Future Mrs
Beginner September 2020

Invite only ceremony advice

Future Mrs, on May 3, 2020 at 8:51 PM Posted in Etiquette and Advice 1 27
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Good evening ladies,


I booked a beautiful venue for both the ceremony and reception. The ceremony area only holds up to 130 seated guests (excluding bridal party of course) but I am planning to have 200 guests for reception. I planned to have an “invitation only” for ceremony and then invite the other 70 guests to join the 130 for the social hour and reception only. Has anyone else had to do this? And were your guests offended? From what I’ve gathered, people would much rather attend the reception than the ceremony anyhow. Thoughts?

27 Comments

Latest activity by Jana, on May 9, 2020 at 12:02 AM
  • Natalie
    Devoted December 2021
    Natalie ·
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    Although I’ve never received a reception-only invitation, I wouldn’t be offended if I did. My parents say that this was a pretty common thing to do back then, and I’ve seen other brides post this same idea here too!
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  • C
    Dedicated April 2022
    Chris ·
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    I think that’s fine. Most weddings I have been to I see more people at the reception than the ceremony.
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    Yay thank you for this 💕
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    Thank you so much for this ! The venue gave me the idea but they said it as if it happens all the time, so I figured it wouldn’t be far fetched. I haven’t attended many weddings so I have yet to witness this myself. Thank you ! 💕
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  • Kimberly
    Super March 2021
    Kimberly ·
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    It’s perfectly fine to invite more people to the reception than is invited to the ceremony. Just make sure all those invited to the ceremony are also invited to the reception. No one should be offended.
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  • Hannah
    Master July 2019
    Hannah ·
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    I'm sorry, but I have to be the odd one out here. I totally understand being invited to only the reception if the couple opts to have a private ceremony with immediate family only or something. However, if I found out that there were 130 people at the ceremony and I was part of the 35% who was cut, I'd be hurt even if you didn't mean it that way; more so than if I was just not invited to the whole thing due to space constraints. And since 65% of your guests will be there and talking about how beautiful the ceremony was and the vows and all that, I'm sure most people would put 2 and 2 together and see they were excluded. Then again, I'm the weirdo who actually enjoys the ceremony. I love listening to the bride and groom express their love for one another with all their family and friends around them.
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  • M
    Expert October 2021
    Megan ·
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    Sorry, but this is super rude to do.

    What you're describing is called a "tiered wedding." I know it can be a bit more common in the UK (if that's where you are) but in the US, it's considered rude. You should be throwing your reception as a thank-you to your guests for witnessing your vows. You're putting people into a hierarchy of relationships and that can (rightfully) lead to hurt feelings and probably drama. You should *always* budget for the wedding you can afford, and putting a certain ceremony venue above all of the people you want at your wedding isn't cool.

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  • Allie
    Beginner December 2020
    Allie ·
    • Flag
    I live in NY, and I’ve never received an invite to the ceremony, unless it was being held as the same place as the reception, or if I was in bridal party.
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    I’m in the us and it’s not about what I can afford but what and where I want it to be. (Money isn’t an issue) I mainly posted this thread to see how common of a thing that this is but I also feel as though people shouldn’t feel offended as I personally wouldn’t be. But thank you for your viewpoint.
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    I hope people do not feel this way bc I want everyone there. I figured i would be meeting everyone in the middle being that the reception is where we would be gathered the longest amount of time to celebrate and I know ppl are more likely to be offended if not invited to the ceremony. My fiancé and I have a large families so our family would make up for the 130. Our closest friends are in the wedding. So hopefully ppl understand. This venue is my dream venue and I just want everyone to have a good time. But thank you for respectfully displaying your viewpoint . I appreciate the feedback 💕
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    Thank you for your feedback 💕
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    That’s exactly what i planned to do thank you 💕
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  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Legend March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·
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    Yikes. Usually, if done this way the private ceremony is really for immediate family only, not for 1/2 the guests. This seems quite rude to me.
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  • Future Mrs
    Beginner September 2020
    Future Mrs ·
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    Hmm Rude in what way exactly ? Also, everyone attending will be family. We both have large families.
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  • Pirate & 60s Bride
    Legend March 2017
    Pirate & 60s Bride ·
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    It feels backwards. A tiered wedding is considered very rude, unless the ceremony is a private family affair (parents, siblings, grandparents)—fewer than 10-20. But in this case a majority of your guests are invited to both and a small group is excluded.


    Why not only invite immediate family to your ceremony? Or limit your guest list to 130 guests and invite everyone to both?
    • Reply
  • Jeni
    Devoted July 2021
    Jeni ·
    • Flag
    This is rude. It happened to me once, and I was part of the 10-15% of guests who weren't invited to the ceremony. When I found out I was so mad! I thought we were good friends, but this proved otherwise and I no longer speak to her.


    If it is an intimate ceremony with just family, that's one thing. But putting your guests into obvious tiers isn't nice. How would it feel having everyone talk about the beautiful ceremony that you weren't invited to in front of you for hours? If your invited guests don't want to attend your ceremony, they won't. But don't make that decision for them. You'd be surprised at who wants to be there. For ALL of it.
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  • Karla
    Super February 2020
    Karla ·
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    Yeah, I have to agree with PPs, this comes off a bit rude. As if those not invited to the ceremony aren’t “good” enough friends to witness that special moment in your life and what you’re there to celebrate. Plus, 135 out of 200 is 67.5% of your guests— imagine finding out (trust me— they will!) during dinner that you were one of the 1/3 of the guests that didn’t get the ceremony invite.


    Just think of it this way— wouldn’t you be kind of peeved if you invited people to both your ceremony and reception, but they only showed up to the reception? As if the ceremony— your vows, the actual marriage part— wasn’t important for them to go to but the party part was?
    I actually had people that couldn’t make it to my reception, but made sure to come for the ceremony.
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  • Cheyenne
    Beginner July 2021
    Cheyenne ·
    • Flag

    I would say that it would hurt my feelings if part of the guests could participate and I was the part that couldn't. I wouldn't recommend doing so.

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  • Courtney
    Super September 2019
    Courtney ·
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    This is dependent on where you’re getting married. Like someone mentioned it’s very common to have evening guests (after dinner only) in the UK. In the US, I have never heard of this. I don’t think people just want to come to a wedding for a party, they want to support your relationship. Unless it’s a cultural norm, picking and choosing who gets to attend the ceremony could hurt feelings in my opinion.
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  • Lena
    Devoted May 2021
    Lena ·
    • Flag

    Unless you're doing an immediate family only ceremony, yes its a bit rude and some people will get offended.

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