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Good Questions: Invitation Wording for Two Wedding Receptions?

By March 6, 2008

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Abby writes:
My FH and I really want a small, intimate wedding. But we've got a lot of family and friends who might be offended if we don't invite them. We're planning a second wedding reception that will be more casual, and larger. But we're not sure how to word the invitations, especially as some people will be invited to both. Can you help?
Abby, I'd print two totally separate invitations. Send the invitations to the small wedding first. They should be worded like any other wedding invitation. (See sample wedding invitation wording here.) Then send out invites to your second reception, which could read something like "Mr. and Mrs. AbbysMomandDad invite you to a celebration of the wedding of their daughter, Abby Smith to Handsome Groom." Another alternative: "Come raise a glass and toast the recent wedding of Abby Smith and Handsome Groom! A backyard wedding celebration. June 28, 2008. The Smith Home, 49 Huckleberry Way." But if you really want a small wedding, consider that planning a second reception will likely be more work, stress, and money than if you'd just had one medium-sized wedding. People will understand when you tell them, "Our wedding was so beautiful and intimate, just us and our immediate families." Good luck!


March 10, 2008 at 10:57 am
(1) Kelly says:

My neice had a small wedding for family only. She neglected to include my family…she only has 2 aunts! My kids are still angry with her and she’s been married over a year now. {I personally didn’t mind not being included but it really hurt my kids’ feelings}
I am planning on ‘running away’ to get married a year from this November. Like 1,000 miles from where we live and I was wondering about the reception thing.
I’ll just print invitations to the reception.
Great advice, by the way!

March 24, 2009 at 6:15 pm
(2) Penelope says:

I don’t understand some wedding etiquette some couples display. I felt it was bad etiquette; and I was insulted and want to know anyone’s opinion. A friend who is my age and our mothers are also friends, handed my mom a loose flyer and told her it was for me(just for me); it read: Join us for the “After Dinner Party” for music and dancing. I don’t even dance. I was fully aware they were having a real wedding and reception with food and just to hear I was only good enough to have after the dinner made me feel wretched. I rather have not got invited to any of it.

Then another friend that our families have known each other all our lives sent me an invitation for “Good food and drinks and music” It wasn’t called a reception and it was to happen in April. At the bottom of the invitation was the wedding date which of course was for an earlier time in March. But the type font was very small. Then strangely I got the Bridal shower invite after the wedding invite. About the wedding and reception though, I wondered why the dates were so far apart; I assumed there must be a reception after the wedding that I’m not being invited to. But others close to her said she wasn’t going to have a party afterward to save money for a small get together later only. I saw pictures that proved otherwise. There was a 3 tier Cake and a formal reception catered by a restaurant; even with dancing afterward. I shouldn’t feel so bad but I do but then again she didn’t even tell some of her relatives but I think this is rude.

March 30, 2009 at 10:05 pm
(3) Emma says:

Some brides are on a very tight budget can’t afford to have all of their family and friends at a wedding AND a reception. Also, sometimes well intentioned plans can change. I am a bride to be and am planning a small intimate wedding and reception in my back yard. This is unfortunately after having postponed it three times due to health reasons and financial circumstances and also after having mailed invitations to 85 people. Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford such a large guest list and had to down size it to 30 people. Yes, etiquette dictates that it would be polite if brides were honest and upfront and explained things to family and friends, yet at the same time, we can’t always say everything to everyone all the time. I think people need to be a little more understanding and realize that there may be things going on in a person’s life that they know nothing about. Give brides a break and stop pressuring us to feel obligated to invite everyone we know to everything we plan. It’s the bride’s perogative what she chooses to do or not… get over it.

September 24, 2009 at 9:42 am
(4) sharon says:

AMEN EMMA!!! i’m going through the same thing!

January 4, 2010 at 4:43 pm
(5) Danielle says:

I am going through the same thing too. I don’t think it’s rude if you are only invited to the dance. People need to lighten up.

August 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm
(6) AJ says:

I am from England, but living in the US. I’ve never understood why they don’t do the same here in the US as we do in England.

The ceremony, due to the usually small size of churches or licensed ceremony premises, and the main reception are for close friends and family invitees only. After those, the celebrations move to a bigger premises for the evening reception, which is usually buy your own booze, finger food provided, and all the extra friends, work colleagues and neighbours are invited. The evening celebrations are way more casual, usually with a DJ, or music and people arrive as late or leave as early as they please.

The Bride and Groom usually change into their “going away dress” during this later event, and are seen off by all the guests before the event finishes.

For the sake of the budgets of some brides and grooms, I’d love to see this type of informal event becoming more common here on the US.

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