Post # 1
My fiance and I had planned our wedding for May of 2016 and unfortunately he has been given orders to deploy and will not be able to make it to our planned wedding. We wanted to be married before he left and decided going to the court house would be the best option and then we would have our ceremony and reception with all of our friends and family when he comes back. Now that we are legally married I feel that a ceremony in front of friends and family would be an act and does not sound like something I really want to do anymore. I would still like to have a reception to celebrate but feel weird sending out reception only invitations to our guests, especially those who are driving 3-4 hours to be there. I would like to know your thoughts on receiving an invitation to a reception only wedding. Would you still be excited to attend?
Post # 2
I think under the circumstances what you’re doing sounds fine. I have to say I agree with your idea not to have a ceremony when you are already married because I think it’s disingenuous when people do that, but nothing wrong with hosting just a party to celebrate your wedding with your family and friends. Be mentally prepared for a few declines because of the fact that it’s not an actual “wedding”, but don’t let that stop you from celebrating.
ETA: I agree with below poster that I wouldn’t register or make any mention of gifts for this event. If people want to gift you something, that’s nice of them, but don’t invite it if you know what I mean.
Post # 3
The type of event that you are interested in throwing is actually called a Celebration of Marriage. A Reception-only invitation, also referred to as a tiered invitation, usually suggests that you are inviting someone to a reception held later in the evening of the same day that the ceremony took place and a meaningful percentage of USA-based guests find this type of invitation hurtful, though these sorts of invites are more common in other countries like the UK.
You can find wording for the invitations–which acknowledge that the marriage itself has already taken place–online. Such an event works a little differently than a standard wedding reception, and some people say that it is not in good taste to register for gifts for this type of event. Here’s a recent discussion that eventually becomes (mostly) a discussion of Celebration of Marriage-type events and includes lots of different angles/opinions.
The general sense I get from reading lots of message board discussions on this issue is that the smaller the number of people at the initial ceremony (and if it was just you, your spouse, and any witnesses that may have been required, it doesn’t get much smaller) the more OK people are with a Celebration of Marriage-like event, though the gift question does loom large. I’ve been led to understand that one of the reasons that so-called tiered invitations tend to be perceived as hurtful and offensive by many US guests is that there is an unspoken rule that attending any part of a wedding in the US = bring a gift, while in the UK an evening only invitation = no gift needed; thus people who are invited to only part of a wedding in the USA are more likely to believe that they are being invited just so the couple can get a gift out of them.
Post # 4
I think what you are proposing is not at all uncommon with military couples. If I were a friend and knowing your circumstances, I would be happy to attend. You can still do toasts, first dance- anythig you like.
Post # 5
What you’re proposing is perfectly fine! I went to a wedding where the bride and groom had already married due to military constraints. She even had her shower after the wedding lol. I tend to give military families a pass on things of this nature anyway.
Post # 6
We had a destination wedding with a reception back home once we returned.
Everybody loved it and it was treated just as a wedding reception would be, except we greeted guest upon their arrival instead of making an entrance. That was nice because we didnt have to talk to everyone at one time. We talked to everyone as they came in.
Post # 7
Did the couple let the guests know before attending the wedding that they were already married? If so, as a guest did you feel left out or disappointed? I am worried my guests will not be as excited attending our reception as they would with a full wedding.
Post # 8
We are good friends of the bride’s parents, so we knew ahead of time. I suspect that most people did, she had the actual wedding photos on her website. Only the parents were at the actual wedding; it had to be done quickly because he was getting deployed. She wore a beautiful white wedding dress and no one missed the wedding at all!
Post # 9
I would personally be happy to attend a celebration of marriage, assuming that the ceremony itself was either completely private or attended only by close relatives, especially since the couple was being forthright about what was going on. I appreciate it when people are honest with me.
Post # 10
I appreciate your input. I feel much more comfortable going this route knowing my guests will still want to celebrate with us!
Post # 11
- Wedding: November 2009 - New York, NY
A celebration of marriage is perfectly fine in your situation. Those closer to you will know you’re already married, and also your wording in the invite can tell.
Post # 12
I think that as long as you are upfront with people that you two were legally married before the deployment, you are in the right. People will be understanding of the situation, and I think that they will be excited to celebrate with you when your hubby returns!
People love a reason to celebrate and that will be the perfect time- you’ll have the ability to put together the reception you want instead of trying to throw one together last minute before he leaves. Hopefully you have some great friends that can help you with planning while he is deployed and you can surprise him with the reception details when he returns.
On the invitations you could write a cute little poem like “We’ve already said the I do’s and now that we’ve had a couple months to practice being married, we want to celebrate!” ok, well that’s a bad poem but I never claimed to be a poet 😉
Congrats girl and I hope everything works out the best for you!!
Post # 13
Celebration of Marriage is perfectly fine for your situation. We received an invitation to a reception only and it would have been fine but it was located 2 states away an 8 hour drive one way! There was no way we could do that and we had received the invitation only 6 weeks before the date.