The debate over whether or not to invite children to the wedding is one that so many brides and grooms are forced to have. If you've ultimately decided against having little guests at your big day, it's important to send out invitations that tactfully get this message across. On your wedding day, you'll want to avoid what's happened to so many couples who've tied the knot before you: Unsure about how to actually specify that it's an adults-only wedding, couples end up with a few guests who arrive at the wedding with their little ones in tow, leaving other attendees upset that their children weren't allowed to attend.
What can you do to ensure guests get the message? One of the very best ways to tactfully get the point across is by sending invitations with both outer and inner envelopes. The outer envelope is used to address the couple by title and last name, while the inner envelope has the first names of each invited guest. When guests see just the mother and father's names spelled out here, it generally clicks that children are not invited. But wouldn't a "no kids" declaration on the invitation itself make it clearer? Probably, but it comes across as awkward and ungracious when printed, as what you're basically announcing is that "some people are not invited" in big black letters. Sure, there's nothing technically wrong with writing something like "adults-only reception" on the invitation, but many couples would prefer not to do it.
There are a few other creative ways to say that kids are not invited: One is including a line on the reply card that says, "We've reserved [fill in the blank] seats for you," and then fill in "2." It's effective, but some recipients may feel that it smacks of passive-aggressiveness. Other brides and grooms choose to get real right away, with a line urging adults to "leave the littles" at home and think of the occasion as a date night. If you're hiring on-site babysitters, you can include an enclosure card that asks guests to outline which kids will be staying in the children's zone for the evening.
No matter which course of action you choose to take, one of the very best things you can do is talk to your guests. Before mailing your invitations, call your family members and friends who have young children to explain that your wedding isn't child-friendly, but that you'd love for the parents to be there. You may get some pushback but at least you'll have made your position clear and won't have any pint-sized surprises on your wedding day.