birthday party dinner at restaurant, who pays?

by Mary Helen Chisholm
(Roanoke, Virginia)

Our brother-in-law is having his wifes 50th birthday party at a restaurant. Who pays for dinner? If the guests are expected to pay for their own dinner, what is the proper verbage for the save the date and actual invitation? Thank you!

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Interesting Question!
by: Ms P Etiquette

Hello Mary Helen~

There are several ways to handle a "pay your own way" invitation, each depending upon the relationships among those invited.

If it is all family, one can be less formal in their invitation. When inviting those less close to the celebrant, the invitation is more formally written.


To family & close friends, you may ask those invited to help you wish happy birthday to ___ by joining you in a dinner celebration at ______ restaurant. We are each paying for our own dinners (or all going dutch, etc). However, cake and ice cream are on us!

To others, invite them to join in the birthday celebration by meeting you for dinner at ___________. (the average entre is $12.00) Following the dinner, cake and ice cream will be provided for all.

The above examples are just a guide. The important thing is all invited guests understand their financial responsibility so no one is embarrassed or upset by the arrangements and all can make their decision to attend based on the financial aspect as well.

Thank you for your interesting question.

Ms Practical Etiquette

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