Ask the Experts: "Can I Have Kids in My Bridal Party and Still Throw an Adults-Only Reception?"

Welcome to our latest installment of "Ask the Experts," where our contributor team of wedding planners solves readers' most pressing wedding planning dilemmas! This week, Jessica Carrillo from Art & Soul Events and Sara Geiss from Something Events offer advice on a sticky situation involving kids. 

Q. "My fiancé's sister is one of my bridesmaids and her three-year-old son, and five-year-old daughter will be our ring bearer and flower girl at the ceremony. I'm throwing an adults-only reception with a sit-down dinner at a yacht club, and I informed everyone about our plans early on in our engagement, so she was aware of this. Now my future sister-in-law says she'll be at the ceremony but won't be able to attend the reception because she can't get a babysitter for that day. Help! What should I do?"

ring bearer bowl
Photo Credit: Revival Photography

Jessica Answers:

"If the ultimate goal is to avoid a potential family conflict, then I would suggest offering to arrange and pay for a sitter. That way, you can keep the yacht club reception adults-only, still include your fiance's niece and nephew in the ceremony, and your future sister-in-law/bridesmaid can be present at portions of the celebration. Or, you can just make an exception and allow the two children to attend the reception. Either of these options will help to keep tension within the immediate family to a minimum.

I will agree that it's slightly annoying that she knew the deal in the early planning stages, and now she says she can't attend because of it. However, in these types of scenarios, I always try to look at the situation from all perspectives. Your SIL may be concerned that she is already paying for a bridesmaid dress, flower girl dress, and ring bearer attire, along with other costs associated with being a wedding guest, such as gifts, travel, and accommodations. Adding the sitter on top of that might just be outside of her budget. Or she might just be hurt that her children can't attend. Either way, some compromise on your part will show that you care."

Sara Answers:

"The question of whether or not to allow children at your wedding is a tough one to begin with, and this particular scenario compounds the issue by adding potential family politics and creating an awkward situation no matter how you address it.

There are so many factors to consider: Is the venue kid-friendly? Will there by anything for the kids to do? What's the overall vibe of the wedding? In this case, your bridesmaid was informed in advance that she'll need a babysitter for the reception since children aren't allowed; however, since she's your soon-to-be sister-in-law, I suggest talking to your fiancé and getting his take on the situation. Find out if there are special concerns when dealing with his sister and her children.

There are a couple of different ways you can handle it:

You can offer to hire a babysitter for all guests that have children or just for your bridesmaid. They can watch the kids at a nearby hotel if you have a room block, or stay at a family member's residence. If the venue has a separate room that the kids can stay in, then having them close by will help put the parents at ease. Guests with children will have the chance to enjoy themselves at the wedding festivities, knowing that they're nearby and being taken care of by a sitter.

Or since the kids are in the bridal party, you can invite them to the reception. You can even say they're welcome to join the reception until dancing and the party begins. At that point, maybe there's another family member who wouldn't mind leaving early to look after the kids.

Lastly, I suggest that you let your bridesmaid know that it would mean a lot to you and your fiancé if she can make it to the reception, even if it's only for a short time.

The only wrong answer is to say nothing and then begrudge your future sister-in-law for leaving your wedding early."

Tell us: What would YOU do in this situation?

— Stefania Sainato

jessica carrillo


Jessica Carrillo is the founder and owner of Art & Soul Events. She believes in creating authentic, out-of-the-box weddings that reflect the couple. Her goal is to provide unparalleled quality and service, smooth out the wedding planning process and make it enjoyable and easy to navigate. She wants to get to know couples and make sure their personalities shine through on their wedding day. Art & Soul Events will help make any wedding fun, soulful and authentically "you."


sara geiss


Sara Geiss is the founder and owner of Something Events, a full-service wedding and event company. Sara's been planning, designing, and coordinating weddings, parties, and other events since her own wedding in 2010. She and her team have over a decade of combined wedding experience. She's got an eye for details and leaves nothing to chance. She strives for every event to be picture-perfect, with the number-one priority being a great experience for the bride and groom.