Why We Chose An Adults-Only Wedding

Our RSVP deadline was last Friday and though we had received the majority back through the mail, we still had a few invited guests to reach out to in order to confirm their attendance. As one who dislikes any sort of confrontation, wording my messages correctly was important as I didn’t want guests to feel attacked. I considered how best to phrase my inquiries so no one took my affront as saying, “You didn’t send back your RSVP, are you coming or not?” I know better than most how busy life can get and can only imagine replying to a wedding invitation takes second/third/fiftieth priority following Spring ball games, cleaning schedules, school graduations, weekend vacations, etc.

I completely get it.

However, as I took to reaching out to those last 50 or so guests who hadn’t responded, a similar topic arose as to why some would not be able to attend our celebration. As this post’s title states, G and I chose to have an adults-only wedding. Since this is the hot topic of the week, I figured I’d dive into it in case anyone else is mucking through this sticky scenario as well. To the brides-to-be, breathe. This is a long-standing debate among many couples and families — you’re not alone — and one which takes special care to maneuver.

When G and I were settling our guest list, the topic of children emerged like a snarling dragon shortly into the discussion. As a wedding coordinator in the past, I had the majority of my weddings be adults-only. I personally liked those kids-free celebrations more than the ones which invited children. (I have a number of stories involving kids at weddings I coordinated — like the one where I had to go on the roof to track down two teens who had gotten bored and decided to go smoke a joint instead. Fun times!) But such parties were berated by a number of critics, including this certain article, and made us seriously consider our options. The Number One thing we wanted for our wedding was for it to be a fun, stress-free, and memorable celebration with our closest family and friends. We weighed the options. We asked for advice. We researched other’s weddings. And in the end we made our decision: to have an adults-only wedding.

And here is why:

1. We Love Your Children
First off, G and I absolutely adore children and we especially love the children of our loved ones! We cannot wait for the day (a few years in the future) when we become parents to our own little sunshine. In no way was our decision to host an adults-only wedding meant to be mean or exclusive. Rather we have some extremely legitimate reasons that broke our hearts to make that choice.

2. It Is A Financial Issue
When we began our guest list, we had a goal of less than 170 guests to be included. And even that amount was stretching it. Neither of us are keen on being the center of attention (I tend to have panic attacks when put in front of an audience) and neither of us wanted to spend a fortune for a large wedding. By the deadline of sending our invitations, though, our guest list had climbed to a hefty 250 guests, and that was only our adult guests. I have a fiance who has an incredibly wonderful but incredibly large family, and each member was important to us and our families to invite.

However, as we began looking into renting options, that hefty number seemed to glare at us. We realized we wouldn’t be able to utilize our inexpensive tent find of only $600 because the tent was simply too small. Which meant an increase of $800 that original amount to double the tent plus add tables and chairs. With knowing our families have been blessed with an abundance of little ones, adding children to our guest list would have meant an additional 80 seats, 10 tables, and the necessity of an even larger tent! As two people paying for the majority of their wedding and wanting to also have some money left over after the Big Day, we had to make cuts. And don’t even get me started on the additional cost of mouths to feed!

Unfortunately, when a budget is tight, the 2-year-old who will remember nothing or the 7-year-old who could care less about a wedding (but yet still cost something) were easier to cut than the friend known since kindergarten or the great-aunt who would never let you forget she wasn’t invited.

3. It Is A Legal Issue
Another huge impact on our judgment was in concern of our special event insurance. I spoke about our decision to purchase special event insurance a few months back in my post Special Event Insurance: Yay or Nay?. We opted to get insurance at our family’s private residence where we are hosting our reception. In the unlikely circumstance that something were to go awry at the farm, we wanted to have coverage for ourselves and our loved ones. Especially with alcohol being served, this was a necessity for us.

We were pleasantly surprised to find out special event insurance wasn’t expensive in terms of what is covered — we paid $125 for a great policy. This policy covers an adults-only event though. An additional $500 fee is associated with policies including minors being present. And if a minor were to be present at the reception under our current policy, the contract would be null. Legally (and financially) our only option was to keep the wedding adults-only. In one way this made things easier for us because we didn’t have a “gray area” on how we defined kids; our insurance policy states no minors so our wedding is restricted for 21-years-old and older. In another it brought some stress as it made us feel trapped in the off-chance a guest chose to bring their minor with them anyways. But we had to choose to draw the line.

4. It Is A Personal Choice, And A VERY Difficult One
The fact should be stated that G and I did make the wedding adults-only before all the financial and legal logistics became clear. And for those reasons we are thankful we did; I’m honestly not sure how we would have handled things had we invited children before coming to terms with everything else. However, it was our decision to have an adults-only wedding and we had a few personal experiences as to why.

First, we had a discussion on alcohol at the wedding. With G’s past and family members who do not drink, he preferred we not have any alcohol available. For me, I preferred we do. Not only because I would like to enjoy a glass of wine as the bride, but because my family do enjoy drinking (in moderation) at celebrations. Plus, in my experience, dry weddings tend to have a less-entertaining atmosphere and earlier end time. We compromised and settled for a self-service beer and wine bar with a limited number of drinks available. This meant both G and I were on alert that minors may be at risk since we were not going to hire a bartender, and chose to make the wedding 21+ only.

Second, not everyone likes kids at weddings. I don’t mean that in an insensitive or heartless way, but simply as a fact. A child’s behavior cannot be predicted at all times. G and I attended four weddings last summer, and somehow sat next to children at every single ceremony. Though the tykes were adorable, neither G nor I could hear the vows being exchanged at any of the weddings. At one ceremony we missed the final kiss because the little boy in front of us decided to stand up in the pew. At another we spent an hour having the backs of our seats kicked because Mom and Dad didn’t like discipline. As a couple wanting the best experience possible for our guests, hosting an adults-only wedding seemed ideal.

5. We Did What We Thought Best
Lastly, we knew we’d have some backlash for our decision to have a kids-free wedding. But I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we all make choices in our weddings that are going to offend certain people. It is inevitable. Our decision was not based on our preferences, or even our wallets. Our decision was made by what we thought was best for all involved in our Big Day — from the bridal party to the invited guests to even the vendors. We simply took what we considered the best route to take.

With all this being said, there are a few things I would have done differently. The biggest difference would have been adding “Adults Only” to the invitation. I know, I know, I know, EVERY SINGLE WEDDING ADVICE COLUMN TELLS YOU NOT TO DO THIS. Trust me, I know. That’s why I didn’t add those two words. Instead I kept to “perfect etiquette” rules: I addressed each invite to the adults only, I asked family and friends to spread the word, I made sure to mention this detail numerous times on our website, etc. If there was an award for correct etiquette when it came to this topic, I’d be receiving a trophy.

Yet there’s no trophy in my hand and a few hurt feelings from my guests.

As a bridal convict, I would highly advise adding those two words. Some may be offended. (But honestly, if they are, come on…) Some may never even notice. But maybe those who have children will, and you’ll be confronting the issue months before the RSVP is due. Frankly, you have enough to worry about when planning your wedding so just add “Adults Only” and move on to the next phase in the process.

All in all, I tried my best to navigate this sensitive subject. For the most part I succeeded, but there were still a few guests unhappy with our decision. Hopefully you can take some of my advice and use it for your benefit in your own planning.

As for this post, I hope I didn’t continue to offend anyone. The main point I am attempting to make is this: take a step back and realize how much thought goes into each and every decision of wedding planning by the couple. The vast majority of couples do not purposely offend their closest loved ones guests. I mean, they did consider you important enough to attend their multi-thousand dollar party, right? Use an adults-only wedding as an excuse to spend the night with your spouse, drinking, laughing, dancing, and celebrating one of your family member’s/friend’s most important day!

Happy planning, friends,

5 Observations From a Bride-To-Be During Wedding Planning

I have a little over 100 days until I say “I do” to the best man I’ve ever met. Some days that decreasing number is exhilarating, and then there are other days when that number looms over me shouting obscenities.

Wedding planning is not a magical time full of rainbows and sprinkles, friends. Wedding planning can be a stinky hole of dung sometimes.

Talk to any of your friends who have gone through the process and if they tell you they enjoyed every aspect of planning their wedding, they are one of three things: a liar, a goddamn angel, or living in a made-up reality. And this is coming from a girl who has planned over 100 events, many being weddings, so one might think I’d have a good handle on the whole practice. (It is much different planning your own wedding than it is planning someone else’s wedding though. Just FYI.)

So before you move forward to planning your walk down the aisle, here are just a few observations and comments I’d like to make to calm the nerves of any other brides-to-be out there (you aren’t alone, girl) and also put a few things in perspective for myself:

1. You cannot please everyone.

This may be the most important thing I need to remember right now. Your wedding is exactly that: yours. That means every decision you make on location, age restriction, menu, flowers, music, accommodations, perfume scent, etc. for your wedding will most likely not match the preference of every single guest on your list. Don’t fret though, in most circumstances those guests who may not like a decision you made will let you know. (Insert smile here.) Privately or publicly. (Insert thumbs up here.) Either directly or indirectly. (Insert double thumbs up here.)

Sigh.

Unfortunately, that’s Life though. You cannot appease every demand and ideology of every member invited to your wedding. And, in most situations, your guest will acknowledge this fact and accept a heartfelt apology and explanation as to why you decided what you did. Be gracious for your guests’ support (you’re inviting them for a reason, right?), but also hold to what you can financially afford/physically handle/logically control.

2. Life is not only about planning.

Yes, wedding planning demands time and attention, but not every single moment of your life. When you start a conversation with someone, do not only talk about your upcoming nuptials. Not only will you sound like you’re obsessed (because maybe you are), but your conversation partner will most likely become extremely bored. There are only so many minutes when you can mention your heartbreaking conflict of whether to choose white or ivory linens before someone smacks you and walks away.

Be sure to take time to continue with your passions, hobbies, and other responsibilities. Wedding planning is no excuse to give up a nightly jog, a clean house, or hanging out with friends. Maybe even pick up a new pastime to help relax on non-planning time — it’ll generate new conversation topics too!

G and I chose early on to be upfront and open if we needed a “Planning Break” and we’ve implemented tactics multiple times when we were feeling stressed out and overwhelmed by our commitment to planning. When we have our weekly Date Night, we opt to not speak about the planning process at all, actually. Our thoughts are that certain times should be focused solely on ourselves and our relationship. Planning will always be there tomorrow.

3. The engagement period flies by.

I’ll say it again because it’s amazing: I have a little over 100 days until I say “I do.” It seems like just yesterday I was walking the pier and witnessing G dropping to his knee. Where has the time gone?!

Maybe it’s because I’m getting older or because I’m enjoying my life so much (I lean towards the latter), but my engagement days have seemed to go by much quicker than any other months of my life. This is very bittersweet to me — I cannot wait until the last day I can call G my fiancee, but I also do not feel prepared to be called a wife and take on everything that role entails. Truthfully, I do not feel as if I’ll ever be ready for that role as it will be the most responsibility I’ve ever held. Yet, another flip-side, I’m relishing the challenge. So I’m just a hot mess when it comes to realizing my wedding is rolling up soon.

I wish there were a parachute button I could push to make the days go by at least a little bit slower. Perhaps then I could read enough marriage manuals to be prepared, right?

4. There was a reason you said, “Yes!”

What no one tells brides-to-be is that the wedding planning period is truly the test to see if you’re ready for marriage and marrying the right person. Why do I say this? Well, let it suffice to say that there are going to be some disagreements between you and your future hubby. Just like I said in #1 above, you two are not the same person so some decisions you want to make may not coincide with the feelings of your fiancee.

And this is totally fine! To an extent…

During your engagement and planning process, you and your soon-to-be husband are going to have the opportunity to learn more about each other than ever imagined. The most important factors are going to be how well the two of you can converse and compromise (yes, ladies, compromise — you do not get the say in EVERYTHING wedding-related.) These two things are so. very. important. If you cannot communicate and be unselfish during the wedding planning process, how do you expect your marriage to go any better?

Which leads me to my last point…

5. Life goes on after the wedding.

Your wedding is, in most cases, 8 hours out of your entire life. That is a typical work day. Brides-to-be! Do you understand how quickly 8 hours is going to pass by and then… what? Oh right, then you’ll be married. Married to the man at the altar with you for what should be the rest of your life.

At least, that’s my belief concerning marriage.

So my goal is to enjoy the wedding, but focus on the marriage. I want to have a solid foundation with my husband-to-be. That means I’m on good terms with him AND his family at all times. That means I’m continuously building onto our relationship by making time for one another, recognizing what each of our expectations are once we’re married, and moving pieces in my life around to meet both our needs. That means, even though I still technically check “Single” on all federal paperwork, I am always thinking of myself as an extension to my relationship.

Never forget there is a goal to a wedding. Make sure you line up your pieces well enough in advance to be successful in that goal.

You are not alone in this planning process, ladies. Yes, you have your fiancee and your family and your friends, but you also have the encouragement and understanding (and condolences) of every other woman who has gone through this period. You’re not alone. And to me, that makes me feel a whole lot stronger because I know there is actually an end to the madness.

With you and for you, friends.

Sig

What FAQs to Add to Your Website

If your guest list contains guests like mine, then you are going to have some important questions directed your way prior to your Big Day. Some questions some guests are hesitant to ask the bride and the groom directly though. Which is why wedding websites definitely come in so handy! (Don’t have a wedding website yet? Check out my post on where to begin here.) Websites are a great way to get the pertinent schedule information you want directly to your guests without having to field a bunch of e-mails while trying to finalize your wedding plans. Basically, they’re a win-win for both sides!

A FAQ section on your wedding website is a great way to address the most important wedding questions (and even a few non-essential, funny ones as well) that are going to be asked. Since there are so many potential questions to be asked, I’ve compiled a list of some wedding guest questions I have either personally received (as a wedding coordinator or as a bride-to-be) or know to be frequently asked. Please feel free to take these questions and any of my answer examples as your own to tweak for your wedding website FAQ section as well.

DO YOU HAVE A HOTEL ROOM BLOCK?

Though you may have this information in an actual Accommodation section of your website, reiterating for out-of-town guests is always a good idea. Don’t forget to include deadline dates and locations!

WHAT TIME SHOULD WE BE THERE?

The ceremony will begin at 2:00pm on June 16. We kindly ask guests to arrive 10-15 minutes prior.

WHEN ARE THE RSVPS DUE?

We’d love to know if you can make it (we hope you can!) Please RSVP by May 11, 2018 using the RSVP card that came in the mail — we included postage and a Deliver To address to make returning easier for you!

CAN WE TAKE PICTURES?

This is a great place to let guests know your special wedding hashtag for social media OR to spread the news you are hosting an unplugged wedding.

IS THERE A DRESS CODE?

We want our guests to be comfortable and enjoy our special day with us! Please dress casual formal and be comfortable in the June weather. The reception will be hosted outdoors.

WHAT KIND OF SHOES SHOULD/SHOULDN’T I WEAR?

Again, we want you to be as comfortable as possible as we celebrate our wedding. The reception will be hosted outdoors. We do request that you bring your dancing shoes though! The dance floor will be grass — as laid back as we are! — and music is brought to you by the live band, Steadfast.

WILL PARKING BE AVAILABLE?

Yes! Both the ceremony and receptions sites have ample parking. For those needing assistance at the reception, an ATV will be present to bring you to the party and take you back to your car following the sparkler send-off at 10:00pm.

CAN I BRING MY CHILDREN?

Are you having an adults-only wedding? Here is the spot to state so! Please refrain from adding this information to your wedding invitations as it is poor etiquette.

We love ALL of your children, however we have decided to make this an adults-only celebration. We hope you understand!

CAN I BRING A DATE?

A VERY common question for your single guests. If anyone is questioning if they have a Plus 1 or not, include your instructions following this question.

Ohh la la! In order to keep our guest list on track, we are only able to accommodate those guests formally invited on your wedding invitation and who have responded via their RSVP. Please feel free to email us/text us with any questions!

WILL THERE BE FOOD AND DRINKS SERVED?

Not all wedding receptions serve food or offer a different type of course rather than dinner. Let your guests know how to prepare. Also feel free to make your guests aware of what type, if any, bar will be available so they come prepared.

WHAT IF I HAVE A DIETARY RESTRICTION?

If you are serving food options, letting your guests with allergies or special dietary needs reach out to you is a wonderful way to welcome them and make them comfortable with your festivities.

WILL THERE BE DANCING/ENTERTAINMENT?

Should your guests expect to hang around after eating or no?

Is there a sun and moon? Ha! Of course we will have dancing! We have arranged for Steadfast, a live band, to play following dinner and help you dance your tush off. This ain’t no Footloose, friends!

WHERE ARE YOU REGISTERED AT?

Be respectful that your guests are not obligated to bring you anything other than their presence at your wedding. 🙂

Your presence at our wedding is gift enough. Seriously. But because you asked we are registered at Kohl’s and Amazon. Please visit our Registry page above for all the details.

WHAT SHOULD/COULD I DO BETWEEN THE CEREMONY AND THE RECEPTION?

This is the perfect spot to mention a cocktail hour or share links to fun points of interest in your wedding city that your guests can visit while you’re busy with photographs and whatnot.

WILL THERE BE ANY ACTIVITIES HAPPENING THAT I NEED TO KNOW ABOUT?

Is there an all-invited wedding brunch happening the day following your wedding? Are you having a special send-off at the reception that guests may want to hang around for? Tell them here!

WILL LAST NAMES BE CHANGING FOLLOWING THE WEDDING?

Share your future married mailing address as well as married names, if there is a change. Guests will appreciate this added note for future correspondence.


View my own wedding’s FAQs here.

Are there any other questions you’ve had guests ask you that you would like to share? Please comment below — I would love to hear more!Sig