Wedding Ceremony

Wording for Wedding Ceremony-Only Invites

How do we invite guests to our wedding ceremony only?


I am sure that this has been asked a few time before, but I cold not fine an answer, save the one where they didn’t want to be polite, So here goes.

We have a few people that we’d like to invite to our wedding ceremony only for example;

– Fiance has a family friend whom he grew up with and sees occasionally during his travel around town. (I’ve met them once in the 6 years we’ve been together).

– A mutual friend whom has a partner that we are not friends with and there is a chance that she will make him leave early (has previously at other events). But we’d still really like for him to come.

– Sister’s ex and his new partner, seems odd I know, but my fiance went to school with this guy, and they’ve been friends since before my sister was engaged to him. My fiance and I are still very good friends with him, but having him and his partner at the reception as well might cause some issues with seating.

Are there any wording suggestion that you could offer so that we can invite these people without offending them, but remaining polite? Ultimately we would prefer to invite them to both Ceremony and Reception, but budget restraints and other aforementioned reasons make it hard.

I appreciate any help that you might be able to offer.
Thanks in advance,

Donna, Wedding Queen, President; Top Wedding Sites, Inc®, a wedding planning guide, and Recent Mother of the Groom –

Hi Melody –

I so appreciate that you want to be polite!

Unfortunately, it isn’t polite to invite a guest just to the wedding ceremony, which is why you’re having trouble wording the invitations properly. There are some very good reasons for this.

First, just imagine how you’d feel attending a ceremony and then standing outside the church or leaving the venue while the other guests are all excited because they’re going to the party to follow. And, since guests of the wedding are expected to send a gift, it’s not nice to ask them to attend the gift giving portion of your event and then let them leave without entertaining them or providing any refreshments. It’s as if to say they’re good enough to give you a gift, but not important enough to be wined and dined.

Everyone who gets invited to the wedding ceremony also gets invited to the reception. But, you can host a private wedding and invite as many guests to the reception as you wish.

Melody –

Thank-you for your fast reply, kindness and honesty 🙂

I appreciate the ‘hurt’ that might be felt by guests upon learning that they are only invited to ‘half’ the wedding, I have in fact just been invited to a co-workers wedding with a ceremony invitation only (she has invited the whole office as ceremony only). We have been friends for many years and went to school together. In this instance I am happy that she has invited me and I can share her special day. But due to her financial troubles, I understand why she has done that.

We do not expect our guests, (ceremony only or both) to bring gifts. If guests ask then we might prompt with a suggestion, but no mention of any type/form of gift has been made at this stage.

For our wedding, after the ceremony, but before we head out to photos we will be mingling with all guests and serving (well not personally of course!!) canapés and the bar will be available for drinks.

Kind Regards,

More Invitation Guides:

Rebecca Black, Etiquette By Rebecca

I agree. That is one of the golden rules: all wedding guests are invited to the entire reception. It might help to scale back your reception expectations if you want to invite more guests. For example: daytime reception is usually less expensive than one held during the dinner hour.


Darlene Taylor, PBC
TaylorMade Weddings

I’m in total agreement – everyone who gets invited gets invited to the WHOLE sha-bang. As you can see, refining your guest list is like putting a puzzle together – a very political puzzle -that can lead to hurt feelings, broken friendships, and awkward silences. No matter how hard you try, you will end up ticking someone off over something very small. Just remember, people who are easily offended will be offended often. So how do you draw the line on whom to invite or not to invite?

Realistically, the decision is yours. It’s tempting to want to invite all the pals you’ve ever made, but really *think* about why you want to invite them. Will they be there to celebrate your silver anniversary with you someday?

The people you’ve listed in your post have already caused enough doubt that you are questioning what you should do. I have a saying, “When in doubt, leave ’em out.” It may feel cruel to slash someone off the list and I know it stinks to have to explain to someone why they weren’t invited, but you gotta do what you gotta do. Go across the boards to keep things fair and to prevent DRAMA. And don’t feel like you have to apologize to people you haven’t invited.

Best Wishes!

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

I agree with the ladies. There are always extenuating circumstances which can create situations where guests are not always invited to everything – The Royal Wedding, for example. This however is not the case here. Remember to cut your list carefully and thoughtfully, and hope that those excluded understand why. Don’t forget the announcements. Sent out after the event, this lets everyone know you’re married. Today, it is not always possible to invite everyone you know to every milestone in your life. Most importantly here, be sure you are clear on your reasons for not wanting these people at your wedding reception. I’m not convinced the reasons stated are the real bottom-line reasons. Just a hunch! I hope this is the most magical day of your life – well, one of them anyway! Congratulations!!


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