Author Topic: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?  (Read 5688 times)

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BlondeButBright

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Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« on: October 08, 2012, 12:08:07 AM »
My fiance and I would like some help determining who to invite to our wedding ceremony and who to invite to our reception. We are doing things in a non-traditional way. We are getting married at a nice hotel in Las Vegas in October of 2013 - staying a week and a half for our honeymoon - and then having a cocktail reception (appetizers, cake, and champagne) in our home state two weeks after our ceremony. Total, our list of people to invite is about 115. We would like to keep the Vegas ceremony as intimate as possible (only inviting our closest family and friends who we talk to or see frequently), and then invite everyone to our reception in our home state. We don't want to hurt anyone's feelings, but we are footing the entire bill for the wedding and reception. We'd also like to be able to take people out for a nice dinner in Vegas after our ceremony (and then dance the night away at a club!), which we won't be able to do if there are 100 guests there. Lastly, my soon to be mother-in-law (who I love and want to be respectful of) says that if we invite someone to our home state reception, we have to invite them to our Vegas ceremony, otherwise we're being rude and will offend people. Again, this is not our intent. Help? Any advice/opinions? Thank you  :)
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 01:06:52 AM by BlondeButBright »
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Danika

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2012, 02:31:19 AM »
I disagree with your FMIL. I think you can have an intimate wedding with a few close relatives and friends in Vegas and have a different reception later.

One has to prioritize when one is on a budget. Would you prefer a nice venue with a small number of guests, or are the people more important than serving more than just cake and punch? It sounds like you've made a decision, and it's not unfair or mean to others.

I think you should do as you and your fiance plan. Only invite a few close family/friends to the wedding in Vegas. Don't make it a secret to others. Tell others "We are having a small ceremony first, far from home, and then later will have a larger reception in our hometown that we will invite more people to." Nothing wrong with that. Just don't be too specific about the Vegas date or plans when talking with people you won't be inviting.

cicero

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2012, 07:32:58 AM »
I disagree with your FMIL. I think you can have an intimate wedding with a few close relatives and friends in Vegas and have a different reception later.

One has to prioritize when one is on a budget. Would you prefer a nice venue with a small number of guests, or are the people more important than serving more than just cake and punch? It sounds like you've made a decision, and it's not unfair or mean to others.

I think you should do as you and your fiance plan. Only invite a few close family/friends to the wedding in Vegas. Don't make it a secret to others. Tell others "We are having a small ceremony first, far from home, and then later will have a larger reception in our hometown that we will invite more people to." Nothing wrong with that. Just don't be too specific about the Vegas date or plans when talking with people you won't be inviting.
I agree

i think it's the opposite situation - inviting people to the ceremony and NOT the reception - that is rude.

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Just Lori

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2012, 07:42:40 AM »
Nope, you're fine.  I think intimate is fine, and I would welcome the opportunity to celebrate with the happy couple at a reception held later.

Sharnita

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2012, 10:21:05 AM »
In general I would prefer to go to the ceremony as that is the meaningful portion to me.  It is great to celebrate after but the vows seem like the important part.  It is a bit different for a destination wedding but I do think there are other people who really feel the wedding is the thing.

Yvaine

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2012, 10:27:46 AM »
In general I would prefer to go to the ceremony as that is the meaningful portion to me.  It is great to celebrate after but the vows seem like the important part.  It is a bit different for a destination wedding but I do think there are other people who really feel the wedding is the thing.

I understand that point of view emotionally, but I think the technical etiquette is that you can add more people when you move from the ceremony to the reception, but you can't subtract people.

ETA: And the reason why is that attending your wedding is considered a favor the guest is granting to the couple, while the reception is hospitality being provided by the couple. So you can give people hospitality to thank them for doing you a favor, or you can give them hospitality just because you feel like it (i.e. even if they weren't at the wedding), but you can't ask the favor of them coming to the ceremony without providing hospitality.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 10:36:11 AM by Yvaine »

Thipu1

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2012, 10:57:15 AM »
Some years ago, a friend married someone from another country.  The ceremony was held there because he had a large family with many, somewhat frail or elderly relatives.

When they returned, the couple held a lovely reception and invited, in their words, 'just the immediate world'.  She wore her Wedding dress and he wore the morning coat and striped trousers traditional for a Wedding in his country.   The food at the reception was also in his tradition. 

An excellent time was had by all and I heard no negative comments at all.     

Inviting people to the ceremony but not the reception is not a good idea.  Invitations issued for the other way around are fine. 

BlondeButBright

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2012, 11:01:20 AM »
"In general I would prefer to go to the ceremony as that is the meaningful portion to me.  It is great to celebrate after but the vows seem like the important part."

Sharnita, I agree with you that the ceremony is the most meaningful part of any wedding. Whereas we cannot afford to host 115 guests in Las Vegas, we will be playing a short DVD of our ceremony for all our guests at the beginning of our hometown reception. Do you think this is a nice idea?

Thanks for all the advice so far, everyone. It made me feel a little better to hear that we're not being rude to our guests. The previous comment about "not denying hospitality to the ceremony guests" really brought some clarity to the situation. Keep the advice/opinions coming! Thanks!
« Last Edit: October 08, 2012, 11:03:43 AM by BlondeButBright »
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rose red

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2012, 11:34:46 AM »
Your original plan is fine.  Like you, my cousin married in Vegas with just the parents and siblings.  They had a party at home afterwards.  It never even crossed my mind to be offended and everyone at the party had a good time.  I've also been invited to receptions after the HC got married at the courthouse.  I've never felt snubbed just because I wasn't invited to the ceremony part.

Minmom3

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2012, 06:01:34 PM »
"In general I would prefer to go to the ceremony as that is the meaningful portion to me.  It is great to celebrate after but the vows seem like the important part."

Sharnita, I agree with you that the ceremony is the most meaningful part of any wedding. Whereas we cannot afford to host 115 guests in Las Vegas, we will be playing a short DVD of our ceremony for all our guests at the beginning of our hometown reception. Do you think this is a nice idea?

Thanks for all the advice so far, everyone. It made me feel a little better to hear that we're not being rude to our guests. The previous comment about "not denying hospitality to the ceremony guests" really brought some clarity to the situation. Keep the advice/opinions coming! Thanks!


You could make the video a looped one, and just leave it running so people can walk up, watch it, walk away to mingle some more and others can watch it.  I like doing it that way, because it makes watching the video a nice side attraction, rather than the center attraction, and the bride and groom are the center attraction at the reception.  It also lets people who want to see it be a lot more likely to get a good view, rather than possibly getting stuck in the back of the room.

Just my point of view, of course.
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siamesecat2965

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2012, 06:30:38 PM »
I think your plans are fine.  I have two friends who had a commitment ceremony, with I think just family and very close friends. Some months later, they had a huge, fancy, elegant reception in celebration.  and had a loop of their actual ceremony playing for a while at the reception.  I thought it was lovely, had a blast, and wasn't at all upset I wasn't included in the actual ceremony. I was just happy to be able to celebrate with them, even though it was a handful of months after.

Enigmatism

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #11 on: October 09, 2012, 06:21:11 AM »
My sister married in Las Vegas earlier this year. Unfortunately it was to far and expensive for most of the rest of the family to come. Only Mum and one other sister made it.

The rest of us watched the ceremony over the internet at our parents house. The happy couple had a reception later on for the rest of us. They wore their wedding finery, the two nieces had had outfits bought for them and were 'bridesmaids' and they repeated their vows in front of us. Then they did wedding photos with the family.
 Nobody that I spoke too felt like they'd missed anything.  :)

SiotehCat

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #12 on: October 09, 2012, 11:19:54 AM »
I don't know. Something about it seems off to me.

Isn't dinner and dancing exactly what a reception is? So, in that case, wouldn't you be having two receptions?

It just seems very A list/B list to me.

camlan

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #13 on: October 09, 2012, 02:17:12 PM »
Friends of mine did this. They had a small destination wedding with just their immediate families present, so I think a total of 9 or 10 people. They had a very elegant dinner after the wedding, but no dancing.

Two months after their wedding, they hosted a reception for all their family and friends, with dinner and dancing. And a very good time was had by all.

The reason it didn't feel like an A list/B list situation was that their wedding guest list was so limited--parents, siblings, and children of siblings (there weren't any grandparents to be invited). It was very clear that it was an "immediate family only" wedding. I think if they had invited some friends and not others, there might have been some hurt feelings, as various friends realized they weren't as close to the happy couple as they thought they were, and didn't rate an invitation to the wedding.

So I think you need to be careful who gets invited to the actual wedding, because that's where people are going to get upset. Define your immediate family--parents? siblings? siblings' children? grandparents? aunts and uncles? Draw clear lines.

Then think carefully about friends. Are there clear categories of friends for both you and your DF? Do you each have one or two very best friends whom everyone could see just had to be invited? Or do you have masses of friends, and picking just a few has the potential for hurt feelings among the rest? I'd consider inviting one friend, plus spouse/SO for each of you. Those friends could then be the MOH and Best Man.

Obviously, you can invite anyone you want. But since you are expressing a concern about hurt feelings, my guess is that you are aware that some potential wedding guests will be upset if they aren't invited. Or if they aren't invited and other people are.
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Sharnita

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Re: Wedding etiquette - To invite or not to invite?
« Reply #14 on: October 09, 2012, 02:29:43 PM »
If it were local it would feel like A list/B list for me.  Since it is not the reality is that the people who traveled to the ceremony, including the HC, do have to have dinner somewhere so it makes sense to have dinner together.

Personally I think I'd prefer to have the wedding locally so that people who I cared about could be there for the vows but that is a personal preference, nobody is obligated to do it "my way".