Invitation Etiquette-the more complicated questions

When working on your wedding invitations some pretty common questions will come up, simple things like “when should we send these out?” or “does great Aunt Maggie need an invitation considering she’s 102, I haven’t seen her since I was 4 and she lives in the backwoods of Alaska?”. Most of these questions can be resolved by a simple Google search or a quick call to an informed relative.

Gradma's future so bright, she's gotta wear shades

Ends up Aunt Maggie would love to come but she has that bear hunting trip that weekend. (via BBC news)

1. How to tell your guests that their kids aren’t invited

I’ve written about kids and weddings before and it is one of the most common questions I get while designing invitations; How can I (nicely) ask my guests not to bring their kids? Now, most people don’t mind children at the ceremony, especially if it’s in a church or even at a separate location than the reception, since many people have children in the wedding. However, for those of you who would like a child free environment, there are some simple ways to communicate that. Generally on the invitation, the last line is in reference to the reception (Reception to follow at 6 pm  at the Hilton Garden Ballroom, Reception to immediately follow in Rose Hall, etc) so you can simply  put the word “Adult” in front of reception and problem solved ( Adult reception to follow….). Or if you are having a details card you can put “Adults only please” or, even more gingerly, “Because of limited space, we request no children”. Inevitably there are people that are going to think “Psh, she knows I have a 3 month old so I’m sure it’ll be fine if I bring the kid to the wedding, we are 3rd cousins once removed after all.” The next step is to thoroughly read the response cards, if you send the invite to a couple and they include 3 people on the “number attending” line with no indication of who this third “mystery person” is, it’s time to pick up the phone and ask. If they imply that the third person is their child, respectably inform them that the party is adults only. Some people might be offended but what is MORE offensive is that those people explicitly ignored your polite request on the invitation. There is also the issue of whether or not a 16 year old is a child or not, that will have to be considered on a case by case basis of course, and it is totally your call.  BUT I would say in 99% of cases, parents are totally stoked about having a night off from their kids where instead of being wrist deep poopy diapers and spittle all they have to worry about is whether or not they can still do the worm or if the wine will run out before the party does.

Yep, he's still got it  (vi onewed)

Yep, he’s still got it
(via onewed)

2. How to limit the number of guests YOUR guests are bringing

Weddings cost money, SURPRISE! You’ll figure that tid bit out when you start planning your wedding, the next thing you’ll figure out is that it isn’t just the wedding itself that costs you, its the people. When you begin to do your budget, you’ll start referring your cost as “X amount of dollars a head”, the more heads you have, the more money it’s gonna cost you. SO, what many do in order to not sacrifice their vision, they cut down on the number of guests. Instead of coworkers and 3rd cousins, you generally keep it to 1st relations and good friends. The issue that arises in this instance are the people who want to bring EVERYONE with them. You may invite Aunt Carol and Uncle Mike but they want to bring Mike’s step son, Eddie, from a previous marriage who is living with them and of course he’s gonna want to bring a date so when doing the response card under the “number attending” line they put 4, though they’ve only indicated Carol and Mike on the “names” line.

Oh Eddie, you really never could get your life together...I personally blame the dreads.

Oh Eddie, you really never could get your life together…I personally blame the dreads.

So, you know that there will be some people who are going to try to bring whoever and how many they want, how do you keep it from happening? Start with the outer envelope, “Mr. Mike and Mrs. Carol Whatstheirname”, then the inner envelope is more informal, “Aunt Carol and Uncle Mike”. The INNER envelope is where you would indicate if they can bring others, “Aunt Carol, Uncle Mike, and no-good-kinda-cousin Eddie”. The OUTER envelope is addressed to those who own or are the primary residents of the home, so if you’re also sending the invite to a couple whose children are in college and don’t know their dorm address, then you’d address the OUTER envelope to “Mr & Mrs Jerome White” and then the INNER envelope will read “Uncle Jerome, Aunt Molly, Jenny & Krystal”. SO if you want to be completely clear on who’s invited, the inner envelope would kinda spell it out for them. If you’re really REALLY worried about people inviting more than their share, you can send them the invite with the response card PRE-FILLED, where you go ahead and filled out “2” or “1” or whatever on the “number attending” line before you send it out. The best thing you can do overall is put “Number attending” instead of a basic yes or no on your response card, so if someone does write an unexpected number, you can always pick up the phone and ask.

3. How to get your guest your gift registry information

This is quite the controversial topic in the wedding industry and there is no one right answer so I am going to tell you my personal opinion on the matter. When it comes to your wedding registry, it is up to you and no one else on how you get this information to your guests. Some people say that you should never EVER put your registry information on your invitation because it’s tacky but I completely disagree. In my opinion, the best way to include your registry is by putting a line on a details card that simply says “We are registered at Target and Pottery Barn” or if you want to seem super polite “You presence is all the gift we need but if you feel so inclined, we are registered at…”. Another way is to have a wedding website that has your registry information on it that you can direct your guests too. Many of my clients have a line on the details card that says “For additional information including maps, accommodations and registry, please visit (wedding website)”. The traditional way to get registry information out to your guests was through bridal showers and word of mouth, but if you’re inviting 200+ people to your wedding, that a lot of people to get the word out too. Keep it simple and just put it in the invite, is my opinion.

It also help to take the guess work out of gift-giving. Do you really want 5 toasters because you were afraid to put your registry information out there?

It also helps  take the guess work out of gift-giving. Do you really want  five toasters because you were afraid to put your registry information out there?

4. Going to the web to save money

GET A WEDDING WEBSITE. Seriously, get one. It is the #1 thing I tell my brides in order to save money. Most wedding website are free and easy to use and will also save you a lot of headaches. When it comes to invitations, some people have gone completely online. I would not recommend this, obviously because I would be out of business if I did but also because weddings are special and intimate, emailing an invite seems so informal it’s almost cold. HOWEVER, there are ways you can use the web to your advantage when making your invitations. Every time you add more information to your invite, the more expensive it becomes. Some brides require not just a response card but an accommodations card, reception card, map card, rehearsal dinner card, etc. That’s a lot of printing, and a lot of paper, when you can condense everything onto a simple details card-“Details, for more information including accommodations, maps, and reception information, please visit”. To save on postage, instead of doing a mailer as your response card, direct your guests to go to the website for response or a designated email address. The controversy with this is that there will be people in your family who don’t use email or still refer to the internet as the “world wide web”.

"Dang ol' talky demon box, I remember in the good ol' days when we'd use a carrier pigeon to RSVP to weddings.

“Dang ol’ talky demon box! I remember in the good ol’ days when we’d use a carrier pigeon to RSVP to weddings.

The truth is, there’s a pretty good chance those individuals who will have a hard time using the website for information, are probably not going to be getting themselves to the wedding anyways. Putting certain information is an antiquated formality on invitations, for example, if you put “Accommodations have been made at the Courtyard Marriott in Georgetown” without the phone number attached, who’s response is going to be “Which Courtyard Marriott? There must be at least 100 in Georgetown, HOW WILL I GET A HOLD OF THIS MYSTERIOUS COURTYARD MARRIOTT!?!” The answer is no one, no one will respond this way, they will Google “Courtyard Marriott Georgetown” and be on their merry way. So, when is comes to the wedding website being added to your invite, no one is going to freak out because they don’t know what to do.

In conclusion…

So to sum it all up, all I can say is that when it comes to etiquette, you need to do what makes sense to YOU. You are not being rude or insincere if you take specific measure to make sure you stay in budget and get what you want for your wedding. If people you see your  modern approach to wedding invitations and have such a negative response to it that they don’t want to come to your wedding  (ya like that’s actually gonna happen), you don’t want them at your wedding anyways.


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