We all know the scene…the bridesmaids have walked down the aisle with the groomsman and the groom turns to watch his bride walk up the aisle. As she begins you hear little Jimmy screaming in the background, “But I don’t WANNA sit in the chair…Dad, I’m soo BORED!!” as his father carries him out of the ceremony. The bride and groom begin their vows and a crying baby whales like she’s never cried before and then at the reception red juice is spilled all over the bride’s white dress. Okay, maybe a bit dramatic, but these things do happen, and will happen, and there are certain events to which requesting an adults only affair can seem appropriate, whether it’s a corporate event, a wedding or a cocktail party.
The issue becomes not about the fact that it is an adults-only event, but how to relay that information to your guests without offending anyone. We all love our friend’s kids, our cousins and of course our own kids, and nobody wants to exclude them from a fun event. However, when Uncle Tom is hammered after 9 PM every night and is wearing a lampshade on his head, and Grandma is taking off her wig to ‘let loose’, it’s a good time to make sure the kids are safe and out of the party scene.
Proper party invitation etiquette dictates that instead of stating who isn’t invited to the party, you should focus on who IS invited to the party. This way you are not singling out one group of people against another, which can make people feel offended or uncomfortable. Ergo, writing “No Children, Please” or “No Children Allowed” is not appropriate on your party invitations. A phrase as simple as, “Adult Affair”, “Adults Only” or “Adults only, please” is appropriate. Put this party detail in the bottom right or bottom left corner of your invitation, or reception card, printed small. It should be read almost as an afterthought on the invitation. If you are having a reception, you can even change your wording to read, “Adult reception to follow”, which is a very easy way to explain to your guests that children are not invited to your reception.
If you’re not comfortable with putting your guests guidelines in writing, spreading it by word of mouth is appropriate. Also, be very careful on how you word your party invitation envelopes. Addressing your envelopes to “Mr. and Mrs. Jane Smith” is much more direct than “The Smith Family”. Remember that etiquette is a guideline, and not a strict rule. Do what you feel is appropriate, as always, however consider the feelings of your family, friends and relatives before wording your invitation requests.