(Closed) Invite to Ceremony only? Can I do that?

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
9139 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

Usually it’s considered rude but in this case I would recommend asking a few church members what’s considered customary in your church community.

Post # 4
1026 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

Its usually rude to invite to the ceremony and not reception.  Could you skip the invite to the whole church, and do an after Sunday service reception for the church instead?  In our church some couples will get married on a Saturday with a “private” ceremony and reception (just their family and friends).  On Sunday they come to service and the Pastor includes their marriage when he asks for celebrations and prayer concerns during the service.  Immediatly after the service, the congregation is invited to join with the couple in the fellowship hall for cake and punch. A lot of couples with repurpose wedding flowers to dress up the fellowship hall and do a simple cake (not a full wedding cake) and punch or tea.  Price wise the couple spends a little more on the cake and drinks, but it satisfies everyone- the bride and groom get a managable/affordable wedding, and the church still gets to celebrate the event.

Post # 5
50 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: May 2014

This is actually the one situation where this is acceptable. There’s a reason traditional church invitations “request the honor of your presence”….it’s because you or your families are not technically considered to the “host” in a church… God is. Church services are traditionally considered to be open to the congregation as other services are (this service just happens to be one in which you get married!). Especially as it’s normal in your community to announce the service to the congregation, you are absolutely within the bounds of etiquette to do so. Maybe have a brief meet and greet in the church hall afterwards (could consider a sheet cake and punch or something), as I’m sure people will want to congratulate you in person.

Post # 7
7673 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

@MrsDavistobe: With the situation you describe – when there is a general invitation to the church members – is that also to the reception? I would be surprised if it was. My experience is that, when the church has a general notice that a wedding is on, it means that church members (and anyone else) are welcome to go to the church on the saturday, observe the wedding, and congratulate the couple. But the reception is invitation only, and the church notice makes no mention of the reception. If that’s the case, you could do the same.

Post # 8
9114 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

I would consider it rude. What you’re saying is, “Give me time out of your day, give me money and/or a present, but you’re not allowed to have lunch/dinner with us.”

I would not find it acceptable to invite someone just to your wedding and then telling them to leave immediately afterwards.

Post # 9
82 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - The Millennium Center

@sassbunny:  this is what I’ve heard as well. A lot of times it’s announced in a bulletins and is an “open” ceremony, but you would not send a formal invitation. Just have the church make the announcement.

Post # 10
9053 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2010

@sassbunny:  This is exactly how I understand it as well.  In many churches even wedding ceremonies are services that are open to the entire congregation and you’re not allowed to “close down” the church for your private function. 

Post # 11
1830 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: January 2013

I find it rude anyone invited to my ceremony is invited to the reception, if you can not afford to accomodate your guest cut your list.

Post # 13
11422 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2009


+1. This is something I did not know but recently learned from Aspasia475, who is well known on WB for her expertise in all-things etiquette.

Post # 14
278 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2013

Here I’m pretty sure it’s the norm that EVERYONE comes to the church to see the wedding and then the meal is just for family and close friends. I went to a few weddings like that when I was a child. It was customary for my mum to go to the wedding of someone, say a neighbour she saw now and again, and not expect to go to the reception because she didn’t really know the neighbour well enough for that. 

Post # 15
109 posts
Blushing bee

This is quite normal here in the UK. We invited quite a lot of people to the ceremony only. We made sure that we only did this with local people though – obviously it’s not very fair to ask people to travel just for the ceremony.

We actually didn’t even send these people an official invite. We just emailed them saying please come for the ceremony and refreshments afterwards. We laid on some drinks and nibbles after the ceremony.

It worked absolutely fine. I think these sorts of people were aware that they are not close friends and family and most were touched to be remembered and invited in this way.

After the drinks and nibbles we had photos, finishing with a whole group photo. We had the best man make an announcement saying ‘we’re going back in to the chapel now for a whole group photo after which those staying for the meal should make their way to the dining room’. This made it clear what was to happen and who should go where!

I know a lot of people who have done it this way with church ‘family’. Another wedding where I was bridesmaid and the groom was the pastor of the church – they had everyone to the ceremony and then some drinks and nibbles in the church for church friends before everyone else made their way to the hotel for the main meal and evening reception.

So anyway….it might be a cultural thing but it’s definitely not unusal here and certainly no one I spoke to thought anything of it!

Good luck! x

Post # 16
109 posts
Blushing bee

@Hyperventilate:  This is the point: they do not recieve a formal invite with gift list details etc on it – there is no obligation to give a gift for these sorts of guests. Ours who came to the ceremony only did not give us gifts.

Also some sort of light refreshments for these sorts of guests strikes the right balance.

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