If you have children of your own, obviously they will be included in the wedding party, or at the very least they will be present. But what about the children of your friends and family?
Couples decide not to invite children to their wedding reception for many reasons. Perhaps they wish to cut costs. Or, maybe they want to avoid the problem of young children fussing and running around. Once you have made your decision, remember that this is YOUR wedding, and don’t feel the need to over-explain.
Regardless of your harmless intentions, some guests are likely to be offended, so think it over carefully. If cost is the only factor, investigate the possibilities of children’s dinners for much less than you’ll pay for the adults. If you are concerned that the children might misbehave, hire someone to look after them in another room if they become bored or wild.
If you do decide to exclude children, let everyone know well enough in advance that they can hire a sitter. Many couples like to use a family wedding as an excuse for a date night!
It is not correct to handprint anything on the invitations, so the printer must add the words “Adult reception” to the invitations. “Adults only reception” is also permissible, but “No children” is not considered proper.
It should go without saying that the flower girl and ring bearer cannot be excluded from the reception; I once heard of a bride who expected the ring bearer’s parents to take him home right after the ceremony. They did, and haven’t spoken to her since!
Despite your efforts to have guests show up without their children, you may have someone disregard your request and bring them anyway. This is the height of poor manners, but there is nothing you can do at this point. There may be a provision for extra food; if not, the parents will have to share their meal with the child. Under no circumstances should you allow anything to ruin your memories of the day. Let it go.