Invitation Wording

I’m currently in the process of finalizing wording for the wedding invitations and wanted to highlight some language we’ll be using that may seem atypical (or are pointed out as wedding invite etiquette no-nos). Despite what the etiquette rules say about guests magically knowing who’s invited by the specific names included on the outer/inner envelope, I’ve heard (and seen) time and time again the ultimate guest faux pas of assuming they can bring other people. I think the heart of the matter is that 1) many weddings do generally include a plus-one, but we’re trying to have an intimate gathering where we know every person who will be celebrating with us and 2) unless they’ve planned a wedding, most guests really and truly do not understand just how expensive weddings are—and that bringing additional guests is directly related to increasing the overall cost.


Image via It’s a Bride’s Life

So for our invitations, we are making it as clear as possible as to exactly who’s invited. I wrote a whole post about how we are not including children—we have let our guests know this via word of mouth and have also included it on the FAQ section of our wedding website. But just to be 100% clear, we are also including “Adults Only” on the bottom of our invites, next to “Formal Attire.” Apparently it’s a big etiquette no-no to say “Adults Only” on the invite, but I’m saying screw that. If it’s fine to tell guests what to wear (which is acceptable in the etiquette rules), then I say it’s acceptable to tell people it’s an adult affair.

For the RSVP cards, to ensure it’s crystal clear to guests exactly who from their household is invited, we are doing two things. First, below the RSVP card due date, we have a line that says “Due to the intimate nature of our wedding, we have reserved X seat(s) in your honor” (X will be the number of people invited from their household). And right below that, the invited guests’ names will be listed out with an “accepts/regrets” line below each for them to check off. If this doesn’t clarify who’s invited, I don’t know what else will! See the actual proofs below.


Example of the three-person household RSVP card / Digital proof of my order


Example of the two-person household RSVP card / Digital proof of my order

I think it’s OK to be polite but firm in any of the language you choose to include on your invites. Just because the wedding etiquette gods say this or that isn’t acceptable doesn’t mean it’s something you have to adhere to (after all, many of these rules were written decades ago and just frankly don’t apply to modern society anymore). It’s YOUR wedding—don’t be afraid to make up your own rules.

Did you go against traditional wedding etiquette in any way?


Mrs. Mongoose

New Haven, CT
Wedding Date:
May 2013

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  1. Member
    mrsmayabee 107 posts, Blushing bee @ 9:59 pm

    I DIYed our invites and put the names of those invited on their RSVP card like you’re planning on doing it. It seemed to work, except for my completely oblivious boy cousins bringing their girlfriends. Luckily we knew about a week out so I as able to warn the caterers. I handwrote the girls’ place cards though rather than taking the time to print them out on the nice mountings we had made. Was too pissed to make the effort. I hope your guests are timely and smart with their responses!!!

  2. Member
    Ms_Maple 115 posts, Blushing bee @ 4:36 am

    Love the invitations. I was actually just designed ours a couple of weeks ago and included “Adult Only Reception to follow” and “We have reserved X number of seats in your honor”. Glad I’m not the only one saying screw etiquette!

  3. Member
    lealorali 4827 posts, Honey bee @ 7:18 am

    The baby thing stresses me out. Leave your damn kids at home, it’s an ADULT party! Why would anyone want to bring a baby??? I am writing “Adults only” on the FRONT of the invitation, 2 times on my wedding website, and ALSO doing the “we have reserved ____ seats in your honor” thing on the RSVP card. Let’s hope we don’t have any babies!

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    Smile4sue, Guest @ 8:30 pm

    I LOVE this idea and will definitely steal this! I honestly don’t think it’s rude and I am in the same boat as you are. However, my parents EACH have 7-9 siblings (who are traveling with their kids from afar) and they ALL have kids! So what I am going to try and compromise: I am using the conference rooms which is next door to the ballroom where my ceremony and reception will be held as a kids room. Parents can drop off their kiddos next door (for a small fee with qualified sitters); that way they can enjoy the evening knowing their kids are safe and close AND that eliminates the kids from attending an ADULT affair. Is this too much???

  5. Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 9:14 pm

    @Smile4sue: Oooh I haven’t heard of that but I actually think that’s a fantastic idea. Do you think any of your guests will complain about the fee or is it really inexpensive?

  6. Member
    cowpoke06 169 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:39 pm

    I’m totally planning on writing out each person who is included in the invitation on the RSVP also…I’m glad to know I’m not the only one who is anal about that. Also, I’m doing peacock theme also – I think we may be wedding soul mates!

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    Liondragoncustom, Guest @ 11:09 pm

    Thank you for sharing!It’s so useful!

  8. Member
    4evaurs 71 posts, Worker bee @ 12:48 am

    Lol mongoose: I get headaches with all this. Folk just choosing to ignore any instructions. I have had to spell this out too…if its against etiquette…oh well, life goes on!
    All the best

  9. Member
    mswallaby 2057 posts, Buzzing bee @ 5:46 am

    I’ve never heard of doing that for the RSVPs but it’s SO smart!!! One of our RSVPs to a single friend of Mr. W’s parents that said “Jane Doe and guests” (name changed obvi). That one made the seating chart arrangement pretty interesting… Oh, and P.S. LOVE your invites! So elegant, lady!!

  10. Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 7:49 am

    @FutureMrsRoos: and @Mrs. Wallaby: The main part of the invitations are not finished yet but the first picture is an idea of what they’ll look like! The RSVP cards are actual proofs though (except for the names of course). I can’t wait to see how the invites actually turn out!

  11. Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 7:50 am

    @cowpoke06: I love it! What are your wedding colors?

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Smile4sue, Guest @ 8:30 am

    @Miss Mongoose: Well I don’t think they will complain. I’m just trying to make it more convenient for the parents and I think they appreciate this. I talked to a few parents I’m inviting about this and they all loved that idea (especially the parents that are still breastfeeding). I think the fee is $10 an hour per kid… which I think is a reasonable price.

  13. Member
    graywolf 725 posts, Busy bee @ 3:14 pm

    YES! i’ve been so surprised by people adding plus ones especially…this would really clear it up!

  14. Member
    busybee0706 16 posts, Newbee @ 9:49 pm

    I LOVE your invitations! Are you DIYing and working off a template? Wear did you find this invitation?

  15. Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 6:59 am

    @busybee0706: Thank you! My invites aren’t quite finished yet (the one in the picture is just an example) but the RSVP cards are proofs from my order. I am sooo not a DIY’er so I found my invitation designer on Etsy. Her info can be found in the previous post below;

  16. Member
    canway11 401 posts, Helper bee @ 6:59 pm

    It is super smart. Now did you have each name printed? Was it expensive?

    I am worried if i print it, well it will look bad.

    Thoughts and idea, price points?

  17. Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 7:37 am

    @canway11: I believe she charged me like $0.30 per name, so it wasn’t that bad–came out to an additional $40. They ended up looking fantastic!

  18. Member
    canway11 401 posts, Helper bee @ 2:57 pm

    I took your advise and am definitely putting adults only on the invite. Also I like the seats reserved. It gives them a clear idea as to who is invited and who is not.

    It is hard because with large families with a lot of out of town guests you never know how many you will get before the invites come back. Our range is 114 invites, 50% are out of towners and I think maybe 20% will come. With the economy it is hard for people to travel, pay for hotel and attire. I am hoping I get 80-85 people. We will see.

  19. Guest Icon Guest
    Wedding Invitations by Tango Design, Guest @ 11:05 pm

    I love the rsvp wording idea, and I do not see it rude at all. We have been creating invitations for Australia and overseas clients, over a decade and we ALWAYS advise to go with what it feel right. Noneone better than the bride and the groom to know their needs, their budget and theirs guests possible outcomes. There are 100′s of ways of being clear and keep the good manners. :)

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