(Closed) Irish & UK brides – Please explain this to me!

posted 6 years ago in Reception
  • poll: How do you feel about inviting people to the "Afters" only? Choose all that apply to you please!
    I am NOT Irish/UK and I have NEVER heard of this tradition. : (16 votes)
    11 %
    I AM Irish (or from the UK) and I HAVE heard of this tradition : (38 votes)
    26 %
    I AM Irish (or from the UK) and I have NEVER heard of this tradition : (1 votes)
    1 %
    I am NOT Irish/UK and I HAVE heard of this tradition. : (19 votes)
    13 %
    This IS common place - I am overacting and my fiance is right. Invite them to the "afters" only : (37 votes)
    25 %
    This IS common place - But it is still very rude &bad etiquette. Invite ppl to everything or nothing : (8 votes)
    5 %
    This is NOT common place - It's only "normal" in my Fiance's head, and it is actually super rude : (2 votes)
    1 %
    Whether or not it is common place - I would NOT be okay with it. : (12 votes)
    8 %
    Whether or not it is common place - I WOULD be okay with it. : (14 votes)
    10 %
  • Post # 17
    771 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: April 2015

    Just another to add that this is normal. I’ve been invited to weddings as an ‘evening’ guest which has been totally fine 🙂 for example at a friend’s wedding, work colleagues (inc me) were invited as evening guests and the close friends and family were invited to the whole thing. Similarly at another friend’s wedding, evening guests were neighbours or other friends that they weren’t as close to.
    We’ll do the same when it comes to our wedding.

    Post # 18
    51 posts
    Worker bee

    @HappinessIsInDaisies:  It is very common to do this, sometimes its used for large groups of people like if you had a lot of cousins, or a large group from work, or if you were close with a big gang of neighbours. In these suitations a couple may be under pressure and simple could not invite this amout to their wedding, if I was one of the above groups I would be fine with that and go along with a gang to help celebrate, I would not travel far though only if it were local to me! no offence would be taken by the bride/groom if they didnt attend. 

    Im not a fan of this and would avoid if possible,  I would under no circumstance only invite a small handful of people to the afters!



    Post # 20
    2587 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: October 2014 - UK

    @HappinessIsInDaisies:  I guess we just delineate relationships more in this country – the actual marriage ceremony is supposed to be a bit more private and intimate over here, it’s very rare for people to have weddings the same size as some US weddings with 150+ people all day. The idea is that only your closest and nearest and dearest see the actual marriage ceremony, but then people who you still are friends with but not so close to can still come and celebrate you being married later.

    It’s probably partly from the fact that a lot of churches in this country (particuarly out in towns and villages) aren’t very big – some are, but there are a lot around the place that have a fairly small capacity, and a wedding would usually be an excuse for the whole village to have a knees-up. So only the family and closest friends would be able to fit in the church for the marriage, but then the rest of the community could join them afterwards for the party – because in those days, there wasn’t much else to do so a party was always good fun!

    There’s probably also an element of it from the tradition of visiting a woman after she was married to pass on your congratulations. If you read books set in the Regency period (Jane Austen’s Emma is the main example I’m thinking of), it was an expectation that people would call on the new bride to congratulate her in the days immediately following the wedding, even if they weren’t invited to the ceremony itself (it wouldn’t be uncommon for a woman to move to a brand new town with her husband after she was married in her home parish). So there would still be celebrations and congratulations for days afterwards – enrolling this all into one evening celebration on the day of the wedding probably saves a lot of time! But it also probably reflects the closing of the gap between the lower classes (who would have the whole-village party) and the upper classes (who would do the visiting) with the creation of the middle-class in recent centuries, who would want to ‘ape’ the styles of the upper classes for upward mobility, but still have traditions brought with them from their roots previously.


    I also think it’s likely to be symptomatic of the style of community that has existed in many places in the UK (Particularly in predominantly Irish cities – including places like Liverpool!) where it was common for everyone to know everyone’s business because they were all in it together, and families used to be a) much bigger and b) live much closer together, so large communities would often all be related in some way or another, or friends with so-and-so, and it would become too expensive to have them all fed at the wedding breakfast, so it was easier to not offend them and just have an additional get-together after the formalities.


    Of course, this is just based on my observations and somewhat limited historical knowledge of the country, but there you have it.

    Post # 22
    2587 posts
    Sugar bee
    • Wedding: October 2014 - UK

    @HappinessIsInDaisies:  Haha, well THAT example you gave is far from normal – I’d be cross too! Normally it’d be a few people turning up – as a PP mentioned, large groups like work colleagues – so they’d have people to talk to themselves, without either being an odd-one on their own, or monopolising anyone else’s time because they only know them.

    For my friend’s wedding last summer, I came as part of an evening group comprised of our friends from teacher training. There were about 12 of us, with partners, so when we came we just blended into the party as another group and the mingling continued. A group of his work friends came as well, who did the same.


    We’re probably going to have maybe 20 more evening guests at our wedding, but they’ll be groups who all know each other, so I can take the time to say hi and chat and dance with them, but because they’ll all have people who know each other it’ll be easier for me to go off and fulfill my other responsibilities without feeling guilty for leaving one poor guy on their tod.

    Post # 23
    278 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: October 2013

    @HappinessIsInDaisies:  As everyone has said, it’s really common and is how my wedding is going to be. We’re having around 40 people to our ceremony at 1.30 and the sit-down meal. Then at 6pm the evening guests will arrive for a big old ceilidh and buffet. Cash bar in the evening while day guests will have wine and champagne at the appropriate times. It’s just how things are done. I don’t want a whole bunch of people at my ceremony, it’s kind of a private thing, so it’s just close friends and immediate family. Plus we could never afford to feed more than that.

    I think it might also be to with the fact that in the UK people are really understanding about the limitations of money, and respect that the bride and groom should only have to feed those they are closest to. There’s none of the ‘don’t have a wedding you can’t afford’ or ‘if I was invited to the evening only I wouldn’t go because CLEARLY they don’t care about me’ or, the biggie, ‘cash bars are necessary’ which I see on the bee a lot 😉 The culture around money just seems to be different.

    Post # 24
    726 posts
    Busy bee
    • Wedding: April 2013

    I’m not Irish, but my husband is – and what you described is quite common over there. I agree that it’s still rather rude though. I personally wouldn’t bother attending a wedding if I weren’t invited to the whole thing. 

    ETA: My husband attended his cousin’s wedding a couple of years ago. He was invited to the ceremony, and the afters … but not the dinner portion, which was only for ‘close’ friends and family. If anything, that’s almost worse. He and his cousins had to sit there doing nothing while everyone else ate. 

    Post # 25
    2480 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2013

    @Irish Terrier:  That’s an inconsiderate invitation, I’m afraid, not custom and practice in the UK.

    Only while there are people who will send invitations to the ceremony and evening reception only, it is considered rude even here (where I sometimes get the impression that people outside the UK think we go out of our cheery way to be abominably rude) to expect someone to hang around for hours.

    It’s different if a wedding takes place at, say, a local church and local people are invited to witness it before going home and coming back in the evening but for all that, most people are somewhat “meh” about this type of invitation. Much more customary, and not at all rude, is the evening only invitation. 

    Post # 26
    6292 posts
    Bee Keeper
    • Wedding: August 2014

    @HappinessIsInDaisies:  In the UK it is both common and totally acceptable to split the guest list. Weddings here tend to be long, and are usually split into 3 ‘sections’: the ceremony; the wedding breakfast; the evening reception. Typically, the ceremony will be at around 12-1pm, with a drinks reception to follow. The wedding breakfast will usually commence by around 3.30pm, and be finished by 6pm. There will then either be a gap (this will be the case in our case), or it will go straight into the evening. The evening reception will then finish at midnight or later.

    Our ceremony is at 1pm, with guests seated by 12.30pm; our wedding breakfast finishes at 5.30pm, and our evening reception starts at 7.30pm, with the cutting of the cake and the first dance. Our evening do ends whenever people have had enough: probably 2/3am. We are inviting 60 people to the ceremony and wedding breakfast, and an extra 40 to the evening. I only know of a couple of people who’ve invited everyone to everything, and they’ve been people with large extended families, or from different cultures (eg Asian).

    What I would say is that personally I don’t think it’s OK to invite 100 people to everything, and just 4 to the evening. Most people would just invite the odd 4 people to everything, and typically people only split their list if they have a sizeable number they can’t invite to the day (as in our case; we can only accommodate 60 for the meal). Inviting such a small number to the evening would make me uncomfortable.

    I also think it can depend on timings: in our case, our evening guests can arrive at 7pm for a showing of photos in our private cinema if they want to, and it will all kick off at 7.30, going on until late. A decent buffet will be served, along with the wedding cake, and we’re putting a lot of money behind the bar. They will get to party for some 7 hours if they choose. If it was going to be much shorter eg starting at 9 and finishing at midnight, I think I’d just stick with a day guest-list and not invite extras, as I’d think it rude to invite someone for just a couple of hours.

    Post # 27
    1478 posts
    Bumble bee
    • Wedding: September 2013 - Creek club at ion, SC

    @HappinessIsInDaisies:  If its that important to you then ask him to compromise with you this time. My understading of the afters thing is that more people make a good party and people you dont really know sitting awkwardly at your ceremony meal. If you only have a handful of people coming from your side you may want to double think hating the idea of the afters. Maybe your Fiance is trying to take you into account and balance out numbers, i dont know, lol, talk to him

    Post # 28
    10 posts

    Bringing up an old thread sorry but I’m from Ireland, not getting married but my brother is. I had never heard of this happening until my brother was saying the numbers for the wedding party and then the numbers for the ‘plate lickers’ I was like what? and he said the people who arrive after dinner. Usually people with kids who don’t want to disturb the ceremony and the dinner but still want to see and celebrate with the bride and groom with their children or who have other resonsibilities like work or if they’re a carer.

    It may seem like a rude or disrespectful thing but sometimes with the ceremony and the dinner, come party time everyone has ran out of things to talk about so sometimes new people coming later can be a breath of fresh air.

    Good luck with the wedding though 😀

    Post # 29
    29 posts
    • Wedding: June 2013

    I’m from the UK and I hate this evening invite tradition with a passion. It’s just plain rude. I’ve been to about 10 weddings and thankfully never been invited to just the evening do. I’ve always said if I was then i’d decline.

    Basically, it’s for ex-work colleagues, people you’re not all that close to but see now and again who you’d feel bad about not inviting to the wedding at all. Getting an evening invite is like being told you’re a second class friend in my opinion.

    All or nothing for me. I’d work out with your fiance why he wants them to come so much, or just say that you’ve reached max capacity overall. 

    Luckily, we were married in the South of France so there was no way that we could invite anyone for just part of the wedding and if we had invited anyone out of courtesy, they didn’t want to pay £100’s to go to the wedding. It meant everyone we loved was there for the entire wedding.

    Post # 30
    2480 posts
    Buzzing bee
    • Wedding: May 2013

    @Aalia:  Well I hate to disagree but having evening guests doesn’t make them second class friends. Depending on your venue (where I had my civil ceremony the maximum capacity was 40) it may well not be possible to invite everyone you’d like to be there. Having a small ceremony and a big evening do is a great way of involving everyone who’d like to celebrate your wedding.

    I agree that it is better to make sure there is a reasonable discrepancy in numbers – inviting 100 to the ceremony and 110 to the evening is likely to make the evening guests feel like an afterthought especially if the wedding breakfast over-runs and the evening guests have to wait to be admitted but all the evening receptions I’ve been too have been at least double the size of the wedding. 

    I realise that this is one of those cultural things but I’ve always been pleased to accept an invitation to an evening reception. If I thought I was a second class friend I doubt I’d be invited at all!

    Post # 31
    472 posts
    Helper bee
    • Wedding: September 2013

    This is common and I always thought it wasn’t about them not wanting to come to it all but rather about the bride and groom not being able to afford/fit them in the meal.

    I’ve always seen it as a way to be able to invite more guests who otherwise couldn’t be there. I’m not doing it as our cost per head is low, however I would considerit if it wasn’t.

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