Invitation Wording destination wedding at home reception

strodlenutJune 20, 2007

Hey girls!

my Fiance and I are getting married down in Florida on the beach, then going out to dinner after the wedding, we are then staying a week down there, and then flying back home and having a reception. I am a little lost on how to word the invitations. everybody is more then welcome to come to the wedding, no size restrictions, but we are not paying for anything so it would be all on them. I'm not sure how to word everything. HELP



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I would just send an invitation to the reception you will have at home.

Please join for [cocktails, dinner, BBQ, dessert -- whatever you are doing] us as we celebrate our marriage, which will take place [date] in Key West [or wherever], Florida, on [date].


Mary Roe and John Doe

Make sure that someone glancing quickly at the invitation will see the date of the reception more prominently than the date of the wedding.

You say that "everyone is welcome to come to the wedding, no size restrictions," but if you really want them all there, why are you going off to Florida to do it, and then having a reception back home anyway? Probably only family and close friends would make the trip, especially as there will be the reception at home, so just tell those you'd really like to be there when you talk to them that if they want to make the trip, of course they are welcome to attend the ceremony.

If only a few come, it would be nice for you to treat them all to dinner afterward; maybe just take the cost of those few meals out of the trip and reception budget. Or maybe you'll be lucky and someone else will offer to pick up the dinner tab as a wedding gift!

You certainly aren't obliged to pay for airfare, hotels, and all their other meals and expenses, even if you were giving a big wedding, if that's what you meant.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 12:30PM
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Every wedding is a destination wedding for someone on the guest list. Destination weddings aren't really that different from other weddings, especially not in terms of etiquette, and invitation wording, etc.

So, just send a wedding invitation. Follow the normal format, just plug in the appropriate city.

The biggest problem is that you aren't having a reception to follow in that place-- that's the unusual thing. Generally every wedding ceremony has SOME sort of reception, even if it's cake and punch.

It's sort of rude to invite people to a social event of any sort and not offer them ANY refreshment. (Dutch treat doesn't count.)

Are you *sure* you can't find a way to have a very small, not elaborate set of refreshments there? Because I think anyone who gets an invitation to the wedding in Florida is going to expect some sort of reception.

Otherwise, I'd say tweak the wording to say that you invite them to the marriage CEREMONY, not just "wedding" (since to most people the word "wedding" means "ceremony and reception"). And include a separate card that invites them to the reception you're going to hold later.

The other option is to not invite anyone to the ceremony, and simply invite them to the later reception, using the time-approved wording. And send announcements about the ceremony on the day of the wedding.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 12:33PM
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perhaps I wasn't clear enough, after the ceremony We are taking everybody out to dinner, we are paying for dinner. and as far as no size restrictions, I never said that I didn't want people to come. My fiance and I just love Florida and the beach so we decided to go down there. It would be nice it people would come but I'm not going to be offended if people don't come, if you come you come, if you don't you don't. No biggy
so I need an invitation that:
Invited people to florida to the ceremony
invited them for dinner afterwards
invites them to the reception back home

we have family in florida and here so thats why I want everything on there.

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 4:01PM
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Oh, I see. So just listen to Talley Sue: issue your wedding invitations exactly as if the wedding were at home, and send them to the people you would like to be there if they could. Don't put in anything indicating that you understand that people can't come to Florida; I know you don't want them to feel pressured, but it ends up sounding like you don't really want them to come.

Jane Doe and John Roe
request the honor of your presence
at their marriage
City, Florida
Dinner to follow at XYZ Restaurant

I would probably send a separate, perhaps more casual, invitation, for the reception at home later, especially if you are inviting a larger group to that.

If you are inviting everyone to both, and you only want to send one invitation to both events, it can be a little confusing, but you could just add at the end of the above text:

Hometown, State

    Bookmark   June 20, 2007 at 6:11PM
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I definitely didn't understand you. I thought you were intended to pay for only your own dinners.

You really do have a relatively simple situation. A small wedding and reception, and a later, larger reception (in different towns). This is so classic that etiquette books have it as a standard subcategory.

I bet the people who care about you most *will* come to Florida--the ones who want to be there for that "magic" of the vows. Parents, siblings, particularly close aunts, uncles, cousins. Maybe a best friend or two, if they feel a tad flush.

So invite anyone you want, with the classic format (one version of which is Gellchom's "dinner to follow").

But you also might get word out at the same time, maybe even in the same envelope but on a different piece of paper (you can use the classic "reception card," but include a date and time, since it's separate), about the larger reception that will be more local, because I think you are right in suspecting that some people will want to celebrate your marriage but won't feel a need to travel in order to be there for the ceremony.

If they get the word about the ceremony & dinner, but don't know about the local reception until much later, they might feel that the only opportunity to celebrate w/ you is in Florida. So send the invites at the same time, so they know they have two options.

And then, they will pick the ones (or ones) that matter most to them, and you'll have exactly what you want: people traveling to Florida because they really want to , and not bcs they feel obligated to.

Have a lovely wedding!

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 10:23AM
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I really like Talley Sue's idea of one invitation, but with a separate reception card. Then everyone is on the "A List."

Make sure that the date and location are prominent so people will not miss that they are separate events.

    Bookmark   June 21, 2007 at 11:16PM
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This advice is great because Im in a similar situation. Although, I need some advice about my reception card. IÂd like to include the at home reception card with the original ceremony invitation but we are unsure of when/where it will be at this point. Is there a good way to word this without that information? Thanks.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2008 at 3:14PM
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We did this exact thing, and had two lists: people who might come to the wedding and people we knew wouldn't come to the wedding but would come to the reception.

I had two invites made out. One saying join us in St. John USVI for the wedding and it included a reception card for back home, those were sent two months out from the wedding. The other set we mailed on the day of our wedding from the island, announcing that we were just married today and would like them to join us on x date for a reception. Both sets included the same RSVP card and envelope for the reception, we knew who would be at the wedding (less than 20 people) so that wasn't an issue, but with the RSVP cards we knew exactly who would be at the reception. Worked very well!

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:19PM
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I am getting married in April and I am about broke. We are having our reception at a casino buffett but we need everyone coming to pay for their own dinner. I have absolutely no idea of how to make this sound good in an invitation. Please someone help me out!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 3:43PM
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You need to make your own new post for one to get advice..

As a guest I might pass if I had to pay for my own dinner.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 4:10PM
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mommie2five, I think you are in a no-win situation. There is no way to "invite" people to pay for your party.

You don't have to have a dinner. You don't have to invite anyone at all. But if you do invite people, have SOMETHING that you offer them (and pay for), even if it's just cake or cookies and coffee, and then everyone goes their separate ways for dinner. If someone comes with you, fine, if not, they can do their own thing. But I would not plan a "reception" and then, in essence, charge admission.

In other words:
you can have a casino buffet dinner reception, but it's expensive;
you can have a coffee and cake reception for a lot of guests, but it's not a casino buffet
you can have a casino buffet reception for a small enough group that you can afford to pay for them.

What you can't do (at least not graciously) is to expect others pay for your fantasy reception -- i.e., have a big casino dinner party that is beyond your means for a large group and tell your "guests" to pay for it.

    Bookmark   February 9, 2009 at 10:15PM
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I'm in the same situation...

Getting Married at a destination with only closest family & friends..
Then Dinner to follow...
Then a reception at a later date...

I have already created the reception invitations but not sure how to word the Invites for guests invited to everything... Not sure if we should list it as dinner or say Drinks & Appetizers at yadda yadda.

Since we are inviting everyone to the reception who is invited to the ceremony we will not be paying for dinner/drinks/appetizers after the ceremony and don't want our guests to think that we are and then when we go for dinner.. surprise you have to pay.... unfortunately we just can't afford to pay for both dinners...


    Bookmark   January 1, 2011 at 4:01AM
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Hi - I think I understand your post. You're going to have a destination wedding with a select group of people. You will be having an apps/drinks/dinner event immediately after the ceremony but are not going to be paying for it; the "closest friends and family" that attend the ceremony of the destination wedding will be expected to pay for their own.

Then you're going to have a reception some time later with a larger group of people, including the people who were at the actual wedding, and you're paying for that. Have I got it right?

If so, I don't think you can do it that way. You're asking close friends and family to pay to go to whatever your destination is, but you're not going to buy them dinner? Sorry - in my opinion that's really not ok. I would rather you pay for the event at your destination wedding and not have a reception late at all.

Why a reception later? To have a party and get gifts? Well, maybe someone will want to throw you a party. But it's really not Ok to make people who are supposedly so special to you that they'll make the trek to your destination pay for their own celebratory meal afterward so that you can pay for a meal and party for other people (even though they'll be included).

So - my opinion? Either pay for the dinner/drinks/apps for the people who travel to your destination AND the reception later, or pay for the dinner/drinks/apps for the people who travel to your destination and don't have a follow-on reception.

    Bookmark   January 3, 2011 at 8:43PM
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Suzieque is exactly right. If I spent money on travel and lodging for a destination wedding and then found out I was expected to pay for my own dinner afterward, I would be really frosted. At best, I would be so fond of the HC that I would be forgiving, not angry, but I would still think they were totally clueless and just had no idea how rude this is. It is really hard to figure out how someone can afford both a destination wedding and a big party later, but can't afford to provide a simple meal for a small group of people who went to a lot of expense and trouble to be there. -- too much like "we can afford all the things WE want, but we can't afford to do anything for YOU."

If you can't afford to treat them to dinner, then don't. But then you don't go out to dinner with them and expect them to pay their own way. As Talley Sue wrote above, you offer some sort of refreshment, even if it's only cake and coffee, and then say goodbye, and everyone makes their own dinner plans. Even then, in light of the reception later, I think it seems inhospitable.

    Bookmark   January 4, 2011 at 12:24AM
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I completely disagree. I'm in the same boat. Destination wedding, dinner, reception later at home. My parents are paying for EVERYTHING and I don't want them to pay for dinner afterwards as well. SO I am including an RSVP for dinner after the ceremony stating "The newlyweds and bridal party will be dining at blah blah blah after the ceremony. Please feel free to join them at your own expense" with the website of the restaurant. People understand the economy and that things aren't free or cheap. So I say if your not able to pay, your close friends and family will understand.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 7:29PM
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Then why mention dinner at all on the invitation, much less include an RSVP? I think that makes it even worse. Just don't make any mention of dinner on the invitation. You can all informally decide to go out together afterward.

But it is very bad manners to "invite" people to pay their own way, even if it weren't a destination wedding they have spent $$$ to attend.

Of course your family and friends, especially those close enough to you to shell out to attend a destination wedding, will understand that things aren't free or cheap -- although they are no cheaper for those who don't charge admission to their guests, and certainly the guests' travel expenses to your dream setting weren't free or cheap for them. Anyway, of course, presumably they love you and will forgive you.

If that's enough for you, then you have nothing to worry about.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2011 at 10:30PM
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In response to MountainBreeze.... I agree that its sort of "non-traditional" to ask people to come to a destination wedding that you have no intension of reciprocating their efforts by paying for a meal or cake and punch. BUT I also think that if the guest list is small enough for the people traveling to the wedding you don't even NEED to send invitations. Email, call, have your Mom or someone call... It's always easier to talk to someone about a sticky situation informally than trying to figure out some eloquent way to tell them something they might not want to hear. (you know it comes off impersonal and therefore impolite) Then with the people invited to your reception at home, just make it like a regular formal or informal as you want. I mean the economy issues go both ways, but if you go to a family member or a friend personally and say... We can't afford this but love you and wish you could attend; please do if you can afford it as well then you don't even need to worry about half the stuff that I'm sure is on your mind.

I have a similar problem have been searching around the web....maybe someone brilliant can help me!!

I am getting married in my home town...which I don't live in and neither does my man.

We are having a small family wedding with a formal sit down dinner to follow in my home town in Indiana. THEN.... we (my fianc� and I) are coming back "home" to Tennessee to have a follow-up less formal reception celebration with our friends and some of my extended family who also live in TN.

Majority of the people who are invited to the wedding are not coming to the Reception in Tennessee. (Why would they it's far away and they already saw us get married?) BUT there are about 50 extended family members (that all live in TN) that I want to invite to the wedding with the anticipation that they will choose to come to the Reception in TN instead of driving to IN.

So I was thinking of sending the following:

Indiana wedding people get invitations to the wedding with RSVP Cards ( That will Read: Please Reply by X: Accept ____ Decline_____ if accepting: Chicken_______ or Steak________;
Tennessee Reception ONLY people get there own seperate invitations to the Reception saying (we were married on XYZ, please join us for a Reception celebrating our marriage at blah blah;

Then! Here in lies the problem--what do I do about those 50 family members who I want to invite to the wedding and also give them the choice of coming to the Tennessee Reception? I was thinking of sending them a seperate Reception card (included when I send the wedding invites) that say in a nut shell "in lieu of wedding you can instead attend the Tennessee Reception")

Now... how do I word that without sounding like an idiot (see above!) or does anyone of this world wide web have a better idea!!!!! I'm getting married in April of 2011 I've have run out of Freaking Time to be clueless!!

Thank you to anyone who responds.


    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 12:44AM
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This response is for soon to be married. You say you don't want your parents to have to pay for the dinner after the wedding, too. Well, then YOU should pay for it. It's completely rude and naive to ask people to attend dinner if they want to pay for it themselves. These people are your guests - do yourself a favor and don't embarass yourself. I suspect that, if you go ahead as you plan to, years later when you mature and are more aware of courtesies you'll be mortified.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 12:53PM
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Steph C -- I don't claim to be brilliant; in fact, I'm not even sure I followed your post. But anyway, if I am getting the correct picture, I would not include a notation "in lieu of the wedding you can attend the reception ..." for the "invited-to-both" group. I would just send them both invitations. That ought to be enough; they will figure it out. But if there is anyone that you are really concerned might feel pushed, consider just telling them or adding a hand-written note saying something like, "We know it's a lot! We'd love you to join us for both if possible." I really don't think you need to, though. People wondering will probably just ask you or your parents if you really expect them at both, and then you or they can reassure them.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 11:37PM
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I agree with Susieq for soontobemarried. I am having a destination wedding in January that my fiaand and I are primarily funding. We, by no means, have a large budget. However, it is important to us to provide as much as we can for the guests who attend. We know that they are paying a lot of money to attend our wedding, and providing a meal and drinks after the ceremony is the LEAST we can do to thank them for coming, and getting us a gift, and attending bridal showers, and Bachlorette parties.... Yada yada yada. It is rude, and very narcissistic to expect guests to pay for their meal after your ceremony. It is just one meal in your eyes, but to them it is one more expense that should have been provided!

    Bookmark   May 12, 2011 at 12:23PM
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We are an older couple (52 & 65) and would like to do a very tiny intimate destination wedding, then have the reception for family and friends a few months later. Since we live in Florida and the weather is too intense for most northern folks (my family) in the summer, we were going wait until the fall.

We haven't figured out the facility to use for the reception but we have two close to our home and one of them is at the beach. We want something very informal and will probably do enough appetizers to fill people up and cocktails, hopefully a DJ. Since we are older we aren't getting married for gifts -- we have everything we need that people might usually give. I don't know whether to specify "no gifts" or not because some will want to bring something.

So my question is, how to word invitations? And do you think people will be offended that the wedding and reception are so far apart? We really don't see how we can do it any other way.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2012 at 11:57AM
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I don't think that anyone will be offended by the gap. But I wouldn't call it a "reception" if it's much more than a month. Just invite them all to a "party to celebrate our recent marriage." Definitely have enough food for a full meal, especially if people are traveling to attend.

Also, don't put "no gifts" or any other mention of gifts on the invitation. They know you aren't a pair of youngsters starting out and that your home is already outfitted. But your family and friends are going to want to get you some kind of gift anyway. Probably they will give you smaller things, consumable or "experience" gifts (like a restaurant gift certificate, a plant, or some nice wine), or make donations to your favorite charity. That's what most people do for older couples and second/third marriages.

And please, please don't go around saying things like "Since we are older we aren't getting married for gifts." I know that you meant you don't need household goods and are just trying not to create expense for your guests. But saying it like that implies that everyone else IS "getting married for gifts," which is very insulting (as well as untrue).

In fact, no matter how it's worded, any explanation of "no gifts, please" is always a little insulting. The intention is unselfish, but the effect is "we don't really want anything you'd give us; there's nothing you could do for us that would be welcome."

    Bookmark   January 25, 2012 at 4:12PM
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We received an invitation to a wedding which involved a lot of travel expense. It said

"Your presence will be our present"

I thought that was a delightful, and subtle way of acknowledging the effort and financial cost being incurred by the guests, whilst making it clear the couple would be very pleased for us to join them.

    Bookmark   December 5, 2012 at 6:27AM
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