how to have church wedding and reception with dancing when it is frowned on by the church

We have a dilemma in planning my daughters wedding/reception. The church we are members at frowns at dancing at the receptions. This would be very offensive to many people there. However, neither my daughter, her fiance’ nor both families have a problem with it. My daughter and her fiance’ want dancing at the reception. My daughter wants to make everyone happy. It seems we are in a no win situation. If we have wedding at a different venue (with a stranger marrying them) and invite everyone and let them choose to come or not we will still offend people because they wont understand why she isn’t getting married at her church she is active in and probably hurting the pastors feelings too (who is a very loving person) My daughter doesn’t like the idea of having the ceremony at a different venue. Her “idea wedding” would be at her church with the reception following including everyone, but because of the dancing involved this would not be acceptable and because of church rules, the pastor would probably not be allowed to marry them or us use the church. The only solution I could think of would be to have two receptions. Would it be wrong to have two receptions. One in the basement with finger food, dessert etc and then later that day, by special invitation, still have a sit down dinner followed by dancing at a different venue for family and close out of town friends (who would not be offended by the dancing)? We are trying to make everyone happy and include everyone, but still have what my daughter wants. Any help or thoughts will be much appreciated! We need to know what is etiquette.

Reverend Susanna Stefanachi Macomb

I am not sure the pastor would approve. However, I think you have come up with the perfect solution yourself!

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Usually, it is not appropriate or polite to invite guests to the wedding and not the “real” reception (the party with a meal). However, it the case of the “open church wedding”, which is what you are describing (one that all the church attends), it is common to host just a cake and punch reception for the guests and to move on to the family reception. This shouldn’t be a huge event though, but yours does sound proper–just family and out of town guests.

It should work well.


Thank you for your reply. This has had my daughter in tears trying to please everyone without hurting anyone. We both agree that it isn’t polite to invite just certain people to the wedding and not to the reception. I was at a loss how to word or explain the situation. You were right, it will be an “open church invite to the wedding”. If we changed the tradition of this and invited just close friends and family it would hurt many people. There are about 50 people that would like to attend that are members of our church and have been asking and wondering about the plans, but my daughter says “Mom I don’t really even know these people.” Yet, they know her and are better friends with us and we just didn’t know how to not have an “open invitation church wedding” but yet still have the ceremony at our church and break tradition of the “open church invite” just so we can have the sit down dinner with close friends and family that she wanted. We had thought about renting a different location and getting another minister to marry them just so we didn’t have to include the whole church, but I know this would be a bigger offense (and not what my daughter really wants) then the idea of two receptions. I have had two other daughters married but neither wanted the dancing and dinner. This is new to me and I am finding it so stressful. Both my daughter and I try to always make everyone happy and I just didn’t know how to do it. I am thankful for your responds. At least it has given me a little more peace in going about it this way. If we do have the two receptions as described, I was going to have “cake reception immediately to follow ceremony in the lower level of the church” written in the wedding invitation. Would it be okay to put the separate invite to dinner/dancing in the family and out of town guest invitations or should they be done separately? One more question we had: Normally after the reception guest line up and the bride and groom make a run for their car as guest blow bubbles (or item of choice). I was thinking we should do this after the cake reception instead of the dinner since this will include all guests. My daughter thinks she would like it after the family one, but wants to do what is etiquette or best choice for the situation.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

The open church wedding really doesn’t require invitations except to those who you are formally inviting, which would be those who are attending your second reception. The invitations for that could be included with the wedding invitations since it will be held on the same day. Please let these guests know (privately and not on the invitation) that the second reception is just for those very close to the couple and not for the masses–keep in quiet.

The couple could make the break for the car any time they wish. It is their choice.