Post # 1
Disclaimer: this is not a discussion on whether evening invites are ‘rude’. In the UK it is perfectly acceptable to have some guests come for the whole day and another set who arrive after dinner for the evening party, where a buffet is typically served. I just need some advice
Quick background of the plan for the day: We are inviting around 100 guests for the whole day, plus another 90 for the evening. Our church can hold up to 250 so we’re not pushed for space, so everyone with an ‘evening’ invitation is also invited to the ceremony. There will be coffee/tea and a snack served at the church as well as a buffet during the band’s break in the evening so everyone will be fed, it’s just the speeches and sit-down dinner that ‘evening’ guests won’t attend.
We sent out Save-The-Date Cards only to those invited for the whole day, for evening guests we added as many of them as we could to a Facebook event and put in the description “We’d love to have all of you there to celebrate with us. As much as we’d love to have you all there for the meal, we sadly cannot manage that as we both have big families” and explaining that our website would be updated with a map and suggestions of great places we’d recommend to eat (which it now does). Wording on the invitations for all day was “Ceremony at 2pm at _______, reception to follow at _______” and for the evening invites we put “Ceremony at 2pm at ______, reception 8pm at_______”. We had hoped this approach made the distinction clear without being obnoxious about it, and we did have some evening guests contact us after seeing the facebook event saying that they’d love to come and they understood and really appreciated that we were upfront and honest about the fact we just can’t afford to invite everyone to the meal.
Now, today my parents called me asking how we’d worded the evening invites and I explained the above to my Dad (adding that when an evening guest goes to RSVP on our website, the site thanks them for RSVPing and again directs them to the map for restaurant suggestions) and he seemed happy with that and said it was probably as clear as the distinction could be made without being rude. Then he passed me on to my Mum to tell her so he didn’t get it wrong, I told her the exact same thing and she flipped out saying we’d done it all wrong, that we shouldn’t have said anything about the church service on evening invites, that it should say evening only and people make up their minds about attending the ceremony? She said the reason they were asking was because my Aunt (who was sent an evening invite at my parents’ request, I hardly ever see her) called asking if it was ‘a hat occasion’ so they assumed she thought she was invited to the whole day. I said they would have to speak to her as I don’t have her number or anything, but our friends all understood the situation with the invites so she probably is just checking the formality of the event or something. I tried to explain to mum that we wanted to be clear that all are welcome to the ceremony as most people wouldn’t just show up to the ceremony if they have an ‘evening only’ invite, but she was having none of it. I ended up hanging up on her because she was getting hysterical.
I spoke to my Dad again later on and he said he’d spoken to my aunt, that she had pretty much figured it out herself because she asked “is this an evening invite” and that she was fine about it. It’s now got me totally paranoid though, do we need to contact all our evening guests (well, the ones we haven’t spoken to about the arrangements) to make sure they all know which parts of the day they’re invited to, or is that going to come across as condescending and rude? Help bees, I don’t want to offend people but I’d hate for someone to make arrangements thinking they’re coming for the whole day to then discover there’s no place reserved for them at dinner 🙁
Post # 2
- Wedding: April 2016 - Gorse Hill, Surrey, UK
as another UK bee, its sounds perfectly fine to me. You have explained fully how the day will be broken down and I wouldnt be offended by it at all. Don’t worry, seems like weddings bring out all these crazy etiquette rules no one has heard of!
Post # 3
I think you can recover from this – I agree that it may be confusing because some people do skim read things and might only register the “2pm” bit….. normally when you get an evening invite you’re not invited to the ceremony, so you might not twig that you’re an evening guest
But like I say it’s fixable. I’d just contact the evening guests again with something along the lines of “if you are able to come to the ceremony prior to the evening reception at 8pm, here are some suggestions for things you can do in the interval” and then list some sight seeing, restaurants etc. That will make it clearer I think.
Post # 4
Honestly asking…Is it normal for evening only guests to also have the actual wedding open to them? Or is this more of a evening only guests usually don’t get invited to the wedding, but since we have the room it’s OK? If it’s the latter, I can see where there could be some room for confusion, but you know the customs and how guests will interpret things better than we do.
Personally, if I was evening only, I’d probalby just show up for evening only rather than have the dredded ‘gap’, but others may see it differently.
Post # 5
I think it’s pretty rude to invite people to the church bit plus the evening without inviting to the meal, whatever your reasons are. Seems less rude to just clearly invite to the evening only. We had this last year – we didn’t go to the ceremony, just the evening, and we would have been less offended by an evening only invite. I don’t think suggesting restaurants helps as guests will presumably be dressed up and if they’re driving around it means they’re forced to drive to somewhere to eat, dressed up in their finery and possibly at an inconvenient time given wedding timings don’t necessarily coincide with normal dining hours, and then face either a taxi to the reception venue or someone can’t drink…nah…doesn’t seem very celebratory or fun.
I would make it clearer to these “gap” guests that you will understand if they don’t come to the ceremony, but would be welcome if they choose to. At the moment it seems like you expect them to have a gap.
Post # 6
U.K. Bee here! I can see how your aunt was confused TBH. Whenever I have received an evening only invite (which are super common in the UK!), I’ve never been given the option to attend the ceremony, which I assume is to avoid confusion about the main meal. That said, it sounds like your on top of explaining your particular set up on your wedding website/Facebook so wouldn’t worry! I’d get your parents/BMs to spread the word to guests to read the info on there.
PP’s idea of interval suggestions could make things a bit clearer!
Post # 7
UK here, to be honest I was really a bit confused, at first I thought you’d just put the bit about the ceremony on the evening invite and didn’t understand. It was only Weasel’s post that got me to understand it! I would myself only have gone for all day or evening rather than a mix of two, but as you’re giving them the option to come to the ceremony they can make the decision to do that, others that don’t want to go can just go to the evening. Its an unusual set up though I think!
Post # 8
I’m a UK bee too so I understand what goes down here. As standard practice is for evening guests not to attend the ceremony, I think there is potentially a bit of room for confusion. I have only had this sort of invite once, and I must admit we were dithering about after the church service because we weren’t sure what we were meant to do. Therefore I’d recommend making it as clear as possible what the deal is in advance, it will save any confusion on the day. Your mum sounds like my mum- panicky and hysterical, just want you want hey!
Post # 9
I’ve had 3 invites like this (UK here). The first was done like yours and I thought we were invited to the whole day (first wedding minus parents, were were 21 and just graduated, Bride was still at Uni). Luckily a friend realised and saved us all a LOT of embarrassment as we’d have gone for the full day after the Church and had a nasty shock when we arrived!
The other two invites both said ‘evening invite’ and had details of the evening do. They also contained an extra slip of paper saying we were more than welcome at the Church (both were religious weddings) and that the ceremony was at X Church at X time. Couldn’t have been clearer.
I wouldn’t worry, most guests will have understood your invite but just be prepared that some may not have realised – I never even knew it was a thing until it happened to me (my first ever Church wedding, my parents had never encountered it either) but my Mother-In-Law and Father-In-Law had heard of it before.
Post # 10
Another UK bee here! Honestly I think the invite leaves room for confusion. I personally would just skip the ceremony altogether as that seems like alot of hassle.
However, you have been honest about why not everyone is invited to the meal. So maybe on your website just communicate a little clearer that the ceremony is *optional* for evening guests.
Post # 11
Yes it is a little confusing. It would have been better to insert a slip with the invite so it was obvious it was two different invites basically. But for now i’d call the people you think could be confused (elderly ect) and people you see often just drop it in to the conversation.
Post # 12
I’m UK and find your invites bizarre. I’ve been invited to plenty of evening receptions but never to a ceremony then evening. I can understand confusion although the wording seems clear.
Post # 13
I’m also a UK bee. I think there is room for confusion as people might just read the ceremony if only glancing. How many RSVPs have you had already? If only a few, I would update the wording on your website as others have suggested to focus on the evening bit and then add that they’re welcome to attend ceremony if they wish and perhaps offer that they could contact you for restaurant suggestions if they’re interested in that.
Post # 14
UK bee here. Your invites are in poor taste and are rather rude. When you invite someone to one wedding event, you invite them to all wedding events that follow. So if you invite someone to the hen party, they’d be invited to everything else that follows. And if you invite someone to the ceremony, they’d be invited to the breakfast as well as the reception and party.
Your mum may have had a dramatic reaction, but she is correct.
However, it clearly wasn’t your intention to be rude, so I think you can rectify this. I personally would inform your evening guests further, because if they don’t understand your invites then this could be embarrassing for both them and yourselves. You need to be clear and careful about how you word this, but not be so intense and abrupt about it that it comes off as being rude. Another “oops I boobed” might not be too helpful, even though the first was an honest mistake. Good luck.
Post # 15
Thanks for the input guys. I should also add that both of our venues are in the city and within a short walk of each other, as well as loads of hotels and nice places to eat and drink or sightsee, so there’s no need for anyone to be driving around too much or feeling out of place dressed up if they’ve got a gap to fill.