Announcements?: Private Ceremony in Italy, Reception After Returning Home

I would like some help on wording my Wedding Announcements.

I would like to send out Wedding Announcements to announce when and where our private ceremony is going to occur. It is an announcement (instead of invitation) because only the Bride and Groom will be in attendance. (My parents do not approve of our choice to wed. His mom would have to work through a lot of problems and paperwork to get a passport.)

Also, I would like to include wording, at the end of the announcement, stating that there will be a reception when we return and the details concerning the reception (time, place, etc.) will be sent out later.

I really appreciate any help you can give me…we’re planning our wedding for the end of October 2004!

Also, I think I should probably send these announcements out soon. I want to let everyone know I’m engaged and getting married soon. How soon should I send them out?…as soon as I get my decisions made on how I want to do them (because it will probably take me at least a couple of weeks to finalize it)?


Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Private,

You would send announcements after you are married to announce your new status. You could send out invitations to your reception only because you will have no guests invited to your wedding. Please send out your invitations to your reception as soon as possible.

Congratulations on your up-coming wedding!



[:)] I am also having a destination wedding in Oct, then having a “reception” later in the month when we return. I got this out of an etiquette book, this is how I worded mine: “Sally Smith and John Doe joyfully announce that we will unite in Holy Matrimony on October ## in a small, private ceremony. Please celebrate with us on October ## at ___ …”

There’s pros and cons to saying it this way, but of course, there’s NO WAY to 100% avoid criticism.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Hello Purple,

Although not traditional, that invitation seems appropriate. There really isn’t any need for a formal invitation if the reception is not formal. But if it will be, the invitation will have to reflect that.

People are being very creative these days and not actually following the old etiquette rules. I can’t say that that is always a ‘bad’ thing.

I’m interested, Purple, from what book did you get that template? It is simple and direct. I am always interested in seeing what the new trends are.

Take care.


I really need to send out these announcements before the wedding occurs. Otherwise, a lot of people will be hurt and upset that they didn’t know about my wedding until after it happened.

Since I’m not sending out “save the date” cards or invitations (because no one is invited), then a lot of people will not even know about the wedding. We’re not eloping, so I want people to know about it.

Also, we have no idea about when and where we’ll be able to have a reception upon our return. That probably won’t be able to be worked out until after we’ve returned.

I know it’s not proper etiquette to do it this way, but it’s important to me for people to know what’s going on. Also, it’s important to me for people to know that even though they won’t be able to participate in the ceremony that they will be able to be a part of a reception celebrating the marriage.

This whole idea is going to be a touchy subject for my family. They don’t know yet that my fiance and I are planning to do it this way. (I will be telling my parents about it tonight.) I need to let everyone know that we are not trying to exclude them.

Also, my fiance and I are paying for the wedding and honeymoon. My family does not approve of our getting married, so we didn’t want my family to pay for or plan something they’re not excited about.

Hopefully, this explains this difficult situation a little better.

I would appreciate it if you could maybe give me some words I could use in this situation for the announcements.



Also, my fiance and I live in Michigan. His parents live in Florida, and the rest of his family (except for 1 brother) is in Michigan. My parents and family live in Mississippi.



Yes, there is no way to avoid criticism on this…I’m sure I’ll hear plenty! 🙂

Thanks for your help! I’ll probably use wording similar to that.


Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Announcements,

I understand your feelings and I’m sorry it is so difficult for you. If you were to follow ‘etiquette rules’ you would be sending announcements after the wedding because no one is invited to the wedding. You could write that a reception is soon to follow.

But, if you are to venture down that ‘less than traditional road’, the sky is the limit. Actually, I like Purple’s example. Because, you do not know when you will host your reception, you could simply write that the reception will soon follow.

It is not unusual for couples to have their receptions well after their weddings for various reasons. So, don’t worry about the fact that you do not know where or when at this time. It will all come together and it will be exactly what you want.

It sounds as if you will have a stressful evening ahead of you. Sorry. I hope it goes well for you.

Best wishes.



Thank you for your words of support. It’s good to hear, from someone not involved in the situation, that my approach for the announcements would be appropriate.

My fiance will be with me tonight to help me through breaking this news to my parents.

This situation is very sad for me. But my fiance and I want to keep a good attitude about it, and we’re determined to be happy despite my family’s attitude…after all we’re getting married! This is supposed to be one of the happiest moments in our lives, and we’re going to make sure that it is.

My fiance and I believe that ultimately the couple should get married in a way that makes them happiest. So, we are putting our happiness above the feelings of my family. A wedding should be about the couple, and it should be alright for the couple to be kind of selfish about the wedding. For my fiance and I, this will be a once-in-a-lifetime event. We won’t let my family get too involved with it and ruin it for us because of their attitudes.

I’m a little stressed-out today. 🙂


Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Time has a way of smoothing things out. Give it time and be happy.

Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Whoa!! Slow down! You are about to combine a number of separate communications vehicles and can potentially create great confusion.

First, wedding announcements are sent only after the wedding has occurred. This is to prevent recipients from mistakenly thinking the announcement is an invitation. The wording of both is very similar.

Second, you may announce your engagement, but be aware that most people nowadays announce their engagement only in the newspaper or when having an engagement party.

Third, a Save The Date card is a wonderful way to let guests know that a big celebration is coming. Be sure that you double check the guest list prior to sending save the date cards. Anyone who receives a save the date MUST be invited to the celebration.

Fourth, invitations to an event such as this should be sent 6 to 8 weeks in advance. Please be very careful when trying to combine these four separate mailings.

The best resource for wording of all four is The Crane’s Wedding Blue Book.

All the best,


Rebecca, I looked but can’t find the book. I had borrowed it & can’t remember the title. Here is one link that says similar wording: http://www.individua…com/wording.htm My invitations were pretty but informal, but necessary to spread the word and send directions. I have gotten some comments about the use of the word “private”, which people are interpreting to mean “it’s a secret because we don’t like you enough to invite you”. But these are people that are LOOKING for something to get mad about, so I’m not sweating it. To the original poster, I agree with the other commenters that it may be confusing to people if you send the announcement b4 the wedding and tell them they’ll hear about a reception date later.



I know that this is not the etiquette-correct way of doing this, but a lot of people will be confused and upset if I don’t send this information out prior to the wedding.

There are two sets of people that I’m targeting with this information: 1) people who don’t know we’re getting married 2) people who know we’re getting married and are looking forward to attending our wedding (receiving an invitation)

No one is invited to our wedding, but our wedding is not a secret…we’re not eloping. I feel that letting people know that there is a “private” ceremony will be the most polite way of letting them know that no one is invited. Because no one is invited, there will not be any “save the date” cards nor any invitations. (A lot of times a “save the date” or invitation is the first time people learn of the engagement/wedding.) People expecting to get invitiations in the mail will learn in this pre-wedding announcement that they are not invited, but they will be invited to the reception.

As far as newspaper announcements, my parents would not put the announcement in their local newspaper because they do not approve of the marriage. (I live in Michigan, they live in Mississippi.) If I were to put the announcement in the newspaper, it would put further strain on our already tense situation. So, a newspaper announcement for my hometown is not an option.

I KNOW that this is not the “proper” way to do this, but this is not a “proper” situation that my family has put me in.

I know of no other way to handle this than the method I’ve outlined.


Jodi R R Smith, The Mannersmith Etiquette Consulting

Please slowly re-read the comments I sent to you. Perhaps I was not clear.

You may announce your engagement.
To announce your wedding prior to the date can confuse and anger your friends and family. Confuse since some will mistake the announcement for an invitation and anger since many will wonder why you were telling them about this great event that they can not attend.

There are many other ways to handle this in a proper manner other than the method you have outlined, IF you want to be proper, which I believe is why you are asking wedding etiquette experts. Telephone calls about your good news, an e-mail blast to friends and family or even a short newsletter would all be polite.

Save The Date cards are not for your wedding date (ceremony), but rather for your RECEPTION date so they know when the party is going to be held.

I hope this explanation made more sense.
Good luck,