(Closed) Ceremony for all, reception for some?

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
4524 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: April 2015

I guess it depends where you are from. Here, in NJ, it’s just not done. I would be offended to get a ceremony only invite

Post # 4
2610 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2014 - Madison, WI

I also think it depends if this is common in your area, if it is and no one would think it’s that odd then it could work.

Around here it’s not done often and when it is, it’s usually done in a way that seems rude.

Post # 5
7211 posts
Busy Beekeeper
  • Wedding: October 2015

@Haruyou:  Depends on where you’re from and your culture. I’m in Southern California and we are Catholic Latinos, so no we don’t do that. In fact, it’s much more likely for us that only those we are closest to will show for the ceremony and then everyone will come to the reception. In fact, our guest list is 233 and even though our ceremony space only seats 150 I’m not even bothering to only invite some people. I know for sure that not all those seats will be filled because there is really NO way most of our guests will make it to the ceremony. 

My friend is Jordanian and he said in Jordan it’s super common for what you said to happen. EVERYONE in town comes to the wedding, just family to the reception. I’ve seen that in several church communities too… the whole church goest to the ceremony even if they aren’t invited to the whole thing. 

So you know you’re community best. This is where I might ask older family members rather than a community of strangers. You’re going to get a very main-stream United States-centric opinion here, I’m afraid. 


Post # 6
3400 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@Haruyou:  I think it’s sort of rude. Where I’m from, it’s a lot more acceptable to only invite some people to an intimate ceremony, and then invite a whole bunch more people to the reception. Vice versa is considered the dreaded “tacky” word.

I did my whole wedding for 100 people for just slightly over 6k, and every guest was invited to the both the ceremony and reception. So it can be done.


Post # 7
1328 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2014

I’ve heard of this but never seen it done (it’s not common here). Since you have seen it done frequently I’m assuming it’s common where you’re from, then take a cue from those weddings and format it how they did it. If it’s not common where you’re having the wedding but you like remember it from your hometown then I wouldn’t do it, and just keep the ceremony small. If people aren’t used to that format they could easily get offended.


ETA:  Would you mind telling us where you are from or having the wedding?  At least a general region if you don’t want to get specific.  Perhaps if anyone else is from or familiar with that area we’d have a better idea of if it would work.



Post # 9
609 posts
Busy bee

I’ve heard of this being done in other countries, and if it’s normal there then it’s fine. But in the northeast US this would be amazingly rude. AMAZINGLY rude.

The rule is that you do not ever invite people to the ceremony and then not invite them to the reception. It’s inviting people to come honor your ceremony by witnessing (and likely feel some social obligation to buy a gift), and then not having the decency to ‘receive’ them (hence ‘reception’). The reception is your thank you, it is your hospitality that you offer to those who have done you the *honor* of witnessing your ceremony.

I would honestly find a ceremony invitation appalling. 

The only time it’s okay to have people at the ceremony who aren’t at the reception is when the ceremony is in a public or semi-public location (this includes most churches) and those non-invitees come completely of their own accord. But that means you *cannot invite them*. So, if the church ladies all notice you are getting married at the church Saturday, and decide to come watch (because it’s their church), you aren’t under any obligation to them. But if you send those church ladies an actual invitation, then you *are* obligated to host them at the reception.


Now, all that being said, there’s no reason you can’t have an inexpensive reception. Cake and punch is perfectly acceptable as long as the reception does not cover a typical meal time. 

Post # 10
2716 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@Haruyou:  You cannot invite some people to the ceremony but not the reception – that would be a tiered wedding and those are rude.   It’s bascially telling the guest that he/she is good enough to see you get married and get you a present, but not good enough to invite for dinner.

Now, I will say that typically churches are public places of worship and thus you can’t tell people that they are not allowed come.  So what you could do is put a notice in your church bulletin about your wedding.  That way anyone who wants to attend the ceremony can but since you didn’t specifically invite them, you don’t have to then invite them to the reception.  Anyone who gets a formal invitation needs to be invited to both events.

As far as drinks and dancing at the bar after goes, you can probably just spread via word of mouth that you and your new H plan to be at X bar at Y time and who ever wants to come can.

Post # 11
12247 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

I think the UK Bees have said before this is pretty common there?

If it’s common, go for it! (Where I’m from in the US, it would be pretty bizarre)

Post # 12
1999 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2015

Depends on where you’re from. I’m Slovenian and it’s super common here – I’ve only been to one wedding where everyone was invited to both the ceremony and the “big reception” (keep reading). 

Typically lots of people come to the ceremony, then there’s a “mini reception” (champagne and finger food) in front of the church/ceremony hall and then (again, typically) the couple’s family and closest friends leave for the “big reception” that usually includes a sit-down meal and music/dancing. 

We’re doing this. Church ceremony and “mini reception” for everyone we can think of, civil ceremony and “big reception” for about 40-50 people. We’re not being daft btw, a separate civil ceremony is a legal requirement here – you can’t get legally married in a church. 

Post # 13
8613 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

So you would be inviting everyone to the ceremony, feeding only your nearest and dearest, and then inviting everyone to dancing later on? To me that would be considered rude, but I know it’s more common in other areas.

Post # 14
1154 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@Haruyou:  Where I’m from in the US (Northeastern Kentucky), that would be considered incredibly rude.  And the typical wedding here is already pretty faux pas.

Post # 15
9677 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

I think it depends on what people normally do in your area. You might be better off asking some of your aunts or other family/friends.

It’s not common in the US from what I know, it would be considered very rude.  The reception is meant to be a thank you for people who came to see your ceremony.

Post # 16
10453 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

I’m in Alberta too! I’ve actually never heard of that before, so I’d be on the “don’t do it” side. But if your guest list is used to it, then it’s probably not a big deal. I’m just not used to it. 

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