(Closed) Intimate Ceremony, larger reception. Invite help needed!!

posted 8 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
5474 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Technically, the reception is a “thank you” to the guests for coming to the ceremony.  Some people may be offended since this comes across as a tiered reception.  If I were invited to an event like this, where I was only good enough for part of it, I’d probably decline the invitation ๐Ÿ™

Another thing is to have a ceremony & reception with the people to whom you are closest and have a large, non-wedding related party later on… but that kind of takes the fun out of throwing a bouqet & cutting the cake and all.

Post # 5
5474 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

No problem, and I really wasn’t trying to sound harsh.  There’s got to be some kind of compromise here though… maybe do your small(ish) ceremony & nice dinner for a reception, and then at a later date have a big party.  I’d avoid doing wedding-y things at the big party though, so you’d be making some sacrifices, but that’s only if you want those things in the first place.

And, honestly, in this day and age sometimes etiquette can be a little dated.  If your circle of friends & if your families are ok with a tiered reception, then do what works for you guys.  From an etiquette standpoint though, you might get side-eyed for it. 

In the end, it is about you marrying your best friend.  You deserve to have a wedding that you can both look back at fondly ๐Ÿ™‚

Post # 6
8 posts
  • Wedding: September 2012

I think it’s fine for you to have a small ceremony and a bigger reception. It might be easier to have it on different days to avoid the confusion of the invite. But I think most people will be happy that you’ve invited them to share in your reception.

A friend of mine did exactly what you’re talking about a few years ago, for somewhat different reasons (one of them had severe “stage fright” issues, and a ceremony with 200 people looking up at them made them very uncomfortable) so they had a small ceremony of about 20-30, and then had their reception to follow.

I think these days people are understanding of a lot more things. I think you should go ahead and do what makes you feel best.

Also, if it makes you feel better, my Fiance and I are getting married in my parents backyard with our parents, grandparents and siblings only, and then a coupld months later we’re having a BBQ reception to celebrate with the rest of our friends and family. Anything goes as long as you and your future groom are happy with the day.


Post # 8
1474 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011 - Bent Creek Winery (Livermore, California); Reception: Family Residence (San Ramon, California)

We had an intimate, immediate family-only ceremony followed by a larger (about 90 people) reception later that evening, and everything was fine. There were a few people who were confused and of course, some people (like my aunts) were sad that they couldn’t see us get married. But ultimately, everyone completely supported our decision, and they were more than happy to celebrate with us at the reception.

We chose this for a variety of reasons: initially, we wanted to do the small ceremony followed by an intimate dinner reception with just our immediate families. My mom really wanted us to have a larger reception so that more family and friends could attend, so we decided to go with that. We wanted to have it a few months after our ceremony, but again, my mom really wanted it on the same day so that everyone could see us in our wedding finest and celebrate with us on the day we got married. So we decided to just go for it and have the reception a few hours after the ceremony.

As I said, our guests were very understanding and supportive. Most couldn’t have attended the ceremony anyway because it took place on a Friday afternoon, while they were free for our Friday evening reception. We also just explained the thought process behind our choices. We didn’t exclude people from the ceremony because we didn’t like them – we just had this vision of a very small, intimate ceremon, and our guests were totally supportive of that desire. And I’m so thankful that they all were so understanding and so happy to celebrate with us at our reception.

Ultimately, it’s your wedding, and you need to do what makes you most happy and comfortable. Everyone gets to plan the wedding that they want, and you should be able to do that as well. Just be open to questions if your guests have them, and explain the thought process behind your decison with love and kindness. If your guests know that you appreciate them and want to celebrate your marriage with them, I think they’ll be a lot more understanding of a somewhat non-traditional wedding. ๐Ÿ™‚

Good luck!

Post # 9
11484 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009

I have good news for you. Etiquette absolutely permits you to invite a small, intimate group to the ceremony and a larger group to the reception.  The etiquette breach would occur if you were attempting to do the reverse by inviting the larger group to the ceremony while restricting the reception to an intimate few.

The best manner in which to do this would be to send a “reception only” invitation to the entire group, while also including a separate, “ceremony invitation” for those you wish to invite to the ceremony.

Post # 10
1474 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2011 - Bent Creek Winery (Livermore, California); Reception: Family Residence (San Ramon, California)

Oh, and as for invite wording, it was really simple! We didn’t stress the reception only aspect. Here what our wording looked like (I bolded the only line that was different from our ceremony + reception invites):

Parents’ names

Request the Pleasure of Your Company

At a Reception Celebrating the Marriage of Their Children

Miss Parasol


Mr. Parasol

Friday the Sixteenth of September

Two Thousand Eleven

Seven O’Clock in the Evening


Post # 11
193 posts
Blushing bee

@future.mrs.ranville:  Have a Cerermony with reception invte and a reception invite. Its the same as attending a party for a couple that get married overseas. I think its totally fine

Post # 12
1990 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@future.mrs.ranville:  Don’t worry! Have your intimate ceremony & celebrate BIG after because it is YOUR union & YOU are running the show!

It made me so sad to see you say “it’s beginning to not seem like our day anymore.” YOU POOR DEAR! Stop right there! INTERVENTION!!! lol

When dealing with situations like this I like to remember one of my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes:

Be who you are
and say what you feel
because those who mind don’t matter
and those who matter don’t mind.”

Go have the wedding of YOUR dreams honey and allow for a LITTLE flex but don’t let anyone take over! Make you and your future husband happy and all the rest will follow Laughing

Post # 13
1243 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

@parasol:  This is what we did as well!

 @future.mrs.ranville:  As one PPs said, this isn’t an ettiquette breach- it would be if it were reversed, but…you’re not doing that, so it’s all good! 

We had our ceremony/family dinner on a different day then our large reception, so what I did was have the formal reception invites printed and then, for the peeps that were invited to the civil ceremony, I hand-wrote a letter inviting them to that event and inserted it into their invites.  It was time consuming, but personal, so it was worth it to me.

We did have some friends who were sad that they couldn’t see us get married and I did have one person comment to my mom that the reception wasn’t a “real” wedding but it was a real celebration of our marriage, which is what a wedding reception is.

To be honest, a lot of people commented to us about how fun everything was and were glad that they didn’t have to sit through a long ceremony.  ๐Ÿ™‚


Post # 14
92 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

We are putting the reception informationon the invitation, and then including a small card that has ceremony information for guests who are invited to that. The ceremony will be mostly family and extremely close friends, while the reception will be a lot more open-ended.

Post # 15
135 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: February 2012

This is a REGIONAL thing! In my state it is somewhat common to have a small ceremony and a big reception. No one is really that excited about the ceremony, anyway, besides family.

I sent out two different invites. They were exactly the same except the reception-only invites said “The couple will exchange vows in a private ceremony.”

Some OOT’s were confused and asked my fiance’s grandma if they could still come to the ceremony. I don’t care but we DID want an intimate ceremony for a reason..it’s kind of like, can you read?? Anyway, there will be problems but do what you want! It will all work out.

Post # 16
1375 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

I’ve only seen this done if the ceremony is truly private – immediate family only.

That being said, you are trying to keep on top of etiquette.  But is there a reason you don’t want the rest of your friends and family at your ceremony?  That’s not the expensive part, usually the ceremony is the same cost for 30 or 150 people (depending on the venue, of course, but if its at a church it will cost the same).

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