Etiquette Q&A: Can We Invite Some Guests to the Ceremony Only?

Join us every Friday for our etiquette Q&A column, where editor-in-chief Diane Forden answers one reader's biggest etiquette question. 

wedding ceremony

Q. My daughter is having a church wedding ceremony and a dinner reception at another location. Because we're on a limited budget, we can't invite their large circle of friends and co-workers to the reception. Is it okay to invite them just to the ceremony? 

A. Many, many years ago, it was acceptable to invite people to the ceremony only, but now, it is definitely not recommended. Anyone invited to the engagement party, bridal shower and ceremony should also be invited to the reception.Guests may regard it as an insult that only a select few will be going on to the reception afterward, leaving them to turn around and head back home. I would suggest that she inform co-workers and friends who are not invited to the reception that, although she is having a very small wedding, they are welcome to come to the church for the ceremony and she'd love to see them there. If anyone is interested in going to the ceremony, she can then give them the details. Otherwise, she should not send out any printed invites to the ceremony only.

—Diane Forden