Response or "reply" cards can be formatted in a variety of different ways. All responses generally share similarities. Space is always provided for the guests' names and for their responses. A request for a response within a particular time frame is usually included. The name and address of whoever will receive the replies (usually the host) is printed on the front of the response envelope.
When do you need your final head count? Most brides need to know at least two to three weeks before the wedding. Sometimes this can depend on when your caterer or venue needs a head count, so it is important to ask. Leave off the year for a less corporate look. The year should be obvious!
This line(s) are included for your guest(s) to write in their names. Usually an "M" is in front of the line, leading the way for your guest to fill in the blank Mr., Mrs., or Ms. and their names. Just remember when it come to reply cards to keep it simple and straightforward. Sometimes we have a doctor with lots of doctor friends who have used "Name(s)" instead of the "M" line or some just prefer it and see it as a more modern look.
Based on the bride and groom's personal style, there are all kinds of creative ways to list this on the response card.
Although it would definitely help for a final head count, it can create some confusion and problems. By placing this line on your response card, you can encourage your guests to bring along more people then you otherwise would have invited, so caution must be exercised that the invitations are clearly and properly addressed so there is no confusion as to who is invited. For people who have invited families this may help to know whether they are bringing the children.
If you plan on having a seated meal for your reception with meal options, it can't hurt to put the options on the response card. It is okay to list meal options by meat choices, such as beef, fish, chicken, or vegetarian. It is not common to list the entire entree in great detail...you would be giving too much away. Wording it this way keeps things simple and allows your guests to pick their entree prior to the wedding, and voice any concerns for allergy reasons.
I am often asked how to deal with the sensitive subject of people bringing their children along to weddings. Many of you understandably so, would prefer not to have children at your ceremony and reception.
The first step is to always address the envelopes properly! Childrens' names should be left off if they aren't invited. That is the first clue.
One creative way to be sure people do not bring children, would be to have a check box, number of guests attending ____1 or ____2. For guests such as family who have children who are invited, a phone call to explain that their children are invited is a good idea.
Use a separate reception card, that says "adult reception to follow" on the card. This can be perceived by some as tacky, so be careful here in how it is put on the reception card. It doesn't need to be at the top in bold, but rather smaller and italicized discreetly at the bottom the card. Having your wedding later in the day can also discourage guests from bringing children.