Can We Invite Some Guests to the Reception Only?

Editor-in-chief Diane Forden answers a reader's biggest etiquette question.

Q: My fiancé and I plan to have a small wedding ceremony with only our immediate families present. Afterwards, we’re inviting many guests to a country club reception. How should we word the invitations so that our reception guests will understand they’re not attending the ceremony? We don’t want to insult anyone but we do want our ceremony to be private.

A: You’re not alone. Many brides and grooms opt for a small, intimate ceremony followed by a large reception filled with other family members and friends. Since it’s a personal choice to have a very private ceremony, I doubt that the guests invited to your reception will feel slighted. In fact, they’ll probably look forward to a fun-filled party! But, if you’re in the least concerned, you could spread the word now about your decision so there are no surprises and, if you’re comfortable with the idea, consider videotaping the ceremony which you can then screen later on at the reception.

Invitations, if your parents are hosting the reception, should read as follows:

Mr. and Mrs. Anthony Markham
request the pleasure of your company
at the wedding reception of their daughter
Suzanne Marie
Jonathan Paul Hollings
Saturday, the 26th of May
at six o’ clock
Arbor Hills Country Club
Kingston, Ontario

Include an R.S.V.P. with your address in the lower left-hand corner, or enclose a separate response card. For those intimates invited to the ceremony, include a separate ceremony card as well.

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