(Closed) Invited to the ceremony but not the reception?

posted 9 years ago in Etiquette
  • poll: What is your opinion on inviting guests to the ceremony, but not the reception?

    It's understandable because (explain)

    I think it was rude and I wouldn't have gone if I had known prior.

    I think it was rude, but I would have gone, just not given a gift.

  • Post # 17
    263 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    I definitely wouldn’t have gone if I knew that! That is very rude, are you going to mention it to the bride or just stay quiet? 

    Post # 18
    2515 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: November 2011

    I am wondering if you were at the same wedding I was at! DH’s was best man in a wedding this summer. They invited 300 people to the ceremony, but only 150 to the reception! I was outraged for those who were only invited to the ceremony. 

    Post # 19
    12 posts

    Wow, I had no idea that this was considered rude for wedding etiquette! I’ve heard of, and have been to weddings like this, and had been planning to do so for my own. My parents are planning on inviting many people I dont know so that they can witness the ceremony and celebrate with them. I wouldn’t expect gifts from them, of course. But, if this is how most people feel about it, I am definitely going to re-consider this. O_O 

    Though it brings up the question : Is the wedding about the two people getting married, or all the family and friends? I know of people who wouldn’t mind not getting invited to the reception, since they would understand it how expensive everything is. Would definitely love to hear thoughts about this. 

    Post # 20
    592 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: February 2012

    Had I known about this I wouldn’t have gone, if I were in this situation. If I HAD gone, I wouldn’t have given a gift (even if I’d taken one, I’d take it home). So incredibly rude.

    Post # 21
    185 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: April 2013

    My parents were unwittingly invited to one of these years ago.  There was an interim snacks and punch deal while the bride and groom took photos.  The crowd started dispersing, the bride and groom hadn’t yet finished taking pictures, and one idiot of a guest asked my dad, “Do you know if we’re supposed to leave gifts here [at the church] or take them to the next place?”

    My parents honestly would have been fine with the simple apparent reception but ended up being miffed when they discovered that 100 people were continuing for a filet mignon feast.

    Post # 22
    628 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: December 2012

    I have never heard of this.  What I usually hear of or experience is the opposite, where the ceremony is extremely small and more people are invited to the reception.

    Post # 23
    1599 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: March 2012

    I wouldn’t have gone.  Seems like a gift grab to me. For me, and most people I know (not necessarily how people everywhere think) the ceremony is the boring part.  You don’t get to talk to the couple or really do anything, you sit and watch them talk for 10-60 minutes.  The reception is where I feel you actually get to really celebrate with the couple because you get to talk to them, laugh with them, and congratulate them. Being invited to ceremony only, really seems like they couldn’t afford to feed you but since ceremonies don’t really cost per person we’ll just invite everyone and hopefully get more gifts, then go eat with the people we really care about.  I guess in my opinion, I think a couple should just have a smaller wedding if they can’t afford to pay for all guests to attend the whole thing. 

    Post # 24
    116 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: April 2013

    I agree its extremely rude to be invited to the ceremony, expected to bring a gift but not invited to the reception. Its a different matter if someone asks to come to the ceremony knowing they are not invited to the reception because they wish to view the couple exchanging vows but to openinly not invite some people to the reception but expect gifts is so rude. Have a less expensive reception if you can’t afford to have everyone attend or don’t invite so many people!

    Post # 25
    91 posts
    Worker bee
    • Wedding: June 2013

    Very poor taste indeed! A cake and punch reception is lovely but you should not have a dinner reception as well and only invite certain guests! That is way more offensive to me than not getting an invitation at all.

    Post # 26
    304 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: May 2014


    @Missafraidtohope:  I’ve had an experience exactly like yours. The wedding which was of a university friend was on a Friday afternoon so the majority of us had to take time off work and travel through peak hour traffic for at least an hour to get there. It would have been so much better had the bridal couple actually spent anytime with the guests but they didnt even do that – we only saw them as we were leaving once it became clear there was no actual reception for us. It left such a bad taste in our mouths that we still talk about how horrible it was 4 years later.

    Post # 27
    1032 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: November 2013

    As the odd one out. In my culture it is extremely normal. With most of my friends, about half get a reception invite. But I get different cultures do things differently!

    Post # 28
    1263 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: July 2012

    @TeaJam:  I think it’s fine if guests are aware upfront that they are not invited to the reception later in the evening – not in a rude way, but explained in person by either the couple getting married, or the parents, etc. beforehand.

    I’ve been to a wedding where we were only invited to the ceremony and some cakes, snacks, etc. immediately after, then found out there was a reception that only some people were invited to – and, like the OP, it wasn’t a small, simple reception, but a fairly big 100+ people affair. I would have been fine if we’d known in advance, but because we drove 4 hours to get to the wedding, stayed in a hotel, paid for our dinner, etc. we spent a lot of money, just to give them a present and sit through their wedding ceremony.

    If that’s how you want to do your wedding, that’s fine. Just as long as guests are aware of what’s going on so there are no hurt feelings.

    Post # 29
    1289 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: February 2012

    @Missafraidtohope:  Here in Greece it is normal to invite more to the service and less to the reception, so I don’t particularly see it as a strange (In the UK we do the opposite more to the evening reception than invited to the church.


    The bride, groom, parents and wedding party line up at the door and greet every single guest, shake hands, cheek-kiss and thank them for attending.  I would find if the couple didn’t do this in extremely bad taste.

    Post # 30
    186 posts
    Blushing bee
    • Wedding: January 1999

    I think it is much more normal in the UK. I have been to several weddings where this is the norm. It is happening at mine too. I am getting married in a resturaunt and having about 80 for the ceremony. For the FOOD part of the reception I am only able to invie about 60 so when we are downstairs I have paid for a drinks reception for the other guests upstairs. I know it could be deemed as rude but I know my friends won’t be upset. Especially because I am putting money behind the bar for them and getting discounts on food. My friend got married and only had about 20 people for the meal and then invited them all back and more for the party.Out of say 20 weddings I have been to I would say 5 did it liek that and if you remove me from beign in Family weddings that takes it down to about 5 out of 10 so about 1/2. Maybe I just have poor friends?At one of my best friends weddings I was not asked to the food part and we just sat in the grounds of this lovely house, had an up-market pub meal and I thoroughly enjoyed myself. It was a bit of a…relief to be with just my partner and a few of my other friends rejected partners..like a weddingday siesta. Hoever, I think you guys may be talking about somethign slightly different – were you just dropped after the ceremony and given no night invite? That’s different. In all of the cut weddings Ive been to I have been given a ceremony AND a night invite – usually in the same place and then been left to fend for self for a few hours 🙂


    Another issue is that my dad is paying for everything. We have no money and he WANTS to pay for it all (telling him no is impossible). So he wants to invite his cousins and random family members I don’t give a hoot about to the meal. I can’t say no because he’s paying. If I was paying for it all myself it would be different and the random cousins would not be invited.


    On the otherside of the coin when I was asked by my American friend to buy my own bridesmaids dress I freaked! It is not as normal over here for bridesmaids to have to buy their dresses.

    Post # 31
    9922 posts
    Buzzing Beekeeper
    • Wedding: November 1999

    I think it’s very rude to do this, and I would not have gone if I had known.  Heck, I’d be tempted to stop payment on my check (but I wouldn’t!) because of how offended I would be! 

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