(Closed) Invite some only to reception

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 2
8442 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: April 2013

MrsGubler:  It depends on your social circle.  Outside of the US, I believe that weddings are often done like this (I think some UK bees have mentioned it), however within the US tiered invites can be seen as rude.

Post # 3
2481 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

Here in the UK, tiered receptions and “evening only” guests are customary and not a pearl-clutching breach of etiquette although there will occasionally be some people who throw the “so I’m not important enough to share the whole day?!” strop. But I’m never upset about getting an evening invitation and we did a family only ceremony with a huge evening celebration later. 

Tiered receptions are not as popular in the US though. 

Post # 4
9118 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Depends on where you live. Our friends/family were mostly from California. This would have been seen as incredibly rude (“You’re not good enough to see our wedding. However, you are cordially invited to give us money and buy us gifts!”)<br /><br />Not a fan of tiered weddings. I would be insulted to be on a “B” list. I’d rather just not be invited at all.

Post # 5
2837 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

MrsGubler:  I think it depends on exactly who you are inviting to the ceremony.  I was invited to one wedding like this.  the bride and groom married in her mother’s backyard, in a tent– and I’m pretty sure it was literally only family (and while they each have some family, it was definitley under 30 people) and then each of thier best friends.  

Later that day, they had a wedding reception of 300 people in a country club.  So if you’re having 100 people to the ceremony— I feel like that’s kinda rude– it’s not JUST close family (unless you have a seriously large immediate family).


I have to admit– as much as I’m not even a wedding person, I was *almost* offended after a bunch of mutual friends thought I should have been invited to the ceremony (even though they were not), as I am the one who went out of my way to introduce the two, thinking they would make a great couple.  

I used to be close to the bride, and close enough to the groom– until they got married.  Then she sort of drifted away from all of us.


Post # 6
13379 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Yes, it’s rude.  The message that is sent to your guests is, “You weren’t good enough to make the cut for the ceremony, but you can come to the part where gifts are given.”  It seem very rude, and gift grabby to me.  I would not attend if invited like this, and I would not send a gift.

Post # 7
299 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

MrsGubler:  I had my wedding like that and it worked out fine. Our ceremony and reception were at two different places and there was a 3 hour gap between them. We have large families and saw this as the only way it would work, space wise. We had mostly close family (parents, grandparents, siblings, aunts, uncles and cousins) and very close friends at the ceremony. The church only sat about 200 and it was packed. Both of our parents are divorced and three have remarried. Both of his parents have been remarried almost 20 years so we had 4 families just on his side. We ended up sending about 225 invitations to the ceremony and more than that to the reception only. This is pretty acceptable in my area because we live in a rural/small town area and everyone has such big families and circles of friends. We also didn’t keep it a secret when talking about the wedding with our friends and family. We made it clear up front why we were doing what we were doing and everyone was fine with it and understood.

Post # 10
443 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2014

I am having a 50 person wedding and have had to give the “Im sorry but were having an intimate wedding” line to a lot of people.  Ive had people tell me that its ok and they will just come to the reception.  Which i find funny since they basically invited themselves.  Anyway since most of the non-close friends and acquaintances pry wouldnt go to the ceremony (or want to go) to the ceremony I dont think its rude. It may come off rude depending on how you word it so just watch the wording.  In reception only invites I would say something along the lines that you would be honored by their presence for a celebratory dinner following an intimate ceremony.  Dont make it obvious that the ceremony is only for close family and close friends.  I mean come on, I love Sandy in accounting and we have a good time for after work drinks but do I really need her to see me exchange vows with my husband she barely know – not really.  If people are offended they will get over it, but just like  mentioned above though, you need to be careful on who deem as close family and friends.   

  • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  1234sophia.
  • This reply was modified 4 years, 9 months ago by  1234sophia.
Post # 11
72 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

I think most people are going to be reasonable about it. We are doing that as well, because of space issues, and most of our friends are happy to be included in the “fun” part of the evening rather than completely slighted with no invite. We will also be including some variation on “no gifts please” on the reception invite so they know we sincerely want their company and not their money.

I live in the Midwest, so maybe it’s less of a big deal here than other places. I find that most of the etiquette rules I’ve come across on the Bee would be no big deal in my area; people are generally pretty understanding and a lot less quick to be offended.

Post # 12
2156 posts
Buzzing bee

MrsGubler:  Fiance and I got an invite to a wedding like this. We had to decline, but I was not turned off by the fact that we were invited to the reception only.

You shell out the most money for the reception (typically) with paying for guests’ food, drinks, and entertainment. I think it would be rude to invite guests to the ceremony only and not the reception. For that reason, it does not seem gift grabby to invite guests to the reception only.

Post # 13
354 posts
Helper bee

MrsGubler:  Actually it’s fine. I have friends who did a ceremony to family only, but reception for everyone. They wanted to keep the ceremony intimate, which totally makes sense. People will understand.

Post # 15
278 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

My wedding was like this. We had 40 guests (family and close friends) at the ceremony and then another 60-70 came to dance after dinner. It was at the same venue but not in the same room. Like others have said, this is pretty normal in the UK. I think there’s more of a reserved attitude here. People find inviting hundreds of people to the ceremony and dinner as ‘showy’ because it’s not actually possible to be very (and appropriately) close to all of those people. Ceremonies and dinner are seen as private and emotional, therefore for family and the couple’s closest friends. The dance/buffet after is a celebration for co-workers, people from high school/uni who were friends with at the time but haven’t seen in a while etc etc toc ome and wish the couple well.

There is also a more forgiving attutide towards the couple here – it’s expensive to host a wedding and it’s seen as ridiculous to expect the bride and groom to be available to invite everyone they would like to (and plus ones). We don’t generally say ‘have a wedding you can afford instead of tiering the guests or only giving the serious relationships plus ones’. Instead it’s more like ‘well, it’s their wedding, they should only have people there who they feel comfortable expressing such emotion in front of. Obviously that doesn’t include me, their co-worker/distant relative/friends boyfriend who they have never met. No hard feelings. I’m still happy for them and would gladly come celebrate at a dance with free cake!’. Gifts are generally not expected from these guests either.

I think this is a nicer attitude than the US one and it works for everyone. The couple get to see and celebrate with everyone they would like to, only the relatives and close friends are expected to give a gift and people who would otherwise not see anything of the wedding, if it were limited to only the family and close friends that the couple can afford to feed, can come along and have fun. Win-win!

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