Wording a potluck reception invitation

My fiance and I are having a small ceremony and pot luck reception. I’m not sure if everyone will understand the potluck part. (I attended one a few years back and was unsure what it meant) Is it alright to put in a note explaining what it is? And since we can’t afford much (reason behind this type of reception) is it alright to mention that a donation for a honeymoon would be alright as a gift? Not saying that they have to provide both, but if they wish to, I’m not in the position to say no. How would I word such a note?

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

Dear Skylaraye,

Most likely the reason you weren’t sure what a pot luck reception was, is that there is no such thing. It is not polite to ask guests to bring the party with them. As a host, which is what you are when you “invite”, you would provide the entire party. If you cannot afford to provide one, then you have two options. You could scale your guest list to a point where you could afford to feed them, or host this during a time when guests wouldn’t expect to be fed. Early afternoon would be perfect for cake reception.

It is not appropriate to request any type of gift on an invitation. And, asking for cash and food?? Please ask yourself how your guests might interpret this.

Having said all of this, when a wedding is held in a church and the entire congregation is invited, sometimes, people will bring a dish to share afterwards. This is because it really isn’t an event where the couple “invited” everyone. It is very similar to a church event. And, sometimes family only weddings/receptions will be potluck. But, it is usually an event in someone’s backyard and is very informal. It isn’t an organized reception-type event.

This information is written in etiquette books if you need verification.

Best wishes,

Best wishes,