I am a firm believer that it's your wedding, so Have It Your Way. When you don't make it about you as a couple, it takes away from the meaning behind this one day. Case in point, I once attended a wedding in Dahlonega, Georgia (which incidentally is where people usually begin their foray into a thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail) several summers ago. The sweaty humid Southern weather was the bane of my hairstyle for that day. Being a lady who sweats, not perspires, I knew to plan for such an event with a light cotton sundress and an updo, trying to keep the hair from clinging to my neck. However, it was just an oppressive day which was rather unusual for the mountainous area.
When we got to the reception, it was a candlelit affair that was outdoors with lanterns on the ground lighting the path from the cocktail hour to the dining area. The stars popped out by the time the dancing had started and as the first dance was about to begin, several young nieces and nephews ran through the area. Following them was a harried mother calling after the children. The first dance began, but the couple's song "Unchained Melody" was constantly interrupted by the screeching of children playing and the one mother yelling at them to be quiet. Later on, during a spontaneous additional toast from the Father of the Bride, as we all left the dance floor to grab our glasses of champagne once again, some of the youngest children accidentally knocked over some of the lanterns on the pathway. They were playing and having fun, but the broken glass and potential for fire paused the celebration for a short, but awkward time. Some adults took care of the situation, but the Father of the Bride was more concerned about the kids than finishing his toast. After the honeymoon, I asked the bride what she wished she had done differently. Her response, "I wish we had stuck with our original plan of having an adults-only reception."
The bride and her groom had a vision of an upscale, adult reception at their venue; as family members found out that they weren't allowing children, they started getting emails and phone calls. In fact, the bride showed me the Christmas card she had gotten from her sister-in-law (the harried mother chasing the kids around the reception, of course) stating that she felt offended that her children wouldn't be welcome. After noodling on it, the couple acquiesced. The bride spent weeks trying to eliminate all the expensive, delicate items that she had wanted as decorations at the wedding, but much had already been put in place and paid for. The time was not kid-friendly either; the dancing was arranged for 9pm-1am.
What I learned from this is simple: it is COMPLETELY acceptable to have an adults-only reception. If your vision as a couple is to have a reception that doesn't involve children, you may not get certain guests to attend because they can't find appropriate child care. Or they are just simply disinterested in making the effort if their children are unable to participate. Either way, it's no different from ordering a Whopper Jr. without ketchup and tomatoes. Have it your way--it is your wedding after all!