11 Other Ways to Say “Pay for Your Own Meal”

It’s tricky to know how to ask guests to pay for their own meal at a wedding, party, or business event.

If you’re worried that “pay for your own meal” might make you sound cheap or bossy, you’ve come to the right place.

This article will explain a nice way to say “pay for your own meal” to help keep your invitations friendly.

Other Ways to Say “Pay for Your Own Meal”

  • Cover your own meal expenses
  • If you’d like food, please pay for it
  • Each person is responsible for their meal costs
  • Please settle your own food bill
  • Pay for your meal separately
  • Everyone is kindly requested to pay for their own meals
  • Each guest will be responsible for their food charges
  • Your meal expenses are not included in the event
  • The restaurant operates on a pay-your-own basis
  • Attendees will need to manage their own dining expenses
  • Everyone will pay separately


  • “Pay for your own meal” is acceptable in formal invitations to show that you expect others to buy their food.
  • “Cover your own meal expenses” is a great formal alternative to help you mix things up.
  • “If you’d like food, please pay for it” works really well as an informal phrase in most invitations.

Keep reading to learn how to say “pay for your own meal” on an invitation. We’ll teach you the appropriate wording to allow you to invite someone to dinner and not pay for them.

You can also read the final section to learn whether it’s acceptable to ask someone to pay for their own meal. It’s wise to read through this if you’re unsure on the etiquette.

Cover Your Own Meal Expenses (Formal)

When filling out a wedding invitation or a business event invitation, try “cover your own meal expenses.”

It’s formal and respectful. It lets people know that you won’t pay for their food. So, if they want to come along and celebrate an event, they’ll need to pay for their own expenses.

Don’t worry; it’s a fairly nice way to say “pay for your own meal.” It shows you want people to chip in and pay for the things they buy.

Most reasonable guests will be happy to oblige.

So, use it when inviting employers and colleagues. It shows that you’d like them to come to an event, but only if they’re willing to pay for themselves first.

You can also refer to this sample email if you still need help:

Dear Timothy,

We would like to invite you to this event. However, you will have to cover your own meal expenses if you want to attend.

All the best,
Sean Bradford

If You’d Like Food, Please Pay for It (Informal)

Another way to say “pay for your own meal” is “if you’d like food, please pay for it.” It’s great to include in most informal invitations to let people know you’re happy to host but not to pay.

For example, you might include a phrase like this in a birthday invitation. It shows that you’re happy for your friends and coworkers to come along.

However, it also suggests that they need to pay for what they want. That way, you can ensure that you don’t spend too much money on all the guests who may come along.

Here are some wording samples to also show you the best way to use it:

Of course, we’re happy to invite you! If you’d like food, please pay for it. We cannot afford to feed every attendee.

If you’d like food, please pay for it. We’re so happy for you to come along, but we can’t afford to pay for everyone!

Can You Write That People Should Pay for Their Own Meal on an Invitation?

You can write that people should pay for their own meal on an invitation. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with it.

However, it can seem rude if you’re not careful.

For instance, if you invite someone to dinner, some people believe you should pay as you invited them.

However, this is an outdated way of thinking. It’s much more common to ensure all parties split the bill and pay.

Also, here are some examples of situations where you might write “pay for your own meal”:

  • Birthday parties
  • Weddings
  • Dinner invitations

Here’s an example showing you how to use it correctly if you’re still unsure:

I’d like to invite you to my wedding. You will have to pay for your own meal, but I hope I get to see you there.

Of course, it’s not just meals that this works for. You can also say “pay for your own drinks” to let people know you won’t provide them with drinks.