(Closed) Dance only invites help?

posted 4 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
552 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Regardless of the gift issue, it’s still sending a clear message to your guests that they weren’t valued enough to share in the ceremony or dinner or both. If these people aren’t important enough to include at your ceremony (for which you need to host everyone, not just your closest F&F, afterwards), then what is the point of inviting them to the dance? You’re not doing them any favors by giving them a tiered invitation; anything less than an “all or nothing” situation is, frankly, really bad form.  

Post # 3
9557 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013

If this is common in your area, then I think it’s  fine.

It’s not common in my area, so I would find it odd. I would probably be a bit annoyed at only being invited to the cheap part of the night and I might not go. But if I didn’t have anything better to do, I might. Are you doing open bar – that would be the saving grace for me!

The trouble with “no gifts” is that people often don’t feel like they can really do that. I would feel commpelled to bring a gift because I’ve always been taught to bring a gift to a wedding, but I’d be annoyed because I’m only coming for dancing.

Post # 4
1685 posts
Bumble bee

btb2014:  Well, you are skirting the edges of propriety here, but you might just get away with it.

First, the modern horror of “tiered weddings” is often leveraged off the modern feeling of entitlement, and relatively few of the people I know in real life feel as entitled as the internet wedding-etiquette “experts” are. And internet wedding-etiquette experts are often self-proclaimed without a real deep exposure to real, every-day etiquette. Private wedding suppers (or wedding “breakfasts” as they are called even though they come at supper-time) used to be quite common — more common in middle-class circles than having dancing! But they happened in a particular context which is different from yours. So let’s look at what the real etiquette expectations are:

First, everyone who attends the ceremony should be greeted and offered refreshments afterward: this is the original authentic meaning of a “reception”, and traditionally it was done right at the ceremony site in the church refreshment-room or meeting hall, or sometimes in the churchyard. You seem to be in compliance here, since you will be greeting all your ceremony guests and offering them dinner at your reception site.

Second, no-one should be invited to only part of an event. You would not want your dance-party guests arriving to find satiated dinner guests nibbling away on their last hoarded pastry with crumb-laden tablecloths out bearing witness to the feast that dance-party guests cannot share.

However, you can invite different guest-lists to different, separate events. So, you can have a ceremony followed by a tea-and-cake reception; and then after a sufficient length of time so that you are not rushing off on your guests, and at a different location so that lingering tea-and-cake guests do not have to be dispersed to make room for your supper guests, you can have a smaller supper. Following that logic, if your dinner and your dance can be treated as two separate events, you should be able to invite guests to just the dance.

Separate events mean separate venues, separate times, and separate invitations — and separate hosting responsibilities. So you need to make sure that dance guests cannot drift into the dinner-room to see what they missed. And you need to make sure that your dinner guests process into the dance-room at about the same time that the dance guests are arriving, so that the dance-only guests do not get that feeling of arriving at a party already in progress. You need to have wedding-dance invitations that you can slip in with your ceremony-and-dinner invitations for the people who are bidden to both events, and sent separately to your dance-only events. And you need to be at the door to the dance room when your guests to the dance arrive to greet them as a good host should.

Remember that etiquette is more about smoothing social interactions than about following a particular rule-book. If your friends love dancing and would feel more hurt by being left out completely than by being invited to a dance when your actual family got a dinner AND a dance, then obviously it is kinder to invite them. If your friends feel entitled to everything your family and close family-friends enjoy, and would be insulted by getting a dance-only invitation, obviously it would be kinder to leave them out altogether. You have to know your friends, and decide based on what you know.

Post # 5
24 posts
  • Wedding: September 2014

Where Im from evening only invites are common enough. To be honest im sort of torn on it. I am never offended to receive one.  I can acknowledge that I’m not as VIP in some people lives as their family/close friends.  

If we do any evening only invites it’s likely to be to people that are in our extended social circle- people we may socialise with through closer friends. For example my OH is a barman. A lot of the regular customer we would see often in the bar but would have no real contact with them outside of that. he would like to invite some of them to the evening part. I know from speaking with some people that they would love to come and celebrate with us. 

It should be noted that the evening will start about 8.30 and will go on till 3am – maybe longer and food will be served. Weddings here are much longer than in the US. 

However I understand that it’s viewed quite differently in the US – so while people here may not be offended I can see that’s not the case everywhere.   

  • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Havana2013.
  • This reply was modified 3 years, 6 months ago by  Havana2013.
Post # 6
509 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2015

I am from the South so I know that I really cant relate to how yall do it if it is considered the norm where you are from. But I personally would consider it VERY bad taste to invite only some to the ceremony/dinner and then the rest get a consolation invite to a dance. 

I would not even risk it… if they are not “imporatant enough” to make the first cut, then I just wouldnt invite them at all.

Post # 7
5664 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Where I love that would be considered extremely Rude and I’d absolutely not come if I was one of those dancing only invites

Post # 8
4349 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: June 2016 - Virmond Park

btb2014:  Yes, it is an etiquette faux pas. No two ways about it. However, I am kind of doing the same thing. I’m the majority of my co-workers via a invitation in our break room to come to dancing after dinner. I would love to party it up with them and they know that I can’t invite everyone to the dinner. 

I say it’s ok, but I’ll probably be in the minority here.

Post # 9
93 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: September 2014


btb2014:  Hello fellow Canadian Bee !!  I am an Edmonton Bee with a Tiered reception as well!!

Tiered is perfectly acceptable up here and the reality is that you can’t afford to wine and dine everyone.  Not everyone has the luxury of having parents pay for the wedding and the flip side of that is that brides may sacrifice in some areas to accomodate everyone for dinner and ‘cheap out’ on something that will lower the quality of the whole night (cash bar, food quality, florals…….)


my FI and I have co workers and classmates coming to the dance only (but are coming to ceremony as well)  We made sure to make those invites for people who would be together anyways, there isnt a person on that list that would be showing up alone or anything….so they go to the ceremony, hang out as a group for dinner and some drinks then head to the dance at 9:00


I have not had a single person bat an eye at this, in fact some of those guests have said they were glad because they find wedding speeches boring!!  (clearly a boy saying that!!)


Its your day, do what you want sister!!  we can be rude canadian bees together  😉

Post # 10
7908 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

Where I grew up and got married (Fort Lauderdale, FL, which culturally is basically New England with warm weather), tiered receptions are a no-no. The closest you could come to doing this without offense would be to have a true afterparty–at a different location (not just a different room in the same location).

Post # 11
451 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

btb2014:  “is it really so terrible to invite additional in-town guests we’d like to celebrate with for dancing and cake if we’re clear that no gifts are to be brought?”

Yes. And you shouldn’t be mentioning gifts AT ALL.

Post # 12
451 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

aspasia475:  Ehhh, I would only say that she could get away with this if the “dancing” event also looked absolutely nothing like a wedding reception.

If she’s planning to wear her wedding dress, do a first dance, and cut the wedding cake, it will be abundantly clear to her dancing guests that they were only invited to part (the cheap part) of her wedding reception.


Post # 13
319 posts
Helper bee

My boyfriend and I were recently invited to a dance only event.  Honestly, we both felt like we were just invited to bring gifts.  However, the invite came with a list of where they were registered, so that made it way worse.  We were unable to go because of our work schedules, but I am not sure we would have went anyway.  I personally wouldn’t do it unless it were a completely seperate event on a completely seperate day.  

Post # 14
1118 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I’m Canadian too and while I’ve never seen this done I see no problem with it! I know for a fact that if someone I knew but wasn’t super close to invited me to the party part of their wedding, I would love to go. I would feel honoured that they did want me to be a part of their special day, even if they can’t afford or fit me the whole time. In the end, you know your friends, and you know if they are the type to be easily offended or not. I think you should base your decision off of that, not off of what internet strangers say.

Post # 15
976 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

btb2014:  I wouldn’t actually give them an invitation at all actually, but just tell them when you see them. I would say “Hey! If you’re free you’re more than welcome to come to dance around 9 if if you want” and just leave it at that. It’s not like you need a RSVP from them, so that should be good enough.

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