Wedding Etiquette Forum
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cocktail and dinner - invitation etiquette

We are on a tight budget and are thinking of the following:

Invited all our friends and family (around 100 guests) to our wedding ceremony and have a cocktail reception with canapes and drinks served afterwards. The ceremony and the cocktail will be at the same location and both are private (not open to the public)

Afterwards we would like to have a dinner but only invite immediate family and closest friends. (around 20 guests) and the dinner will be held at a another location.

Can I have your opinions? Would it be rude to invite a handful of people to dinner afterwards? It would be nice to invite everyone to dinner but not an option due to cost. But we can affords drinks and canapes for everyone.


Re: cocktail and dinner - invitation etiquette

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    It's rude to have a tiered reception like that. Just have the apps and drinks and call it good. I do think you can pass by word of mouth that you're going to xyz restaurant after the reaction if anyone wants to join you. But let everyone know.
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    edited July 2013
    I don't see a problem with this- other than maybe some of your other guests catching wind of it.. Why not expand the rehearsal the night before? I think we will be doing a much nicer rehearsal dinner since it will only be close family and friends.
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    edited July 2013
    I don't see a problem with this- other than maybe some of your other guests catching wind of it.. Why not expand the rehearsal the night before? I think we will be doing a much nicer rehearsal dinner since it will only be close family and friends.

    To me, that points out the problem.  If your worry is that others will find out, then this is clearly an idea that could hurt feelings and isn't polite.  But this (ETA for clarity: "cheapbrideincentpa"'s idea) is a great idea.  If you want to have a nice dinner, have the rehearsal dinner with the people you'd want to invite to that dinner.
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    I agree with MissHart00 and LMc0322. Either have a nice rehearsal with those 20 and just a cocktail reception after the ceremony (make sure it's at a non-meal time!) OR, tell people by word of mouth you'll be at XYZ restaurant if would like to meet up with you later.
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    AJuliaNJAJuliaNJ member
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited July 2013
    What is the opposite of doing this? I'd do that.

    I like the idea of doing a dinner another day. If you did it the same day, I think someone would inevitably tell the non-invited guests about the dinner. Unless you specifically told them to keep it secret, people will think that everyone is invited. This will result in hurt feelings or people who aren't invited thinking they are inviting and coming along. 
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    KDM323KDM323 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    Why not do a brunch the next morning with your closest friends and family (the 20 you'd have for dinner)?
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    A collegue of mine got married last year, she invited some of her close work collegues, myself included to her cocktail reception. We found out at the reception that she planned to have a dinner later on that day but only her family and close friends were invited. Personally I was not insulted and was quite happy that she actually invited me to her cocktail event. I didnt think twice about it.

    The cocktail event will be two hours long and each guest will receive a thank you gift (my sister is making them so the costs are very low) for attending our wedding.

    we plan to go on our honeymoon the next day so brunch with other wont be possible. We plan to have a dinner the night before but only for immediate family.

    It was difficult for us to limit 100 people. We had to use the 5 year rule, ie who have we been in contact with (friends and relatives) in the last 5 years on a regular basis (excluding immediate family)
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    A collegue of mine got married last year, she invited some of her close work collegues, myself included to her cocktail reception. We found out at the reception that she planned to have a dinner later on that day but only her family and close friends were invited. Personally I was not insulted and was quite happy that she actually invited me to her cocktail event. I didnt think twice about it.

    The cocktail event will be two hours long and each guest will receive a thank you gift (my sister is making them so the costs are very low) for attending our wedding.

    we plan to go on our honeymoon the next day so brunch with other wont be possible. We plan to have a dinner the night before but only for immediate family.

    It was difficult for us to limit 100 people. We had to use the 5 year rule, ie who have we been in contact with (friends and relatives) in the last 5 years on a regular basis (excluding immediate family)
    YOU may not have been insulted, but someone who may consider YOU a very close friend will be hurt to hear they didn't make the top 20 list. If you can't do anything the next morning, tell everyone where you're going. It's rude to have a tiered event because it means some of the guests are less important, which should not be the case.

    OR, invite these 20 over for/ out for dinner after your HM?
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    actually Im not so worried about friends because I dont have that many so they will be included in the dinner group of 20.

    I am more worried about cousins and other relatives of whom I have never had much of a relationship with, have nothing in common with them, they have a ton of kids whose names I dont even know, and for whatever reason will be expecting a dinner invitation. I also have collegues who have expressed a wish to see me married so it would be nice to have them and invite them further but cannot accommodate them for a dinner reception. This is why we thought of a cocktail reception reception right after the ceremony.

    The cocktail will be at 6pm and it will be a mix of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. Therefore guests can have a drink, nibble on something to eat as an appetizer, collect their gift from us and move onto their own dinner plans....

    My family believe I should decide whatever I think is right but no-one is giving me their opinion....
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    If your reception starts at 6, you'll need to serve a full meal.  That's dinner time for a lot of people.  I would move your reception earlier (say, 4?) or push it back to after a meal time. 

    Are you seeing your FI before the wedding? I can't decide if this is horrible advice or not, but you could have dinner with this group before, then go to the ceremony at 8, cocktail reception after.

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    manjermjmanjermj member
    First Anniversary First Comment 5 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited July 2013
    actually Im not so worried about friends because I dont have that many so they will be included in the dinner group of 20.

    I am more worried about cousins and other relatives of whom I have never had much of a relationship with, have nothing in common with them, they have a ton of kids whose names I dont even know, and for whatever reason will be expecting a dinner invitation. I also have collegues who have expressed a wish to see me married so it would be nice to have them and invite them further but cannot accommodate them for a dinner reception. This is why we thought of a cocktail reception reception right after the ceremony.

    The cocktail will be at 6pm and it will be a mix of alcoholic and non alcoholic drinks. Therefore guests can have a drink, nibble on something to eat as an appetizer, collect their gift from us and move onto their own dinner plans....

    My family believe I should decide whatever I think is right but no-one is giving me their opinion....
    See, there's your problem. You don't HAVE to invite anyone you don't want to invite. Don't invite those family members you barely know and just because someone says they want to be invited doesnt mean you have to invite them. Just cut your list and have a normal reception with cocktails and dinner for everyone. 
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    yes I can move it to be earlier.

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    yes I can move it to be earlier.


    I think that's a good idea.  I would have it around 3 or 4.  If it's cocktails and apps, it won't last into the night.  People will disperse and you can do what Stage suggested.  Sounds like a good day!
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    KDM323KDM323 member
    5 Love Its First Comment Name Dropper First Anniversary
    Have a 3pm ceremony.  Have a 3:30pm Cocktail Reception and have that reception END by 5:30 or 6pm.  Do whatever traditional wedding reception things you want here...cake, toasts, etc.

    Then go back to your hotel, get changed into something completely different (maybe a nice cocktail dress rather than a wedding dress?) and meet up with your closest friends/family for dinner at say 8pm.


    Invite those closest individuals to dinner ONLY by word of mouth - NOT by a formal invitation. 


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