Wedding Vows & Ceremony Discussions

Private Immediate Family-Only Ceremony and Reception for Everyone... Is it ok?

Hi, everyone!  My fiance and I would like to have a very small, immediate family-only ceremony.  (This is our compromise between getting married on the beach alone and a large church wedding.) Is it ok to have a reception for all of our friends and extended family immediately following the ceremony (separate location)?  We love the idea of an intimate wedding that focuses on our love, but we are torn on whether others will be offended by the reception-only invite.  Thoughts, please?

Re: Private Immediate Family-Only Ceremony and Reception for Everyone... Is it ok?

  • agrayless said:

    Hi, everyone!  My fiance and I would like to have a very small, immediate family-only ceremony.  (This is our compromise between getting married on the beach alone and a large church wedding.) Is it ok to have a reception for all of our friends and extended family immediately following the ceremony (separate location)?  We love the idea of an intimate wedding that focuses on our love, but we are torn on whether others will be offended by the reception-only invite.  Thoughts, please?

    While it is okay by etiquette if it truly is a small intimate ceremony, with a larger reception. For example, 10 guests at the ceremony and 200 at the reception. As long as the ceremony guest list is less than 10% of the reception guest list.

    However, my people here tend to side eye these types of things since the whole event is about the ceremony and you aren't inviting most people to the most important part of the day. And it can appear gift-grabby.
    plainjane0415levioosaShesSoCold
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    While technically ok, a lot of people don't see the point.

    The ceremony is the "cheap" part, so why spend all the money for only half the "benefit"?

    Personally, we had an immediate family only ceremony (4 guests!), but we kept the reception equally small. Both DH and myself are pretty private and introverted and the idea of being such a focus of attention by so many made me feel sick. Plus, the ceremony feels VERY intimate to me. I don't feel comfortable standing up there sharing my heart with so many people. It makes me feel very vulnerable.

    What makes you want to have a small ceremony? What makes you want to have a large reception?
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    I am one of those who doesn't see the point, for many of the reasons Jenny said.

    I'll come and see you get married at the ceremony, and celebrate after at the reception. If I'm not going to be one of the privileged few allowed to see you get married, I might come to a party celebrating your marriage with a card, but if travel is required I'm certainly not going to bother.

  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    PPs have it covered.  I'll just add one other thing.  The opposite of this--inviting many guests to the ceremony, but only a few to the reception, is extremely rude.  Honestly, in your situation, I don't know why you don't just invite everyone to the ceremony.  Plus it can come off as gift grabby. 


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  • Thanks for your replies, everyone!

    This is my FI first marriage and my second.  He wanted to get married on the beach, just us.  (I did a destination wedding for my first marriage to an abusive cheater, so I'd rather not run the risk of having bad feelings about marrying the man of my dreams!)  I felt like it was really important to include our families.  So the intimate ceremony is a meet-in-the-middle kind of thing.  My FI feels like the ceremony is something for us and feels weird about having a large audience.

    Since we are both in our thirties and own homes, we are asking that people not give gifts - there's nothing we need!  In fact, we have two of everything right now! lol!  (Sorry - I should have mentioned that in my original post!)

    I don't want our guests to feel left out.  Thank you for providing some perspective for me to share with my FI as we trying to figure this whole wedding thing out! :)
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    agrayless said:

    Thanks for your replies, everyone!


    This is my FI first marriage and my second.  He wanted to get married on the beach, just us.  (I did a destination wedding for my first marriage to an abusive cheater, so I'd rather not run the risk of having bad feelings about marrying the man of my dreams!)  I felt like it was really important to include our families.  So the intimate ceremony is a meet-in-the-middle kind of thing.  My FI feels like the ceremony is something for us and feels weird about having a large audience.

    Since we are both in our thirties and own homes, we are asking that people not give gifts - there's nothing we need!  In fact, we have two of everything right now! lol!  (Sorry - I should have mentioned that in my original post!)

    I don't want our guests to feel left out.  Thank you for providing some perspective for me to share with my FI as we trying to figure this whole wedding thing out! :)
    Glad we could help. Just a thought, in reference to the bolded - it's against etiquette to mention gifts at all, because that implies you were expecting them, when of course gifts are never required. It feels like you're doing them a favor, but you're not. People will get the hint and either give you nothing or cash if you don't register... and the people who still give you a boxed gift of their choosing were going to do that no matter what you said :)
    thespeshulestsnowflakelevioosa
  • Why not just take the people you do invite to your ceremony out to lunch/dinner and call it a day? You don't have to have a larger party at all. If anyone fusses about not being invited to your wedding (which they most likely will not really do), you can explain that it was a very small and private one.
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    CMGragain
  • Just throwing my two cents in... as a guest I would be a little disappointed in not getting to see the wedding itself since I LOVE them, but I wouldn't be offended. I'd still happily celebrate with you later.

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    JennyColadaagraylesscupcait927japrincess24
  • I think that since the ceremony is, essentially, the most meaningful part of your wedding day, it makes sense to want an intimate, small ceremony with just your parents or kids or what have you. I am, honestly, shocked with the judgment that is thrown at people who don't want a traditional, big aisle walk/wedding party/200 guest affair. That seems to me the epitome of bad etiquette.

    That being said, I agree that a small ceremony and small reception make the most sense in terms of logistics, but do whatever is going to make your ceremony special to you and your Fiance. The party is a bonus, but celebrating together is what matters.

  • I think that since the ceremony is, essentially, the most meaningful part of your wedding day, it makes sense to want an intimate, small ceremony with just your parents or kids or what have you. I am, honestly, shocked with the judgment that is thrown at people who don't want a traditional, big aisle walk/wedding party/200 guest affair. That seems to me the epitome of bad etiquette.

    That being said, I agree that a small ceremony and small reception make the most sense in terms of logistics, but do whatever is going to make your ceremony special to you and your Fiance. The party is a bonus, but celebrating together is what matters.

    I think you're missing what everybody is upset about. Nobody is judging a small ceremony. They are, however, side-eyeing a small ceremony followed by a large reception. You don't want those people to actually see you get married, but you want them to come to a big party celebrating the fact that you just got married? 
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  • Dreamergirl8812Dreamergirl8812 your closet member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer

     

    I think that since the ceremony is, essentially, the most meaningful part of your wedding day, it makes sense to want an intimate, small ceremony with just your parents or kids or what have you. I am, honestly, shocked with the judgment that is thrown at people who don't want a traditional, big aisle walk/wedding party/200 guest affair. That seems to me the epitome of bad etiquette.

    That being said, I agree that a small ceremony and small reception make the most sense in terms of logistics, but do whatever is going to make your ceremony special to you and your Fiance. The party is a bonus, but celebrating together is what matters.

    I didn't want a 200 guest affair. That's why I had 35 people at my wedding. The whole wedding. Because everyone important enough to come to my wedding was invited to the whole wedding. How is that not just common sense?



    Anniversary
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  • esstee33esstee33 Pittsburgh member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited July 2015
    I just don't get it. If you want a small ceremony because you have stage fright and don't want to be up in front of all those people, having a whole bunch of people at the reception is going to completely negate that. You're still going to be the center of attention at the reception. If you want a small ceremony to save money, you're doing it completely backwards, because the reception is the expensive part, not the ceremony. 

    Plus, you run the risk of hurting all those people you're only inviting to the reception, who may have wanted to actually see you get married, which is the actual point of inviting people to your wedding in the first place. 

    It's not wrong according to etiquette, as long as you're hosting people appropriately; it's just entirely bizarre. 
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    esstee33 said:

    I just don't get it. If you want a small ceremony because you have stage fright and don't want to be up in front of all those people, having a whole bunch of people at the reception is going to completely negate that. You're still going to be the center of attention at the reception.

    For me, having attention in the manner of "we're so happy for you!" and having attention in the manner of "listen to me say these really intimate vows and spill my heart to my husband" are two really different forms.

    While a large reception wasn't really for me, I could see it as something that I could have been excited about. But I never saw myself being anything but anxious for a large ceremony. I mean, at the reception there are so many other things to focus on: dancing, music, food, drinking, other people, conversations, pictures, etc.
    theartistformerlyknownascupcait927
  • pennydlpennydl member
    Third Anniversary 10 Comments 5 Love Its
    One of my BM did that for her wedding. Ceremony was immediate family only and then they had a very informal reception to celebrate. I'll admit, I was a little disappointed in not being able to be at the actual ceremony, but that was their choice, and who am I to judge. 
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    esstee33 said:

    I just don't get it. If you want a small ceremony because you have stage fright and don't want to be up in front of all those people, having a whole bunch of people at the reception is going to completely negate that. You're still going to be the center of attention at the reception. If you want a small ceremony to save money, you're doing it completely backwards, because the reception is the expensive part, not the ceremony. 


    Plus, you run the risk of hurting all those people you're only inviting to the reception, who may have wanted to actually see you get married, which is the actual point of inviting people to your wedding in the first place. 

    It's not wrong according to etiquette, as long as you're hosting people appropriately; it's just entirely bizarre. 
    At a reception you can "get away".  You can go outside for some air or go to the bathroom.   And sure attention is on you, guests are not actually all looking at you the entire event.  They are dancing, drinking and socializing on their own.

    The ceremony all eyes are on you.   No ducking outside for a small break.  Everyone for the most part have their full attention on you.


    OP - I've been to 2 such events.   Both were OOT.  I happily attended both.  I also like to party, so while not seeing the ceremony might be disappointing, who doesn't like to party?






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited May 2015
    Well, as PPs say, it's not technically rude, but it seems illogical to me that you don't want all that attention during the ceremony, you want a "reception" to thank all these guests who are not being invited to attend the ceremony.

    It would make more sense to me if you have your small ceremony followed by a reception solely for your wedding guests, followed by a nice anniversary party a year later.
  • Maybe it's wrong but I would personally be really hurt to not be invited to the ceremony. If I wasn't invited to a wedding b/c it was really small I'd understand and say congrats and buy the couple drinks next time we were out. If I was just invited to the reception It'd feel weird and bad, like I'm not important enough to see what we're actually there celebrating. 

    I totally understand wanting a small ceremony that's why I'm having a small wedding with just the people who are closest to us that I want to celebrate with. I can't imagine inviting more people the reception to party. If I don't like you enough to see me get married then I don't like you enough to pay a ton of money to eat and dance with you.
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