The Dos and Don’ts of Hosting an Adults-Only Wedding

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Etiquette expert Karen Cleveland has joined Weddingbells as a guest blogger solving all of your decorum dilemmas. Read on for tips on how to retain poise from the minute he proposes.

The decision to have an adults-only wedding is just that, a decision, and a perfectly acceptable one. The pressure to invite everyone to your wedding can not only tax your budget, it can also cramp your style. If you have your heart set on an elegant evening event, a setting not really conducive to little ones toddling about, stick to your guns. Mollify any potential hurt feelings by sharing your intentions in a clear but gentle manner.

Do
· Plant the seed early — As early as possible into your planning, lay the foundation by sharing that the affair will be adults-only. As the question will inevitably come up, treat it as an opportunity to let people know and do it with conviction.

· Choose your words carefully — The difference between saying “we have decided” and “we are thinking about” leaves too much room for interpretation. Be very clear in your diction.

· Ensure your invitations reflect your plans — Address invitations to precisely whom they are intended for, meaning specific individuals or couples, rather than families.

Don’t
· Feel like you have to field this alone  – You and your fiancé should both tell your close friends, family and wedding party your plans, so the word will spread quickly, and not only through you.

· Lament about children  – Avoid disparaging how children will ruin your wedding. Even if that is genuinely how you feel, it is not a sentiment that any parent will agree with. Instead, focus on the elements of the wedding that are decidedly grown up (perhaps an elegant menu, or your favourite champagne).

· Waffle by making concessions — Be mindful that your guests who have left their own children at home might be surprised, and let’s be honest, miffed, to see children in your bridal party — and rightly so. It is all or nothing when it comes to an adults-only wedding.

Karen Cleveland is a Toronto-based etiquette advisor and writer. For more on her column, Finishing School, find her on Twitter or send her your questions and conundrums here.

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