We invited people to the 'wedding party' and not the wedding.

kristie_tnAugust 21, 2005

I read a post similar to my question, but it was the opposite circumstances.

We're getting married in my church, with just our immediate family present (about 22 people). Then we're all changing into casual clothes and going to an island, where we'll have food, and fun, and hopefully a relaxing time.

I've mentioned to pretty much everyone what my plans were ahead of time. I didn't want a big wedding with lots of guests (second marriage for both and he has grown kids and I have two teens). But I did want to invite more family and our friends to just come celebrate with us at a casual fun outdoor party afterwards.

I'm worried because I know a few people are planning to bring gifts to the party. I never intended that (or anticpated it!) and I'm concerned that possibly they don't realize we'll already be married when we get there and there won't be a wedding.

What is appropriate for this situation? I didn't exactly word the invitation to say the party is "after" the wedding. But I think everyone already knew. Are they going to feel slighted if they bring a gift and didn't get to witness the marriage? The other post seemed to indicate they might feel slighted if they brought a gift and didn't get to go to the reception, so I hope I'm ok on this.

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You are fine. The etiquette is that you can have a small ceremony followed by a larger reception, but not a large ceremony followed by a smaller reception without hurting the feelings of the people that are excluded.

I wouldn't worry about those who choose to bring gifts. Some people just like to give gifts for many occasions. But I wouldn't place any emphasis on the gifts. You can take them home and open them later.

It sounds like a fun and relaxing reception.

    Bookmark   August 21, 2005 at 5:04PM
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If I came to just your party, I'd probably be a good friend; you'd be important to me (bcs even though the food is free, I wouldn't give up my Saturday for you unless I cared about you--I don't give up Saturdays easily).

So, I'd want to give you a present just because you got married. (I'd hope I'd be smart enough to send it to you at home instead of making you lug it around all day.)

They're grown-ups--if they didn't want to buy you a present, they wouldn't. Do your part, and be a gracious recipient of the tangible expressions of love, just as you would the intangible (like hugs, kisses, words, and their presence at the event).

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 1:38PM
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I think the other posters are exactly right. Talley Sue nailed it once again: they want to give you a gift because you are getting married, not as an admission charge to the ceremony. Actually, there are probably some people who would be relieved NOT to sit through any kind of ceremony!

It's very nice of you to be thinking of your guests' feelings. But I think this one is a non-issue. Even if I found myself thinking, "Oh, I thought I was going to get to see the ceremony, too bad," I definitely wouldn't be offended. It's just too obviously that you wanted to have a big, fun celebration with your friends, even though you wanted a private ceremony -- especially as it is a second marriage, as you may both have done the giant dress and bridesmaids thing already, and once is enough for most of us for that! It wouldn't even occur to me to change my gift-giving plans even if I knew in advance I was invited just to a reception, not the ceremony. Don't give this another thought -- you're fine.

Congratulations! Your plans sound like a lot of fun.

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 1:57PM
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OK, thanks all!

    Bookmark   August 22, 2005 at 10:41PM
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One of my daughter's friends had done exactly something similar to what you are planning. Her wedding ceremony was on a dinner boat cruise on a river and included only the wedding party and immediate family (and spouses/significant others of the bridal party) during late morning through mid afternoon. Maybe 40 people max total. She wore a formal wedding gown and veil, but she and her sister (bridesmaid) wore jeweled flip flops for shoes! The groom and father of the bride were also attired in formal tuxedoes. But after that, everyone cut loose! Her reception was an outdoor, beach themed reception which included inviting a lot of other friends and extened family. I think there were about 100 people at that reception. Everyone changed into casual clothes - shorts, Hawaiian shirts, etc. and they had leis as favors. They had a casual BBQ dinner. I personally was invited to both events, and I recall that her inviation was in two parts. The main invitation stated something to the effect that "You are cordially invited to a reception following a private ceremony of the marriage between....blah, blah. Then, for the people who were invited to the private ceremony, there was a separate small card enclosed with the details of the ceremony on the boat. It was a a unique and fun wedding and reception!

    Bookmark   August 26, 2005 at 9:55PM
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