Christian Weddings

Is This Rude?

   Occasionally when couples get married at my church, they will open the ceremony up to the entire congregation, but only invite certain people to the reception.  Since the first time I ever became aware of this practice was as a non-reception guest at such a wedding, I've always considered it to be rather tacky and insensitive.  However, my parents suggested it to me a couple weeks ago, and now I'm not sure what to do.  The only reason I am considering it is because I know there are many, many people who would like to come, but there is simply not enough room at our reception venue.  We have so many people offering to help us out with various aspects of the wedding, and they have been very gracious about the fact that we only have enough room to invite our close family and friends, but I just keep feeling like the least we could do is give them the opportunity to witness the ceremony itself, since everyone is being so kind and helpful to us.  Our church really is like a family, and I want so much to be able to include them in our special day, as much as we can.
   We wouldn't send out invitations to the people we weren't also inviting to the reception, but our church would put a note in the bulletin about a month before our wedding and there would be an announcement made about it as well.  We could make it clear at that point that the open invitation was for the ceremony only.  Our ceremony is going to be on a Friday afternoon, so the majority of people from the congregation who would be able to come with a month's notice will probably be mostly the older couples.  Many of the older couples at our church tend to look down on dancing, and it is not allowed at our church-which is why we are not just having our reception at the church and inviting the whole congregation-so they probably would be uncomfortable at the reception anyway and end up leaving once the dancing started.
   Like I said, this is something that many couples from our church do, so I think the congregation is pretty used to it by now, but I'm still worried that it may be incredibly rude.  I still plan on getting advice from some of the woman at my church who generally help out with weddings, but I was wondering what you all thought as well.  Thanks for reading, I know this is a bit long and rambling!
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Re: Is This Rude?

  • edited December 2011
    I think it's rude not to invite people to the reception EXCEPT if that's something your church does, the only "half-invited" people are from your congregation and you don't specifically invite anyone, but rather put a notice in the bulletin. Also, I wouldn't be too blunt about the ceremony-only part, you could say "The congregation is welcome to witness the wedding ceremony of John and Jane at TIME on DATE."
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Is This Rude?:
    I think it's rude not to invite people to the reception EXCEPT if that's something your church does, the only "half-invited" people are from your congregation and you don't specifically invite anyone, but rather put a notice in the bulletin. Also, I wouldn't be too blunt about the ceremony-only part, you could say "The congregation is welcome to witness the wedding ceremony of John and Jane at TIME on DATE."
    Posted by sister2groom
    Excellent wording there, I love it!  Thanks for the advice.  :)
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  • edited December 2011
    I was struggling with this as well and from some other knotties and church people, many people accept this and are fine with it.  I agree the wording is awesome for the bulletin and I may or may not be borrowing it too. :D
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  • lrob425lrob425
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    I had this same issue. I wanted a small, family and close friends only, wedding. But I'm getting married at the church where I grew up. The older people in the church just consider themselves invited whether there are inviations or not because it's at the church. I ended up sending invitations to family and those I wanted there who don't go to the church. I'm going to put it in the bulletin about the ceremony, and I may take the wording from PP.

    This is a tricky situation, and I don't want to hurt peoples' feelings. But I also don't want to pay for 300 people at the reception. We almost decided against getting married in that church just for this reason.
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  • eternalmariaeternalmaria
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    TOTALLY hear you on this one! Our church does the same thing, and I think I may do something like what sister2groom suggested. I've been a part of the worship ministry for about 4 and a half years now, so even those I don't know at all feel they have a right to tell me what I should do/they should be invited to the wedding. I feel the ability for them to see the ceremony is a good compermise. Especially for those few people that tell you up front they expect an invite, but you don't intend on inviting them at all!
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  • edited December 2011
    Okay I'll share... 

    At my church, the church will put the couple's wedding date in the bulletin so people know what's coming up.  It is understood that unless you receive an invitation, you are not invited to the reception afterwards.  The church bulletin would usually list "the couple invites all of you to the ceremony and reception at blah blah blah" if it becomes a congregation-wide invitation.

    We have attended several weddings at our church, as have many others, where the standard has become "you must receive an invitation to attend the reception."  It is common practice for us.  Plus, people who are members of your church sometimes feel as though they are obligated to attend and support the marriage ceremony, even if you're not close to them personally.  It's like a "this is a church function" type of mentality.

    That being said... I often get a little scared that people will think they can crash the reception without an invitation, and while this is a stupid stupid nightmare to have, TK global message boards keep saying you can't invite them to the ceremony and not the reception... well, I'm not exactly doing that.  I'm not sending them an invitation at all.  And if they choose to attend the ceremony, they should understand that the reception is by invitation only.  I personally don't it is rude to put an insert in the wedding program to the effect of "for those invited to the reception, it will be held at blah blah blah."  People at my church would know that if they didn't receive an invite, then it doesn't apply to them.  

    Sounds rude when I type it like that.  I'll figure it out in the next 7 months!! :-) 

    I love what sister2groom wrote for a potential statement to include in the bulletin -- I may be borrowing that as well.  


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  • katanne9katanne9
    2500 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    I think it's okay to generally invite the congregation to your wedding and then have only some people come to your wedding.

    I would not be okay with you sending out invitations to some people and have them NOT invited to the reception.

    I think congregational invitations are an exception to the rule.
  • Calypso1977Calypso1977
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    member
    edited December 2011
    churches are open to the public.  i know at our church, our Mass was posted in teh bulletin.  anyone can attend without being invited, verbal or otherwise.

    i would not invite people.  they will show up if they want to attend, as its perfectly acceptable for them to do so.
  • mattycammattycam
    Seventh Anniversary 1000 Comments 5 Love Its
    member
    edited December 2011
    I have known of couples who have sent out "special" invitations stating you are invited to the ceremony and then you can come back later for the cutting of the cake/danicing, lol. I don't agree with that. I think people would understand that you can't invite everyone you know to your wedding. I think inviting your church to the ceremony only is okay (with a bulletin announcement).
  • edited December 2011
    In Response to Re: Is This Rude?:
    I have known of couples who have sent out "special" invitations stating you are invited to the ceremony and then you can come back later for the cutting of the cake/danicing, lol. I don't agree with that. I think people would understand that you can't invite everyone you know to your wedding. I think inviting your church to the ceremony only is okay (with a bulletin announcement).
    Posted by mattycam
    Oh wow, that's horrible!  What we're considering doing would be just what you said, putting an announcement in the bulletin and then everyone from the congregation who wanted to attend would be able to.  We certainly wouldn't send out invitations to anyone who was not invited to the entire thing though!
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  • EsquireJLEsquireJL
    500 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    I attend a big church and it is common for the wedding to be open to all and the reception to be by invite only. I don't think it is rude or tacky for the bulletin to say the reception is by invite only. The people who love and support you will be there even if they do not get an invite to the reception. My parents are both officials of the church and we are bracing ourselves for the backlash since we cannot invite everyone to the reception. At the end of the day it is your wedding so do what is best for you.
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  • iamjoesgurliamjoesgurl
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary
    member
    edited December 2011
    In Response to Is This Rude?:
       Occasionally when couples get married at my church, they will open the ceremony up to the entire congregation, but only invite certain people to the reception.  Since the first time I ever became aware of this practice was as a non-reception guest at such a wedding, I've always considered it to be rather tacky and insensitive.  Posted by [email protected]
    I think you answered your question here about how people might feel being invited only to the wedding ceremony.  People can attend the ceremony without being invited - I don't think you even need to have something in the bulletin.  Ultimately it is up to you and like sister said, it may be normal for your church members.  But if it was me, I wouldn't do it.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    member
    edited December 2011
    to clarify:  the posting that was in our bulletin was just our names listed under "mass intentions".  in teh catholic church, mass is usually said for the intention of a person. in our case, it listed the date, then "nuptial mass", and then our names as the nuptial mass is said for the intention of, and in honor of, the couple marrying.

    i would nto have taken out a separate "ad" so to speak in teh  bulletin.
  • edited December 2011
    Generally, the way it works in our church is if the ceremony is held at the church and it is open to the congregation, they will make a small mention of it in the bulletin that includes the date and time.  That's all we would do.  If it is not open to the congregation, then nothing is mentioned at all in the bulletin.

    Also, the ceremony that I went to before where it was open to anyone in the congregation to attend but we were excluded from the reception was at a church other than our own.  I would never consider inviting people to the ceremony only if they didn't actually attend the church where our ceremony was being held.  But since our ceremony will be at our church, and so many people in our congregation have their weddings in this way, I'm kind of thinking that maybe it would be ok...especially since, as I said before, our church always comes together so much to help out couples who are getting married.  Every woman in our church who gets married, even if she's only a fiance of a member and doesn't even regularly attend our congregation, is given a bridal shower by all of the other woman.  They put a lot of work into this, and everyone who attends gives very nice gifts.  The more I think about it, it just seems inconsiderate to shut all of these people out from getting to witness a single part of our day.  I still need to get some advice from some of the women at my church about it, but I'm thinking they'll probably suggest that I go for it.

    Thank you all so much for your advice!
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  • edited December 2011
    I've never heard of this - but I've noticed that everyone never stays for the reception at wedding I've attended. I've only stayed for a few receptions - and on more than one occasion, I stayed for the cake cutting (because I like to see them shove it in each other's faces) then I leave. 

    Most of the guests that do stay are the ones that are OOT and staying in a hotel that evening. If they're OOT but going back home that night - they usually want to get back home. If they're in town - they sometimes stay, but usually want to get back home too. So unless you're having a million OOT guests staying in a hotel the night after the wedding, i wouldn't worry about it.

    Definately do not invite some for the ceremony only.
  • HiddenPawHiddenPaw
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    At our church (a reformed southern baptist church), a wedding ceremony that is held at the church is specifically treated as a public worship service, just where the couple getting married gets to pick the hymns and readings, and then the pastor preaches a short message that is wedding related, in addition to the wedding, exchanging vows etc.  If you think of it like that, it makes sense for it to be open to everybody, just like Sunday morning services are open to everybody.  So the congregation isn't specifically "invited" to the ceremony, but they are welcome to the ceremony, just like they are welcome to any activity at the church.

    The reception then is a separate party that you need to be invited to, just like any other party that you would need to be invited to in order to attend.  Then in the wedding program/bulletin, and after the recessional, there is an announcement that "For those who have been previously invited, the reception will be..." etc.  If people show up to the wedding without having received a specific invitation in the mail, then they aren't expecting to go to the reception.

    So this is the approach I would take.  A general announcement in the bulletin lets people know they can come see the ceremony, but receiving an invitation in the mail means you are invited to both.
  • revived86revived86
    10 Comments
    member
    edited December 2011
    I know i'm a couple weeks late on this but i wanted to comment that what OP described in the first post is basically exactly what my DH and I did for our wedding- put an announcement inviting people to our wedding ceremony in the church email newsletter.

    We wanted people we were close to in the congregation to be able to attend the wedding, but there was not a chance in the world we could afford all of them coming to the reception, lol. I'm from Long Island where weddings tend to be a pretty big deal and people understand that its hard to afford having too too many people at receptions...i don't know if its different where you are from, but i think for us and for our church and our region, it is acceptable.

    Also, it was really nice because a family that i had babysat for several times came to the ceremony, and i got to say hi to their two daughters who are 4 and 8 years old, and they just seemed to be in awe of me all done up and in my gown and everything- it was adorable;-)
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  • edited December 2011

    I think that you should only have the people from the reception that are invited that should attend the ceremony... i'm pretty sure some people must feel like crap not being invited to the reception and just invited to the ceremony.

  • edited December 2011
    I think that people have a general understanding that food costs a lot of money and ceremonies don't. So, I definitely wouldn't be offended if I was only invited to the ceremony. Also, this way you can invite friends and other people that aren't your super close friends without having to pay $20+ for their meal. 

    We are kind of doing a backwards thing, where we are inviting only a certain number of people to the ceremony and dinner (our church only holds 120 people), which would be just our family and close friends; then we will invite other friends and people from church to just the program and dance.

    I am not sure if this is rude or not, but I would rather have people be part of some of the wedding then none of the wedding. 
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