Featured, Wording
comments 52

Invitation Wording for when Guests Pay for their Meal

invitation wording for no host retirement, party, anniversary, birthday and other events, evites, email invitations

How do you word an invitation to an event where guests pay for their dinner? I received this question from a Sendo reader…

Amanda Asks…

“I am planning a small (20 or less)retirement
party for my mom at a restaurant but guests
will be responsible for paying for their own
dinner – how do I indicate this on an invitation?”

Anyone have any suggestions? Comment to this post to help her out! It would be great to hear what you guys would expect to see on an invitation and how you would respond to some of the other suggestions mentioned

When Invited Guests Pay for their Meal

The proper term for this is No Host. Some social circles would immediately recognize and understand this term, whereas others would be confused. And if it’s a retirement party, some invitees may not be so quick to jump on Google to figure it out.

Considering the informality of the event, keep invitations to something simple. You don’t want to spend $100 on invites that tell people they need to buy their own dinner. Sendomatic invites are perfect for this scenario (and many others!). In this example, I’ve used the Sendomatic Confetti invitation design template.

invitation wording for when guests pay for their meal, no host retirement, party, anniversary, birthday and other events, evites, email invitations

The bottom of this invite states, “No Host – Visit www.(restaurant-name).com for menu and pricing.

I’ve made it clear that guests will need to pay for their own food and beverages without looking tacky or getting too deep into details.

Be sure to check out the full line of Sendomatic Email Invitations!

52 Comments

  1. Modern Living Hawaii says

    First, I would like to note that most restaurants will be happy to create a custom menu for this many people – that means that you can set a price for a few different options of appetizers and entrees and everyone will know upfront what they will be paying. The invite can be worded as such; “You are invited to attend a special dinner to celebrate (name of mom)’s retirement! We would ask that each guest take care of their individual meal and we will provide a special dinner menu for the night and dessert.” It is always nice to offer people something when asking for something in return :). Hope that helps!

    • Charlene says

      Thanks so much for this info. I’ve been wondering for a while now how to word this for the invitation. We’re going to a 5-star restaurant and there’s no way we could pay for everyone’s meal this time. We’ve created a menu which is much much cheaper than just ordering from the menu and paying your own ticket. I’m also giving the link to the restaurant so they can see this for themselves. Thanks again for this very helpful post.

  2. addy says

    Hmmm. I think I’d write something like “Please join us in an intimate (or private or small or simple) celebration for ________ as she retires from ______ and begins the next chapter of her life!” Is that too cheesy?

  3. Meghann says

    One way to slyly do this is after the address section of the invitation wording write “for menu and pricing information, please visit” and then include the restaurant’s website. End the invitation with either your RSVP or “Hope you can join us.”

  4. Carolyn says

    You should indicate “No Host Dinner” on the invitation. Since you really are hosting the celebration, you may wish to consider providing the cake or dessert with beverage (coffee and tea)at the end of the meal. This will make the pay-your-own-way meal more socially proper, especially if guests will be bringing gifts as well.

  5. Lynn says

    My brother just got married and because it was immediate family only, we want to have a wedding celebration to congratulate them with a lunch. We are having it at at restaurant in a reserved room and will be providing cake but we aren’t paying for their meals. I really don’t want to say on the invitation that they have to pay for their own meal so I thought about putting cake would be provided. Any suggestions?

  6. Youcancallmecheapo says

    I think this is the tackiest thing I’ve ever heard. Why bother to have a party if you can’t afford to pay for your guests dinner? We were just invited to an anniversary party 300 miles from home. I was invited by a formal invitation. ‘Open house’ is 2-4. Dinner is at 5 and you are expected to pay $30 a person and a cash bar. So that is $60, plus a hotel, plus a gift, plus gas to get there. No thanks.

    • BF1011 says

      I don’t think it’s tacky at all to asks guests to pay for their own meal at a restaurant, you’re not throwing the party for them! Some people can’t afford to pay for an entire dinner party’s bill, (and guests shouldn’t expect such a gesture), provide cake AND be the one organizing the entire get together. Invitations are just a nicer way to get people together rather than sending an evite. I don’t think many people invited to a dinner at a restaurant would expect someone else to pay for their meal especially when they are all there to celebrate someone or something besides themselves. Most people will gladly oblige but it is polite to inform them of the details and at least provide dessert as a thank you for attending.

      • Kelly says

        But a wedding is entirely different. This is incredibly tacky, because most people send or bring gifts to celebrate. On top of this, they’re expected to pay for their meal?! Wedding etiquette has always been very clearcut with this. You have to provide a “reception” of sorts and this includes food and drink appropriate for time of day.

      • Amanda says

        I totally agree with you. I have the same situation coming up in a month. Found out that my family said they were going to have a shower for my brother’s fiance but found out that they weren’t doing it so I took matters into my own hand because they told her that they were having one for her. I don’t have that type of money to pay for everyone but I know that she deserves a shower. It is all about her. I figure that if guests have a problem with it then they can just stay at home.

    • Heather says

      I agree with you! Super cheap and tacky. They want people to travel, buy their own meal AND give a gift. Ridiculous!!

    • Kristen says

      Then don’t go and don’t be so non sympathetic about people who can’t afford to pay for everyone’s meal. You just complained about how expensive the meal was but then you expect them to pay for everything for you. Did you think that perhaps it isn’t about you? The only way we can even have a reception after our wedding is to ask people to pay for their individual meals otherwise even with just 40 people between dinner and drinks we could rack up a huge bill. It was important to us to spend time with family after and it really isn’t too much to ask. I understand it is an expense to travel from out of town for something but really I guess it boils down to if you care enough about the people to make that investment. We picked a place that had a private room and was very reasonable on pricing so I don’t feel bad at all and I don’t think I am tacky….they are family and close friends so whatever!

    • Landi says

      Just don’t go… as obviously it doesn’t mean that much to you to celebrate their special occasion with them. It’s not tacky at all. Just because they can’t afford to pay something like $45 pp doesn’t mean they are not allowed to have a special celebration.

      • Denice says

        Agree! I’ve always thought that if they care enough or love you enough they will understand and would be fine with paying for their own meal and join the celebrating! Providing the meal also limits your list, this way no one is left out.

    • The reason to have a party is to celebrate the person or event, not to show off that you have enough money to feed a crowd. If you care enough about the person or event to celebrate them, you will do so in a way that is feasible to you.

    • Amber says

      Perhaps the reason for the party is to celebrate an occasion and enjoy each other’s company? I’m offended that you think this idea is tacky. I’m a stay at home mom with a home too small for entertaining. You are suggesting I don’t invite beloved family to celebrate my daughters baptism because I can’t afford to make it worth their while? Shame on you.

    • dancesonhertoes says

      I just found this article because I’m looking for wording for an event as well. It’s for a girl’s brunch before my wedding. I can’t possibly wait until 6pm to eat, and I’d like to find a way to spend more time with family and friends who came from out of town. We are already providing a lavish meal plus open bar for the wedding. I can’t afford to also buy brunch, nor am I going to cook and host in my house hours before my wedding. People can choose not to come if they don’t want to pay for their meal without offending me. Before you judge people for wanting guests to pay for themselves for something, you should know all circumstances.

    • Angie says

      It is not tacky, not everyone has the luxury of paying for everyone at a restaurant dinner and it if it is going to be an intimate party with close friends and family that should not be a problem to people who really care and want to celebrate the person. If it were a large wedding celebration or a larger party for that matter then I would understand it being a little out of the ordinary asking people to pay for their own stuff even after traveling like you did. From my experience from the most part people are happy even if you just show up even without a gift.

  7. Chao Ng says

    So I got an invitation to a bỉthday party and the host indicates we should bring cash to be able to pay for our dinner. However, in our tradition, we always buy presents for the bday person (always $100+) because we are adults and it is just nice to buy them good presents. However, we each are paying $60/person at an average restaurant that does not cost $60 per person at all. Would it be ok if we dont bring present at all? I mean they are hosting a 10 people per table total 5 tables. They make $600 for just one table and it is all cheap foods. Not even sea food or wine or liquor. Yet we are putting in $60 in an envelope so that the person could pay for the dinner.
    Suggestion?

    • Verna says

      There very well may be a number of other behind the scene overhead expenses that is being covered. They may have tallied all the expenses for the party and simply placed an amount per person to cover all. As another respondent indicated, you have the choice to participate or not to participate.

      • Verna says

        For example, one of those behind the scene expenses could very well be Rental cost of the Private room, if that is the case.

  8. What??? says

    When did it become appropriate for someone to host an anniversary, retirement, or birthday party for their spouse, parent, or kid at a restaurant and expect guest to pay for their own meal and bring a gift? Yes, it’s costly to host a party at a restaurant, but if you cannot afford it, then do something else within your budget. Why are guest expected to pay to attend your party? This scenario has happened to me three times within the past 45 days. My husband and teenagers were invited to these gatherings at a restaurant the host selected, so I have no say in this aspect of the dining activity, and then I have to shell out over $100.00 for my family to attend your party… And of course I have to bring a lovely gift as well. So, in a six week time period, I’ve had to shell out over $300.00 to celebrate one friends kids bdy and his wifes bdy and another friends party. Top it off, the cake they bought to both birthday parties was a small single layer grocery store cake. How cheap can you get? Next time i have a party, I’m going to do my usual; shopping, cooking, cleaning, decorating, and preparing for the party in our home. I will figure my cost, divide by the number of guest and charge everyone for the dinner. I mean, that’s acceptable, right????? Oh, and should I add a per hour fee for my services? I’m thinking about $30.00 per hour. What do you think?

    • I don’t think you had to shell out anything. If you didn’t feel like paying your family’s way was appropriate, you could have opted to send a gift or not attend at all. I think one reason people ask guests to pay is sometimes to limit the number of attendees.

    • Landi says

      Just don’t go then. Simple! I’m sure if they knew about this comment all those “friends” of yours will regret inviting you anyway. Just be grateful you have loved ones to celebrate with… and that you got to eat and have fun with close friends! You should hope that one day people would care enough and be willing to pay for their own meal to celebrate your special occasion with you!

      • My husband and I actually opt out maybe 50% of the time. Some of our younger, single friends will put together celebrations at restaurants that we can’t afford or have so many guests we don’t get to have enjoyable conversations with the celebrant or good friends.
        So we just decline the invitation.
        When I was in college and in my early twenties, I did host some “let’s all take so-and-so out for his birthday” celebrations. But since my late 20s or so, I’ve put a lot of effort into hosting the kinds of celebrations where people don’t have to pay their own way (treating with Groupons, picnic in the park, hosting at my home, hosting at someone else’s home, potlucks, going on a hike, choosing an inexpensive restaurant, finding a cool venue and serving appetizers and drinks only, teaming up with a couple of other hosts and sharing the cost).

    • You have a choice in this situation says

      Perhaps some people don’t have homes to have parties in? Perhaps due to medical issues, employment issues, birth/death of family has caused people to be in a less than perfect situation financially. If you are one of the lucky people to receive an invite that asks you to pay for something, consider that they thought of you, and wanted you there. If you don’t care so much about them, then don’t go. Send a card with some cash or a giftcard. You are in control of your own choices in this situation.

  9. I am helping with a wedding and while the bride and groom are not asking for or expecting gifts some people are getting them. They are having their reception at a restaurant and they are asking their guest to pay for their own meals, but the bride is unsure as to how to let the guest know that there is going to be a restricted menu (the restaurant asked)
    What is a suggestion i could give her??

    • Hi Tori! Are you asking how the bride should ask for people to pay for their own meals or are you asking how the bride should let people know there is a restricted menu?

  10. I am in this situation right now…hosting a baby shower for a friend who lives 45 minutes away and her friends live there as well…it only made sense to do the shower at a local restaurant convenient to them..but I can not afford to pay for 20 dinner plus mine and the guest of honor. I didn’t consider this an issue when doing the invitations and am now trying to figure out how to let people know dinner will be their responsibility, without sounding tacky..

  11. Delores Barkers says

    It doesn’t matter if I have to pay it’s just the fun of being with my friends. If u can’t afford it at that time just decline and stay home maybe u can go the next time .

  12. DiAnna Dukes says

    I want to surprise my husband with a 60th birthday party. He hasn’t seen some of his family in several years. I have already reserved (and paid for) the private room. I have made arrangements for dessert. The restaurant provided 4 dinner options (all inclusive). I have placed a line on the invitation giving potential attendees a “no meal” option. That gives them the opportunity to celebrate an important event and still have no out-of-pocket expenses.

  13. Victoria says

    Our aunt is turning 80. She doesn’t have children of her own. I want to throw her a party, but I would like my other cousins to chip in or at least pay for their own meals.
    I will supply the cake and coffee, how do I ask on the invites??

  14. Karolina says

    I used to think I was being impolite if my wedding was a No-host dinner. And I did everything I could to cut off silly costs and maybe we could afford a small brunch for family and close friends. But even that, would cost us about $2.000 for 30 people where we live, which is too much right now. We are having a lot of expenses with our new place, furniture, a new car for me (I drive my boss’s car, but I’m moving states so I got leave my job), and the resident process, since I’m a foreigner, which costs around $ 3.000 in 2017. So I feel terribly bad having a No-Host wedding dinner knowing my guests will have to spend some money, but as some people said, if you don’t feel comfortable, just don’t go. You don’t know the struggle in someone’s life. And I think it’s sad, and a frustration I would carry forever leaving this moment as a blank space, because we have other $priorities$ at this moment, and because I was afraid about what other people would think. So I left my prejudice behind and I’m having a No-host dinner for my wedding. Providing coffee and cake. These type of parties are usually intimate, so if you were invited, feel honored, not upset and thinking people are being cheap. I’m sure if this person could, he/she would throw a beautiful party for everyone and pay for everything. If you don’t agree, just don’t go. Be more sympathetic towards others.

    ps:. We are not having a wedding registry. We will let people comfortable to do, and contribute the way they can… and IF they can. Their presence and understanding is already a gift <3

    • Mrs2b says

      That makes me feel better, we are getting married and are planning on asking our guests in lieu of a gift to pay $30 for their meal. We are paying for wine during the meal, wedding cake as dessert and later in the evening coffee , tea will be served with little snacks

  15. Hello – after a vow renewal we are hosting 25 people at a restaurant. We are providing alcoholic and non alcoholic options and enough tappas. It’s from 5-7 and so at a time when some people might be hungrier or want a beer or wine…. Any suggestions on how you would you graciously communicate that if the guests want to order something off the menu (other than what we are offering) – they have to pay for it?

  16. Party Planner says

    Nice post on a tough subject. Refreshing opinions. Thank you for posting.

  17. Figuring out 50 says

    I am so glad to find you folks! I am turning 50 and my husband & adult children didn’t get it together to plan a party. What I would like to do is invite friends, family & coworkers (we work in a college cafeteria and are always cooking for others) to meet up at Punch Bowl Social. It is a a chain restaurant with assorted games, karaoke, bowling and several bars through out the facility. I want to know how to phrase the invite so that it’s clear I expect no gifts, they are paying for themselves and I just want to enjoy the time with them. Any ideas?

  18. 2Cents says

    Some of these replies are hilarious. I’m sure you have friends you make plans with to go out for dinner occasionally. I would suspect you wouldn’t be buying their dinners, you just would like to all get together and enjoy the gathering weather it be a celebration or just friendship. It can be the same thing with a retirement, birthday or two people who are in love getting married. Lets all go out for dinner, smile, laugh, reminisce and talk about the future together. The negativity in these conversations are unfortunate. The No-Host dinner with the restaurant website and price list supplied is a tactful way of dealing with the situation.

  19. Nancy Drew says

    Sorry, I disagree. You don’t invite people to a function and then expect them to pay. Have a potluck in the employee’s Lounge if you can’t afford it.SO TACKY

  20. Yes, such pay your own way events can wreck your budget. Yet I don’t want to miss out on opportunities to socialize and celebrate with friends and family. What I’ve done is started a celebration savings account. Each month I put $25 into the account. Now when a celebration invitation comes my way I have the funds to participate.

  21. Brandy says

    My step-daughter got married at the justice of the peace. NO guests. did not send out invites or anything, just us, and her fiance, at the courthouse. Then they went on a short 3 day honeymoon.. Because of this, they planned a small intimate dinner for immediate family and close friends. on an “announcement card”. and the announcement card stated:
    “We Tied the Knot…______ & ______ exchanged vows on _____, 2017. We are now Mr. & Mrs. _____. Please join us for a celebratory dinner on _____, 2017 at 5:30pm. Restaurant Name, City & State. Please visit the restaurant’s website at http://www……com for menu and pricing information.”
    Because they did NOT have a traditional wedding, which means they did NOT register or ask for gifts at ALL. I dont think it is tacky at all for those that would receive this invite to be offended. plus the people that were invited were all local. so dinner instead of gifts… NOT bad at all. Just to meet and greet the couple basically.. I dont think it is tacky or wrong.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *