Post # 1
Thought I’d post here as I feel that a lot of the traditions and etiquette are different between here and America, and didn’t want to get jumped on in the main boards!
Both my Fiance and I have quite large families, and although we wanted to keep our wedding small, we’re going to end up with at least 90 people (just family and CLOSE friends). This is just aunts, uncles, cousins (family that we know very well) so there is no option to cut out the distant relatives. We are also on a budget and trying to keep the cost below $10k (with a full sit-down dinner & beverage package).
We have a large circle of mutual friends and also lots of our own different friendship groups. We’re having 150 people at our engagement party and could easily push this number to 250 people with whom we would like to celebrate.
I’ve been to a few weddings lately where the ceremony was essentially ‘open invite’ and the reception was much smaller – thus allowing a lot more people to celebrate the wedding, but not incurring a small (or large!) fortune in food and drink costs.
My idea is this – to have an open-invite ceremony, and then have perhaps 45 min-1 hour of ‘refreshments’ afterwards – just serving coffee/cake/sparkling for all the ceremony guests, so they can congratulate us and mingle. Then have a full wedding reception later for the 90 guests. I won’t be pretending to any of the non-reception guests that the refreshments is the only celebration – we’re going to be upfront and say that unfortunately we cannot have all of our loved ones at a full reception, but would still appreciate their company at the ceremony and refreshments to help us celebrate our marriage.
I consider this a decent compromise. What do you think, is it a blatant breach of etiquette?
Post # 3
Where I live (in Canada) it is common for many guest not to be invited to the supper portion of the wedding. They’d go to the ceremony, then they’d come to the reception after supper is done, in time for the speeches and dance. But I know in many places that would hurt peoples feelings. So my advice is run it by your people and see if they think it might offend some guests.
Post # 4
I’m Australian, so I get this.
Do it, but don’t do invitations, just do word of mouth/email saying that you would love to celebrate with everybody but need to keep things small.
Post # 5
I’m not Australian, but I have seen several of my friends do this and it’s always worked beautifully. I think it’s as long as you are showing hospitality in some way to all of your guests, it’s a great way to have everyone you want without going way over budget.
Post # 6
Thanks for the responses! I just needed a bit of reassurance after reading a whole heap of etiquette posts talking about how this was pretty much the ‘rudest thing ever!’
Invitations were going to be my next question.. Should I leave it word of mouth or do a small invitation card (just with the ceremony details and ‘light refreshments to follow’)?
Post # 8
I think it’s a great idea.
Post # 9
Technically the etiquette is the same for Australia- tiered weddings are considered rude.
I think the main point is that people understand that weddings are expensive so most people outside of family and close friends understand when they are not invited.
I don’t mean this to sound harsh or judgemental but I think that couples and guests have two very different trains of thought about the wedding. Couples often think that everyone is dying to come to their wedding whilst to a lot of the guest list it is nice to be invited but they wouldn’t be upset if they weren’t.
Whilst it is commendable to be upfront about it your guests still might come away with feeling second class or worse invited for a present!
Personally I think you should just try and make a list of the must haves/couldn’t see my wedding day without guests and try and work with that and your budget.
Post # 10
@seree: Oh yeah I was totally put off when I starting reading the all the threads on tiered receptions! I really wanted to have a big party with all our friends and family but it’s just not feasible to host them all for dinner (no space & no budget). So we wanted to have a dinner with close friends & family and then open it up to a ‘dessert’ reception – so drinks, dessert table & lots of dancing til all hours.
I was reading every thread & etiquette article worrying about it, then I started running the idea by friends and family and they thought I was about to start going all bridezilla on their arses! To quote my best friend “god no, I would love to go to that!”
I don’t know if this is common, but certainly in my circles the ceremony part is almost always considered “open”, for those not invited to the reception it’s spread by word of mouth – ie, people ask “where is your ceremony?” and you can just come along and pass on your congratulations to the couple in person. So for example, I know quite a few work colleagues came to the church for my friends’ wedding but weren’t invited to the reception.
Post # 11
I’ve never been invited to a tiered wedding but if I was I would feel like I wasn’t “good enough” or if we were friends not “close enough”. Although I do understand why couples do it as weddings are expensive but I would rather have either a invite fewer guests to a small sit down dinner wedding or more guests to a cocktail/appetizer wedding.
Post # 12
While people think this is rude, this is how most church weddings in the Catholic faith operate. The church bullitin announces the wedding and essentially invites the whole parish to the ceremony. I think you are fine to do this and also like the idea of an informal invite via email.
Post # 13
It’s completely the norm in the UK, although usually the family and close friends would be invited to the earlier part of the reception with a sit-down meal, with others invited to join later on for dancing. I say that if that’s what you want, then go for it!
Post # 14
I know from living overseas that weddings are different here than in the states. I wouldn’t be offended from your plan as long as I got to see the ceremony. I have a friend (here in Germany) that is getting married and her “legal” wedding is a week before the “actual” wedding. The legal one is just signing of papers and usually only the parents go (if they even want to.)
The bride/groom are having their bachelor/ette parties the next night b/c of when their family/friends can come in…so they’ll “technically” be married but having the parties which I found different than American customs. Their church wedding will be the huge lavish ceremony with a reception afterwards. AND they had her bridal shower a year ago right after they got engaged….weird how different cultures view the “wedding festivities.”
Post # 15
I’m from the US, so my immediate reaction is “Oh Gosh No!” but okay, that aside…
If it’s acceptable culturally, I think it’s fine. I would have a word-of-mouth invite for the open ceremony and let people you’d love to celebrate your marriage with everyone. Then, I’d have a big gap between ceremony and reception (photo time!) so it’s not obvious that there’s an invitation only party afterwards. Perhaps you could have a small cake and punch thing outside the church/ceremony location for everyone?
Post # 16
@winterbride1593: really? i’m from canada too and i’ve never heard this. usually you go to both or only ceremony.