Ask Jonette: How do I invite more guests to the ceremony than the reception?

On August 26, 2010

I received this question via Twitter: “What is a tasteful way to invite a large number of people to a wedding [ceremony], but limit reception invitees?”

This is such a great question about a very touchy subject.  In my opinion, there is almost no tasteful way to invite a large number of guests to a ceremony, but limit reception invitees.  The only time that it’s appropriate and necessary is when the bride and groom are of a particular religion that will only allow people of the same faith into the church.

If you are going to send an invitation and reception card to a group A, but send only an invitation to group B, the invitations for group B might as well read “You are cordially invited to our wedding ceremony and please don’t forget your gift even though we don’t like you enough to feed you, give you a favor and do the electric slide with you all night” because that is the impression it will undoubtedly give.  Accepting an invitation to a wedding ceremony comes with the responsibility of purchasing a gift for the happy couple.  If you’re a bride or groom, put yourself in your potential guest’s shoes.  Imagine how hurt and upset you would be if you found out that you were invited to the ceremony, then went home to have leftovers for dinner, while a select few were on their way to The Four Seasons for the time of their lives.  We all like to receive gifts, but you never want to make a decision regarding your wedding celebration that will give the impression that you are more interested in a guest buying you a gift than simply enjoying their presence on your special day.  Limiting your reception invitees will convey the former.

So what can you do instead?  The obvious, least complicated solution is to scale down your guest list so that you can afford to invite everyone to the reception that you are inviting to the ceremony.  But Jon’ette, there is no way that we can afford to host that many people at The Fairmont. Then either keep on slicing that guest list until it is affordable or find a different location.  I know that venues such as The Fairmont, Ritz-Carlton and Four Seasons are breathtaking, but there are an abundance of breathtaking wedding venues that don’t come with Ritz-Carlton/Four Seasons price tags.

Another option I like is to have two different days of celebration.  Have an intimate ceremony and reception for immediate family only, then host a small luncheon/gathering for them afterward.  On a totally different day, have a reception and invite absolutely anyone you’d like (and can afford).  I don’t think there is a person alive who would be upset that they were not invited to your ceremony for family only if they are not, in fact, a member of your family.

If you are contemplating what to do in this situation, I say this to you with love.  Weddings are one of the most joyous occasions that couples will experience and share with their family and friends.  Weddings are not a time to be hurtful and tacky!  You definitely won’t be able to please everyone with every decision you make, but if your decision is going to upset the vast majority of people you know, then you might want to reconsider.

Have more questions?  Email info {at} jsquaredevents {dot} com or ask on Twitter or Facebook.

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