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Wedding Wednesday – Spooky Invitations To A Halloween Wedding

One of my husband’s friends in being married on Halloween this year. We received the invitation yesterday–or should I say, invitations! My husband’s invitation is for the ceremony, champagne reception, and evening buffet to follow. My invitation, however, only grants me entry for the cake and fizz and party after.

It’s pretty standard here in the UK to invite people to just the reception, which has taken me (an expat) a while to get used to, but this is the first time I have fallen a tier below my own husband in the wedding invitation hierarchy! I’m a bit baffled that they thought this would be okay.

Their invitations also directed us to their wedding website which insists children are more than welcome and they hope we will bring them along–but in this scenario do they think of them as my children or my husbands? 0723-14

This is hauntingly horrifying to send two different invitations to a married couple in which husband and wife are not invited to the same wedding events.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Rose October 26, 2016, 5:30 am

    This is bafflingly weird. The only explanation I can think of is that OP has a different last name than their hubby, is only really friends with one half of the couple, and the other person sent out the invites, not realizing OP and hubby are a couple. How awkward for all involved.

    • hopefull4 October 26, 2016, 7:15 am

      I understand what you are saying but I wonder why the HC would invite someone to their wedding that they do not know well enough to even know if that person is married or single.

      • Rose October 26, 2016, 7:37 pm

        I agree. I just can’t think of any other explanation for this situation. It’s just too bizarre.

    • Mizz Etiquette October 26, 2016, 8:02 am

      But you would think the couple would have made up the invite list together. Even if the groom made up his own list, handed it to the bride, it still “should” have said, “OP Husband and Wife”.

      This doesn’t sound like an oversight. Kinda sounds like a slap in the face.

      Hopefully OP’s husband declines the invite. If the groom is such a good friend, he’ll ask, “What’s up?” OP’s husband can then say, “I don’t attend weddings where my wife is not at my side.”

      The groom/bride need a slap with a clue by four. Ugh.

    • Pat October 26, 2016, 9:52 am

      Seems likely that this was a mistake.

    • lis October 26, 2016, 11:06 am

      Even then, you’d think they’d consult with their partner about who this person they hadn’t heard of was…

    • Amanda H. October 26, 2016, 2:52 pm

      That’s the only scenario I can think of that would absolve the couple of guilt.

      But that’s the point where I would consult with my husband and contact the couple to let them know that he would have to miss the ceremony because we only have one vehicle, and there’s no way I’m sitting outside the entire ceremony due to invitation oversight.

  • Mizz Etiquette October 26, 2016, 6:14 am

    Super rude!
    Wow…I’d be declining that invite and my husband would be declining his, as well.

    That makes no sense at all.

    • Wild Irish Rose October 26, 2016, 8:08 am

      Same here. Unbelievable.

    • Carrie October 26, 2016, 10:26 am

      This. Knowing my husband, he would write on the invitation the exact reason, in addition to cooling the friendship until a proper apology was issued to me.

  • Charliesmum October 26, 2016, 6:34 am

    I am dying to know how you responded. Are you going to go? Is your husband close enough to the friend to ask why in the world you wouldn’t be invited along with him?

  • ketchup October 26, 2016, 6:41 am

    This is just wrong. A couple should always be invited together unless it’s a gender or activity specific party or something. If that’d happened to us, my husband would call the culprits and explain that he will come to everything I was invited for, and nothing more. No way he’s going without me, and no way I’d go without him either. Seems like common sense to me, but apparently it’s not.

  • Eve_Eire October 26, 2016, 6:50 am

    I’m from Ireland where we also tend to have some people invited only to the “afters” but two invitations where one half of a couple is invited to the wedding and the other half only to the “afters” is unheard of.

    Actually, now that I think about it, it might happen if a guest is in a new relationship – that it might be casually mentioned to them that the new boyfriend or girlfriend is welcome to come along to the afters of a wedding that’s local.

    A guest of mine sent me a text a week before my wedding asking if his girlfriend could come (I wasn’t aware of her at the time of issuing invitations – he lives in another country). She was coming home with him anyway as he was making a bit of a holiday out of the trip home – I couldn’t include her at that stage as final numbers and table plans had been done but I told him she was welcome to join us after dinner and she did.

    In my opinion, both of these situations would be okay in Ireland and the UK (other people may disagree though) but issuing two separate invitations to an established social unit where one is only invited to the afters is really rude. Are they old friends that don’t know you? (not that it would make this okay, I’m just wondering really)

  • Cat October 26, 2016, 6:57 am

    Would it be acceptable in this case for husband to check with friend, in case of error? I could see something like this happening if someone was working off a list and got names mixed up.

    • Elena October 26, 2016, 5:22 pm


      I find it so interesting that everyone was so quick to write it off rather than check-in. With so many invitations that they must be sending, and how just about every response says “woah this is crazy!”, human error happens. If your husband is close enough to be invited to the ceremony, isn’t he close enough to check?

  • Anonymous October 26, 2016, 7:06 am

    >>This is bafflingly weird. The only explanation I can think of is that OP has a different last name than their hubby, is only really friends with one half of the couple, and the other person sent out the invites, not realizing OP and hubby are a couple. How awkward for all involved.<<

    Rose, I hope you're right. OP, I think you can safely skip this wedding. If your husband is like, BFF's with the couple, he can go alone.

  • Mustard October 26, 2016, 7:26 am

    So you received the invitations with less than a week to the ceremony?! We would be staying at home, possibly with our own fizz..

  • Starstruck October 26, 2016, 7:38 am

    This is so weird I can’t help but thinking it’s a mistake on their part. I mean who would actually do this?

  • Huh October 26, 2016, 7:40 am

    I’m afraid I don’t understand the exclusive invite to the ceremony/reception/etc., and then the invite only to the reception. I would think it would be the other way around – invite most people to the ceremony, and only certain people to the reception, as that is where the cost is!

    But yeah, I don’t think separating husbands/wives on the reception list is a good idea. Wow. I think I’d tell DH to go and I’d decline as the ceremony is the part I’m interested in.

    • Aletheia October 27, 2016, 4:38 am

      Re: having things the other way around

      Yeah, I’d think that would be the case, too. The only reason I could see limiting the amount of people at the actual ceremony is if the place where the ceremony is being held is REALLY tiny (think, like, tiny village churches – like on Downton Abbey or Monarch of the Glen if you’ve seen them, etc).

      Though from my understanding (which is most likely wrong, hah), it’s not that uncommon to do over in the UK? The ceremony seems to be an intimate thing, shared with friends and family, while the celebration(s) are shared with more people? (Granted, I’m just basing this on an episode of Sherlock, so… yeah. Probably wrong. XD;; )

      • Aletheia October 27, 2016, 4:40 am

        (Well, Sherlock and previous commentators on here, but I’m probably mis-remembering what they wrote.)

    • Louise October 27, 2016, 7:30 am

      This may be to do with legal/regulatory stuff in the UK. In Britain, you can only get legally married in a place of worship (Church/Temple/Mosque etc.) recognised by the government, or in a licensed venue – typically hotels, golf clubs, stately homes etc. So for example you cannot get married in your own home, or outdoors unless you are under a licensed canopy/marquee (law is different in Scotland).

      Civil weddings (which are more common) take place in these licensed venues which often have a maximum headcount due to fire safety etc. My venue only allowed 72 guests for the ceremony (due to seating) but up to 90 for the evening.

      ‘Evening guests’ only attend the ‘party’ bit of the day. they do not attend the wedding breakfast, and usually show up as the cake is being cut in time to catch the couples first dance. So they are very low cost guests – sometimes an evening buffet is provided (sandwiches, cheese, finger food) but sometimes the only refreshments might be cake. Remember as well that open bars are not usual in the UK, so guests generally expect to pay for their own alcohol during the evening.

      All in all, evening guests are a way to invite people you may not be very close to (like friends of your parents, even your friends parents!) who live locally anyway and might just want to share in a small part of your day. I invited a few work colleagues to mine because it made no difference to the overall cost and was pretty nice to have them there.

      • Louise October 27, 2016, 7:32 am

        (I would like to add of course that I am just explaining the concept of evening guests – it is absolutely NOT ACCEPTABLE to send separate invites to married couples, or any couples in long term relationships!)

      • Kirsten October 27, 2016, 10:32 am

        “In Britain, you can only get legally married in a place of worship (Church/Temple/Mosque etc.) recognised by the government, or in a licensed venue – typically hotels, golf clubs, stately homes etc.”

        England and Wales, not Britain.

        • Louise October 28, 2016, 2:37 am

          Kirsten – yes, apologies, I knew it was different in Scotland, but not in Ireland, thanks for letting me know!

      • Huh October 27, 2016, 11:42 am

        That’s interesting, Louise, thanks! 🙂

  • Vall October 26, 2016, 7:51 am

    So a couple is celebrating the bonds of their marriage by separating a friend from his wife for their festivities. That makes absolutely no sense. Please, please say that you both declined.

  • Aleko October 26, 2016, 7:56 am

    This *has* to be a mistake. Surely not even the most demented bridezilla could imagine that one of a couple would be happy to come to the whole event while their best-beloved was relegated to only half of it (never mind the obvious point that they would need separate transport, unless the B-spouse is expected to sit in their car with a good book until the part she was invited to)? Surely not?

    In any case, the best response will be to *treat it* as a mistake, and reply saying ‘There seems to have been a mix-up. Are we invited for the whole thing, or only the party?’ If they really answer that they want him for the wedding and you for the reception only, you may consider the matter, and the friendship, closed.

  • Jinx October 26, 2016, 7:56 am

    I’m really hoping this was a weird oversight on their part.

    Even if hubby were family; it’s super inconvenient for him to get himself to one event, then you have to take a separate transport to a later event.

    If that’s UK standard, I can accept that, but splitting up a couple is just really inconvenient.

    I think we can hope it’s a mistake. If you asked about the invites and causally mentioned you want sure who was meant to bring your kids when (whole/half ceremony). At that point they can either say “whoops” sorry didn’t mean to split you up!” or they can admit they did it on purpose, and you can decide if you want to attend.

    • Margo November 2, 2016, 4:31 pm

      It’s definitely not a UK standard. If it was deliberate it is definitely rude.

      It’s not uncommon to have some people invited only to an evening reception, not to the full day with ceremony and formal reception, but you don’t split up couples.

      (for instance, when a work colleague of mine got married I, and other colleagues, were invited to the evening party, but not to the formal reception where there was a sit-down meal and speeches.)

      But once you are there, you’re there – so if you are invited to the ceremony you would normally then be invited to everything after that.

      The evening reception tends to be less formal – typically more of a party than a formal event. I think every one I have been to has involved food (often a buffet) and most have had an open bar, but not all, so I wouldn’t ever assume that there will be an open bar.

  • Meegs October 26, 2016, 8:07 am

    Maybe they thought the OP wouldn’t want to bring her children for the whole event so they just invited her to the reception?
    Other than that, I got nothin’….

  • JD October 26, 2016, 8:14 am

    Unless there is something here I’m missing, the OP just got insulted. It sounds as though children aren’t included in the invitations, but the website says to bring them — which is correct? The bride and groom need some lessons on invitations.
    I think I’d skip this wedding, too.

  • The Wall of Creativity October 26, 2016, 8:14 am

    Decline the invite and don’t send a present. Double winning!

  • Lex October 26, 2016, 8:29 am

    Wow! That’s a new one. It seems to me that it would be reasonable to invite one member of a couple to the Evening Reception only if they were a relatively new couple, or if they did not live together. Even then, it’s not really polite to ‘split’ a couple via invites. It is not acceptable in the case of an established couple – especially one who co-habits and has children – to differentiate the invites regardless of whether they are married, civil partners, or simply dating/in a non-official relationship.

    The only instance in which this might be acceptable is in the case of work colleagues. If the couple in question were inviting your husband because he’s a close colleague, and the whole team were invited ‘as a team’ then it might be acceptable to say ‘I’m inviting the team, but +1’s are only able to be accommodated at the evening reception’. Having said that, if a Bride or Groom are sufficiently close to their colleagues to invite them to their wedding, then they should be prepared to extend the invite to spouses/children.

    I recently married and invited my colleagues (we are a small, close-knit team) and explicitly extended the invitation to their spouses and children. Some chose to come alone, some brought their families. It was their choice to make. Either way it worked out well and we all had a wonderful time. Meeting their families was lovely!

    If I were your husband, I’d be tempted to ask my friend why my spouse was being excluded, and make it clear that this is offensive to us as a couple. It is my opinion that when you and a partner commit to being in an ‘official’ relationship, you are a united team and present a united front. Feelings and differences of opinion behind closed doors are irrelevant. In snubbing you, they are being deliberately offensive. Even if you are subsequently extended a grudging invite, I’d still be inclined to decline on principle. If it turns out it was an innocent mistake or miscommunication, then by asking the HC about it, you are giving them an opportunity to notice something went wrong.

  • essie October 26, 2016, 8:40 am

    If minor children are welcome, their names should be on the invitation, as well as their parents’. Adult children should receive their own invitation.

  • Michelle October 26, 2016, 8:41 am

    I know wedding customs are different everywhere, but it seems really rude to invite a couple to different parts of a celebration, especially when it seems there is going to be a pretty full day of activities (ceremony, champagne reception, evening buffet, after party).

    I would tell my husband if he wanted to go to support his friend that would be fine with me, but I would decline my invitation altogether and encourage him to be honest about my absence if questioned.

  • Lerah99 October 26, 2016, 8:47 am

    I am really amused by this.
    It’s terrible. But I just can’t wrap my head around HOW they thought this would work.

    And, how is that going to work the day of the wedding?
    “Thank you guys so much for joining us for the Champagne Reception! Now those of you where were invited to the buffet, please hold up your invitations. Anyone without an invitation to the buffet will be escorted out by these nice bouncers. Cheers!”

    I just can’t.
    I must be odd because I can’t even.

    • kingsrings October 26, 2016, 6:39 pm

      LOL!! Or given a map to a nearby McDonald’s for their dinner, as was done in one of the EHell stories.

      • Anon October 29, 2016, 10:17 am

        I kind of want to read that story now.

        Of course I might loudly complain about it because of the assumption that we all like McDonalds. 😛 I’m a Burger King person, sorry.

        • NostalgicGal October 30, 2016, 5:21 pm

          I lived for a decade in a big urban area where we had 15 restaurants and fast food places within a mile of the house, most were on the strip a block away. A friend owned and ran the yakitori restaurant across the street (literally I could hang out the drive thru and see who was parked in our driveway). Out of all the food places the Burger King at the end of the run was considered the worst dive to work and anyone working there tried to get out of there as soon as they could. The joke was if it was a carbon based lifeform, could write a name and SSN on the app and would show up in the uniform on schedule, they’d hire it. In a pinch they’d skip ‘carbon based lifeform’. The food was about as suspect. Sorry, BK lover, I liked their food until the other workers passed it on… haven’t been able to eat at one since. [most of the food joints had issues, TBH. The best two were the family diner and the yakitori place.]

  • Marie October 26, 2016, 8:49 am

    Being from Europe I can confirm that in the UK and surrounding countries (the Netherlands, Belgium, etc.) it is completely normal to only invite people to the reception/party.

    However, it is NOT normal to differentiate between couples. You either invite them together, or not at all. Since you two are married, there can be no doubt that you are in a serious, committed relationship.

    For my own wedding we had the dilemma that not all our friends were in a steady, commited relationship when we got engaged, and we wanted to keep our ceremony close and personal, without unfamiliar people that would possibly not be in our lives afterwards. We ended up deciding: if the couple was together for 6 months and/or were living together at the time we send the invitations for the ceremony, we would invite them together. It ended up being everyone that was in a relationship by the time we send the invitations (6 months before the wedding itself), so we weren’t excluding anyone.
    The friends where we didn’t know their partner that well, we invited over for dinner so we could get to know them before the wedding. I ended up having a polite spine to two people; one wanted to bring a date to the ceremony, but he didn’t know who his date would be yet because he wasn’t dating anyone. He was informed of our 6 months rule, and that we weren’t inviting dates to the ceremony. The other guest met someone on the internet and asked if he could be her date even though we had never met him, they knew each other for three weeks only, the wedding was less then two months away and she knew that we were already over our limit for guests. We politely explained to her that it would not be possible to host another guest, and though we loved to meet him, our wedding ceremony would not be the right moment to do so.
    The latter ended up in a serious relationship, and it’s quite possibly why our friendship declined after the wedding where we didn’t invite her unfamiliar partner of three weeks.

    The guests that were only invited to the party (don’t judge me E-hell, as mentioned this is very common where I come from and even expected) could take their partner regardless of how long they were dating or in a relationship.

    • ddwwylm October 27, 2016, 1:14 pm

      ” one wanted to bring a date to the ceremony, but he didn’t know who his date would be yet because he wasn’t dating anyone”

      I had a bridesmaid do this to me at my wedding, except it was like 3 days before the wedding! I was ready to let her bring someone, and accommodate a VERY last minute guest until she told me she didn’t know who it was. I got really annoyed at that point and said no – if you don’t even know who your date is going to be 3 days before the wedding then you can’t bring a date.
      She ended up bringing along a female friend anyway without telling me. then proceeded to ditch the poor girl all night because she was off chasing after one of my brother’s friends that she had always liked.

      • Marie October 27, 2016, 5:11 pm

        Ouch, that IS weird! Good on you for handling the situation well though!

  • SianMcClay October 26, 2016, 9:11 am

    Yes, it’s too weird. It must have been some mistake. Hubby should contact his friend personally to decline the invitation, or say that since wife is only invited to the cake part, he will only attend that part with her.
    That way if it is a mistake the friend can fix it. Normally I wouldn’t suggest contacting the host and putting them in a hot spot but not only does this seem very much like a mistake, but if it isn’t a mistake than the host put his friend in a hot spot so, fair enough.

  • PJ October 26, 2016, 9:40 am

    I can understand that standards are different in different cultures (the invitation to only part of the celebration wouldn’t be acceptable where I live). Splitting up a social unit sounds very far from most norms though!

    So kids are welcome with a ‘the more the merrier’ feel, but some spouses aren’t? Wow. I hope this is just an embarrassing mistake made by the hosts and not deliberate. What an odd message that sends to the guests.

    Just very strange.

  • stacey October 26, 2016, 9:47 am

    “No.” (A complete sentence).

  • ant October 26, 2016, 10:10 am

    That is weird. In this case the couple would have to make two separate arrangements to get to and from an event. Are the bride and groom really expected that? It doesn’t sound as though they are struggling for space if they are undecided on the number of kids attending. Really this just sends a message of “we don’t hate you but we like husband a lot more and really we want him to attend… we kinda don’t really need you there but sorta have to invite you”. Either you invite partners to an event or you don’t but this a weird token effort.
    I’ve known people not invite me to a wedding that my partner is going to- and I think that is far less offensive than this token invite. In those cases it is a group of old friends that I don’t know (and all their partners aren’t going too). The idea of an old- girls or boys circle of friends is fine by me so long as everyone is on the same page (numerous weddings, birthday partys etc in this group- all without partners (the reason it is like this is due to old problems after breakups when the group did get to know partners). Also my mother has lunch once a month with some women my father has only seen together on their wedding day.

  • HB October 26, 2016, 10:13 am

    Wait! What?

    As a Brit, it’s totally normal for me to receive an invitation to only the evening part of a wedding. In fact, the last one we went to was an evening only reception. But I’ve never come across this before. I hope you both decline these invitations.

    Although, I’m inclined to think there’s been some indeed of mistake somewhere. No one would be clueless enough to think your DH would be willing to accept an invitation on these terms, with the OP following on afterwards….would they?

  • Ashley October 26, 2016, 10:43 am

    There are many things I enjoy about the UK. Doctor Who, and Jamiroquai for example.

    Tiered invites to weddings are NOT one of the things I enjoy, because they treat guests as unequal.

    To me it just says “You’re good enough to come and maybe bring us a gift, but we don’t want to have to pay to actually FEED you…”

    This is the worst example of tiered invites I’ve seen.

    The only responses I can think of are snarky so I’ll not leave them here.

    • kingsrings October 26, 2016, 6:45 pm

      I must say that I agree with you. I don’t need to know that I’m considered not worthy enough of all festivities by someone I know we’ll enough to get a wedding invitation from.
      I can only think of one time where I wasnt invited to both wedding events – I was just invited to the reception. That was because the couple were getting married in the bride’s parents’ backyard and there wasn’t space to accommodate all. I didn’t mind then as I only knew her somewhat.

    • essie October 26, 2016, 9:01 pm

      Nope, it’s the other way around. Wife is invited to the fizz, food, and fun, but only Husband is invited to the ceremony. They WANT to feed her; they just don’t want her witnessing their vows!

      It may be rude, but it would also be fun to switch invitations with my husband; I’d attend everything while he showed up just for the festivities. Do you really think they’d have the nerve, in the middle of their wedding ceremony, to come over and say “Hey! Where’s your husband? We invited HIM to the ceremony, not YOU!”

      • Lola October 27, 2016, 1:26 am

        Does that mean she gets to eat the buffet too? Or just cake and some drinks?

      • Kirsten October 27, 2016, 3:44 am

        Not quite. Wedding ceremony + meal + evening party for husband. Evening party only for wife. No info given as to whether there will be food at the evening party, but if there is, it’ll be a buffet rather than a full meal.

      • NostalgicGal October 27, 2016, 10:25 am

        I like this, though it isn’t etiquette proper. 🙂 [Like] <<<<< made my own like button

      • Dippy October 27, 2016, 10:34 am

        No, the husband is invited to the ceremony and the buffet dinner reception. The wife is invited to the party after that, like the dance portion of a US wedding reception. He’s invited to the part they have to pay for by the head, she’s invited to the “free” part.

    • Lex October 27, 2016, 2:28 am

      I would disagree re: expectations. To me, the purpose of the evening reception is to be able to invite a larger selection of friends and colleagues. There should never be any expectation of a gift, but with the cost of weddings being upwards of £80 a plate, it is simply not feasible to invite everyone you might want to celebrate with, and an evening reception can be a really social event. I don’t view the evening reception in the same way I would the ‘main event’. If I receive an evening invite, it says to me that the Bride or Groom care enough to want to include me socially, but understandably I’m not close enough to count among family. Which is fair.

      When I got married recently, invites to the day were limited to close family and friends, and the evening reception was opened up basically to all our colleagues and less close friends. We planned for the evening to start with the Cake cutting, then the first dance, and we DID feed our evening guests – a fabulous buffet was laid on.

      I received a number of enthusiastic confirmations of evening attendance. On the day? 10 people showed up. We ended up closing it down early and all the wonderful buffet food went to waste. I’m sure many commentators on this thread will suggest I deserved it…

      • Ashley October 27, 2016, 11:50 am

        I’m hitting reply here so I can reply to a bunch of things.

        First, the example I gave of “You’re good enough to come and maybe bring us a gift” thing was just an example. However you spin it, it says “You’re good enough for this, but not for that”.

        And honestly, if you can’t afford to invite people to the WHOLE thing (especially the ceremony which is the entire reason the day is happening) then maybe you need to scale back your plans and have a wedding where you can afford to have everyone.

      • Dee October 27, 2016, 1:01 pm

        Lex – You have the wedding you can afford. If the food costs are too high then you have a punch and cake party only or you invite a smaller number of people. Having two different guest lists, one for the full party and the other for only the “cheap” part might be common but has to lead to hurt feelings. Initially, those no-show guests may have been somewhat enthusiastic to celebrate with you but, upon reflection, may have lost that enthusiasm and/or felt less inclined on the night of. Given that they knew you weren’t actually offering them anything but the chance to join in only after all the other guests have been feted they probably felt they wouldn’t be missed and decided to enjoy a night at home instead. If you treat your “guests” like this then I would say you deserved to have them treat you the same.

        • Lex October 28, 2016, 6:04 am

          The thing is, though, that here in the UK, the Evening Reception is a totally separate, self-contained celebration. You greet the arriving guests, they get drinks and food. It’s basically a whole party by itself. We planned it this way: We had the cake cutting and first dance arranged for the start of the Reception, we put on a hot buffet. It’s not a case of ‘joining in’, but a whole different type of party. At least, that is how we planned it.

          • FB October 29, 2016, 12:48 pm

            And to be honest, the evening party is the really fun bit of the day….it’s not offensive here in the UK to be invited to that only. It’s totally normal and not an insult or ‘second-classing’ anyone. I’m always pleased to be invited along to evenings – it’s usually people I’m not really all that close to (friends of friends, work colleagues, acquaintances etc) so it’s lovely to be invited at all! It is a pretty self-contained event and the livelier part of the day.

        • Eve_Eire October 28, 2016, 6:41 am

          I can’t understand why this same argument keeps happening.

          It’s a cultural difference. It is rude in American culture but not rude on this side of the world. It’s very clear to everyone what is happening and if anyone was offended they would be free to decline.

          Also, in our culture, gifts are not customary from evening guests.

          • admin October 31, 2016, 2:44 pm

            About 2 years ago I bought and read a half dozen British etiquette books, not one of which mentioned this cultural practice of dividing guests into A and B lists who are invited to different events within the wedding day as being typical.

          • Michelle C Young November 10, 2016, 10:40 am

            Didn’t they do the two-tier thing for the Royal Wedding with Prince William and Kate (blimey! I forgot her last name!)?

            Anyway, I figure that if the Queen does it, it has to be official etiquette for the country, right?

        • ant October 28, 2016, 10:50 am

          Dee typically night guests do get “punch and cake” or more likely a glass of fizz/cocktail, some sandwichs and cake. The day guests will get this plus a 3 course meal and ~1/2 a bottle of wine (typically). As Lex points out this is very much a party where as the day is a ceremony and a diner stepped in ritual. Most UK people will know how much they “figure” in someones life and know what to expect when they hear about someone they know getting married. But I’ve known plenty of miss-conceptions unearthed by a wedding invite… Going further I’ve seen people offended not to be in a wedding party and even people in a wedding party offended for not being “top table”. Even in the US I think there’s probably some level of guest hierarchy in most weddings- I’ve heard many tales of usually the brides mother as the key guest /above the rest (rightly or wrongly) and of sisters/ friends being offended because they aren’t in the bridal party.

        • Kirsten October 28, 2016, 1:04 pm

          Dee, I think it’s really easy to make assumptions about other countries’ cultures, but unfortunately, as in this case, it can lead to incorrect assumptions.

  • Pame October 26, 2016, 10:58 am

    How unusual. I wonder if it’s more acceptable to not invite spouse’s in the UK. Wasn’t there some complaints that some partner’s didn’t get invitations to the Royal Wedding?

    • Kirsten October 26, 2016, 3:35 pm

      It would be unusual and rude to not invite both halves of a married couple, and it’s beyond bizarre to ask one half to the whole thing and one half just to the reception.

    • Lex October 27, 2016, 2:33 am

      It is not usual to exclude spouses unless there is a specific reason. Acceptable reasons include:

      – Work colleagues who are invited as a team – it may be appropriate not to extend the invite further than the person you actually work with, although this is borderline and personally I would suggest that if you feel strongly enough to invite your team to your wedding, then you should be prepared to invite their families too.

      – A couple who are separated or going through Divorce proceedings. This one is a no-brainer.

      As for the Royal Wedding, I suspect a whole different set of rules apply where Royalty are concerned, so you cannot use the Royal Wedding as an example of how everything is done in the UK.

      • NostalgicGal October 27, 2016, 10:33 am

        They broadcast when Charles and Camilla got married. Outside the building. I can read lips. They showed everyone arriving for the ceremony. After a short lull in those that were meant to be there, one lady all dolled up and her spouse in formal wear alighted from a car, and tried to get in. She did all sorts of bluff and no she didn’t have her invitation, it must have been a mixup, she is an old and dear friend and the HC does want them to be there. But, she wasn’t on the admittance list. No they weren’t going to check. She was politely and firmly turned away. You could clearly see her face well enough to read her trying to bluff her way in and it didn’t work. Her name wasn’t on the list…. I don’t have it on TiVo anymore and I wish I would have saved that. It would have been a classic e-hell video to have preserved….

        • Lex October 28, 2016, 6:07 am

          I can’t imagine going to a huge effort to get dressed up and attend the wedding of a friend unless I had specifically received an invitation.

          • NostalgicGal October 28, 2016, 3:28 pm

            The woman was a self important who was going to get herself into the event of the day, just so she could crow about doing it, was my take. She bluffed, she lost. She had to tuck tail and leave. Like I said, it was on my TiVo so I could pause and back up and run it a few times and read her lips. She did a classic Boor-on bluff and it didn’t work. Her expression as she turned away was definitely classic offended Booron. I bet if she found out later that there was a camera stuck there and she got broadcast to the world (I was watching it live on no timeshift, late at night for me and day there) she might, and I stress MIGHT have been mortified. She didn’t get her fifteen minutes of internet fame either, it was before the modern social structured online era… now days she would have been identified and posted all over within 24 hours and thus both shamed and shared with the world.

  • Shoegal October 26, 2016, 10:59 am

    Wow, I don’t mind saying how wrong this is. Do they expect two separate gifts too? If they don’t want the OP to show up at the ceremony why then would it be ok to have the kids tags along with the husband or was there additional info on this on the website? I was thinking this UK tradition was based on the fact that wedding venues are typically too small to hold a ton of people – which leads to some being invited to one function and not all but it doesn’t make sense just to say the kids can come.

  • Dee October 26, 2016, 12:02 pm

    I’d be asking the couple about the invitation discrepancy first, to see if maybe there’s a logical explanation, and then give them the RSVP. If the couple stands behind their two-tier invitations but can’t figure out the “why” after that then they’re terminally clueless and beyond help.

    Is this event actually happening on Halloween night? Because that seems awkward, at the very least. It’s not as if Halloween can be celebrated on another day, it’s that day or nothing. If you have little kids or other obligations for Halloween you can’t put that off; it’s either be there or don’t celebrate it for another year. It’d be the same as expecting wedding guests to show up for a Christmas Day event. This couple sounds as if they don’t ever consider anyone else but themselves.

    • Kirsten October 26, 2016, 3:37 pm

      Hallowe’en isn’t a big thing in the UK. It’s slightly more celebrated in Scotland and Ireland than in England (don’t know about Wales),, but the old traditions of guising are dying out and sadly the American tradition of asking for sweets is taking over. But nobody would think “oh, we can’t have our wedding on Hallowe’en because that means the children can’t go round asking for sweets.”

      • Dee October 26, 2016, 5:48 pm

        Kirsten – I had thought the American tradition was very similar, if not identical, to ours here in Canada. Getting candy is quite secondary to the costumes and going house to house. Usually, schools allow the kids to dress up the day of, for a parade, and grandparents and relatives “ooh” and “ahh” over the how the kids look. Most of the neighbourhood participates and there are sometimes very special treats given to neighbourhood kids who are particularly special to the homeowner. House and yard decorating can be quite elaborate and often kids look forward to certain houses just for the scare factor alone. The candy could be eliminated and there would still be a whole day/evening of festivity to look forward to.

        I suspect there would be a major revolt if a parent tried to cancel Halloween for his/her kids here. That’s a whole year of waiting to celebrate down the drain. If the wedding was held here I doubt many people would attend. They probably wouldn’t be able to figure out how to juggle their kids’ needs and still go to the wedding. But if Halloween is just about candy in the UK then I can see why nobody would mind missing it much and the parents wouldn’t be in any particular dilemma.

      • Lex October 27, 2016, 2:50 am

        I agree that here in the UK, Halloween is taking on all the worst aspects of the American celebration – most of the time kids are knocking on the door not even bothering with costumes and demanding sweets, they then take massive handfuls. If you don’t have anything, you might end up with your house or car egged, or your wiper blades nicked. If you don’t have anything, the accompanying parents will often hurl abuse at you for being a ‘tight &%$*’…

        I HATE Halloween in the UK. It’s not the fun event it is in America. It’s a horrible evening full of aggressive parents, precocious, self-entitled children and casual vandalism. It’s so bad that our Police actually publish posters you can put up in your windows asking people not to knock and to ‘Respect our Wishes’. You have to keep your pets indoors because kids think it’s funny to ‘punish’ you for not giving them sweets by hurting your pets.

        • NostalgicGal October 27, 2016, 10:43 am

          Here they instigated Trunk-or-Treat at the high school football field parking lot. I participated in that for a few years, literally a ring of vehicles around the perimeter put trunk to the lot, and give out candy and treats from there. I had invested in and would spend a month decorating my yard, handing out chocolate, and was one of the top houses to go visit in town. Okay fine, I went to trunk or treat, and the candy prowling stopped. I’m told last year, after about four years, people are tired of the trunk or are getting greedier and starting to go out again after the trunk or treat. I gave away all my yardful, half of my stuff is used to decorate the thrift store window every year…. and I will do the usual, batten hatches and keep the lights off. Even before I moved here, the last place in major urban, they were hitting it hard and doing stuff at the malls and closed down school parties, so only about half of my neighborhood would hand out, some would hand out only until their kids came back and one would send his kids out yet keep all the lights off. There we had teen vandals but I knew them all and would buy king sized candy bars from the Sam’s Club (like Costco) and the known troublemakers would get 2-3 bars each instead of one (I would get 2-3 dozen kids so I could afford kingsized). Which meant the next day my place was unvandalized, where everyone around me (those that hid out but sent out their kids) got totaled.

  • NostalgicGal October 26, 2016, 12:05 pm

    I agree with some other comments; as a couple we’d be declining the invites. Whoever wrote the invites may not be clued in you re a HC… but it is height of tacky-rude to blatantly invite the members of a couple to different tiers… I would say OP, decline, be nice, send a gift, and do your own thing.

  • Lomita Momcat October 26, 2016, 12:13 pm

    I read this and thought, “It’s a joke, right? So what’s the punchline?”

    Since there is no punchline, I guess we have to assume it’s for real.

    I go with Rose’s suggestion that maybe this is a really awful mistake. My suggestion is have OP’s husband call the issuer of the invite, and as politely as possible (!) request clarification.

    If the issuer of the invite tells him it is a mistake, then the issuer of the invite has the responsibility to personally call the OP and make a really grovelling apology to her for the mistake. That’s important: personally contact the wife and assure her it was a terrible mistake for which the inviter is truly sorry.

    If, on the other hand, issuer of invite tells husband it is not a mistake, then OP and husband send regrets that they cannot attend and invoke the relationship death penalty on this couple. End of story.

  • lakey October 26, 2016, 12:23 pm

    My first thought was, maybe the bride is an ex girlfriend of your husband. LOL. Seriously though, if this isn’t a misunderstanding, as Rose suggested, I would decline and expect my husband to decline.

  • Lindsay October 26, 2016, 12:36 pm

    If this is truly a good friend, I think I’d proceed with RSVPing verbally first and approach that RSVP as if a clerical error were made before declining entirely. “I got your cool invitation and wanted to RSVP. But it looked like Mrs is only invited to cake and fizz….” If they are mortified at the mistake, problem solved. If they make it clear that this was in fact correct, then a simple “In that case, I will not be able to attend, as my wife and I do things together as a couple for our special nights out. Hope it’s grand!”

  • Lara October 26, 2016, 12:53 pm

    Do the invitations come with a +1? In that case, you can still be your husband’s +1. If not, I think we would just accept for the after party. Go to the part that both of you can attend. If your husband gets asked why he isn’t coming for the rest, he can just say he prefers to attend with his wife, and she wasn’t invited. It is possible it was a mistake.

    • Kirsten October 26, 2016, 3:39 pm

      Nobody would send a husband +1 invitation and a separate invitation for the wife would they?

      • Devin October 26, 2016, 4:44 pm

        I’m wondering if they used a service to create and mail their invitations. If OP and her husband have different sur names the system may have sorted them as 2 separate attendees with their own invites. Otherwise, I’m completely baffled by this invite thought process and willing to cast the bride and groom into the witches cauldron of ehell!!

      • Lara October 27, 2016, 8:08 am

        I thought it was possible that it would be printed on all the RSVP cards. You know, the kind that let you check “will” or “will not” be attending, and then fill in the number who are coming. I do think it could be a mistake. They might have had a friend addressing invitations for them.

  • Becca October 26, 2016, 12:58 pm

    I’m laughing because it’s so shockingly rude, that’s my only reaction as a stranger to the situation. If this happened, I’d be shocked, hurt and disgusted by the treatment. They have every right to have separate invite lists, I don’t find that too difficult to grasp but you don’t split up a household let alone partners.

    That’s up there with my personal hatred for “no plus ones” invites or some kind of nasty rule about how you can only bring your spouse, fiance’s and long-term others being left out, etc. I wouldn’t stay friends with those people.

  • Kirsten October 26, 2016, 1:27 pm

    It’s perfectly acceptable in the UK to invite the less close friends and relatives just to the evening do, but inviting different halves of a couple this way is unheard of and appalling.

  • Just4Kicks October 26, 2016, 1:45 pm

    This is really strange timing for me to read this.
    Netflix just uploaded the third season of a British show called “Black Mirror”.
    It’s like Twilight Zone/Outer Limits, but focused on the near future and technology.
    Anyway, last night the first episode is basically when you look at someone, you can see a score not unlike a credit score, next to the person’s face.
    Daily interactions with people can get you one to five stars, depending on how people rate your interaction.
    The higher your score, the better jobs, housing etc. you are eligible for.
    The lady in the story is desperate to better her life and very awkwardly goes out of her way to ensure she gets “five stars” from everyone she encounters.
    This post of a woman being at a lower tier than her husband reminded me so much of this story.
    Really freaky.
    Great series for anyone who enjoys that sort of sci-fi/ horror genre.

  • Anna C October 26, 2016, 1:54 pm

    It might be a good idea for DH to contact the Happy couple and ask for some clarification of the invitation.

  • Mechtilde October 26, 2016, 2:09 pm

    I’m English. Never heard of this one before.
    Smaller reception in the afternoon with big bash in the evening- yes.
    Not inviting spouses- yes.
    Inviting spouses to different things? No.

    I’m not a fan of the two receptions thing myself, but it is normal here. But what you describe is very, very odd.

    Also the invitation really should name your children eg Mr and Mrs John Smith, Anne and Catherine if they are invited- but that bit on the website is just plain odd.

    I suspect you- or better yet your husband may need to call to check. I wouldn’t normally advocate this, but really the whole thing sounds horribly confusing if they also meant to invite the children.

    • admin October 31, 2016, 2:42 pm

      Not inviting spouses is OK in your circle?

      • Ponytail November 1, 2016, 6:35 am

        I can see a situation where not inviting the spouse would be OK – if it was a work colleague who was going to come along in a group of other work colleagues. Or a friend who would know lots of the other guests but whose spouse would know no-one except for her. I don’t know that I’d do that, but if I received an invite that didn’t include my other half, I wouldn’t automatically assume they’d been rude – I can see a situation or two where that’d be OK.

        • Margo November 2, 2016, 4:39 pm

          I agree. There are situations (co-workers being the most obvious) where it’s OK to invite the person you know and not assume that their partner or spouse must also be invited.

  • bern821 October 26, 2016, 2:46 pm

    That IS weird and baffling. It does sound like a mistake though. Hopefully your husband can get in touch w/his friend and explain that his wife was not invited to the evening buffet, but that he was – and could he please let him know if this was a mistake. If it was not a mistake – decline for both. It does sound like it was an error though, so hopefully he can straighten that right out.

    Other than this site – I’d never heard of different ‘levels’ of a reception! Do the people invited only to the ‘cake and fizz’ reception know that there is a dinner reception to which they are not invited? I’d be incredibly insulted if I attended the ceremony and champagne reception (with gift) only to find out I didn’t make the cut to be invited to the dinner portion of the event! Maybe it’s a UK thing, I’m in the US.

    • Kirsten October 26, 2016, 3:42 pm

      UK weddings are generally daytime ceremony, meal then party with food and dancing at night. It is very common for people to invite their closer friends and family to the whole day, and the less close friends such as work colleagues, neighbours etc to the evening party only. Everybody knows that’s how it works, it’s perfectly acceptable, it’s not rude. It would be really weird to invite people to the ceremony and the party but not the meal – that’s unheard of. It’s the whole thing or just the party.

      • Huh October 27, 2016, 8:10 am

        So if you’re invited to the whole thing, it’s literally all day? Wowza!

        • Kirsten October 27, 2016, 10:35 am

          Well, it could be a 3pm ceremony, a 5pm meal and an 8pm-1am party, but yeah.

          • Dee October 29, 2016, 1:10 am

            Kirsten – That’s the kind of time frame for weddings here in Canada, generally. Doesn’t seem any different, so I don’t understand the need for two tier guest lists. I always try to adhere to the “when in Rome” rule but I don’t care what the culture is, if I’m not 100% welcome then why would I feel good about the invite? It seems a stretch to assume people aren’t insulted when they learn they are on the “B” list, because, ultimately, it is insulting. Just because something is traditional doesn’t mean it is necessarily acceptable or fair.

      • bern821 October 27, 2016, 2:09 pm

        Thanks for explaining – I was really confused by how it all worked (and apparently clutching my pearls for no reason)! In the US it’s generally ceremony followed by reception, which is usually a sit-down or buffet meal followed by the ‘party’ – drinking and dancing. The reception is usually 4 to 5 hours (5 if there is a 1 hour cocktail hour before dinner). The invitation is for the ceremony and reception.

    • Cattra October 30, 2016, 10:56 pm

      I would say surely this is an accident. As mentioned above, there are a often a lot of invitations and accidents do occur.

      • Ponytail November 1, 2016, 6:41 am

        For those that seem to not understand the UK tradition – think of the wedding day as a snowball. It starts off small, with just family and friends included in the ceremony. It then gets bigger, with people invited for the sit-down lunch/dinner, and bigger still with more people invited for the dancing and drinks (and late buffet) in the evening. You would never be invited to one without the assumption that you’re staying on for the rest. So if you come for the ceremony, you stay all day. If you come for the lunch, of course you stay for the evening. I think it has its roots in the wedding ceremony being a traditional/religious ceremony – not everyone practices the same religion, but everyone likes the chance to celebrate love, especially with food and drink provided (!) so they come along to the celebration bit, not the legal/religious bit.
        As I’ve been invited to just the evening do, I can safely say I was not insulted – I didn’t have to take the day off work, I didn’t have to buy a present (though I did) and I didn’t feel uncomfortable sitting in a church witnessing the marriage of two people I’d never met before (my other half’s work colleague and spouse). Just the dancing and drinks was fine with me !

  • LJ Briar October 26, 2016, 3:01 pm

    That is…wow. Yeah, I would decline, and kind of hope your husband would too.

    Also, how many times did they subdivide the day to create an extra guest tier?

  • sirhcton October 26, 2016, 6:21 pm

    Not being familiar with UK protocol or custom and the idea of several levels of invitations and events, other than separate ceremony and reception, on the face of it, I suspect some clerical error or miscommunication. However, if the HC are not made aware of the situation, they are denied the opportunity to correct it. Different last names between the OP and husband might be a factor. Whatever the problem is, someone needs to think of a polite way to mention the problem. Invitations less than a couple of weeks before the wedding strikes me as either more casual or less organized than I am used to and may be an indication of such.

  • kingsrings October 26, 2016, 7:01 pm

    I concur that this probably is just a careless oversight on the part of the couple and that your husband should check with them to make sure. I just can’t imagine anyone doing something so very rude.

  • Cat October 26, 2016, 7:27 pm

    My curiosity would drive me to inquire about the odd invitation. Perhaps something along the lines of, ” Since my wife is not invited to the ceremony, we are wondering if it would be better if we both waited and just arrived together for the reception.” and see what the answer is.

    • at work October 27, 2016, 6:19 am

      What an excellent suggestion!

  • RevMaxx October 26, 2016, 9:32 pm

    My DearHubs said that if a friend of his sent these types of invites, he would reply with only his response card saying:

    Mr. & Mrs. Maxx will be unable to attend.

  • Rebecca October 26, 2016, 11:57 pm

    It’s so out there that I have to assume it’s a mistake. I think the husband should ask about it, and if it turns out no, they really did give a second tier invite to his wife only, then both should decline.

  • Mojo October 27, 2016, 1:15 am

    Is the venue for the ceremony really small? For instance my sister married in a tiny country church and we couldn’t fit all the guests in. Fortunately the reception was held at the pub across the road, so the rest of the guests waited there for us.

  • Queenie October 27, 2016, 1:39 am

    UK poster here: this actually happened to me once as well.

    The bride had the sense to look a little embarrassed about it but it was a tiny tiny church and they said they had to cut numbers to ensure that just their closest family and friends would fit in. I was invited to wait outside so I could see the bride going into the church and then wait in the cafe within the same complex. While waiting in the cafe (luckily I’d brought a book) it was clear that I was the only person who had had to wait around at this time. I heard later that some folks had dropped their partners off for the wedding service, gone home or back to their hotels and then driven back in for the reception.

    As for where your children sit in this invitation – I would assume reception only.

  • Green123 October 27, 2016, 2:15 am

    Are you sure children are welcome at the ceremony? Could this be a way of keeping children away from the formal ceremonial bit (by leaving them with mum, which is a sexist assumption) then assuming she will come along to the party afterwards and bring the kids??