(Closed) My ceremony venue isn't big enough for all my guests!

posted 6 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
9916 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: June 2013

Why would you invite more people than can attend your wedding?  That doesn’t make sense.  Either find a different venue or cut the guest list.

Post # 4
42 posts


Invite #1 (For Family and Very Close Friends): Include an insert saying that once they have RSVP’d they will be reserved a seat at the wedding. Advise them to show up 10 minutes early to ensure that they are reserved their place, but that should they be detained and arrive late, there will be standing room available. At the wedding, give the ushers a list of people who have a reserved seat. Have ushers ask guests their name and escort them directly to a seat.

Invite #2 (For Reception Guests): With the reception-only invitation, include an insert that says something to the effect of: “Before the celebration, we will be holding an intimate ceremony at _____ o’clock. Although all guests are welcome to attend the ceremony, we have only have enough seating for family and guests of honor. If you decide to come early and attend the ceremony, please use the standing area unless invited to a seat by an usher. Regardless of whether you come to the ceremony or not, we hope to see you at the reception!”

Post # 5
13251 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

People, for the most part, do come to the ceremony..  Inviting more people than your venue can hold is a rough decision.  Personally, if I found out I was invited to only one portion of the day, I’d be offended.  The people who invite only to the reception part may feel they were invited to the gift-giving portion, rather than the ceremony, which is the important part of the day.

I think the only way out of it is to do a ceremony with immediate family only.

@cartesamour:  I think saying there is seating for family and “guests of honor” would make me feel offended — basically, you point out, there is someone I wanted there more than you.  :-/

Post # 6
3688 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I don’t think you can blame this one on your Fiance. If your original guest list was 150, the chapel still only holds 90. Those extra 30 people aren’t the ones breaking the bank. I wouldn’t count on 60 out of 150 RSVPing no/not attending the ceremony, much less 90 out of 180. And I would definitely not say what a previous poster suggested — that you only have seating for “family and guests of honor.” Everyone at your wedding should be a guest of honor — playing it this way is making your guests feel unimportant. I think it’s time to find a new ceremony venue.

Post # 7
2295 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Ermmm… with 150 guests I would have been worried with 90 seats in the chapel anyway. And our invite list was 255 and our venue only seats about 180, BUT – 50 of those were +1’s, and 100% of people are out of town for the wedding, so I knew we’d come in low (and we are). And we had a backup plan if every single person came and brought a guest.

I think you need to put a hold on your invites. As I see it, you have a few options:

– Move the ceremony location. Depending on your invites, it  may be possible to put a nice sticker/insert OVER the original location.

– Only invite family to the wedding and invite everyone to the reception.

– Cut the guest list back before sending invites (I wouldn’t want it ot be more than 110 if I could seat 90 though and that depends on how local people are).

I don’t think an insert explaining is going to cut it. If I received that, I’d think “Oh, surely that means there will be seating but we just need to get there early and all sit close together.” I would not think “standing room only” unless you explicitly wrote that.

Here’s the other thing – don’t trust that people are going to read and absorb all the inserts. I am sort of flummoxed by this, as we have smart friends who are “with it,” and even they are asking me questions that are very clearly addressed in the invite inserts. And on the website – forget about it! People aren’t reading nearly as much as we hope they would.

Post # 8
1710 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2013 - Walt Disney World

I think you should cut the guest list if you absolutely must keep your ceremony site.

Post # 9
2055 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: May 2013

You need to invite everyone to the ceremony! I’d be kinda offended if I got a card that said, ‘we don’t want you to come to the ceremony, just our special guests can’

On an insert card, you can say, “Please note there is very limited seating at the [XXCeremony VenueXX].  Standing room is available.”  That way guests can come prepared to stand. And if they cannot stand, they can opt not to attend.

You could also do ‘Within the ribbon’ cards inserted into envelopes of your closest family and anyone else you know will have a problem standing.  From Emily Post:  http://www.emilypost.com/weddings/planning-your-wedding/667-inside-weddings-stationery-for-your-wedding

These are similar to pew cards and simply state “Within the Ribbon,” indicating that pews or seats with white ribbons across the ends have been held for special guests.  At seating, the ribbon is lifted or removed for guests to enter the row and then replaced.  Guests who receive either type of pew card can sit anywhere within these rows or sections.

Post # 10
680 posts
Busy bee

How much standing room is there? If there is ample standing room in the chapel, you could get away with leaving things as is if the ceremony is short. I’ve been to a few weddings where the chapel was TINY with hardly any seating, and people just filed on in and stood during the ceremony. I think guests will be more forgiving about that than there not being enough seating at the reception. People are understanding. If its a chapel that means a lot to you and your fiance, keep it. If you are worried about it, perhaps add a line on your invites somewhere that warns of standing room only and then reserve a few pews explicitly for family and close friends. 

Post # 11
2716 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

@lindseyp79:  I think you have 3 options here:

1. Cut the guest list so everyone can fit in the church.

2. Find a new ceremony venue and add an insert in the invitations correcting the location.

3. Have an intimate ceremony and invite only parents, grandparents, siblings, and those in your Bridal Party.  No aunts, uncles, cousins, friends, etc.  The guest list should be no more than 20-25 people.


Post # 12
1158 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Meh,that sounds like a headache to me. I would pick a new venue.

Post # 13
2335 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

Find a new ceremony site and quickly print new invitations.  A local park, another church, at your reception site, anywhere is better than having 180 guests crammed into a space meant for 90 people.  Actually…the fire code wouldn’t even allow that.  You’ve got to get a new spot.

Post # 14
76 posts
Worker bee

I’ve been to a wedding where I was only invited to the reception.  But instead of including an insert letting people know that they’re not invited to the ceremony, I think it needs to be the other way around.  Have the main invitation be for the reception, and make sure people will understand that it’s a reception invitation.  And then for people you want to invite to the ceremony, enclose a separate invitation.

Post # 15
1623 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 2012

@Miss Blue Whale:  +1

I just designed 2 different invitations for my girlfriend who is not inviting everyone to the ceremony.  They’re getting married in the their backyard, so they can fit maybe 90 people and are inviting around 200 overall.  That type of thing is somewhat common in my area (just inviting people to the reception).  However, I would just make sure the invite only shows the reception info (just as if it were actually the ceremony info).  No biggie in my opinion.

Post # 16
12247 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: May 2013

Print up a second set of invites that say

JJane Doe
Marky Mark
request the pleasure of your company
at the reception following their marriage
at six o’clock in the evening
on April the sixteenth
836 Bellevue Court
Hellsyeah, Alaska 03827

So it clearly says just the reception on the invite!

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