Post # 1
Feeling lost about wedding etiquette. We’re having a small afternoon reception (~50 people) with only drinks, hor d’oeuvres and cakes. However, since all of our family members are traveling from out of town and this is the first time they’re meeting, we’d like to have a family dinner the night before the wedding, as well as after the reception. We’re not doing a ceremony at the wedding and have no bridal party, so there’s no rehearsal needed. Fiance thinks we’re already providing for the reception so guests should pay for themselves at these two dinners. What’s your take on this? More importantly, how should I invite the guests without confusing them?
Thanks so much!
Post # 2
If guests are invited by a host to attend a dinner the hosts are providing the meal.
Post # 3
The hosts are responsible for any event in which they are putting on. If you are having a welcome dinner, you would be responsible for paying for it. If you are not wanting to pay for it, don’t have them…and your guests can make their own dinner arrangements for the nights they will be in town.
I guess I’m confused though, you say you aren’t having a ceremony? So your guests are coming into town to essentially hang out with you and eat apps and have some cake? I would seriously urge you to reconsider serving them some sort of a meal, even if it’s something easy and inexpensive. You said basically everyone is traveling from out of town, and that’s a lot of effort on their part to not even serve them a meal.
Post # 4
I don’t think you are going to get a lot of support for this idea – there is no really good way to invite a bunch of people to dinner and then at the end say ok let’s divy up the check …. who got the chicken? Yes it is expensive and really hard to find the money but I don’t see any polite way to make it happen without someone hosting the event
if you must do this then I would suggest letting each family do their own thing for dinner and instead saying something like we will be at Joe’s Pub starting at 8:30 PM please feel free to meet us there.
Post # 5
i agree with PPs, people are traveling from Out of Town to, what see you eat cake and punch? why are you not doing a ceremony? that is the point of a wedding? is everyone aware what they are traveling to?
i would order a bunch of pizza and salad if money it tight and feed your guests.
Post # 6
What are you providing a reception to if you’re not having a ceremony?
If you want these events, then you pay for them. Hosts pay. Personally, I would just have an actual meal at this “reception”, especially since everyone is traveling out of town and it appears to require an overnight stay since you seem to think they will all be there the night before. Find a park, get some take-out bbq or deli fried chicken and sides delivered and call it good.
The only way you can get out of paying is if you don’t make it a part of your wedding activities, you don’t invite people, and you don’t make it mandatory. At most you tell people via word of mouth “FYI – we’re going to be eating dinner at Joe’s Restaurant at 8pm for those of you who want to join us!”
You also have to keep in mind that there likely isn’t any restaurant out there that will just take a large group with zero notice – which means you’d likely need to rent our their banquet room if they have one, have a guaranteed minimum, and they may not even be willing to do separate checks depending on how large of a group.
Post # 7
Agree with PPs, if you formaly invite guests, you pay. If you just casually let others spread the word that there is a gathering at a certain restaurant, that is different.
Post # 8
I would provide a meal, at least the night before. Honestly, doing dinner at a pizza place or ordering pizza if you are able to host it somewhere else is fine, it doesn’t have to be an expensive dinner, but there is no polite way to ask people to come to dinner with you at your behest and not feed them. For after the reception, you can always just say, “FH and I are going to [x] tonight,” with the implication that other people can go there if they choose. However, if you’re going to do it that way, you can really only tell people that ask you, otherwise, many people will probably just assume you are picking up the tab.
Post # 9
Thank you for your replies, ladies. Just to clarify, we’re footing the bill for all wedding related expenses. I know traditionally the parents also pitch in but both side’s parents are retired so we don’t want to put that burden on them.
Unfortunately we live in an expensive big city with a tight budget, so have to stray from tradition a bit since we’d still like to celebrate! The invitations for the reception were worded carefully and the event was timed between mealtimes to avoid confusion. We’ve made tentative restaurant reservations but have not decided what to do with the bill, though it seems pretty clear what we should do from your responses. Thank you!