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7 Answers to Common Wedding Invitation Etiquette Questions

Updated on October 8, 2008

When you are trying to figure out the rules and traditions involved in wording and sending your wedding invitations, you can very easily become overwhelmed and overstressed. I have put together a list of the 7 most commonly asked Wedding Invitation Etiquette Questions. I hope you find some answers here to help eliminate your stress as you prepare your invations

1. How do I let people know not to bring their children to the reception?

The rules of eitquette say that if the kids are not mentioned on the invitation, they are not invited. However, in this day and age where most people are not raised on the traditional rules of etiquette, some people will not know that this is the rule. On the flip side, it is rude to say "No Children" or "Children not invited" on your wedding invitation!

Consider calling the people you think are likely to bring children and telling them that a lot of others have been asking about whether to bring their children, and as much as you would love to have them attend, you just simply do not have room. A second options is to simply put "Adult Reception" on the invitation or RSVP or wedding website to let people know your wishes.

2. Should I invite the people that I work with?

Yes and no. Generally, this is an "All or Nothing" situation. Either you invite everyone, or you exclude everyone. Sure, if you have a couple of friends at work that are a part of your inner-circle of friends, you can invite them while not including the person you share a cubicle with, but who you never see after 5:00 each day.

If someone at work confronts you about why they have not been invited to the wedding, do your best to nicely explain that even though you would like to include your work-mates, you simply could not make space for everyone that you wanted to invite. If someone you did not invite makes comments that lead you to believe they are inviting themselves to the wedding and reception, do your best to gently tell them that you would love to have them there, but that you only had the budget or space for a small group of people.

One thing to keep in mind is how much the people you work with have been involved in your wedding plans and discussions. If there is a group of people that you work with that has had to listen to every last detail of your wedding plans and offer advice on everything from flowers to dresses, it would be rude not to include them in your wedding plans.

4. Do I have to invite distant relatives?

Absolutely not. If there is a branch of your family that you haven't seen or heard from in years and years, you are not obligated to include them in your wedding plans. However, if you haven't seen your Great Aunt Susan in years, but she sends you a birthday card or calls you every year, you should consider her feelings. In fact, considering the other party's feelings is the best tool you can use in determining whether to invite a distant relative.

If it is someone who you know will not come and you know will not be hurt or concerned if they do not get an invitation, then don't send them one. However, if your mother's sister is the type of person who would be devastated if she was not invitated to your wedding, it is a good idea to go ahead and send out the invitation and avoid having your special day be a day of sadness for someone else.

3. Can I mention suggested attire on the invitation?

Technically, etiquette says that you should not mention attire on your invitation. However, guests these days like to know what style of wedding you are having and what they should wear. Sometimes the formality of the invitation itself can be a big clue. You can also have information on expected attire on your wedding website.

Even though traditional etiquette says not to mention attire, many invitations these days do include this information, and the rule is not taken as strictly as it used to be. Consider adding a simple line such as "Black Tie Optional" or "Informal" to the invitaiton. If you want to follow the traditional rules, consider adding information about attire to your "Save the Date" cards instead.

5. How far ahead can I request an RSVP?

Traditional etiquette says that you should ask guests to RSVP three weeks ahead of the wedding so that you can have an accurate headcount to give to the caterer. The most common way to request RSVP is to include a small RSVP card with the invitation as well as a tiny self-addressed, stamped envelop that guests can send back to you in the mail.

If you would rather bypass the extra paper and extra cost, ask your guests to RSVP through email, phone call, or even consider adding an RSVP feature to your wedding website.

6. For single guests, do I have to include "and guest" on the invitation?

The answer here is very situational. If you have a lot of single guests who will be attending, then it is not necessary to include an extra guest for each person. However, if someone is technically "single" but is in a serious relationship, you should really consider inviting them both by name on the same invitation. Also, if you are inviting mostly married couples, it might be awkward for your single friend to come alone, so consider his or her feelings first and foremost.

When it comes to this question, the answer is more about making people feel comfortable than about following some rule. If you think that a particular person will be hurt if you exclude their significant other, then it is better to include them and make accommodations. If your best friend is technically single but you have met her boyfriend and gone on double dates with them on occasion, it is definitely better to invite them both as opposed to just your friend.

7. Can I ask Guests to make Donations to Charity Instead of Giving Gifts?

Even if you have the best of intentions, it is considered rude to say "No Gifts Please" or to even mention anything about gifts on your wedding invitation. (As well as where you might be registered if you are wanting gifts) Some people view it as rude that you would "assume" they were going to give you a gift.

The right way to make this kind of request is to have your wedding party spread the word to friends and family that are invited. Your wedding website is also a great way to get the word out. Make sure to send out an email or special announcement giving people the address for your website, or include the address on your Save the Date cards.

Even with these options, there will no doubt still be people who give you traditional gifts. Just know that they are doing it out of love and respect for you and your new spouse, so it is better not to mention that you had wanted everyone to make donations or to not bring gifts at all. Accept any gifts with grace and kindness, and of course, a thank you note. Later, you can figure out whether to take the gifts back or donate them to a local group, but the important thing is to spare the feelings of anyone who did not get the message.

Another important note here is that Thank you notes should still be sent out for donations made in your honor, so don't forget that when making your plans!


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      Wedding Planners 5 years ago

      Your post really helps me to work easily. Thanks for providing such important information.

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      susan 5 years ago

      Does your "I've never met that woman" rule apply to all married couples or just same sex couples? If it's honestly the former, then fair enough. If it's the latter, then I'd say that your cousin has reason to be upset. It's true that it's your wedding but it's supposed to be a day of love that you want to share with those you love. It's not an occasion to be petulant or petty. So, what if you haven't met the woman. If you've invited your cousin, surely you want her to enjoy the celebration. If all of the other guests get to come with a partner or date, why not let her bring hers too? If the woman is so important to her that she's married her, don't you want to meet her and have her in your life? What a great chance to show how adult you are. I think you know in your heart what the right thing to do is.

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      Kala 6 years ago

      Although etiquette is still something to be considered, it's still "my wedding". Is it polite or justified if one of my guests is offended by not being invited with a guest? Here is the real situation:

      My cousin is crossed with me that I haven't invited her with her wife. Her argument is "you don't invite married people as single" while my argument is "1. I never met that woman. 2. It's my wedding, I make the guest list". Who is right and who is wrong?

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      1weddingsource 8 years ago from Georgia

      These are all good points. I am not particular with etiquette but i honestly appreciate everything you have written. Can you share those other etiquettes for free?