(Closed) Ceremony Only

posted 7 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
4363 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2018

I’d say put the details of the ceremony as usual with no need to add anything else.  Perhaps to make it clearer you could put something like: “Bride and Groom invite you to join them as they exchange vows”  Instead of “…invite you to witness their marriage”
ETA: I think you should do RSVPs, for programs etc – I don’t know what the etiquette is.

Post # 4
3267 posts
Sugar bee

I think that it is impolite to not have a small reception.  Even just cake and punch.  The reception is a way of thanking people for coming out and celebrating.

Therefore there is no polite way to tell people that you won’t host them.

Post # 5
1297 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

@andielovesj:  I disagree, the people that matter to this couple will be coming to witness this union and shouldn’t be expecting anything in return.

@Kreno:  I don’t think you should put an RSVP, unless like ladyartichoke said, you are giving out programs, or anything else, where you will need a head count for.

Post # 6
6123 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Usually the reception is the receive your guests – thank them for watching you get married. taking time out of their day, etc.  Could you have cake and punch at least to thank them? 

Or you could just go to the courthouse to get married and not have to worry about any guests or reception?

Post # 7
3267 posts
Sugar bee

@OhBeeHive84: It’s not about the guests expecting it.  It’s about the hosts wanting to express gratitude to the guests and providing it.  The host is required by etiquette to offer a light snack and refreshments to people (and honestly they should want to do it).  Just as if someone came to your home, you would offer them tea and cookies or cake and juice, anything. 

The guests will excpect something, because it is part of social convention.  And because it is the polite thing for the hosts to offer.  You don’t say excuse me when you burp, because other people expect it.  You say it because it is a sign of politeness, and social convention.

If you do not want to provide some lemon waters and a sheet cake, then perhaps eloping is a better solution.

Post # 9
937 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

You could always be specific in the invite and as “Bride’s name & Groom’s name request the honor of your presence at their ceremony of marriage…” 

Post # 10
7695 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2010

@andielovesj: agreed.

I think if you are just having some close family/friends to come witness the exchanging of vows you should either do a small cake/punch reception or maybe take everyone out to lunch or dinner afterwards. It doesnt need to be a big thing, but just a token of appreciation for people coming.

Post # 11
2854 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Instinctively I really want to disagree w/ the view that this is bad etiquette, because it’s a case of all guests getting the same treatment. And it really bothers me that it’s wrong to invite your friends and family to share in a huge event, but not be able to because (for whatever reason) a reception is off the table. As a guest, I wouldn’t care. I wouldn’t be offended.

But then I was thinking about other family events (baptisms, etc) – and there was always at least a sheet cake. OP, is there an option to do a cake & punch reception at your ceremony site? That might keep the cost down.

Post # 12
108 posts
Blushing bee

I agree with the PPs–not having anything as a reception is a massive breach of etiquette.  Think of a wedding just as you would any other party.  How would you feel attending a birthday party where there was no cake or snacks or drinks provided?  You’d think something like “WTF, I got dressed up and brought this present and they couldn’t even get a cake from the grocery store and put out a bowl of pretzel sticks?”  If you have enough of a budget to send out invites then you can have a reception.

There are a lot of ways to have a reception that are not going to be super expensive and can be pretty brief.  Cake and punch for 50 people can be under $100 easily.  Hosting your reception as a potluck is acceptable as well.  I am assuming that you’re getting married in a church–the church should not have a problem with you being there for an hour or so after the ceremony for a brief reception but really any venue should not have a problem with you serving something small right after. 


ETA: to answer your original question “Lady and Gentleman request the honor of your presence at the ceremony of their marriage at this place and time and date.  Cake and punch reception to follow.”

Post # 13
2701 posts
Sugar bee

I will jump on the small reception bandwagon. It doesn’t have to be anything spectacular, but cake and refreshments would be very nice. If I were invited to a wedding ceremony with no reception, I would be very disappointed in the couple.

Post # 14
635 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

An inexpensive cake and punch reception is definitely the way to go on this one. It’s your thank you to your guests for attending your wedding ceremony.

Post # 15
2126 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2012

I’m sorry, but I have to go with the consensus that it would be a mistake not to at least host a small and short reception with cake and punch. I very much agree that it goes along with saying please and thank you, it’s just something people will expect or otherwise think oddly of. I have been to many a wedding that did not have a formal reception but at least people back to their place or even their churche’s hall for cake, punch, maybe a light snack. It gives people a chance to properly congradulate you, leave a gift if they so choose to give one (even if you didn’t want any), etc. So the answer to your question is yes you will need to order those invites and while you are at it look up a recipe for punch, and call costco to throw down a sheet cake for you. Oh, and find a location that works, your home, your parents, aunt or uncle’s home, your church’s vestibule/hall, etc.

It’s better to realize an error in judgment or ettiquite when there is still time to change it, than hear about it later! Beleive me. I’m so new at this wedding stuff and I find myself making mistakes all the time.

Good luck!

Post # 16
1696 posts
Bumble bee

Many brides misunderstand the word “reception” to mean “cocktails, dinner with Toasts, speeches, DJ, dancing; with ceremonial feature dances, Cutting of the Cake, and Tossing of the Bouquet and Garter”. Actually the technical meaning of “reception” is a light refreshments and conversation; often immediately following a ceremony, meeting or entertainment; under the nominal hospitality of a hostess who “receives” the guests for the purpose of introducing them to the ceremonial principals or guests of honour. This confusion leads brides to apologize that they are not having a reception, when what they really mean is that they are not having a dinner-dance in place of a traditional reception.

Kreno, if you are a churchgoer, or a member of a service club, you are probably familiar with the practice of having an urn of coffee and a plate of cookies ready at the end of the meeting. That is a “reception”. It would seem extremely cold and brusque not to offer such basic refreshmentm so I am hoping that when you say “no reception” you really mean “no dinner-dance”.

Because this kind of reception is so basic an expectation, it is implied by the mere fact that you are sending out invitations. The fact that you do not give any other reception information and do not request the favour of a reply will alert guests that the festivities will be of this simple sort. Because the preparations are so simple, no response is required from guests — the hostess will just put more or less water in the coffee urn, and cut the slices of cake smaller or larger according to the number who attend.  (Of course, you don’t need to send R.s.v.p. cards anyway as guests can quite properly be expected to use their own stationery, but in this case you do not need to send R.s.v.p. cards even if you believe your friends are all stationery-deprived.)

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