver_dragon_girl July 15, 2011, 12:12 pm

    Glad this worked out for you!!

    And Wendy, I totally agree on the etiquette revolution. It would be great if everyone respected the names-on-the-invitation rule, but I think anymore people just assume way too much.

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    Desiree July 15, 2011, 12:15 pm

    I think, moreover, the place of children in society has changed. When my parents/grandparents talk about their childhoods, they always had to accommodate the adults. Now, it seems that children have more social power, so to speak: parents often accommodate their kids. I think, in previous decades, it was more common for kids to be excluded from events. I’m not saying one way is better than the other, but it definitely seems like a change has occurred.

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      Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 12:35 pm

      Yeah, there’s that old saying that children should be seen and not heard – no way would the people who invented that rule allow kids at a fancy reception. Think about what you see in old movies or on shows like Mad Men where Don and Betty go to the country club for drinks and dinner. Not a kid in sight. Now even at the fancy steakhouse I worked at, we would lose wine glasses to having to stop suddenly to avoid mowing down Billy and Suzy who have gotten bored with their foie gras and decided to play freeze tag amongst the linen-covered tables. I love kids, don’t get me wrong, but it would be nice if there were just a handful of places where I didn’t have to deal with them.

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        SpaceySteph July 15, 2011, 2:05 pm

        This is absolutely absurd. If your kids can’t sit in their seats and behave, then they do not belong at a fancy restaurant. The manager should have the whole family removed. It may make the families with brats not come back to the restaurant, but I bet there are plenty of couples without kids, business meetings, etc that would flock to an establishment that did not tolerate such behavior.

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        Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 2:20 pm

        When it started being a hazard, the manager would say something, but usually not until then. The funny thing is, I never got the impression the kids were having much fun either. I couldn’t ever understand: if the kids weren’t having fun and the parents couldn’t enjoy a “real” night out, why bother going someplace so expensive? Which is what I always feel about weddings as well: the kids have to sit quietly through the ceremony in fancy clothes most don’t want to wear, then they eat food they probably don’t particularly like with more manners than they’re used to using, then watch the adults dance to music they don’t know. Again, what’s the point of taking your kids if they’re only going to embarrass you AND they won’t have a good time? I think maybe it’s partly that the kids think they want to go, and the parents aren’t strong enough to know what the child wants versus what will be the best thing for him and for everyone else.

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        justpeachy July 15, 2011, 3:29 pm

        Your comment reminded me of this article I just read. A restaurant banned children under six. The views are pretty polarized on it. Some people think this is the greatest thing ever because children under six shouldn’t be out at a fancy restaurant anyway while the others believe that if the child can behave, why does the age matter?

        Last time I went out to dinner, a kid in the booth behind me kept bopping me on the head. Bet you can’t guess which way I go in this debate…

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        Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 8:55 pm

        That argument about the age of a child not mattering if the kid can behave would totally work if all parents with hellions were aware that their children are, in fact, hellions. Sadly, words like “lively” and “rambunctious” and “full of energy” get tossed around, sometimes by the parents themselves, and everyone EXCEPT the parents knows those are really nice euphemisms for “your kid’s an asshole.”

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        HmC July 15, 2011, 10:44 pm

        I’m ALMOST shocked that people are making such a stink about the ban (I have to say almost because I’m starting to feel unshockable to human idiocy).

        It’s a private restaurant. And they’re only banning kids under *6*. That’s incredibly young! And clearly difficult to control, even by the best of parents. They’ll have decades and decades to eat in all the fancy restaurants they want. Give us adults who like a little peace and quiet, just 6 years of peace. Is that asking so much?

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        kali July 16, 2011, 2:04 pm

        At least around here, we have a lot of older parents who have a good deal of disposable income and they definitely do not want to limit their social outings simply because they have offspring. Some of the kids are well-behaved but many are not. The problem is the entitled parents thinking ‘their’ darling children are perfect and wonderful and deserve to go everywhere Mom and Dad do. It irks me that they simply expect everyone else to fall in line with this viewpoint.

        Some venues are simply not appropriate for children and honestly, don’t the parents sometimes want an adult outing?

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        SpaceySteph July 17, 2011, 2:34 pm

        If they have that much disposable income, they should hire a babysitter and go out to dinner without their kids now and then. I never really understood people who were opposed to leaving their kids home with a babysitter to have a night out… to me it seems extremely important to maintaining your sanity and your relationship with your spouse.

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        Fancy Pants July 15, 2011, 6:52 pm

        I feel like Applebee’s, Pizza Hut and Friendly’s were established for a reason. I’m not a mom, but I feel like when I am my rule of thumb will be to only bring my children places where they are permitted to color on the menu until they’re well behaved enough to not need to. If I want to go to a nicer place, I’ll consider a babysitter part of the cost of dining out.

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    • katie

      katie July 15, 2011, 8:19 pm

      your very right- i worked at a pretty fancy country club, and they used to never allow children in the dining room. however, because they were trying to get more membership from familes (membership was way way down), they had to change their rules so that families could dine… you would not believe the feuds from the older members and the younger, whole family members. people are crazy.

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    MissDre July 15, 2011, 12:16 pm

    I saw a wedding invitation the other day that went something like this….

    4:30 pm – Such n Such Church
    Ceremony

    5:30 pm – Whatever Place
    Cocktails

    7 pm – Town Hall
    Adults Only Reception

    I didn’t think there was anything wrong with it.

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      Vegas SodaPop July 15, 2011, 12:26 pm

      I think that’s a great idea, makes it very clear. Wendy…you should definitely write a wedding etiquette book!

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      JennyTalia July 15, 2011, 12:31 pm

      Yep I got that for a wedding recently as well. There’s no problem with that IMO.

      It would be nice if people paid attention to who the invitation is addressed to, but I think many people just overlook that and assume the whole family is invited.

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      El July 15, 2011, 12:50 pm

      This is a nice idea, but we’re actually doing the opposite. Supervised, well-behaved children will be welcome at our reception, but the ceremony itself will be restricted to adults (with the exception of my siblings). I have been to far too many ceremonies that were interrupted by screaming toddlers. I’m going to be nervous enough as it is, so I don’t need the added stress.

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        missarissa July 19, 2011, 8:52 am

        I was thinking the same! At my wedding, I can’t imagine that (budget aside), I’d care too much if there was a kids table, but I’d be pissed as hell if some two year old couldn’t stop whining during the service (call me a bridezilla). I think I would do the sameas you… plus having a “babysitting drop off” for the 45 min (with guests filing in and finding their seats and talking, etc. then service, then out) service would be easier (and cheaper) than having to provide childcare all night.

        Also, as “tacky” as registries (and websites) are [and if anyone else writes to “dear prudence” about registries, I think they should be e-stoned right off the internet], I don’t understand why an insert with that information (and driving directions) is such a faux pas. I know its supposed to spread “word of mouth” but i think that’s so much more annoying, as people live so much further away, and making people ask you where you’re registered/if you have a website thing seems to me more tacky than providing information you know they want.

        (For the record, I find nothing tacky about registries at all. I think they’re awesome, especially in theory. I mean, I did give one of my cousins a $50 mop for an engagement present once, and a $100 garbage can as part of the wedding gift (I was continuously late to buy her presents), but now at least I can rest assured that she won’t be sitting on a dirty floor covered in trash))

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      Kristin July 19, 2011, 5:51 pm

      That’s how my bf’s cousin’s wedding was. Th only thing we thought was weird was that they allowed some of the kids in anyway, but kept others out.

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    Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 12:28 pm

    Yeah, I get that all the etiquette sticklers out there insist that “no kids” is tacky, and completely understand why the LW would go with that advice, except…I think all those rules were established in the days of fancy dinner parties and coming-out parties and those sorts of things that came with specifically addressed invitations. Not to say there’s anything wrong with those events OR the lack thereof, but most people in contemporary culture have zero experience with those sorts of invites other than weddings and graduations, which no one goes to and for which the head count doesn’t really matter anyway. So while those of us who address the invitations may see those who assume their whole family is welcome as presumptuous and pushy, those of us who are invited simply do not know we’re being rude.

    So who has to be the one seen as rude? I don’t know; my instinct would be that the hosts, whose job it is to ensure everyone is reasonably comfortable, should be the ones to make the expectations clear. Besides, if you have to look up an etiquette rule, it’s probably only going to be noticed by those nasty aunts who seem to make it their life’s work to point out everyone else’s failings, and they will always find fault no matter what you do.

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      Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 1:55 pm

      Um, guys? Not that it really matters in the grand scheme of things, but why the thumbs-down? I was just saying I get why the rules are there, and I get why you would go with them, but maybe, like Wendy was saying, we should change those expectations and also perhaps why. I’m not asking for more green thumbs, but I’m completely confused as to why they’re there. As the saying goes, was it something I said???

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        justpeachy July 15, 2011, 3:38 pm

        Yes, I think it’s the hosts’ job to adequately communicate the expectations of the event. But it’s also the guests’ job to clear up any confusion in etiquette they have. In the original story, the guest asked if it was ok to bring her small children. The LW clarified and everything seems to be fine.

        When I got married, I invited two of my coworkers from China. When I got their RSVP cards, you can imagine my shock when they each said they were bringing three guests. We talked it over and apparently it’s customary to bring extra people to weddings in China because they don’t do the same sort of ceremony/reception thing we do. It was just a confusion in etiquette and traditions.

        I think, if this site has taught us anything, is that weddings are incredibly confusing and the guests’ should take part of the responsibility in making sure they understand their role in the big day.

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      fallonthecity July 15, 2011, 7:07 pm

      While I agree that hosts of events should try to make their expectations clear, I also think there is equal obligation on the guest not to be imposing. If you’re accepting someone’s hospitality, I think it’s appropriate to go a little out of your way to make sure you’re not being a burden/nuisance.

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        Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 8:49 pm

        Oh definitely. And I go out of my way to be accommodating and gracious whether I’m hosting or attending, or at least I try to. I think the point I was trying to make, albeit badly, is that formal parties with formal invitations are not the norm as much as they used to be. We’re more of an e-vite, the-more-the-merrier, casual society and while I definitely think people need to be more considerate and respectful of boundaries, many people don’t have much experience to go off in the mailed-and-specifically-addressed invite realm. While it is definitely rude and presumptuous in appearance, I was sort of thinking out loud up there that maybe it’s not even intentional rudeness and that the parties in question – not this LW, obviously, as her friend asked – weren’t even aware that they had presumed anything at all.

        And then again, maybe they’re falling prey to the “it’s just me” symptom that seems to be prevalent these days, in this instance assuming that just one more person is hardly going to hurt anything without stopping to think that if everyone thought that way at a wedding planned for 100 people, the number of people attending could as much as double and completely screw the poor hosts.

        So what I was sort of getting at was that it’s more cost-effective for the host to risk being rude versus allowing the guest to be rude, whether they’re aware that they’re doing so or not. And it’s also a pre-emptive measure to make sure all guests, both the rude and the polite ones, are comfortable.

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        fallonthecity July 16, 2011, 12:29 pm

        Thank you for the clarification — I think I understand what you meant now, and I think that you’re right. It’s unfortunate, but it probably is more practical to add the “no kids, please” line on the invitation than to deal with the inevitable misunderstandings.

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    trillian July 15, 2011, 12:59 pm

    If I recall correctly, there was a safety issue (a pool?) with this reception as well as the personal preference of Bride and Groom. It seems like it would be perfectly reasonable to include a line on the invitation or wedding website saying something like:

    We regret to say that due to safety concerns, children under age X cannot be accommodated at the reception site. If you will need childcare, it can be provided by X in X hotel (or just list the names of several babysitters if you aren’t providing one).

    “Safety concerns” could be as big as an unsupervised swimming pool, or as small as the risk that glasses will be broken and not properly cleaned up (which is ALWAYS a risk). No need to specify. When you have the safety of the kids in mind, who could argue? If you don’t mind infants, you could specify “mobile” children or something more gracefully worded.

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    Addie Pray July 15, 2011, 1:02 pm

    elope.

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    Starfish13 July 15, 2011, 1:14 pm

    OK, I am sorry, maybe since I’ve never thrown a wedding I wouldn’t understand, but why aren’t all plus-owns invited to this wedding? I realize that it isn’t in the budget, and that is fine (it is ALWAYS important to live within your means). But if it were me, I wouldn’t invite someone if they couldn’t have a plus-one. It is just kind of awkward and makes people feel weird when they have to ask you if they can bring a date. Besides, it seems as though it would be more than possible to move the budget around. Am I wrong?

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      MissDre July 15, 2011, 1:20 pm

      Weddings are expensive. Probably as much as $50 to $100 a head. You invite 75 people… presumably people you all know, or least someone you are close to plus their spouse or significant other. But if one more person asks to bring a date, you can’t say yes to that person and then say no to everybody else that asks…. if 10 people ask to bring a date that’s another $1000 out of your pocket, and I don’t know about you but I definitely do not have a grand just lying around.

      Also, by the time invites are sent and accepted, the venue and number of meals are usually set and paid for. It can be difficult to make changes at this point. So, you can’t really make exceptions for one person unless you’re willing to make exceptions for everyone.

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        spaceboy761 July 15, 2011, 1:31 pm

        “Probably as much as $50 to $100 a head.”

        So I guess that you’re not from New York…

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        engaged July 15, 2011, 2:03 pm

        the average wedding is about $25,000.. if you consider 150 guests (also avg.) you end up at $166/person.. the costs are more than just the food!

        We’re in the same boat. We have a bunch of close friends that are single and would love to have them at the wedding solo – they hang out with eachother regularly, so I don’t think it’d be too big of a deal if they didn’t have a date… but wedding ettiqute doesn’t allow that, so we’re just hoping some of our long-distance relatives can’t make it to make up for the dates!

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        Guest July 15, 2011, 10:52 pm

        What etiquette is that? There is no rule that you have to allow plus ones. That is why there is such a huge debate about it. Really you can do what you like when it is your wedding. Some people invite only married or engaged partners, others extend the invitation to long term boy/girlfriends. Personally I think if are inviting a single friend and you have met their SO and know them personally (and they are at the point of labelling each other boy/girlfriend) then invite them, but don’t extend a plus one to every single friend to bring a random date who you don’t know. Usually your friends will know other friends at the wedding and can enjoy the reunion aspect of it. Why would they need a date? if you have single friends who would be coming and not know anyone at all then you’ll have to take a chance that they might choose not to come alone. That is of course only if the wedding is a sit-down dinner affair. If it is a casual party with a buffet and cash bar then plus ones would be fine.

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        missarissa July 19, 2011, 9:04 am

        I’m not going to lie, I’m still upset with a friend of mine who didn’t invite my live-in bf to her wedding.

        The bride and I have been (considered close) friends since freshman year of college, and I’ve known her now-husband their entire relationship (they met freshman year as well.) A group of us have started doing a reunion once a year in the summer to get together from all over the country. This time, it was in the city that we both (me and the bride) live, and during that weekend, one night her now-husband and my bf (about to be live-in) came out with us and she talked all about the wedding and how he HAD to come. A couple months later, we all got together, and same thing.

        Wedding invitation never comes (not even to me). I get an email from now-husband saying that I was on the list of people whose addresses got messed up, and what was my address so he could send me the invite, WAY later than normal (no biggie). Get invite, its like 2 months to the wedding, its just made out to me. I’m massively confused.

        I bite the bullet and call her to ask if he’s invited, because I’m confused and the wedding involves air travel and hotel and we need to book. She emails me back saying, I’m so sorry, but we wanted more of our friends, so we couldn’t do SO’s.

        I’m like, that’d be fine, if you didn’t invite the man to the wedding and we spend a lot of time talking about it (and the mini vacay that would go along with it). I spent the whole, very romantic wedding wishing I could spend it with the man I loved (it was my first friend to get married) and bitter that she didn’t invite him. Maybe i was being petty (and drunk) but I was actively saddened by it and that I couldn’t share it with him and that no matter what, if we all stayed friends, he’d always have been uninveted to her wedding.

        Grr. I know that was way too detailed, but it still bothers me. I joke sometimes that I’m only going to invite her or her now-husband to “our” wedding, not both. (of course, if there is no “our” wedding, she’ll be off the hook i guess).

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        missarissa July 19, 2011, 9:06 am

        oops … I never told her my dissatisfaction (“I’m like, that’d be fine, if you didn’t invite the man to the wedding and we spend a lot of time talking about it (and the mini vacay that would go along with it)” –> was in my head, and by “we” I meant me and the bf HAD spenT a lot of time talking about it

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        Elle July 15, 2011, 2:34 pm

        Hmmm, how much does it cost in NYC? I just accepted an invite to a wedding in Brooklyn. I’ll go regardless, but I’d like to know how much my check should be. Thanks!

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        spaceboy761 July 15, 2011, 2:51 pm

        It all depends on the venue, but you couldn’t rent a church basement for $100/head unless you’re in a lousy neighborhood of Brooklyn. Any mediocre place is going to be $150-$200.

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        Elle July 15, 2011, 3:37 pm

        I googled the place, and it’s definitely not a church basement. It looks rather fancy, albeit a bit on the kitchy side. Couldn’t find how much it costs, but given your guys’ estimates, it’s probably around 250… I was office mate with the groom for 5 years, met his fiance a few times, but other than that, I don’t think I’ll know anybody at the wedding… oh well, I’d rather be awkward than miss this special moment in my friend’s life.

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        Quakergirl July 15, 2011, 2:36 pm

        I know NYC is expensive, but I just get desensitized to it until I remember how cheap things are in other parts of the country comparatively. My parents are having a small anniversary dinner this weekend in NY (where my brother and I both live) and my mom was asking for a good place to have it. I made some suggestions, and she threw out an estimate of what she thought it would cost per person. Her estimates were (obviously) based on non-NYC pricing and came in at about 50% of the actual cost. Needless to say this went from a party to an immediate-family-only dinner very quickly.

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        kali July 16, 2011, 1:59 pm

        Or San Francisco.

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      mf July 15, 2011, 2:23 pm

      I agree that it’s always nice for the hosts to invite plus-ones if they can afford it and if their venue can accommodate the extra people.

      But believe me, you have NO idea how expensive weddings can be until you plan one. I thought I did before I started planning my wedding, but I was definitely wrong. The cost can start snowballing if you don’t control your budget and the absolute easiest way to keep the budget down is to cut the guest list. And one of the easiest ways to cut the guest list is to cut the plus ones. (If I had to choose, I’d rather invite my friend with a date than not invite her at all. And by date, I mean not a serious bf/gf, fiance, or spouse.) And once you start locking in vendors, you start to lose wiggle room in your budget.

      My point is, it’s really not possible sometimes to move the budget around to accommodate all plus ones, particularly if you have a lot of single friends.

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      kf July 15, 2011, 4:25 pm

      It’s not just the budget, it’s the actual physical limitations of the spaces. Our church sat 125 and no more; I was happier spending that day with 125 people who meant something to us and our families than 115 such people and 10 total strangers we’d never see again.

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    Starfish13 July 15, 2011, 1:23 pm

    Ya that makes sense…it just seems kind of cold to expect someone to come alone.

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      Morgan July 15, 2011, 1:53 pm

      Depends who, I think. If the person is close family, they’ll know lots of other people. If the person is friends with lots of the other guests, they’ll know lots of people. The one high school friend who I’m still in touch with who doesn’t really know anyone else….her I’d give a plus one.

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      Bethany July 15, 2011, 2:08 pm

      I just mailed out my wedding invitations yesterday, and thus, have been dealing with this recently. I only have a few single friends, so I “and Guested” all of them except one. The one person who was excluded wouldn’t have brought a date anyway. Her parents, brother and sister in law are all coming to the wedding, and she knows about a quarter of the people invited. Now, if I was inviting a single person who didn’t really know anyone else who’d be there, of course I would have “and guested” her. I think it’s a matter of knowing your guests and what they’d prefer.

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      kdog July 15, 2011, 2:11 pm

      I dunno. I mean, can people really not attend social functions without a crutch for a couple of hours? I understand that it would be ridiculous to leave out someone’s husband or perhaps your elementary school friend who wouldn’t know a single other person, but otherwise jeez. If you reeeeeally don’t want to go without a date then just decline the invite.

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      SpaceySteph July 15, 2011, 2:12 pm

      In my opinion, its not really cool to expect someone to come alone, even if they know alot of people. I went to a wedding where I knew the majority of the friends being invited but when everyone else coupled off for slow dances, I was still left sitting alone. Weddings are often very couple oriented (understandably) and being dateless can still be a bit lonely.

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      kf July 15, 2011, 4:31 pm

      I don’t think anyone “expects” anything; it’s understood when that someone who is incapable of spending a few hours as a functional independent being is free to decline the invitation.

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    Geoff July 15, 2011, 1:48 pm

    Why do we need more rules for people who can’t read? The reason saying “no kids” is tacky isn’t b/c it’s related to kids, it’s b/c you’ve already told them once by only inviting the two people listed. You didn’t put, “and don’t bring your 3 room-mates from college who happen to live in town that you haven’t seen for 10 years” b/c it would be silly for someone to just assume they could bring 3 extra person when you only invited them (and their +1). If someone calls you on the phone and says, “Wendy would you like to come over and have Dinner tomorrow” and didn’t mention Drew or Miles, you would respond, “can I bring Miles?” not just assume it’s okay and bring him. Granted, bad example b/c spouses are assumed to be invited, but etiquette doesn’t allow inviting half of a married couple either. With a formal printed invitation it’s explicitly stated who is being invited, if they’re not on there, then they are not invited. We don’t need to change the rules people, just don’t be rude.
    And if you find yourself accidentally being rude, because nobody told you something was rude, then apologize and learn your lesson. Why is your response to discovering you’ve accidentally been rude to someone to lash out against them and accuse them of being the old maid etiquette police, are we that incapable of experiencing a little embarrassment, and offering up a sincere apology?

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      Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 2:09 pm

      I’ve said for years my dog should be allowed if kids are allowed, simply on the merit of his being way better behaved. I totally get what you’re saying, and I agree with you, actually – I don’t think anyone should ever assume someone is invited if their name isn’t on the invite just by merit of them living in the same house. But at the same time, it’s one of those situations where you have the choice to be right or to be effective and those things are by necessity mutually exclusive.

      It’d be great if everyone’s parents were classy like mine and – I assume – a lot of people’s on here and that if there’s any doubt the choice you make is the one that’s less taxing and costly to your hosts, but not all people are like that, and while it’s awkward and uncomfortable, most of them aren’t even intentional about it. Unless you also send out etiquette books with the invites (trust me, I’m tempted to sometimes), you’re going to have mishaps where people make assumptions out of sheer ignorance. So if you have to be explicit, it may make it easier in the long run on you. I totally get the instinct to want everyone to get all those rules and to simply look down your nose at the ones who don’t (it can be really satisfying), but if a venue is unsafe, inappropriate, or will charge extra for uninvited guests, then I think that may be the moment where you choose an invitation and wording that will be effective and polite rather than correct according to etiquette.

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        Geoff July 15, 2011, 3:03 pm

        And I in turn agree with you. Especially about the, if in doubt choose the option that won’t inconvenience the person kind enough to invite you.
        However, I will say that it would be just as impolite to look down my nose at someone who slips up out of ignorance, save that for the people who do it intentionally, since they’re going to do what’s best for them regardless of what you put on the invite. Instead politely inform the person who slips up by mistake and hope they can correct it. Nothing in life goes perfectly, and if the worse thing that happens is that one or two extra people show up, well then be grateful something like this, http://www.anorak.co.uk/282840/strange-but-true/bride-punches-kilt-wearing-groom-who-left-poo-stain-on-her-wedding-dress.html/ didn’t

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      Bethany July 15, 2011, 2:09 pm

      I could not agree with you more!!!

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      mcminnem July 15, 2011, 2:55 pm

      Because it’s not helpful to even be sincerely embarrassed and apologetic when your kids have already shown up uninvited and now the bride and groom have to find some way of accommodating them. The point of adjusting the rules of etiquette is so that everyone understands them, and those kinds of awkward (and potentially disastrous) situations don’t come up in the first place.

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  • MELH

    Megan July 15, 2011, 2:15 pm

    I’m getting married in about a month, and I already had a response card come back that said Mr. & Mrs. So and So, they wrote a 2 in the number attending, then followed with “and maybe a baby”. So I’m pretty sure they understood the just names on the invite meant them, and decided to respond that way anyway! Luckily, they were pretty understanding when I spoke to them about it.

    Also, I have seen some invites worded “Adult reception to follow” I think that is good wording to get the point across without sounding too harsh!

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      Painted_lady July 15, 2011, 2:25 pm

      Yeah, I really, really like that phrase.

      Also, I think some people (the couple with the baby in your case) are going to take advantage of you unless you’re really rudely explicit in what you will and won’t tolerate. Which is so unfortunate – it’s mortifying to ever think I would be the kind of person everyone secretly wishes they hadn’t invited!

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    SpaceySteph July 15, 2011, 2:17 pm

    I think a good way around putting it on the invite if you decide that’s too tacky is to put it on your website. You can include a little slip with the website address. Then you can publicize all kinds of stuff. The hotel information, the best airports to fly into, the dress code, the no kids policy, what there is to do in the location if people haven’t been there.
    Really, the wedding website is the best thing ever.

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      Quakergirl July 15, 2011, 2:41 pm

      I’ve seen that done a few times as well, and it seems to do the trick. People with kids are generally internet-savvy and likely to check out the website, so the message gets out, but a lot of those wedding etiquette concerns don’t seem to apply to the interwebs (e.g. you can put registry info in a further-down section on your website, but obviously it’s majorly tacky to put it in the invitation).

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    Princess Bananahammock July 15, 2011, 2:40 pm

    Oy. Hoping I don’t have any of this confusion for my wedding (month and a half out). We invited people in long-term relationships as couples and gave all the single folks an “and guest.” We drew the line for kids at out-of-town guests vs. local guests. If you are traveling to come to my wedding, I don’t want to inconvenience you further by saying that you can’t bring your kid. If you are local, then you probably already have a go-to sitter and can go home at the end of the night instead staying at the hotel. We included the designation “and family” for the out-of-towners with kids. For in-town couples, we specifically named the invited guests. So far so good. Keeping my fingers crossed that I don’t get any funky RSVP cards adding additional guests!

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  • katie

    katie July 15, 2011, 8:34 pm

    i honestly feel like you should know the people you are inviting to a wedding well enough to know if they would make this mistake or not. even the people i dont know who are coming to my wedding, my fiances family, he knows, so that takes care of that problem. and if you know someone well enough that you are inviting them to your wedding, shouldn’t there be a sort of comfort level with them that you could just call them up and be like, oh hey by the way the party is for adults only.

    screw old stupid etiquette, and long live the etiquette revolution!!

    haha

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      Allie September 2, 2011, 2:20 pm

      In a perfect world, yes. But if the couple isn’t paying for the wedding, the wedding is going to be very traditional, etc., there may be a fair number of guests that aren’t that close to the couple…Parent’s friends, distant family members that “have to be invited”. If the either of the couple’s parents are well off, there may be the expectation of the “society wedding”, aka inviting a lot of business contacts, the “elite” where they live, so and and so forth.

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