(Closed) Have you ever gone to a reception but not the ceremony?

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 31
267 posts
Helper bee

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ms_margarita:  I just needed to comment again to say how shocked I am that so many people would be offended by this. I am also shocked to think that inviting people to the reception only seems gift grabby? If you are paying for your own reception, chances of you even getting your money back (if people only give you money) is so low it seems blatantly obvious to me that you aren’t inviting people to a wedding reception to get gifts. Showers- sure, they can be seen as gift grabby, but the reception? no.

Also, I find it “offensive” that people wouldn’t attempt to see your side and respect the fact that you are uncomfortable and you want to have a small ceremony. I think a lot of people need to just calm down and roll with the punches a little more! If someone is just going to come and be huffy about it, and feel taken advantage of for a gift (or something crazy like that) then don’t come!

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by MrsVC2015.
Post # 32
352 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2016

I think it’s fine to just be invited to the reception and I’ve also just attended wedding receptions in the past (though this generally happened when there were scheduling conflicts on my side and not because I wasn’t invited to the ceremony). You could always try to arrange the timing for the day to include a large break between the ceremony and reception,like having the ceremony in the morning and the reception start in the mid-afternoon so that it’s not as awkward to explain, but in theory I think whatever you do is fine. I would much rather be invited to just the reception (party! celebrations! drinks!) than just the ceremony. And I think it’s perfectly reasonable to say that you while you want an intimate ceremony you’re looking forward to celebrating with everyone later in the day.

Post # 33
5986 posts
Bee Keeper

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ms_margarita:  I thought you were going to say that if you were invited to both did you just show up for the reception, because my husband and I have done that before (we were late because we couldn’t get the baby sitter in time).  As for not being invited to the ceremony but the reception, I’d be a little offended.  I’m a big fan of the ceremony, not the reception, yes the reception is fun, but I’d prefer the ceremony over the reception because I love watching the actual marriage part.

Post # 34
7519 posts
Bumble Beekeeper

But you will still have 150 people gawking at you at the reception (first dance, cake cutting, speeches etc etc) so how come that is comfortable but the other is not is what I would be questioning.

Personally I attend a wedding to see the couple get married, not for the food and drink. If you only invite me to the reception then I am going to decline.

Post # 35
3791 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

Another thing, there have been some weddings that we’ve gone to that we only did attend the reception but were invited to the ceremony. DH actually prefers this.

I have a friends wedding in May that I’ll probably just attend the ceremony for, and DH can stay in the hotel room until it’s time to go to the reception (which is at the same hotel). I’ll leave it up to him to decide, especially cos it’s a Catholic wedding and he hates how long they can get, and doesn’t really know my friend.

j_jaye – My mom asked the same thing, and it can be different for each person. As I told my mom, an explanation isn’t really needed for this and it can happen to anyone. Everyone has different levels of anxiety and although focus is still on the couple during the reception, it’s a lot less “we only watch you” as people were conversing at their tables, and other stuff was going on. The focus wasn’t just us, and to DH (and my cousins wife), that was a little different.

  • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by Kacie209.
Post # 36
214 posts
Helper bee

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ms_margarita:   I’m thinking of something along the same lines because my fiance is very reserved and I think he might prefer a more intimate ceremony.

Check out the post I started here:


We are considering eloping, having a “weddingmoon” just the two of us, then returning to a reception to celebrate with friends and fam.  I personally wouldn’t be offended if I missed out on a ceremony day of, unless it was a super close friend.  I think you might be safer doing the ceremony on a separate date and having seprate invites just for the reception?  Either way – do what your prefence is!  Someone may always be disappointed – you can’t please everyone.

Post # 37
556 posts
Busy bee

Whereabouts are you? This must be a cultural thing, but it’s quite the norm in the UK to have some guests invited to just the evening. If that’s where you are, you don’t need to worry about it. 

Post # 38
1070 posts
Bumble bee

In the UK, it’s common to have a smaller ceremony/wedding breakfast and then invite more people to the evening reception. It’s really common and not gift grabby at all. 

Post # 39
531 posts
Busy bee

Actually, when I read the title I thought that you were asking whether it’s ok to skip someone’s ceremony and just go the reception, which it is not.  Unless the two are a great distance from each other, in which case I feel that that is sufficiently inconsiderate of the bride and groom that it’s now your guest perrogative to choose.

In your case, if this is what you want to do and your guests are aware, then I think it’s ok, but I would just offer that some people may really want to see you actually get married and you may be inadvertently excluding some of these people.

Post # 40
3625 posts
Sugar bee

Even if you send the invitations with info for both ceremony & reception, many people will only come in time for the reception. Look at some church pictures of weddings and see how few people are usually there and then they have a packed reception! That’s been happening for many, many years now, especially with Catholic weddings and the long gap in between.

I personally would not be offended one little bit, and of course I’d still bring a gift!

Post # 41
1320 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

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ms_margarita:  It really depends. I tend to go to church weddings so not being invited to the ceremony makes no sense because that’s what the getting married with witnesses – your church community – is about. 

Post # 42
1641 posts
Bumble bee

Personally, I do think that the after-ceremony reception is for people to celebrate the ceremony that just happened. That they attended.

I would opt for a very small ceremony and reception, and then have a larger reception at a later date for the rest of the people you wish to celebrate with.

I also have issues with anxiety, and I have come to think that whether it’s 30 people or 300 people watching us share our vows, I’ll be focused on my husband and the officiant and that makes me feel better about it.

That said, of course you can do what you want! I would actually be offended if you just invited me to the reception.

Post # 43
111 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: July 2015

This is totally normal where I live

Post # 44
3170 posts
Sugar bee

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ms_margarita:  As PPs have pointed out, this is pretty dependent on location/culture. In my family’s culture, it wouldn’t be considered rude to only invite some people to the reception, but in many cultures, it would be. Have you ever been invited to someone’s reception but not their ceremony, or do you know someone who has? If that’s unheard of in your area, I would say it’s a strong cue not to do this with your own wedding.

Post # 45
2758 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

I did because we have some Mormon relatives who got married, but we aren’t Mormon so we couldn’t go to the temple. 

I didn’t mind. The reception was at a fancy restaurant. We ate well and had a nice time. 🙂 

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