‘No gifts please’ – how to phrase difficult concepts in wedding invitations

how to phrase difficult concepts

No gifts, please. Please. Please?

For three little words, it can take newly-engaged couples hours to find the right way to phrase this concept: a concept that is gaining validity in this modern standard of de facto relationships. Your home is already set up, and small. You don’t really need two toasters, four fruit plates and a gold-trimmed gravy boat. A contribution to your honeymoon, to your future, or even your favourite charity would go so much further.

So, how do you say – ‘no gifts, please?’ or anything a little awkward, for that matter? Maybe your venue doesn’t suit the littlest of guests, or your guest list is tight, and no, your cousin’s boyfriend of two months can’t come. How do you strike that balance between being firm, but polite; grateful, yet selective; strict, yet flexible? Here are a few different ways you can approach getting your point across on your wedding invitations.

The poem approach

Writing a cute, small poem in your invitation is a great, gentle way to say ‘no gifts, please’. If you’re worried about setting rules and appearing a bit strict or ungracious, a simple poem can get your point across in a friendly way.

For example

For five years, we’ve been building our home and our life,

with toasters, and vases and each type of knife,

So, rather than you scouring a store

(Which is a painful and endless, tiring bore),

We ask that you donate a note or two

To make our honeymoon wishes finally come true.

Don’t worry, you don’t need to be Keats. People aren’t going to judge if your imagery isn’t quite there. It’s cute, and most importantly – memorable. So, when your guests are walking past the crystal display at the local shopping centre, they’ll remember that poem and keep on walking.

That being said, the poem approach is only appropriate for concepts that aren’t likely to cause friction. It is probably not the best approach for things such as: ‘no children’, ‘no plus-ones’ or ‘accommodation is not included in this destination wedding’.

Pros: A cute and light-hearted way of setting some rules. Can be a fun exercise with your partner.

Cons: If you’re not so good with…you know…the words, this can be tricky.

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The personalised note

When you have to deliver some rules that are non-negotiable, it’s a good idea to send the guest a personalised note either alongside the invitation, or separately, but posted at the same time. For a concept such as ‘No gifts, please’, this may be overzealous…unless you have a family member that always insists on buying you things that are hideous and bulky.

Rules such as ‘no children, please’ require a little more delicate handling. If you’re on a budget, or the location really isn’t suitable for kids, just be gentle, but clear. Address this from the get-go, to mitigate the chance of an awkward phone call later on. Even though this is your day, it’s best to explain your reasons. Because chances are, they’re entirely reasonable, or necessary.

For example:

Dear ____&_____,
____ and I are really hoping that you two can make it to the wedding. While we would love to have the whole family there, unfortunately, we feel the venue isn’t suitable for little ___ and ___. We want you to have the best day possible, and to not have to worry about their whereabouts. We understand getting a babysitter can be difficult, but we’d really love it if you could both be a part of our day. Xx

Pros: Who doesn’t like a personalised note? If you’re denying your guest something (such as a plus-one, or for their kids to be present), a personalised note demonstrates that you’ve really considered their position, and that you value their presence at your wedding.

Cons: Can be time consuming if you’ve got a bunch of friends with requests.

The humour approach

The humour approach should only be used if you know your audience. For example, if you have a couple of conservative family members, writing a joke in your ‘no gifts, please’ memo about how you shacked up with your partner ages ago and “please don’t buy us any crap” is going to fall flat. Really flat. Like, RSVPing ‘no’ flat. But if you’re comfortable cracking a joke with your guests – go for it. Sometimes delivering awkward news in a funny way really does soften the impact.

For example:

___and I are so excited to see you on our wedding day. For those of you wanting to get us a gift, that’s very sweet of you, but please don’t. For the love of God, don’t. ___ and I both had a toaster when we moved in together…and we both refuse to give ours up.
So, if you would like to give us a gift, we would really appreciate a small donation to our honeymoon wishing well, so we can negotiate our toaster situation over a couple of daiquiris in Hawaii.

Pros: Using humour can really diffuse tricky situations, delivering information in a straightforward, but light-hearted way.

Cons: If your joke falls flat, that can be really awkward. Maybe test your material out on colleagues or friends’ partners (anyone too close to you will automatically like it).

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The most direct option, of course, is to just include it in the body of your invitation text. If you’re going for the bold approach, however, it still pays to be polite. Don’t be too abrupt. Rather, explain your terms as succinctly as possible.

For example:

In lieu of wrapped gifts, we would greatly appreciate a donation be made on the night to our future fund.

Try to avoid the terms ‘we request’ when suggesting a cash donation to a treasure chest. Gifts, although the social norm for weddings, are never a 100% certainty. So, to ‘request a donation’ may come across as rude. It’s also worth adding some mention of appreciation, to acknowledge that a gift is a lovely gesture, not a requirement. Adding ‘wrapped’ to the front of gifts also subtly distinguishes between monetary gifts and objects.

Whatever your approach, delivering a message such as ‘no gifts, please’ needn’t be a painful experience, nor does it require an intense brainstorming session with your partner.

Remember, it’s your special day. Those people marked on your guestlist only want to contribute to, and share in, your happiness.

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