(Closed) Wedding reception invite ONLY, but NOT to wedding?

posted 5 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
7561 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: January 2013

I would either invite everyone to the ceremony and reception OR separate the ceremony and reception in some way – like having it on a different day. If you’re going straight from one to the other people will talk and most likely be offended. 

Post # 4
9954 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Etiquette Snob here…

There is nothing wrong with this (although having two different events, be it a gap in time or days is always easier)

Although you will get A LOT of Questions because it isn’t the norm by North American Standards

(Some people think it quite rude to be excluded from attending the Marriage Ceremony… as many consider somehow THEIR ATTENDING the main event)

It isn’t rude to have a Celebration Reception… just get the word out that you are having a small intimate Ceremony for family only (or because that is what you and your Hubby want / need for personal reasons)

Those who really want to celebrate with you will come to Brunch… and they’ll be happy for you.

Hope this helps,


Post # 5
855 posts
Busy bee

This is completely normal in the UK but I’m not sure how it sits in the USA traditions….

Post # 7
4 posts
  • Wedding: May 2013

We sent out 2 different invites! Our ceremony space is small so we made it family only for ceremony and everyone else is invited for cocktail hour and dinner. Everyone I have talked to about this understands and thinks its good to keep it just family for a small intimate ceremony.  I dont think there is anything wrong with it. But I think in todays world most people only come to the reception anyways. Its more laid back and people perfer that over a formal ceremony!

Post # 8
1589 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2014

I prefer to skip the ceremony so I certainly wouldn’t be offended. Wink If you’re worried, I agree that having the ceremony a day or two before wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Post # 9
125 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013

We sent out two different invitations. Our ceremony is family only (still 100 people) and then we are inviting other family friends, coworkers, etc to the dinner and reception.

Post # 10
11747 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I’m not a fan of tiered weddings, but if you’re going to do it, I’d much prefer being invited to the reception only as opposed to the ceremony only.

Post # 11
1671 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: October 2014 - Church

@malinowskiscanoe:  It is more acceptable to be invited to reception only and not ceremony. I personally wouldn’t like it or do it, though … However, what you are doing is acceptable.

Post # 12
155 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: November 2013

It is ok to have a private ceremony, and invite more people to the reception. However, I’m of the opinion that it must truly be a private ceremony with immediate family and a few close friends. Meaning, no more than 20% of your guests at the ceremony. If you invite say, 50% to the ceremony, than it’s rude, and you’re telling the other half of your guests that they aren’t important enough to see you actually get married, but their good enough to buy you a present, KWIM?

Post # 13
3569 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

I prefer not to invited if I’m not invited to the ceremony. I like to dance and enjoy the recpetion but to me that is the most important part of the day.

Post # 14
2122 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2014 - DD born 2015 DS born 2017

This nugget of information is probably useless to know, but this is the norm in Japan. Family and perhaps bffs go to the ceremony and then friends and coworkers and not family go to the reception afterwards.

Of course it isn’t the norm in the US, but that isn’t to say it’s wrong. I think if the reception is long enough to justify getting dressed up for and fun enough I think it’ll be successful! As someone else posted, I think as long as a small percentage of total guests were invited to the ceremony, it’s acceptable.

Post # 15
7977 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: July 2013 - UK

This is very common in the UK. The way it works is this…

1. Religious ceremony (if applicable). Most religious ceremonies are public… and you cannot prevent members of the public from attending. If you have people attending just this part, they do not receive paper invitations. Invitation is by word of mouth. You should try to provide them with tea/coffee etc if possible after the ceremony, at your expense. They do not bring gifts. If people are attending the ceremony and the evening party, but not the reception meal, they receive a paper invitation to the evening party, but are only told about the ceremony verbally.

2. Secular ceremony (if applicable) and reception/main meal. This is always by paper/card etc invitation only. Guests bring gifts.

3. Evening reception. Invitation only. Guests either do not bring gifts, or else they bring something small… a bottle of wine or champagne, perhaps. Make it clear that you do not expect gifts from this group on the invitation you give them.

Inviting people to the evening only makes life so much easier in terms of money and space… HOWEVER, I will say this. In the UK we serve two meals… a main (usually plated) meal at the reception, and a buffet in the evening for the evening guests. So you will still have to feed your evening guests! You can’t back out of that!

Post # 16
5189 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: February 2013

@malinowskiscanoe:  That’s what we did. I’ve been married for 2 months and my reception isn’t until June. 1/2 our guests didn’t even know we got married until we invited them to the reception (I wasn’t going to invite 100 people to city hall on a Wednesday). It doesn’t seem like you’re just looking for gIfts. A gift is still OPTIONAL no matter when it’s given. The reception is the fun part anyway for the guests. i’ve been to weddings where people skipped the ceremony altogether by choice because all they wanted to do was party. 

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