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Wedding Wednesday – Not Clear From The Save The Date Card Whether Kids Will Be Invited

I have an etiquette question that I am hopeful our Dame Admin and you all, will help me address. DH’s youngest cousin “Kelly” is getting married to a lovely young man “Jim”, some distance away from our home town X and also from their residence, town Y, in Jim’s elderly parents’ home town, town Z. Town Z is several hours away from our home town X. The wedding is an outdoor, daytime ceremony with an indoor cocktail reception immediately following. DH and I are over the moon excited for cousin and cousin’s fiancé. We have just received the Save-the-Date card, which was addressed to my DH and me, as in “Bob and Jenny Smith”, not “Bob and Jenny Smith and Family”. However, the wedding is during the daytime, and there are children in the wedding party (Kelly’s nieces and nephews and Jim’s nieces and nephews). We are not vested into necessarily bringing our children, but if kids are not invited, we need to know sooner rather than later, so as to make appropriate childcare arrangements (DH’s parents will be attending the wedding, and my parents live out of state, necessitating making plans in advance, as DH and I will likely have to stay the night at the event and will not want to leave the children overnight with a babysitter who is not a grandparent).

Would it be rude to contact Kelly and Jim and outright ask them if the children are invited? If it would be acceptance, how should DH or I phrase the question so she does not feel pressured to invite them? Should DH call? Should I call? Or, should we just wait until the formal invitation comes and deal with it then? And how to ask so as not to offend Kelly and Jim?

Signed,  Befuddled 0220-18

I would wait until the formal wedding invitation has been received.   You don’t want to give the impression that you are fishing for the kids to be invited and once you receive the invite, you’ll know for certain whether your children are invited.

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  • Annaliese Wootton April 11, 2018, 7:08 am

    I had this happen but I was also going to be pregnant/a new mother as well. We got the std and I instantly text my friend and after a lot of gushing over her beautiful invite and her stunning ring, I told her straight I would probably be a new mum/heavily pregnant at the time of her wedding. I then straight out text her “did you want me to bring my kids or not? I’m fine either way and will be coming, just need to make babysitting arrangements.” My friend then said it was a massive financial cost and she would prefer if we left them at home.
    In the event, my husband I stayed overnight, didn’t take either of the children (he was born 2 weeks early) and had a blast!

  • A different Tracy April 11, 2018, 7:32 am

    I disagree. I think it would be fine to say “For planning purposes, we were wondering if the kids would be invited. We want to go ahead and get our childcare lined up if needed.” This shows that you aren’t fishing for an invitation, but are instead planning to respect the couple’s wishes.

    • Margo April 13, 2018, 6:18 am

      Or you can phrase it as “Am I right in thinking that the children aren’t invited? I read the STD as being just the two of us, but I wanted to check before I start booking travel and child care”

      I think ‘we have read it as an adult only invite’ rather than ‘ we don’t understand if it is adults only or not’ makes it clearer that you are not expecting them to issue an invitation.

  • lkb April 11, 2018, 8:13 am

    I respectfully disagree with our beloved Admin (welcome back, BTW). Save-the-dates are issued specifically so that invited guests can start making travel arrangements. As I recall, formal invitations are issued about six weeks before the actual date, which may be too late to get best pricing and accommodations. (If, for example, the city where the wedding will take place has a major convention or sports event, rooms may be scarce.)

    I see nothing wrong with asking the couple or their parents for a clarification, saying pretty much as they did here: “We are not vested into necessarily bringing our children, but if kids are not invited, we need to know sooner rather than later, so as to make appropriate childcare arrangements.”

    Best wishes to the happy couple and their loved ones.

    • EchoGirl April 19, 2018, 3:35 pm

      I have to agree. Given that we live in a culture where it’s very common for even immediate family members to be scattered across the country, the issue of accommodations and travel is one that has to be considered. And depending on where the couple is getting married, options may not remain available forever. For example, during one cousin’s Bar Mitzvah, we discovered that there were two college graduations in the same town the same weekend, and every single hotel was booked solid over two months in advance, except for the block of rooms that my uncle had had set aside. If he hadn’t done that, we would’ve been SOL, and this was a three-hour plane ride from home, not something we could manage to go back and forth from.

  • AFS April 11, 2018, 8:24 am

    I agree with Admin that you should wait until the actual invitation is sent, which will clearly state whether or not your children are invited. This being said, that is usually delineated by whom is listed on the envelope. Following this, from how the save-the-date was addressed, I’m guessing that your children will not be invited.

    With regards to other children being at the wedding–specifically nieces and nephews in the wedding party–it’s common practice to invite children in circles, e.g. children of the bride and groom’s siblings, children of close friends who are in the wedding party. Unless other children’s cousins are invited, this is hardly a snub.

    • AFS April 11, 2018, 10:07 am

      *unless other cousins’ children 🙂

  • Zhaleh April 11, 2018, 8:47 am

    What admin said. But it sounds as if LW needs to know now.
    In that case, assume the kids aren’t invited and make arrangements accordingly.
    That way you get a nice night away from the kids. Hopefully the kids and grandparents enjoy each other’s company, making it a win/win.

  • Hanna April 11, 2018, 8:48 am

    I would call and say “DH and I are so excited to attend your wedding. We are making our arrangements now, and we are not sure if you expected the kids to attend or if we should get a sitter lined up. We are happy either way!” And if they indicate that the event is to be without the kids, say something indicating how nice to have time with adults.

  • sam April 11, 2018, 9:44 am

    if you definitely must make travel plans before the actual wedding invites are going to go out, I would say something like this –

    “We’re so happy to have gotten your save the date. We just had one question, and this is ABSOLUTELY not to put pressure on you, we just wanted to be sure before we started making travel plans. We weren’t sure if the kids were invited – it’s absolutely fine if they’re not – but as we make plans, that includes figuring out what plans to make for them.”

    Obviously waiting for the actual invite is better, and probably doable if the travel only involves driving and not having to book plane tickets, etc. But if you must ask, ask in a way that makes it very clear that you’re not trying to somehow finagle an invite for the kids.

    • Livvy17 April 16, 2018, 1:17 pm

      I agree, this is how I’d handle it as well. It think it’s important too to realize that not everyone is so concerned with or clear on the nuances of etiquette as the lovely readers on this site. It’s very much possible that the person who addresses the invites may not realize that they need to specifically include “and family, ” or Miss Janie or Master Jack, or whatever on the invite. I’ve received invitations before addressed Mr. and Mrs., only to be asked at the event, where’s dear Miss D? When I sputter that I didn’t realize she had been invited, I hear, “Well, of COURSE family is welcome” (subtext: DUH!). Therefore, I don’t have any problem, with careful preludes, about asking for clarification.

  • jokergirl129 April 11, 2018, 9:45 am

    I think waiting for the formal, official, invite might be best as well. I mean I don’t know too much about save the date cards (besides for the obvious use of letting the invitee know to save that particular date off and such). But I don’t know if you would list everyone on the save the date card as you would with a formal invitation. So I would wait since the formal invite should come not too long after and it should list everyone that is invited. So, OP if you see your husband and your name listed only then you’ll know only you both are invited but if your children’s names are also on there then they are welcome too.

  • Firsttimer April 11, 2018, 10:16 am

    I disagree about waiting. The save-the-date was addressed to you and your SO, not the family, so I would assume the children are not invited. There’s really not a tactful way to address an envelope to exclude children other than just leaving them off. However, I don’t see anything rude about calling to ask for clarification. “Hi Kelly, we are really looking forward to the wedding! I just wanted to check if the kids are invited. We’re still happy to attend if it’s an adults-only party, I just wanted to make sure before I arrange childcare.” Try to indicate that you’re confirming the kids aren’t invited, rather than fishing for them to be invited or that your attendance/excitement depends on whether the kids can come. If that seems too uncomfortable, just assume it’s no kids and make your childcare arrangements.

  • eddie April 11, 2018, 10:24 am

    I don’t see any harm in asking either the couple or their parents. “We were excited to receive the Save the Date card and want to start working on plans to attend. Should we plan to bring the children or is it an adults-only occasion?” This is not a rude or pressuring question, and it doesn’t indicate that you won’t come if kids aren’t invited, only that you want to plan for either.

  • ErindV April 11, 2018, 10:30 am

    If the formal invite still leaves you confused about whether children are welcome I think it is perfectly acceptable to ask for clarification. You could ask your cousin’s mother whether the happy couple intend to include children as guests, or you could ask your cousin directly. Just be certain to preface the question with a statement making it clear that you are fine with either answer and not fishing for an invite for your kids. I had a guest or two email me asking that very question about my child free wedding, and I was not offended in the least.

  • Dee April 11, 2018, 11:02 am

    If the purpose of the Save The Date card is to give a heads-up to out-of-town families so they can make the arrangements necessary to be able to attend, and if OP cannot make those arrangements until she knows whether kids are invited and by the time the invitation arrives it might be too late, then what’s the point of the STD card?

    If OP and hubby are as motivated to attend as she says they are then they need to know, for sure, whether the kids are invited or not, and soon. Since it’s hubby’s side of the family he is the one who needs to contact his cousin or her family, to get clarification.

    Honestly, it all sounds so very complicated when it really is not. Send an invitation to the parties that you want to attend your event, with enough time that they can make the arrangements to do so, if that’s what they wish. And put all the necessary details on the invitation so there is no confusion. But I’m almost waiting to hear the next installment of this story, where OP has arranged for the grandparents to watch the kids and vacation days have been booked at work, only to find the invitation not forthcoming, because the wedding couple decided to cut the guest list after sending out the STDs. It seems to be a recurring theme with these STDs and modern weddings.

  • Wheeling April 11, 2018, 12:08 pm

    I disagree with admin. They may think you are fishing, but I think if you said, “hey, we’re looking forward to the wedding. I don’t care either way, but I wanted to see if kids are included, because if not, we’re going to plan an adults only weekend and want to get on childcare now” no one is going to give you a hard time.

  • NicoleK April 11, 2018, 1:03 pm

    Ask their Mom. “Hi Aunt Suzy, we were wondering if you were expecting the kids to come or if we could leave them with a sitter.”

  • ladyv21454 April 11, 2018, 1:09 pm

    Considering some of the stories we’ve seen here in the past, I’m not sure the LW can assume that she and her husband are invited! I hope that Kelly and Jim will be considerate enough to send out invitations well in advance to allow for people to make travel arrangements.

  • Aleko April 11, 2018, 1:22 pm

    I think that if a save the date is received, it’s entirely reasonable to seek clarification on who exactly the date is to be saved for. After all, the whole point is so guests can free themselves up to attend.

    If OP is worried that this might be construed as fishing for an invite, one way to make clear that they aren’t would be to say ‘the date’s in our diary and Jenny and I are really looking forward to it, we’ll find friends who can take in the children for that weekend’. Then if Kelly and Jim just didn’t think to word the STD correctly, they can clarify.

    BTW, I don’t think that there being children in the wedding party itself is relevant at all. Many couples who are having a wedding reception that’s not really child-friendly give their small relatives a role in the ceremony, but arrange for them to be taken home or otherwise taken care of somewhere else straight afterwards.

  • staceyizme April 11, 2018, 1:46 pm

    A save the date announcement is murkier than an invitation, but the phrasing is addressed to the couple making it unlikely that the children will be invited. It might be ideal to take the children, since it will be an overnight trip, and arrange for a sitter on the premises of the hotel. You would still enjoy the event and the children can enjoy the pool or whatever amenities are offered by the hotel. A few hours of sitter assistance on sight might be less expensive than a full day or two day nanny gig. In order to make the trip appealing for your children, if you take them, perhaps arrange a visit with some relatives after the wedding or arrange for an outing to a local venue that would be of interest to them.

  • Devin April 11, 2018, 2:58 pm

    Since booking flights isn’t in order, wait for the invite to find out if the little ones will be invited. It might be nice to go ahead and make plans for the kids so you and DH can have a fun adult evening without them, regardless if they end up being included.

  • Grace April 11, 2018, 3:26 pm

    You could call them and say that you and your husband are looking forward to the wedding….

  • Princess Buttercup April 11, 2018, 9:41 pm

    Since great planning has to go into attending if kids are not allowed I actually wouldn’t wait.
    Whomever is closest to one of the couple (probably hubby to cousin) I’d have call the couple. Or call the couple’s parents since they’ll likely know the ins and outs. And say something like; we are so excited and happy for you! We are looking at working out our travel plans and wanted to clarify something. I know that some weddings are kid free so I just wanted to check before we made any potentially wrong assumptions. Does our invite extend to our kids or do we need to plan care for them? Either way is something we can work with, just wanted to be sure.

  • Rebecca April 12, 2018, 12:14 am

    I’d just ask them outright: “Are children welcome too, or should I make childcare arrangements? I just thought I’d ask so I can plan accordingly.”

    That way it’s clear you are not trying to wrangle an invite for your kids, but just trying to plan properly so that you can attend.

    They may not want kids there, or they may just be like, “No, are you kidding me? Of course you should bring them!!” But either way you have to know so you can plan how you will attend.

  • SS April 12, 2018, 10:27 am

    I disagree with the admin. I agree with others that the std card is there to allow you to start making arrangements. I would call up the couple and say that I’m happy to start making my arrangements and wondered if the children were invited so that I knew whether to begin planning childcare arrangements. That does not sound like begging for an invite because it is saying that the OP is perfectly willing to make alternate arrangements for their children.

  • Calli Arcale April 12, 2018, 1:46 pm

    I’m with all those who advise asking, but in a manner that clearly indicates you fully endorse whatever decision the couple makes on the matter. Now, if the wedding is in a year and you anticipate getting the real invitations in six months, that’s different and it’s probably fine to wait. But if the wedding is a bit closer, it’s prudent to ask now rather than find yourself in a bind later.

  • Jenn50 April 12, 2018, 3:01 pm

    I’d call to congratulate and gush, and drop a comment like, “We so appreciate the advance notice so we can make travel plans and find a sitter!” If they expected the kids, they will correct you and let you know the kids are welcome too. If not, it makes it clear that you are prepared to leave them home and doesn’t come off as a fishing expedition for invitations.

  • Pame April 12, 2018, 3:24 pm

    If I understand, you would want your parents to travel to your home town or send your kids to them if the kids are not invited since you are uncomfortable with leaving your kids overnight with anyone other than grandparents. If that is the case, I understand wanting to have a plan in place before a couple of months before the wedding. I’d inquire in a chatty way. “Hi, Cousin. Loved your save the dates. DH and I are really excited about being with you guys. We are assuming that kid’s are not included so I’m going to plan to have my parents come into town so we can have a nice time with you guys and not have to rush home to them. But before we talk to my parents I wanted to confirm I had made the correct assumption. I’d hate to tell my parents that they could have the kids for the weekend and then have to say “Oops, sorry, the kids are invited and are coming with us.”

  • OP April 12, 2018, 4:10 pm

    Update from the OP: Because cross-country travel is necessary for my parents to watch our kids (and they work, so they would have to make arrangements to take time off to travel to us well in advance), I had DH touch base with his cousin and basically say what a lot of the PP’s have said, express our enthusiasm and inquire about kids’ status for planning purposes. Kelly and Jim are not having kids outside of the wedding party, so we thanked them for letting us know, expressed our enthusiasm once again and asked my parents to come and watch the kids (we are paying for their tickets, of course, as they are doing us a huge favor). So, status confirmed, childcare arranged, and DH and I are looking forward to traveling to a fun weekend and a lovely weekend away celebrating the soon-to-be married couple!

    • A different Tracy April 13, 2018, 8:01 am

      Perfectly handled! Glad it worked out.

  • Vicki April 12, 2018, 5:46 pm

    One possible phrasing would be “Wesley and I are looking forward to the wedding. It’s not clear whether the kids are invited. It’s fine either way, of course–we just need to know whether to arrange for a babysitter, or (take the kids shopping for appropriate clothes in their current size | reserve a hotel room with two beds and a refrigerator | buy for train/plane tickets).”

    Even if you know the kids have suitable dress-up clothes because there’s another event two weeks later, phrasing it like that makes it look less like fishing for an invitation, because it’s a reason why you need more notice if the are invited as well as if they aren’t.

  • esmerita April 12, 2018, 8:09 pm

    You must ask, don’t assume. Even if you wait for the official invitation, there is no guarantee it will be clear either.

    My husband and I once attended a wedding where we were the only guests named on the invitation, and made a three hour trip the day before to bring my mother to our house to care for our 4 year old, only to have the happy couple ask where our son was, as there was a place at the children’s table for him!

  • NostalgicGal April 12, 2018, 10:12 pm

    If I have to fly anywhere it takes more than three months ahead for me to get things set up, more like six or so. As it takes a major budget sort plus trying to nail down tickets… so if I received a STD card I would have no problem contacting them and indicating “Hi, congratulations. I got your STD card. Due to concerns and needs on my end, are children going to be invited or not? It’s okay either way, but I have to get started on plans and arrangements to attend and that’s an important thing I need to find out and know as I make my plans. …”

  • DaDancingPsych April 13, 2018, 7:33 am

    I would say that the LW already has the answer. The STD was not addressed to the children (or “and family”), so they will not receive an invitation. I do recognize that most couples probably do not think of these things when addressing STD’s and that they are also not formal in nature, but if you want someone to save the date, then you best address them (children, too.)

    If appropriate, I might mention that I am hoping and excited to attend, but that we are working out the details concerning our children. I realize that this might be seen as a fish for an invitation, but I think it gives the HC room to say either way. “Oh, I do hope that you can find a sitter!” or “We are trying to make the wedding child friendly, so hopefully it will all work out!”

    As a single woman, I am always trying to figure out the “and guest” factor. Weddings are certainly more enjoyable when I have someone to dance with, but finding and planning for that person tends to work better when I have some advance notice. And depending on the dynamics of the wedding, it does factor on my decision to attend or not sometimes. I, too, am always playing the “who’s invited” guessing game (home version, of course!)

  • NicoleK April 14, 2018, 3:17 pm

    STD is a horrible acronym to be using, I keep reading your messages very differently than intended when they say things like, “… and I got a STD”

    • Jenn50 April 15, 2018, 9:32 pm

      I’m having the same issue.

    • Kry April 16, 2018, 5:01 am

      Thank you!
      I am so glad that I am not the only one having to mentally correct myself. 😉

  • ALM April 15, 2018, 8:58 pm

    “We have just received the Save-the-Date card, which was addressed to my DH and me, as in “Bob and Jenny Smith”, not “Bob and Jenny Smith and Family”. ”

    This is not a mystery. Your kids are not invited.

    There is a small chance that your kids MIGHT be invited by the time the formal invites go out, but right now they are not invited and you should not expect them to be.

    Make your arrangements now for childcare. Since you are planning to go with family as opposed to paid sitters anyway, go ahead with the arrangement, confident that if the invite does come through for the kids, you can simply change the arrangements without losing a deposit.

    If the happy couple a) wanted to invite your kids and b) knew they were able to accomodate your kids at their venue at this time, they would have put their names on the STD envelope.

  • Jane April 19, 2018, 2:21 pm

    A little late here, but I wanted to say that I love that you are taking into consideration the fact that your children may not be invited. Too many times I’ve heard stories of couples who did not include children in their guest lists, yet multiple people showed up with small children in tow without checking first, and then grew annoyed that the reception was not more children friendly (happened to my own sister!) and I think it’s great that you want to check and make proper accommodations!

    Now, to answer your question I have never received a Save the Date that was addressed to different people than the actual invitation was. If the STD didn’t include your children I doubt the invitation will either. When I was a child STDs for weddings that would included me and my siblings had our names on them as well, ones that were for our parents only did not.

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