Elopement Send-Off Party

My fiancé and I have decided it is not financially responsible to have a large wedding, so we have decided to “elope” to Ireland. Although it will just be the two of us, we have made it abundantly clear to family/close friends that they are welcome to join us. That said, no one can afford to go and we very much understand this. We knew in choosing to marry in Ireland that we might be doing it alone.

Our family, while supportive, is not thrilled about the elopement and I feel pressure to throw some kind of celebration. Our family wants us to do it in our hometown, but we would have to pay for more travel (and take time from work) so we do not think we can do this.

We have to decided that we can throw a send-off party in Arizona, where we now live. We want to invite everyone we would have invited to a wedding, some are from here (Arizona), some from home (Oklahoma), and some are from elsewhere. However, after reading some of your posts I am not sure if this is okay. Some posts said we could not invite people who were not invited to the wedding. In order to have a celebration do we have to also send formal invitations to the wedding? It seems silly to do this since I already know that no one can attend. Would it be better to have a post-celebration?

Jay Remer, The Etiquette Guy, International Protocol and Corporate & Social Etiquette

Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! Financially this may well be the responsible move although given the costs of travel to Ireland and whatever the associated costs will be, you could probably pay for a small wedding at home. Given that you have made up your minds, if you want to host a send-off party, I support you. If your parents want to host a party in your hometown, be grateful and accept their kindness. Taking time off work is not a good enough excuse and you may hurt their feelings inadvertently. You won’t likely be given this opportunity again. As to your specific question, because you are eloping, there is no wedding and no guest list. Therefore, the sky’s the limit for the guest list for the “reception”, which I would refer to as a celebration, as it is not a reception per se. I hope this helps.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

With all due respect to The Etiquette Guy, I am sorry to have to disagree. You are right that this would be a pre-wedding party. Only those invited to the wedding may be invited to a pre-wedding party. This is because many, if not most, pre-wedding parties are gift giving events. Guests shouldn’t feel pressured to give you gifts if not invited to the wedding. Plus, it is a confusing to be invited to a pre-wedding event and not the wedding, no matter what the name of the party is.

It is best to host the reception after the wedding–not confusing and completely appropriate.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

I have to agree with Rebecca – inviting guests to celebrate an upcoming event to which they’re not invited doesn’t seem right. Plus they may be confused and wonder if they need to send a gift. I’d skip that.

I love the idea of the reception which, if planned within a year of the elopement, would, IMO, be appropriately called a reception. The dictionary definition of reception says: a function or occasion when persons are formally received. So if you and the new hubby have not been formally introduced as husband and wife it should be fine to host a reception. I’d do it sooner than later, though most etiquette experts seem to agree that you have up to one year to host a reception after the wedding.

Be sure to take lots of photos or video of the wedding to show at the reception.