Post # 1
Hi bees, my fiancé and I have finally decided on an intimate ceremony/elopement for next summer. We’re only inviting 20 people and we’re planning on having a short and sweet beach ceremony (30 minutes max) about an hour from our city (where the majority of our guests also live). No bridal party, no reception, etc, our guests are all well aware of this!
We wanted to save money but also be able to share the moment with our loved ones and have beautiful photos, not to mention with covid we felt an outdoor event was appropriate. I’ve been stressing a lot about it though and possibly overthinking. Have any bees been to or hosted a ceremony-only wedding? Are there any dos or don’ts for this kind of thing?
For example, a registry – we already live together in a small apartment so we don’t really need anything. Should I make one anyway to share with those who ask?
We haven’t worked out our timeline yet but ideally I would want our ceremony to be in the late morning and then get photos at a second location because we have our photographer booked for a 4 hour slot, and then after a nap at the hotel my fiancé wants to go out and get drinks with any of our friends still in town (which I’m guessing is around 7ish people or less – most of our guests don’t drink). However, I know that cash bars are super tacky, so should we cover the tab? Or would it be removed enough from the actual ceremony?
I appreciate any guidance!
Post # 2
The thing is, as an etiquette matter there are really no rules for this, except that you shouldn’t do it. It is considered rude to not host your guests in some way following your wedding ceremony. I don’t really know why you anticipate friends still being in town hours and hours later, but if they are and you want to go out, fine. But I’d be worried other guests would view that as a wedding related celebration and be hurt to be excluded.
can you plan to serve cake on the beach after the wedding? Coffee and donuts or something? And then just go do your own thing!
Post # 3
We’re getting married in a beach town that’s a popular summer destination for people who live in our area so typically you would spend the whole day out there!
I don’t see cake on the beach being feasible because of all the wind and sand but maybe some donuts? The city would require a permit for any table or chairs and like I said we want it to be a short and sweet ceremony. If we make it clear on our invitations and also by directly telling our guests that there will be no reception is it still considered a faux pas? I’m mostly just looking to be married at this point.
Post # 4
So I agree with PP. It is a bit rude to not host your guests after they attended your ceremony. If all you want to do is be married, then you can just do that with you and your groom in a courthouse.
I would also find it off if I got invited to just a ceremony and then expected to congragulate you guys and leave. Weddings are supposed to be a celebration. As a guest, I much rather skip the ceremony and attend the reception or party instead. Have you guys thought about doing that? Rather than inviting the guests to the ceremony, have an intimate ceremony with you, groom, parents, etc. and THEN have a small dinner or something along those lines afterwards?
Definitely choose one or the other. You guys can just go get married on your own but if you want guests there you definitely need to do something for them. Even a small outdoor dinner will suffice.
Post # 5
Personally, I wouldn’t be concerned about “etiquette.” Don’t worry about a bunch of outdated rules that are too rigid to apply to anyone. Instead, think about what makes the most sense in your specific situation and in your specific context.
I see nothing wrong with having a ceremony-only wedding. You’ll do what you’ll do with any other wedding… send out an invitation. If people want to come, they will. If they don’t want to come, they won’t. I probably wouldn’t bother with a registry, but again, consider your context. If your guests are asking about a registry, that’s because they WANT to celebrate you and give you a gift. So if that’s the case, create a small registry and send it to those who ask. Be open with your friends and family and plan your day in a way that works for YOU all, not some nebulous standard wedding guest that doesn’t exist.
Congratulations on your wedding!
Post # 6
Yes l think this is a good suggestion. A proper elopement ceremony, ( which is just them ) or a very small ceremony with just parents. And a celebration of whatever sort they like, with whoever, whenever they like , later
Post # 7
Omg don’t listen to the etiquette snobs here. What you’re describing is absolutely fine, if you just want a wedding ceremony go ahead!! You don’t have to go solo to a courthouse if all you want is to be married, good grief how ridiculous. The people closest to you will be honoured to witness your ceremony… I know I would care a *lot* more about seeing a close friend or family get married, you know the bit that actually matters
, than any sort of reception afterwards. If someone cares more about the party, they’re not that close to you.
The only thing I will say is that everyone might be very excited afterwards and you might not want to flit away immediately with the photographer! Also, midday is the worst time for photos as far as light is concerned… so you might consider doing photos first, in the early morning, then have the ceremony.
As for drinks, if you can afford to cover the tab then I would, or at least cover the first round. You could call ahead and have champagne ready to be served and then let everyone order their own drinks. This whole affair sounds very casual so it’s not the same as a cash bar at an actual wedding reception, more like a night out for a birthday so I’d treat it accordingly.
Most likely some people will want to get you a gift, if you don’t want one tell them their presence as a witness is gift enough and direct them to a favourite charity if they insist. If anyone asks for a registry then you might consider setting one up, but I personally wouldn’t bother.
Post # 8
Consideration for your guests is not outdated.
What you’re suggesting is improper. If you don’t want to host your guests, even in a modest way, then don’t have any. Add to this, you’re making it an hour drive for a pretty beach destination, which is pushing it even if you were hosting, worse that you’re not.
Either elope and have a “celebration of marriage” reception to follow or host your guests. It doesn’t have to be a sit down meal depending on the time of day. Cake and punch is traditional.
Anything you do to invite people to celebrate should be hosted. It’s not OK to send some home and invite others. Either way there should be some refreshments beyond alcohol. The time gap for your photos is not gracious either.
Post # 9
Etiquette snobs? Coming on really strong and defensive for no reason. People can obviously do whatever they want for their wedding. You can literally skydive into a sea full of sharks and get married and then do a stage dive into your guests. Thats not the point. Just because you can technically do whatever you want, does not mean that it is not rude or inconsiderate to your guests.
The OP is asking for opinions on a “ceremony only” wedding and you actually agreed with my opinion. You agree that the OP should do something for her guests which is exactly what I said. As a guest you are expecting some sort of drinks, food, etc. I guess we are all snobs then for expecting some sort of celebratory drink, appetizer, etc.. A wedding IS a celebration and as a guest its not snobby to expect to celebrate with the bride and groom.
Post # 10
Rather than pay for a bar tab, I would make reservations for my 20 guests at a restaurant close to the ceremony, and host lunch. I would feel bad if people drove an hour (or more with traffic) only to turn around and drive straight home (again–traffic). By next summer people (who coose to be) will be vaccinated with a booster, so I wouldn’t make my plans based on next year’s strain of COVID. COVID is here to stay. If our pandemic ramps up again, lunch reservations are easy enough to cancel. Lunch on an outdoor patio is an option too.
Post # 11
thank you both! Reading the first couple replies sent me into a panic to be honest! I don’t want to start my marriage out spending more money than my fiancé and I are comfortable with because that doesn’t sound like a recipe for success 😅 I love the plan of having photos taken earlier in the morning and then the ceremony would be great! There’s probably a public park of some kind nearby or something and we’ll get donuts or something small. I think that way we can mingle with our guests in a safe way and not break the bank.
as for drinks later, I think we’ll pay for the first round.
Great advice about the registry too! I can see a few guests potentially asking and I do love the idea of a charity! We really don’t have room for more stuff.
Again thank you both!
Post # 12
This is sort of strange. You are inviting a handful of people to witness you get married for 20 minutes and then leave? Even if they live nearby, you are asking them to get dressed up and put in a lot of effort for 20 minutes. I certainly wouldn’t have a registry because I wouldn’t expect gifts in this sort of situation. Guests are giving you gifts to thank you for inviting them to your reception, not to your ceremony.
There is nothing wrong with what you want to do, but usually something like this would be private with just yourselves or with your immediate family, but I would think you would at least have lunch in that scenario. I mean, don’t you want to celebrate and be happy after you get married? Put yourself in the guests shoes; if one of your closest friends got married, would you really just want to show up for 20 minutes and then leave?
You don’t need to do a full blown wedding receiption but I really would consider at least hosting them for an hour or two after with a seated lunch or cocktail style champange and appetizers at a minimum.
Post # 13
Etiquette isn’t outdated just because it might be expensive, inconvenient, or doesn’t fit into some “vision” of a perfect day. If you invite people to witness your ceremony you need to host them afterwards with refreshments appropriate to the time of day. Previous posters have given good suggestions of a cake and punch style reception or taking your guests out to lunch at a nearby restaurant. If that would be too expensive, I would cut down the photographer time to free up money to properly host your guests or just not invite any guests at all.
Post # 14
If you don’t need anything, then I would not do a registry – just ask people to donate to a charity if they really want to mark your wedding.
Regarding the reception – it’s not rude not to have one (as long as you let guests know what they are invited to), but personally, I would feel uncomfortable asking guests to drive for an hour, spend half an hour at a ceremony, maybe another half hour having photos taken and then drive back without offering them so much as a drink. But I wouldn’t feel comfortable asking people to travel that far without refreshment even if it wasn’t my wedding – I’m from an area where it’s unthinkable not to offer at least a drink to any guest who turns up to your home, even someone who has dropped in unexpectedly. When we got married, Covid rules were so strict that we weren’t able to offer even a glass of water to our wedding guests – even though we had warned them of this in advance, I still felt really uncomfortable sending them away with no refreshment.
In your place, I’d either look at doing an informal picnic or at least offering drinks & cake (you could have individual boxes of cake if you’re worried about the sand). Or maybe offering to stand everyone a drink once you’ve had your photos done – presumably bars in your area will also offer non alcoholic drinks for those who are teetotal?
Post # 15
our guests who don’t drink are religious to the point where they are uncomfortable even being in the presence of alcohol. I am thinking we will provide some small desserts and some coffee or something since the wedding will be in the AM.
I think a lot of people are misunderstanding what I meant by getting drinks later – *if* any of our friends are in town at this later point in the evening, we’ll call them and ask if they want to go get a drink. Like I said, this is a beach town where usually someone would spend the whole day there. Where we live, an hour drive is pretty standard. My fiancé’s commute to work is an hour each way, same with most of our guests.
We have made it very clear to our guests so that they know exactly what to expect. These are our closest family members and a few of our very closest friends that we have known our whole life, not our random second cousins or coworkers.