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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!

23 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!

  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.

    • 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.

  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!

  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?

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