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Wording invitations to commitment ceremony

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#1 User is offline   aregal 

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My partner and I are planning our Commitment Ceremony for March of 2006. It is a destination ceremony in Lake Tahoe, CA. However the majority of our guests will be from CA so it's only a few hour drive but at least 2 of the guests will be from PA. I have made tentative arrangements for lodging for most of the guests. Since it is a destination ceremony of sorts, I would like to provide, at my expense, lodging to any guest who wishes it.

After our ceremony we are having a minimum of a cake and champagne reception. What comes after is dependent upon how many people rsvp. 15 or less guests and we will take them to dinner at a near by restaurant to celebrate. 16-29 and we will provide hors d'oeuvres with the cake and champagne at the reception.

How do I word the invitations for a commitment ceremony including this lodging and reception information?

If 16 or more attend and I cannot afford to pay for a full dinner, is it impolite to invite them to dinner at their own expense (after the cake, champagne, and hors doe ourves reception)?

If inviting them at their own cost proves to be accceptable, how do I go about doing it? Do I have a few of my friends spread a 'word of mouth' invitation that day? "Hey Jane & Jane are going to dinner at restaurant X after the reception and a bunch of us have decided to join them. We're all paying our own way."

I'm confused and want to be polite. Most of the guests will be friends with whome I can be very informal - however some of them will expect proper etiquette.

Please help,

#2 User is offline   Etiquette Now 

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Dear Committed,

First of all, when you invite you pay. So, nix guests paying for themselves--ever. But, you don't have to provide lodging for anyone besides attendants. This is very generous of you to even consider it.

I think that it would be best to get Save the Date cards out right now. Perhaps you can get a feel for how many are interested in attending this way. Then you will be able to figure out which direction your reception will travel.

If it were me, I'd stick with the cake, appetizers, and beverages. This is easier to plan than the 'either-or' option. But remember to plan the time of your ceremony around the meal option. If your ceremony is during a time when people expect to be fed, it is polite to provide a full meal--3:30/4:00 might be a safe bet.

Best wishes,
Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

#3 User is offline   aregal 

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Hi Rebecca,

Thank you for your advice. I really appreciate it.

I'm kind of stuck here though. I 'had to have' a sunset ceremony at 5pm and now we'll be hosting a 5:30 pm cake and champagne reception... People will expect to be fed.

Would it be improper to skip the cake and champagne in lieu of a nice dinner complete with champagne toast at a restaurant immediately following the ceremony & pictures? (I feel like the chapel is overcharging me for the reception anyway).

If I do go for the cake, champagne, and appetizer reception, do I just 'duck out' after it's over? We're definitely going to eat dinner somewhere and I thought it would be rude to disappear on the guests at dinner time? But I can't tell them that I can't afford to pay for them to eat a full dinner so they're not allowed to know I'm going out to eat?

Confused as usual,

Commitment Bride

#4 User is offline   Etiquette Now 

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Dear Commitment Bride,

It would be much better to skip the reception at the chapel than to skip out on your guests. For the ceremony at home, a small reception followed by a dinner for only the family is fine. But, for those who travel, it just isn't fair. Plus, the time of your affair begs for a meal.

You wouldn't need to provide an expensive dinner if you choose to host a dinner. One option would be to rent a home or condo with enough room to host a buffet. Costco and similar store have great trays for parties for little money. Just an idea.

Best wishes,
Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

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