how do I invite guests to ceremony only but not the reception?

posted 8 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
2588 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

You can’t, really…people expect (generally) to be fed after attending a wedding. The best course of action would be to cut down on the ceremony guest list, or find a way to invite all your guests to the reception.

Out of curiosity, why do you want to invite so many people to the ceremony?

Post # 4
542 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 2010

hmmmm I’m not really sure theres a way to do this WITHOUT offending? Is there any other way to get around it? I hope some bees are able ot give you some sort of advice.

Post # 5
739 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

Personally, I would not feel comfortable inviting guests to attend the ceremony if I wasn’t including them in the reception.  I’m not sure there’s a way to do it without offending anyone as it’s really a tricky situation.

ETA: If I was invited to only a ceremony & not the reception, I would feel like the bride & groom wanted to get a gift out of me and were not even willing to pay for me to be at the reception.  This would be frustrating.  I’m not trying to imply that’s your motivation but I do believe that is how guests may interpret it!

Post # 7
4824 posts
Honey bee

Can you just change your reception plans?  Do a dessert reception? A lunch where you serve a buffet sandwiches? or pasta?

I am really against doing this because it lets people know they are “B” list. No one wants to hear that.

Post # 8
1667 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

my short answer is: if they can’t come to the reception then don’t have them at the ceremony

I feel the only way to not offend people would be to have the reception on a different day. Have the ceremony with light refreshments afterwards, then the next day or 6 months or whatever suites you, have the reception party

Post # 9
8353 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: March 2011

I don’t think that you can invite anyone to the ceremony and not to the reception. If I were you, I would find a way to make sure all invited to the ceremony guests would be also invited to the reception. If I got an invite just to the ceremony, I would be offended. And I would not go to the ceremony.

Post # 10
3148 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

Instead of a traditional reception could you do this instead.

Have a dinner with all the close friends and family BEFORE the ceremony and then after have the ceremony with EVERYONE and just have a dessert buffet and dancing afterwards?

Post # 11
46606 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

This is actually done fairly often. I have received “ceremony only” invitations several times and was never offended. Everyone knows that every wedding has a budget and every wedding has a capacity and the line has to be drawn somewhere.

1.This type of invitation is commonly done when the bride and/or groom are active members of large churches. The congregation knows they will all not be invited to the reception but they want to share in the joy of the ceremony.

“The honour of your presence is requested at the wedding ceremony ofKesha Miller and Mr. Thomas Dwight Brown Saturday, the twenty-third of August at four o’clock Church of ChristBedford

Often the bride and groom arrange for a cake and coffee social (which they do not attend) in the meeting room of the church to follow the ceremony.
2.It is also done when the bride and groom would like to invite work colleagues who, in many cases, would not even be interested in attending the reception.

Bride’s Name) & (Groom’s Name)invite you to join them as they exchange vowson (Date of the Wedding) at (Time of the Ceremony)(Location of the Wedding)

RSVP (Date and Contact Numbers)


Post # 12
1641 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

I have been on the receiving end of that type of invite (three times to be exact) and I was not pleased. It gives the impression (although that may not be the intent) that the person is good enough to come to the ceremony and bring a gift, but not quite good enough to be at the reception.

Post # 13
2866 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2010

You’ll find that the majority of the bees will tell you it can’t be done.

With the exception of churches who invite anyone to attend a ceremony it’s generally considered rude to only invite a portion of your guests to a reception. Having essentially two “tiers” of guests will definitely offend people who don’t get invited to the entire party because most people want to get a chance to celebrate with you – not just watch your ceremony and go home.

I’d suggest either do a cake and punch reception after the ceremony and have a private dinner much later in the day for just family or invite less people to the ceremony.

Post # 14
232 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

Is your reception at the same location? If not then have invitations that just specify the location of the ceremony. We had people who knew we didn’t have space at the reception, but still wanted to attend our ceremony. Since I made our pocketfold invites, I just took out the slip with the reception information and just printed one with our website information.

Post # 15
49 posts
  • Wedding: September 2011

I like Baileyh idea the most!  You can still have the best of both worlds.  But inviting some just to the ceremony and not to the reception may hurt some of your guest’s feelings.

Good Luck!

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