(Closed) help!!anxiety about inviting people to reception only..is it ok??

posted 8 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
1057 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

While the etiquette police may so no that’s not okay, I have been invited to a reception only before. And quite bluntly, I was fine with it. To me, the couple wanted to get married in front of their closest friends and family. They wanted to celebrate with EVERYONE. I felt honored to be someone they wanted to celebrate with. It’s your wedding. Do what you want 🙂

Post # 4
74 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

Yes, this will hurt feelings. People will wonder why they were not special/important enough to attend the ceremony (the most important part of the celebration), but were invited to the reception where they will be expected to bring gifts.

I understand your situation, but this is something I personally would never do out of respect for my guests. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel like they are “second rate” friends/family, and that is exactly how I would interpret the situation if I were in the guest’s shoes.

Post # 5
46 posts

i think you are going about it the right way to make it happen. for one, you are not choosing some people over others by only having immediate family. and if you want a few friends, then i would say make them your bridal party, so everyone else still understands that its just immediate family and bridal party (and not some friends versus others).

then the fact that you will show the video at the reception. to me it sounds like you are a destination wedding with the reception “back home” – as this is how they are often done, only family at ceremony in destination, then reception at home with video.  the only thing is that your “destination” is 2 hours away!


Post # 6
1391 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

That sounds so beautiful! I think if it were to be just immediate family and a few close friends at the ceremony and then everyone at the reception it would work out. Your situation is a little different IMO and I really don’t think it should be a big deal and I think most people would understand!

Post # 7
769 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

I think it’s way worse to invite people to the ceremony and not the reception (or not the same full reception as others).  I think you can get away with what you want to do if you 1) keep the ceremony guest list SMALL (if 1/2 the people are invited to the ceremony and 1/2 aren’t, there may be hard feelings; if you just invite immediate family and a few very close friends, I think people are more likely to understand) and 2) make sure your guests understand that they are invited to only a reception (so they aren’t expecting to show up and see a ceremony).  It sounds like it’ll be a beautiful wedding!

Post # 8
3126 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: December 2017

I am doing this too. I will be having a ceremony with family only (extended included, per Fiance wishes) and then having an open house reception afterwards with all of the people we would love to celebrate with.

I would say that you know your guests better than anyone else. Would anyone in your life be bothered by being invited to the reception only vs. no invite? Most of our friends want a chance to come eat free food and drink free beer and party, so they are okay with it.

Post # 9
46670 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I think it is just fine.

The situation is that you have a small venue for the wedding with a small capacity.

Encourage close friends and family to get the word out that the small capacity was  the reason the number of guests was restricted at the ceremony.

 I am sure that people will be happy to celebrate with you at the reception.


Post # 10
3314 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

I already did this.  We wanted the ceremony to be very small and intimate with just family and a couple very very close family friends.  We had a few people say that they wish they could have seen the wedding (we had several non-pro pictures that we were able to print out and display at the reception since it was the next day), but no one was offended by being excluded.  Everyone (both that we talked to and heard about comments from other people) said that they were happy to be involved in some way.

There is nothing wrong with doing it this way and it sounds like the perfect place since it holds a special place in your heart!

Post # 11
4485 posts
Honey bee

Contrary to popular belief, it is very rude to invite guests to the reception only. While folks may not say anything to you, they will be very upset by it.

Post # 12
6 posts
  • Wedding: May 2012

I think people will understand and those that don’t will come round before the wedding. Its your day and should be perfect for you and your partner so do what you think is best.

We can’t afford to have a big wedding with everyone at the ceremony so we are having a small ceremony with immediate family and our closest friends and a big reception party after. Most people understand why we have to do it like that though there were one or two people who got offended when we first told them.

We have decided that we are going to project photos of the ceremony onto the wall of the reception room via a laptop (If we can!). We want to use both the professional pics and any taken by guests with digital cameras through the day. We think it will be a nice personal addition to the reception and lets everyone get a glimpse of the ceremony. 

Post # 13
966 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

I think it’s totally fine. This is actually very common the the UK, where my husband is from. I wouldn’t be upset if I was only invited to the reception. Sometimes I get a little sick of “etiquette”. Do what makes you happy.

Post # 14
177 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: December 2010


I’m from the UK and its the done thing really – i know that doesnt really help but its just to say you wont be the only one doing it and to be invited to a reception only is very common

i’m having 80 people attend our ceremony and wedding breakfast and then a further 40 additional guests come to the evening reception

many people will realise cost and space impliocatiosn and if they dont understand do you want them there anyway?

perhaps explain to the more sensitive that its a numbers game and youve had to have a family only ceremony at a special venue – prior warning might stop people getting annoyed when they get their invitations


Post # 15
101 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

I think it would be fine since you’re limiting it to family and close friends only. Maybe you can have the ceremony videotaped and shown at the reception? I’m sure you can find a videographer who can do it for a reasonable rate and have it edited overnight. 

Post # 16
1243 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

This is what we are doing as well.  We’re getting married at City Hall and only having immediate family to the ceremony and no friends.  We’re having the big party the next day.

Honestly, I would not do it this way if I were planning again (and we are less then a month away).  It stressful trying to figure out when the photographer is going to be there, MUA, when do I wear my dress, and picking which day to focus on.  Also, what I have noticed is that there is a generation divide on the issue of whether this is cool or not.  

My parents had a huge catered engagement party and got married with only 12 people present.  Some people were very hurt, but they had good reasons for doing it that way.  This meant that they were understanding when we decided to have our ceremony and party this way.  Our friends think it is awesome because we aren’t taking their whole Saturday and we’re focusing on the part that is the most fun for them.  Most of the extended family/friends seem pleased because they are all travelling and this means they don’t have to leave their house at 5 am.  HOWEVER, I wasn’t expecting that some of my parents’ friends would feel like they weren’t invited to my wedding…when in my mind, of course they are.  This has been incredibly hurtful.  I was expecting people to be upset that they have to travel and not like the cocktail reception vibe, but to actually say that the reception isn’t a wedding was painful.  I’ve taken great pains to make people feel wanted (we have a small guest list- under 100 people….each person is like family) and valued.  My parents are old school and they felt that we were going above and beyond.  It’s been…illuminating, to say the least.

My advice: You’re not going to please everyone.  I can understand being upset if you’re invited to the ceremony and not the reception, but really don’t get it the other way around.  Ember is right in that you’ll probably never hear any complaints.  People may be offended.  People may also be offended if you wear purple shoes with your white gown.  Let’s be honest, from some of the eye-opening things I’ve read on the ‘Bee, a lot of what I would think is horribly rude is done regularly (cash bar, for example).  Different strokes for different folks.  All you can do is to be respectful of your guests and make them feel valued.  This means different things to different people…I figure as long as my proper parents think we’re behaving above board and my in laws aren’t upset, it’s going to be okay.  I want my guests to have a fabulous time celebrating with me.  The ceremony is about my FH and I and our immediate family.  The reception is about celebrating with friends and family.  This is what my wedding is about TO ME.

I think what you’re planning sounds lovely.  Keep you chin up.  🙂

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