(Closed) Can we invite people to the reception only??

posted 11 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: Is it OK to have reception only guests?

    Yes! Its your day, if you want a small ceremony go for it!

    No! People will be offended.

  • Post # 32
    327 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    I don’t think it’s a huge deal if you want a really small, intimate ceremony, but a big reception. Like another said, just word it as “the celebration of their marriage” and leave the ceremony information off of the invitation.

    Another option is to have a small, private ceremony. Then another “ceremony” to honor the marriage. I had some friends that got married in a small Catholic church in front of their families, then had a ceremony for all 120 of their guests at their reception venue a few hours later. At the reception ceremony, they did the full entrance, had poems instead of readings, and had a close friend “officiate.”  Many guests didn’t even know that they were already married by that point. 🙂

    It a day for you and those closest to you. If you only want immediate family at the ceremony itself, you can do that.

    Post # 33
    798 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: December 2010

    We did this (ceremony at city hall with family only and reception the next day).  I loved the fact that our ceremony was just our family and it was great to have the big blow out the next day.

    Some things I’d suggest:

    As PPs have said, you WILL offend some people.  Honestly, I had a couple of friends who were really upset they couldn’t come to the ceremony (and threatened to just show up) and there were some older friends of my parents who felt that “what was the point? as they were missing the wedding”.  Most people LOVED what we did (our friends, the younger guests, etc loved not having to sit through a ceremony), which was great, but be prepared for naysayers.  I really would do the reception and ceremony on different days.  You don’t want people just showing up at your ceremony location.  Also, it may make it more obvious that they were excluded from something.

    If you do the ceremony one day and the reception the next, be prepared to be flipping exhausted.  I was not expecting to be so tired.  This would be a point towards doing in a couple of weeks later.

    Remember that you may (depending on your budget and/or your decisions) have to choose which day you have your photographer, hair done, makeup stylist, etc.  I didn’t think of this until 6 months before and it was stressful.

    Our invitation wording:

    Bride’s Parents


    Grooms Parents

    request the pleasure of your company at a cocktail reception to celebrate the marriage of their children

    My Husband


    And then the details followed.


    If this works for you, go for it.   Someone is going to have something negative about your wedding regardless and as long as you endeaver to treat your guests with respect, you’re fine.

    Post # 34
    972 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: October 2011

    @Miss Sardine:  we are having a private ceremony at the reception site about 2 hours before cocktails are served. and by private, i mean, the two of us, our son and Future Mother-In-Law.

    a couple of people have expressed that they’d like to see the ceremony, but they understand that it is our day and this is what we want.

    our invitations are worded like this: ‘mittens and mr. mittens will be married in a private ceremony on 11.12.11. please join us at 7pm for cocktails, dinner and merriment”


    Post # 35
    64 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: May 2011

    I’m doing this, and at least in my area it is a very common practice.  I have never been offended, I undersatnd the couple’s wish to have a small ceremony but still want to celebrate with those close to them. Due to the size of church we are only have close family and close friends to the ceremony and then inviting the rest to our dinner and reception.

    Post # 37
    46 posts
    • Wedding: January 2012

    You can certainly have a ceremony with just a few people invited and have a larger reception later.  Just realize that you may risk alienating or confusing some of your guests.  I have personally never attended a wedding where the invite was for “reception only”.  I guess it wouldn’t bother me much, but it would likely bother a few guests who aren’t accustomed to this.  To be safe, invite all your guests to both events.  Find a ceremony and reception site that accommodates your group size.  Yes, you want a wedding that’s memorable for you; but you also want something that is memorable to your guests – but not in a bad way!  If you have to have a smaller ceremony with some guests excluded, then perhaps do them in separate dates or have separate long distance locations with a wider gap of time between events. 

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