Answer: The only truly proper way to handle this is through addressing the envelopes - clearly state who is invited by listing their names on the envelope. If I had to throw a number out there, I'd say that about 75% of our clients have adult only receptions and about 95% of them pay no mind to this rule. So...I know you are going to break the rules and instead of being a stickler for etiquette, I'm just going to offer a few of the least tacky options out there.
DON'T use stand alone phrases such as: 'adults only', 'no children', or 'leave the kids at home'. Adding the word 'please' to any of these phrases will not soften the blow!
DO incorporate your request within the wording of the ensemble (choose just one or two...don't go over board and use them all!):
- On the reception card use phrases such as "Please join us for an adult reception at six o'clock" or "Adult reception immediately following".
- On the response card use the selection "___number of adults attending" paired with "___unable to attend"
- Have your response card printed with the phrase "We have reserved ___ seats in your honor"...and then as you stuff your envelopes, fill in the number you are inviting from that particular household.
- Instead of using the traditional single name line "M__________________", have two lines printed each with the meal choice below or next to it so that your guests realize they should only put one name per meal choice....and if there are only two lines, then only two people can respond.