Wording wedding invitations to say no gifts expected and attire expectations

My daughter and her fiance will be married November 5, 2005. It will be his second wedding, her first. We are very excited and want to have a great time at the wedding, and we want our guests to have a great time, also. Our plans are to have the wedding, then the obligatory pictures and cutting of cake, etc., then we want everyone to relax and the party will begin. The members of the wedding party will probably change clothes at this time. Of course we can’t expect everyone to bring clothes to change into, so we will include an rsvp card, also a map, and we would like to say something about “attire is casual” because we really don’t care if people come in blue jeans. Also, both families have lots of business associates who are acquaintances of the bride and groom. We would like these people to come to the “party” without feeling obligated to bring a big present. Is there someway on the insert card that we can mention this without being crass. I think saying “no gifts please” would be going overboard, but we don’t want people to think they can’t come if they don’t have a gift in hand. Thanks so much!

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Mom,

I’m not sure about your agenda. Of course, the wedding and reception can be whatever you want it to be. But, the cake cutting is usually a very big deal with everyone watching–all of the guests. It is usually after the traditional dances. This is not to say it can’t be at the beginning of the reception if that is what you want. The only thing that concerns me is that all of your guests will want to see this.

Are you just inviting some to a ‘party’ after a small reception for the family? I’m not sure that I understand, especially with the changing of the clothes. If this is a small affair for just the family, that is fine. But, we never invite some to the reception, which includes a meal, and some to only the ‘party’ in which they are just invited for dancing. It is as if one set of people is more important than others. It will most likely insult the guests. Believe me, they tell me so.

That is neither here or there though. You want to know about telling your guests about casual attire and gifts. On formal invitations we never write anything about attire unless there is a strict dress code (formal), so you could write this information on very informal invitations. Or, you could include this information as an enclosure (my favorite).

We never mention gifts, even ‘no gifts please’ on invitations. Never. So, this would have to be relayed by word of mouth. Gifts are supposed to be shipped to your house or the bride’s house before the wedding. Gifts are for the wedding not the reception. But, most people don’t really know that. 🙂

There are many books that could help you with the planning of the wedding and reception. These make planning so much easier.

Best wishes,


I’m the bride and here’s the deal…Max and I will be in formal attire throughout the ceremony and the beginning of the reception for the pictures, dance, cake, toast, all the important things…after that we are changing our clothes so we can party in comfort instead of worrying about who might be spilling what on my dress…plus he has two children from his first marriage and they will also be in tuxes and I want them to change and be comfy as well. The point is, everyone is invited to the wedding and such, we’re just trying to figure out the best way to word that you should dress comfy and casual, even though it’s an evening wedding. There isn’t a separate reception, there isn’t a separate anything, after the really important pictures are taken, we are going to take a few minutes with each other, change our clothes, then come back to the reception. Did I clarify anything? Think down home backyard wedding, without the backyard.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Okay. I get it now. Sounds like everyone will have a very good time. Plus, this is very practical.

The best thing to do would be to write all of this on a separate paper or card as an enclosure. This way you can be very clear about the party atmosphere. Your guests will really appreciate it.

You could also design your own informal invitation that says all of this. For example: Bride and Groom invite you to share our joy as we marry, date, time, location. Informal reception will follow. Casual attire is welcome.

The beauty of the informal invitation is that you can really personalize it. It may be more work for you, but you can say just about anything you wish here.

If you have a wedding website, you can add all of this information also. You can also mention that gifts are not necessary there. These websites are very easy to create and on many sites they are free.