Party later in evening after reception

For our wedding next May, my fiance and I are having a small, early Friday afternoon ceremony and wish to have a small tea party reception to follow- the wedding cake, tea sandwhiches, and assorted other sweets and appetizers. We will also be serving tea, iced tea, fresh-squeezed lemonade, and champagne for the toast only. We intend to have a bit of dancing too, and do the major events like the official toasts, first dance, and cake cutting at this reception. Since the ceremony venue is small and my fiance, honor attendant and I are making almost everything ourselves for this tea party, we wish to keep both pretty small. This would include our closer family members and close friends.
However, we both have pretty large extended families and more friends that we would like to celebrate with, even though we don’t have the venue nor the money to accommodate them all. So we want to have a party later in the evening, which would be sort of open-invitation to all of our friends and extended family members. At this point I would be changed into a shorter reception dress and the whole thing would be pretty casual. We were thinking of having just some snacks and another cake for guests- possibly just serving a groom’s cake here. While the venue would have alcohol we would not be providing it. This would be later in the evening, about 8pm. If we issue invitations to this later event as a “party” or “celebration” to celebrate our marriage, instead of a reception, is it okay to invite more guests to this later event and to not serve dinner or anything?

Thanks for your help!

Nancy Tucker

Good for you to be thoughtful of your extended family and the desire to celebrate with them. The later party would be fine if

#1. No bar is set up if you are not going to host it.
#2. No gifts should be expected since they are not invited to the wedding and
#3. Be sure the party starts after traditional meal times for your area such as 8 or later.

Enjoy and best wishes.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

From an etiquette point of view, inviting a few to the “real” reception and then others to a larger after-party is to segregate guests into classes of those who are worthy and those who are not. So, your second reception would have to be equal to the first with you providing the entire party. Plus, all who were invited to the first reception would have to be invited to this party as well. The second party should never be on the guests’ dime or it would appear as if they are invited to provide you with a party and that they were not important enough to be invited to the real reception with those who are closer to you.

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

Having a second party really leaves you open to insulting the guests invited to the second party, making them feel as if they weren’t good enough to come to the real reception (or the bigger party, etc).

Only those invited to the wedding are expected to send gifts, so don’t be surprised if you don’t receive gifts from reception-only guests.


Thanks for your replies. I obviously do not mean to insult anyone. The second reception would actually be bigger,and I would of course not expect gifts at all. We also specifically chose Friday morning for the wedding and earlier reception in the hopes that people invited later would not feel excluded since those not close to us probably wouldn’t take off work anyways.

The thing is that the guests invited later honestly aren’t very close to us and know it, they include much older second cousins and other acquaintances only seen a couple of times a year. I feel obligated to invite them because they invited me to their weddings along with my parents, because they could afford to. I would like to spend time with them and celebrate with them, but there is absolutely no way we can afford to host all of those people- if we invite the second cousins we actually do talk to, then we will be obligated to invite all the other second cousins and their parents (my fiance and I both have huge extended families), which would be fine for a party but definitely not for a reception,so I suppose we will have to forgo celebrating with them at all. Should I just send announcements then?

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites

Oh, I’m sure you had the best intentions, but we like to offer you the guest’s perspective.

You’re really not obligated to invite anyone and certainly not obligated \just by virtue of having been invited to their weddings.. Just invite those close to you. As you say, the rest know they aren’t close and really shouldn’t expect to be invited. Especially with the economy as it is, many understand the need for a small gathering. maybe host a family picnic later in the year if you’d like to get together with the long lost relatives?

I’d invite those you see/speak to on a regular basis and send announcements to the rest. If you email them from time to time you can probably mention that you’re getting married and having a very small wedding.

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. That would be best.

Nancy Tucker

I apologize to Cupcakes and to the experts. I was under the impression that this was a party only and answered to that impression. Excuse my error.