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
Daydreaming About LOVE

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  1. mslyre Member
    mslyre 512 posts, Busy bee @ 10:18 am

    That is a great way to make sure no extra guests try to add themselves! We are having a child-free wedding, and we were so lucky that not a single person tried to add any extras! Can’t wait to see how it all turns out!

  2. Member
    jbtimestwo 118 posts, Blushing bee @ 10:35 am

    I love this! I have been trying to figure out how we can ensure that we don’t any extra guests. It is so nerve racking to think that we may have people that just show up. But I have seen this happen several times with family/friends weddings, and I want to try to avoid it.

  3. Member
    ledelady 210 posts, Helper bee @ 10:50 am

    I love these ideas. As they say, “rules are meant to be broken”

    We included my parents names on our invitations since they’re helping to pay for part of our venue. My Mom and Dad didn’t want to be referred to as “Mr. and Mrs.” They thought it was too stuffy and we’re just not that kind of family. So instead they asked that we use just their first names on the invites. Some Bees may think that’s tacky, but for me it feels truer to who we are.

  4. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 10:53 am

    Tried this, and someone STILL brought a baby. Ugh.

  5. msmongoose Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 11:42 am

    @Mrs. Eagle: WOW, that is ridiculous, especially since you made it clear that it was adults only. Not gonna lie, I think this would be the one thing that would cause me to go Bridezilla on someone. How did you handle the situation?

  6. Member
    mrshollinger 1109 posts, Bumble bee @ 12:09 pm

    I am def going to be trying this!

  7. Member
    PersianPlum 21 posts, Newbee @ 12:23 pm

    I’m so excited about your post. I’m in the same situation – I’m paying for the wedding, and we have two large families with children that will not be invited. I also wanted a clever way to word the invites and response cards, and your invites are perfect! THANK YOU for posting this!

    P.S. – my wedding is ANYTHING but traditional, and I am not following any kind of strict etiquette whatsoever. It’s our wedding and we should be able to do whatever we want! Great job!

  8. Member
    jazzy14 837 posts, Busy bee @ 1:14 pm

    I have a huge family and have been stressing over the guest list, and your wording is a big help for our invitations!

  9. eagle Member
    eagle 1552 posts, Bumble bee @ 1:21 pm

    @Miss Mongoose: Honestly, our wedding coordinator tried to keep the mom and baby away from me… and I pretty much flipped when she decided to use my bridal suite as a breastfeeding location (um no!). But honestly I just ignored it and tried to not let it get me down on my wedding…. even though it pissed me off to my core.

  10. msmongoose Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 1:36 pm

    @jaxzoobride: I think that’s a great personal touch to have your parents’ first names!

    @jazzy14: @PersianPlum: You’re welcome! This was a factor that ended up stressing me out way more than I thought it would. I scoured the internet and my wedding books for hours trying to formulate the perfect wording so I hope the message is clear when the invites go out.

  11. Member
    superduperbrit 2466 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:55 pm

    I say do it. In fact, I give you an A+ because I thought saying that ‘x amount of seats have been reserved in your honor’ would be enough to get the point across but I had people still asking me if they could bring someone. Sometimes people just don’t get it.

  12. Member
    superduperbrit 2466 posts, Buzzing bee @ 1:56 pm

    I hated ‘well, so and so isn’t coming so can…’ NO! No they can’t come. >_>….My eye is twitching just thinking about it.

  13. Member
    asia 2555 posts, Sugar bee @ 1:58 pm


  14. Guest Icon Guest
    Elizabeth, Guest @ 3:10 pm

    We are very lucky that we didn’t have this problem. We only invited two children, my H’s cousin (who is 13) and the FG. No one else brought kids. I think if you feel that this would be a problem, you should address it on the invite.

  15. Member
    thatredheadedbride 791 posts, Busy bee @ 3:58 pm

    I think you did a good job being specific with your RSVP cards as to who was invited. Hope you don’t mind if I steal the idea of reserving a specific number of seats! The last thing I need are a handful of uninvited guests, especially those who bring their children in two!

  16. bat Member
    bat 285 posts, Helper bee @ 4:06 pm

    I think writing “adult only” and reserving a specific number of seats shouldn’t be faux paus: I think they’re great ideas and I can’t think of anyone who would be offended by the wording itself (though they might be a bit offended they can’t bring their wee ones, but hey, can’t please anyone!)

  17. Member
    TheHotMrsG 395 posts, Helper bee @ 4:14 pm

    I love this idea. This goes against etiquette? That just seems plain silly to me. I am so stealing this idea. Since we are doing pocketfolds and don’t have that traditional inner envelope this really helps to clear up any confusion.

    Thank you, Thank you, Thank you

  18. msmongoose Member
    msmongoose 264 posts, Helper bee @ 4:40 pm

    @thatredheadedbride: I don’t mind at all! Glad to help :)

    @TheHotMrsG: I love the way pocketfold invites look–I can’t wait to see how mine turn out. And you’re welcome!

  19. mspony Member
    mspony 9265 posts, Buzzing Beekeeper @ 6:14 pm

    I think this is super smart. You would think people would pick up on who is invited from the wording, but, sadly, that is hardly ever the case. Keep us updated on how this works out!

  20. Member
    futuremrsroos 429 posts, Helper bee @ 9:57 pm

    Your invitations are stunning!

  21. Member
    mrsmayabee 118 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!!!

  22. 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!

  23. 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!

  24. 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???

  25. msmongoose 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?

  26. Member
    cowpoke06 132 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!

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

    Thank you for sharing!It’s so useful!

  28. 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

  29. mswallaby Member
    mswallaby 2070 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!!

  30. msmongoose 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!

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

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

  32. 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.

  33. graywolf 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!

  34. 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?

  35. msmongoose 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;

  36. Member
    canway11 406 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?

  37. msmongoose 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!

  38. Member
    canway11 406 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.

  39. 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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