Times may have changed, but courtesy never goes out of style. In today's world sometimes it's complicated to figure out how to do the right thing. Local etiquette expert Karen Hickman answers your questions or helps solve your dilemmas on Fridays in The News-Sentinel and at news-sentinel.com.
Q. Karen, our daughter is getting married this summer, our invitations are out and we are getting response cards back with children and extra people listed who were not included on the invitation. We are limited as to how many people we can accommodate. How can we gracefully handle this problem?
A. This is a very common worry for many people hosting weddings. For some reason, when invitations arrive, especially for weddings, some people automatically assume that their children or a date can be included on their response card. Of course this is not the case, and it is rude to add anyone other than the names listed on the envelope.
The outside of a wedding envelope should be addressed formally to the person or couple whom you would like to be your guest or guests. For instance, Mr. and Mrs. John Smith or Ms. Jane Miller (Mr., Mrs., Ms. are the only abbreviations used when addressing formal invitations. All other words such as Street, Avenue, etc. are spelled out.) The inside envelope is where you list the other people in the household whom you would like to be included. It would read “Mr. and Mrs. Smith,” and underneath the parents' name the minor children's first names would be listed. For example, Jane and Mark. Adult children living with their parents should receive their own invitation.
If a single adult is being invited with a guest you list the name and guest after it on the inside envelope. However, if the person is in a serious relationship or engaged it is considerate to issue a separate invitation to the date.
When you receive response cards with others listed who were not invited, it is certainly OK to call those people and diplomatically tell them that their children are not included in the invitation. It also would be appropriate to have a close friend or a bridal consultant, if you have engaged one, help with this sticky situation.
Conversely, if the children are included in an invitation, be sure to list them on the envelope so there is no confusion.