Invited to Wedding Ceremony But Not The Reception. WTF???


wedding invite problems
photo credit: Ed Yourdon via photopin cc

Invite Wedding Guests to Ceremony but Not Reception

Under what circumstances, if any, is it considered to be acceptable to invite all guests to the ceremony, but only some to the dinner/meal part of a reception with the rest being allowed to join after the food is finished? Is this one of those things that changes depending on where you are? I’ve only ever heard this to be in extremely poor taste, but a couple girls have said that it’s fine to do. Has etiquette really sunk to the depth of “I want/expect gifts from all of you, but am only going to feed some of you”? Or am I out of date when it comes to what’s proper?

Etiquette Now

Dear Ariastar,

You refer to those stating that this impolite and uncaring behavior is “fine to do” as “girls”. This is probably why they say what they say–they don’t know any better and probably don’t care as long as they get what they want.

No, this is not the ‘new etiquette’. This is what we here in etiquette land call, “chat room advice”, which is a short form of, “do-what-you-want-to-do-if-it-makes-you-happy-and-don’t-worry-about-others’-feelings.” And, hey if they get more gifts, that’s a plus. Excuse me while I calm my tummy with some antacids.

The only time we invite guests to the wedding and not the reception is when the wedding is an open church affair and the entire congregation is invited to the wedding, a very old tradition. There is usually an informal cake and punch reception for all of the guests followed by a (very) small family dinner for the couple and their immediate families–not a formal reception.

When socially inept (sorry for the blatantly frank labeling) hosts invite some guests to the entire reception and not all, it places guests into categories of those who are worthy and those who are not. It is hurtful and very unkind. It is exactly as you have depicted it: “I want/expect gifts from all of you, but am only going to feed some of you.”

Hopefully with your fair and logical outlook you will be able to persuade these “girls” to read what is considered proper, come to us, or to at least consider the fact that when a person invites, they are now hosts. And, hosts should always host their guests. This includes treating guests fairly and with courtesy. Feeding their guests would be considered courteous.

Best wishes,

Weddings by Shayna

I completely agree. If budget is such a concern, scale back the guest list and formality of the event. Don’t treat people like a ticket for a gift.

Reader Response

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I was banned from that online community after saying just this, that it’s like saying a guest is good enough to come to the free stuff bearing gifts, but not good enough for the meal (and asking why it’s become acceptable to mandate gifts and put registry information in with the invitations, but that’s another story).

My husband-to-be and I would never dream of breaking our guests into lists of who’s worthy of food and who’s not, and we aren’t even doing the Guest List A and Guest List B that seems so common. We are inviting those who mean a lot to us and will figure out a reception that treats everyone equally, and we are also skipping the maid of honor/best man roles as those we want standing with us are all special, none more important than others.

Hearing all these new “rules” for what’s allowed (registry cards with invitations, inviting some, but not all, to the reception, having VIP invitations with cheap ones for everyone else, etc.) and new ways of playing favorites is really very disheartening. I thought that stuff stopped in grade school.

Etiquette Now

Bravo! I’m so happy to hear from someone who actually knows the ‘real’ rules of courtesy (etiquette). None of that ‘new etiquette’ is proper or polite.

Your wedding will, no doubt, be an event your guests will be honored to attend.

Take care and thank you.

Reader Response

Thank you, and we hope so. We love each and every person we’re inviting and want the day to be as special for them as it is for us instead of having people get lost in the shuffle of a wedding full of people we don’t know that was thrown for the spectacle of it.

I grew up reading Miss Manners and Emily Post, and actually try to apply some of the older manners in my everyday life. It’s disheartening to see people being so rude to each other every day and no social reproach to stop it, not that many people care these days. I just want to raise my children in a forest or somewhere where they won’t be subject to the rudeness so common nowadays.

This site is wonderful, and I thank you very much for your help.

Wedding Queen

I wish we had an applauding icon on the forum! Kudos to you and thanks for renewing my faith in this generation.

Don’t worry, you won’t have to raise your children in a forest. I raised two (college age now) children and I can proudly say that they are both well mannered and respectful human beings. Teach by example. Your groom, friends and family are very lucky to have a woman like you in their lives. Sounds like you’re going to have a beautiful wedding. Thanks for sharing these thoughts.