Asking Guests to pay for Dinner After City Hall Ceremony 2nd Marriage

We have decided to have a ceremony at city hall first and then take our kids and another couple to get married in Punta Cana. Due to all the hassles of the back and forth of paper work ,we’ve decided to get married here first (make sure it’s legal, and still have our romantic beach wedding after) This way people and friends who cannot attend the beach ceremony can still attend the city hall ceremony. We’ve rented the small chapel there and organist etc. I have had people ask if we are doing anything after that. Honestly, we cannot afford to have a reception.

We found a nice restaurant to have a small number of people for a buffet dinner after the ceremony. Could we put on the announcements we plan to send out, “The couple and family are having dinner at such and such restaurant after the ceremony, for those who wish to join us, the dinner costs $23.00 all taxes and gratuities are included”? Can we have on the announcement that we do not want any gifts? The announcement will be worded to have them come and join us for the ceremony and share our day. The dinner is optional to them, but that it’s not being paid for. (It would be worded better than that)
Note that we are not having any showers or couples showers either.
Thanks for your help in this matter.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Bride40,

This question and versions of it have been asked very many times. It may be best to read all of them.

Although you are not expecting gifts, which is a wonderful focus, you would be expected to pay for your guests’ meals if you invite. There really isn’t any correlation between not requesting or expecting gifts and paying for your guests. It doesn’t make any difference if they haven’t spent any money on the two of you up to that point.

Even though you called your invitation an announcement, it is still an invitation. There is no polite way to ask them to pay for the party. We never charge our guests a fee to spend time with us. So, either skip the dinner or pay for your guests. There are very inexpensive ways to host our guests. A nice cake and coffee at home is perfect.

What you are describing is an organized dinner, one that is planned. If, on the other hand, your guests ask what you are doing afterwards, you were to say, “We are going to …for dinner and don’t mind the company” you wouldn’t be “inviting”. That is a huge difference.

Announcements are sent after the wedding to those not invited to the wedding or reception. Invitations are sent to those invited. There is no in between.

We never mention gifts on the invitation even if we don’t want them.

Also, the “wedding” at Punta Cana is not a wedding. So, it is very good that you are only including your children and another couple.

Best wishes,


Thanks for the advice. I think I won’t mention the dinner afterwards in the invitation and do as you have suggested. As for the Punta Cana ceremony, we realize it’s not a legal wedding, but rather a vow renewal. Either way, this is our romantic beach ceremony we wanted, just without the headaches of the legal papers having to be transferred from English to Spanish, sent to Punta Cana’s consulate and the same on the return to then be filed in Canada. I have sent four emails to the resort asking specific questions pertaining to costs involved for the transfer of documents with no prevail. Only receiving back the same standard email about the wedding package options they offer. This is why we opted for the city hall. This was to be small and intimate and it is. Our pictures etc will be taken in Punta Cana for our memories.
Thanks for your help.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

But, the ceremony at city hall will be your wedding. After all, you’ll be exchnaging vows and those are legally binding, if not also morally binding. I don’t see how this exchange can be repeate. It won’t be a renewal so soon after the wedding since there really isn’t anything to renew – the marriage is already new. [crazy]


Well I disagree there. There are many people including celebrities who have had private ceremonies and sometimes weeks following, have a formal ceremony where they invite their friends after the fact. Ours is a more simple reason. Less stress and worry of the legal documents. We WANT a beach wedding and would like those pictures for our memories. Just seemed to make a lot of sense, especially for the immediate family who cannot attend the destination wedding.
Renewal of vows are typically done on an anniversary, however, there can be other reasons for repeating them. (ie: breakup and back together) In this case, it’s to be in the setting we originally wanted them to happen. Seems harmless to me. We love each other enough to say them twice. [:)]

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites,

I wouldn’t model my behavior after nearly ANY celebrity. Just because someone else does something doesn’t necessarily make it right. My mom used to say, “two wrongs don’t make a right”.

The thrill of saying your vows to one another is the wedding. [shrug] But, if you’re not inviting guests to this “second ceremony” I guess there’s no harm. Personally, I’d want the photos of the couple’s expressions as they exchanged their wedding vows, not on a second time around. To me, that is a once in a lifetime experience not to be duplicated. The thrill of a renewal is usually that many years have passed or a serious event happened and the thrill of the renewal is celebrating what has transpired over those many years. But, again, you can choose to do whatever you like. But, if you’re asking for etiquette advice, we have to offer you what’s widely accepted by most etiquette experts.

Many years of happiness,

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Very well put. I definitely wouldn’t want to emulate some of the “celebrity” weddings I’ve read about. Most of the press has a field day with them. Of course it makes for some fun reading…and puzzled expressions. [shocked]