(Closed) Guests invited to Ceremony but NOT Reception okay?

posted 11 years ago in Reception
Post # 17
838 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

Mmmm no not okay…

Post # 18
3979 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

There really isn’t a polite way to invite guests to a wedding and then inform them that they will not be invited to the reception. All wedding guests invited to the ceremony must be invited to the reception.  When I receive an invitation to a wedding, I just automatically assume I’m invited to the reception!

HOWEVER, I have read that the only time it’s okay to have a wedding & not invite all the guests to the reception ais an “open church” wedding. This is where you’d post an invitation in your congregation & anyone could come watch your nuptials. It is usually followed up with a small cake & punch reception with those members so you can spend a few moments together.  Your situation could fit this requirement, but etiquette does state that the reception is to be a small, family only event.

Post # 19
231 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Have you already booked a venue for the reception?  I’m sure if you get really creative you could find something that would help keep the costs down. 

ETA: For example, My venue includes the room for free if I spend at least $1400 on catering (plus all tables, linens, china, and flatware). That’s an absolute steal!  A lot of hotels work on sliding scales depending on your catering costs, so that might be something to look into. Also, if you try to find places that allow you to bring in your own catering it will save you so much money!  Another thing to think about is changing the formality of the wedding.  Wedding ceremonies performed in a church are always traditional, but people I don’t think it would be weird to have more of an informal reception.  Especially if you are involved in your church, I think people would expect it more.

Post # 21
1336 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

I thought about this, but worried that some may feel like they were excluded and didn’t make the cut to be invited to the reception.  So I decided to only invite those that I can invite to both. 

Post # 22
93 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I personally think that its rude to invite people to one and not the other unless its an adult only reception.  In that case there is an exception to the rule.  If I received an invitation from a “friend” to their ceremony I would wonder why I wasn’t invited to the reception.

Post # 24
1011 posts
Bumble bee

It’s always been my understanding that a church ceremony is an open event.  It is a church ceremony.  Thus, people who aren’t invited can attend the ceremony.  However, they may not necessarily be invited to the reception.

My mom cut her part of the guest list and is not inviting certain of her friends.  She has told them she is not inviting them because she knows they have other obligations that night at the church (and I don’t know many of these people any way) that they should not shirk.  She explicitly told them they should not change the regularly scheduled activities for my wedding.  However, she added, they’re more than welcome to come to the ceremony (after all, it’s about celebrating my marriage, and not about me getting gifts right?).  As a compromise, my dad will be providing them with a roast pig for the pot luck dinner that night.  Kind of a weird situation, but then again, my sister (who knows more of these people) is getting married in 4 months, so these people will be invited then.

Post # 25
407 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: April 2010

You know, its quite common at my church to have an “open invitation” for the ceremony, followed by cake/punch reception in the fellowship hall….then an invitation-only (of course much smaller in number) reception at a different location, typically a hotel.

I think if this is common for your church, then MOST people won’t be offended, BUT be prepared that some will.

Post # 26
1565 posts
Bumble bee

I think the only acceptable way to do this is an “Open Church” wedding as RecessionistaBride described. 

I personally find it offensive to say, “They should be honored to attend just the ceremony, and if they’re upset, that’s THEIR problem.” I think the vast majority of people would be offended by being treated as a second class guest, because that’s just rude. If they’re just fellow church members and wouldn’t be offended since they’re not super-close to you, then I think opening your ceremony to the whole congregation is the way to go. 

Post # 27
1078 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2009

I agree with a lot of brides here….I would avoid inviting guests to only the ceremony, and not the reception. There is just really no tactful way to pull that one off.


Post # 28
1288 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2010 - Indiana Memorial Union

Unless you do the small cake and punch reception immediately after your church wedding, I think there is no good way to do this. It wouldn’t have to be elaborate, but some way of showing gratitude for those who attended. You’re a host to your guests still.


Post # 29
3538 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Maci – I am in the same prediciment as you but…..

My parents have 750 people in the church, and about 600 people think they know me and want to attend. So the usual thing in my parents and church is…that EVERYONE is invited to the wedding, anyone can come. But a nominated guest list can only come to the reception. I have never heard one complaint from anyone from feeling left out or thinking this is rude. They got share a special part in the day, and they do understand.

I wouldnt feel bad about it whatsover.. Because Im not, im doing the same thing!

Post # 31
7774 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

I think that putting it in the church bulletin and then only sending invites to the ones that you are inviting to both events is the way to go. That’s a good idea.

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