(Closed) Small Private (invite only) Ceremony, Large Reception : What do you think?

posted 11 years ago in Ceremony
Post # 3
39 posts
  • Wedding: August 2011

I was just at a wedding in July where most people were invited only to the reception due to the limited space at the ceremony. I think it is a great idea, invite those really close to you & your fiance. It will make it all that more meaningful.

I think the bride took a little bit of grief from some of the family but she just let it roll off. She had almost 200 @ reception and only 50-60 people at ceremony. Everyone that was at the ceremony said it was beautiful.

Basically-if that is the type of ceremony you & your fiance want go for it….you will love it.


Good luck!

Post # 4
686 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Personally, I think you should try to let all your guests be at the ceremony if possible, since that’s the reason they’re all celebrating with you.  If there’s room for everyone to sit and the only concern is parking, then perhaps you can provide transportation between the reception site and the ceremony site.  People could park at the reception and catch a trolley to the ceremony, or something like that.

But if there’s no room for seating, then I guess it is what it is.  Make sure the invitations make it apparent whether each guest is invited to the ceremony too or just the reception.  You wouldn’t want anyone showing up and wondering why everyone is congratulating and dancing already!

Post # 5
833 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: June 2011

I personally don’t see a big deal over this at all.  I was planning on having a very private ceremony…until my mother and grandmother gave me such a headache over it, I decided to go with another location to accommodate all those who wish to come.  As much as I want to say ‘its your day, do what you want’–if you are worried about people giving you grief over it..avoid it and have the ceremony elsewhere.


EDIT: I personally don’t see this as being a big deal because I’ve been invited to reception only weddings  (couple  had very private ceremony) and I didn’t take offense to it AT ALL.

Post # 6
3674 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2010

We had a 30 person ceremony (15 from each side) and then 90 people at the reception. Honestly, a lot of people didn’t take it well. My aunt hung up on my mom when she found out, and she is still upset with us (I’ve been married over 6 months). I also got a lot of guilt from cousins that I was close with, and they offered to by my sister, who was my moh’s, place at the wedding. We had lot’s of “no’s”, we invited 145 people, and I think it’s a combination of “why am I going to travel all that way just for a dinner” and it was on a sunday.

Even with all of that, I wouldn’t have done it any other way. I wanted a small, intimate ceremony, and it was beautiful. I feel like if my friends or family can’t understand that, then it’s their own problem, not mine.

Post # 7
1397 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: February 2014

Not a big deal at all; this is what we’re doing. Go for it!

Post # 8
702 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: December 2010

I say, go for it. I would make a list of everyone who you think wil be offended by it. You may realize that there aren’t too many of them, and you can deal with each one individually. For example, you may have to squeeze a sensitive family member or two onto the ceremony list to avoid causing a family rift. Others you may not care so much about, so you just have to steel yourself against any comments you may receive.

And since you have a whole year before the wedding, you can start talking about the “intimate ceremony” and “limited space” now, and mentioning that you’re looking forward to having everyone at the larger reception, to manage expectations and get people used to the idea. (In other words, make it sound like it’s GREAT NEWS that you were able to expand the list for the reception, instead of BAD NEWS that you have to limit the list for the ceremony – make sense?)

Post # 9
881 posts
Busy bee

Hi!  Congrats on finding a perfect site with a GREAT pricetag!  🙂 

My bf and I are thinking of doing something like this.  We’ll probably have the ceremony in Paris or on a cruise ship or island with just us and the officiant.  Then, we’ll have the reception back home a week or so after.  We’ll be sending out invites the same way as any other wedding – but ours will say that we will be having a ceremony of just us and the officiant in XX location and all that.  Then it will be the traditional wording of ‘please join us in celebrating our new vows on xx day for our wedding reception’ type of thing.  I asked around in my family/friends if they would be offended and everyone said no – so if there are one or two I really don’t care.  This ceremony won’t involve a dress, tux, church, romantic vows, blah blah so no one is really missing anything so that’s a little different than yours, I guess

But really – anyone that would be so petty as to not go to your reception because the venue was too small to host everyone at the ceremony doesn’t sound like a very good friend or family member.  The reception is supposed to be the celebration of you getting married – so that’s what they should be doing.  When I get invited to a wedding I look forward to the unity, fun, music, dancing, toasting, good food and family involved at the actual celebration at the reception – not as much the 30 min. ceremony.  Go for it!

Post # 10
369 posts
Helper bee

I think that it’s your wedding, and you should do whatever you want, but be prepared for some backlash.  You know your famly better than any of us, so you should have some idea if people will be flexibile and understanding, or will be upset.

I know in my family, I would have got a TON of flack, and it wouldn’t have been worth it.  But if you think your family would be different (or don’t care if they are upset), definitely go for it 🙂


Post # 12
2896 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

Sorry to chime in late, but I think it would be a great idea, especially if the small, intimate wedding is what you’ve been dreaming of. One of my very good friends had a small family/friend wedding at her childhood home, and then about two hours after the ceremony held a reception there as well. I was not bothered at all by being invited to the reception only, as it was made clear that it was a very small, intimate, and personal wedding that involved the family members there (the bride got a flower from each person to make her bouquet as she walked to the alter, each person said a wish or a blessing, etc.). I think if you’re excited about the bigger reception (vs being sorry that it will be a small ceremony) around your friends and family, they’ll be understanding. 

Post # 13
3928 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: March 2011

I am also chiming in late, but what about having those that can’t be at the ceremony show up early to the reception site for cocktails and have a video set up, so they can watch. It might be a good compromise.

Post # 15
49 posts

Oh Gosh, I soo understand how you feel. I am a very private person and I felt this was such an intimate and emotional event, I couldn’t imagine it being in front of a big crowd. I did have a limited number at the ceremony and most people understood.  It is a tuff one though. I had someone call me to say I “accidently” left out directions to the ceremony location! The bottom line though is that it is YOUR day. Do everything that makes you and your love happy. Don’t let anything take away from that.

Congratulations. Wishing you a perfect wedding!

Post # 16
3968 posts
Honey bee

I have no qualms with you wanting a private ceremony – but do it on a different day.  I think if you did it on the same day as the reception you would have hurt feelings by the people who want to be included on both parts.

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