Guest Hierarchies Are Crass and Ungracious

by admin on March 19, 2013

Someone I went to school with recently got engaged. We’re friends on Facebook because while we never hung out outside of school, we were always friendly to each other and always shared a laugh when we saw each other at school. Anyway, he posted a status about the website he and his fiance had set up being almost complete, and invited everyone on his friends list to check it out. I was quite surprised when I got to the “Reception” section of the site and read the following:

Dinner, for those who are invited, will begin at 5pm.

(insert reception venue and address here)

For everyone else, there are a number of restaurants close by and all affordable.
Most restaurants can be found near the mall between Mattis and Neil street,
primarily in the north region of the city.

Cake and Drink(s) reception will begin at 6:30pm at the same location.
Everyone is INVITED!

and, in the RSVP section, part of it said:

Reception Details: All guests with marked invitations will have dinner at 5:00pm at… (reception venue soon-to-be decided)

I’m a bit mystified by this. I already think A and B guests lists are rude but to flat out TELL people that “some of you will be invited to dinner, some of you won’t”, seems to make this whole thing EXTRA rude. Now, I know there are parts of the world where this sort of thing might happen. However, we don’t live in one of those places. We come from a place where if you can’t afford to feed them, you don’t invite them. So I guess I’m just wondering, is there EVER a situation where the sort of reception I mentioned is okay, especially if some guests are flat out TOLD they won’t be invited to dinner and have to fend for themselves? 0312-13

Oh ho, is there going to be a potential for misunderstanding at this reception!  Guests who did not understand that there is a hierarchy in place as to who has been deemed worthy of being fed a meal will show up expecting to be seated and fed.   Then there are the A Listers who also are not fully cognizant of the differentiation between guests and invite a fellow wedding ceremony guest (unfortunately a B Lister) to come along with them to the reception.    No way I would touch this reception with a ten foot pole.     And I bet it’s a cash bar reception, too.

Utterly, completely classless, tasteless and ungracious.

And the sad, very pathetic thing about this is that there will be B List guests who accept the hospitality dregs and believe themselves fortunate to have gotten a piece of cake after waiting a few hours fending for themselves while their betters have been chowing down on Chicken Marsala, prime rib, and shrimp cocktail.

{ 50 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo March 19, 2013 at 4:47 pm

It seems like people just can’t grasp the concept that if you can’t afford dinner for everyone then you can’t afford dinner for anyone.

You can either have a big fancy do for a smaller amount of people or a scaled down reception for your current guest list. That’s it. Those are the only choices. How can this issue keep coming up? It’s like no one wants to admit that the wedding they want is out of their budget so they expect their guests to deal with this kind of nonsense and sympathize with the couple so they can have it both ways. No sympathy from me. You’re doing a bad thing to your guests if you go this route.

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pterabite April 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

I actually find this line of thinking really obnoxious… we all have people that we would be fine partying with but don’t want to share an intimate dinner with. This is no different than having close family and friends at the ceremony and opening the reception to more people.

Funnily enough, some people who don’t have a ton of money get married and would like to share part of the evening with more of their friends. Any guest who makes a wedding about them is the one being tacky.

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Lita Lea June 1, 2013 at 6:07 am

I thought about your comment for a bit, and then came to the realization that actually, no, I DON’T have people I “would be fine partying with but don’t want to share an intimate dinner with”. Who are these types of people supposed to be? Friends? I would gladly share a dinner with any of my friends, so no. Co-workers? Acquaintances? Someone who I would not go out to dinner with, I would also not go out “partying” with. Or share my big day with. It seems my circle is a bit smaller than yours. I don’t see the point of inviting these types of people at all, if you don’t feel them worthy of receiving the same treatment that your other guests receive. Is it because they might give YOU a gift?

Bottom line: “A” and “B” sides are only cool for records, not your guest list. :)

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bloo March 19, 2013 at 4:51 pm

I would RSVP with a ‘no’ and depending on how close you are, hit them with a clue-by-four about the propriety of the ‘dreadfully obvious A/B lists.

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Cat March 19, 2013 at 5:06 pm

I suppose it is better than saying, “Some of you will be served a wonderful dinner. The rest of you need to bring a sandwich and a drink.” You can sit on the grass outside while we eat and we’ll call you in for cake and punch. Don’t forget to send your wedding gift/check! “

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Anonymouse March 19, 2013 at 6:28 pm

Wow… Just wow. It’s bad enough to have an event set up like this (special perks for the A list), but to advertise that fact to the B list is just ridiculous! Have these people never heard of maybe just having a smaller wedding, or a cheaper venue? Or better yet, NOT using the internet as your invitations?!

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La March 19, 2013 at 6:39 pm

Did they read these invitations before they sent them?!

Seriously, when I read them, my thought-voice gained a really snotty tone.

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Mary March 19, 2013 at 7:40 pm

My mom still talks about being invited to a wedding where the invite stated the reception would be at 7:30. My patents arrived on time, not early. They walked in to find a hundred guests eating dinner. Obviously dinner for the A list guests ran over. My parents waited in the lobby until more B list guests arrived and eventually they all went in to the reception. My mom was totally humiliated. Fortunately we haven’t encountered another wedding like that.

I would have immediately left taking my gift with me.

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Marozia March 19, 2013 at 8:10 pm

I agree with Admin. No way would I ever go to such a reception.
Vulgar, vulgar, vulgar.
“Unable to attend due to prior commitment” sounds like a nice RSVP.

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Kate March 19, 2013 at 8:28 pm

How incredibly rude. If I was a B lister, I think I’d be declining the whole invitation.

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Kimstu March 19, 2013 at 8:47 pm

What a disaster. If you’re going to try to combine an open-attendance event with an invited-guests-only event (which is risky in and of itself), it should be a no-brainer that you publicly announce ONLY the open-attendance part. The subset of people who are also invited to the “A-list” event should be given that information PRIVATELY, via individual invitations. Your general announcements and information should contain no reference whatsoever to specifically A-list details.

That way, your A-list guests get to feel special without feeling guilty, and your B-list friends don’t feel slighted. (Of course, your two-tier scheme is still going to be exposed as soon as the A’s and B’s start talking to each other about the wedding plans, which is why such schemes are risky to start with, but at least that way you aren’t actually rubbing people’s noses in it.)

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Stacey Frith-Smith March 20, 2013 at 12:10 am

Don’t you wonder what the thinking is when you see something like this? Aren’t the guests lucky, having really affordable options for dinner? They might be happier with a pizza, a beer and a movie at home.

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Nancy March 20, 2013 at 2:01 am

Chances are if there’s a split guestlist, there is nothing NEAR prime rib and shrimp on that menu. Probably chicken with yet another sauce poured on the top of it.

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Wendy B. March 20, 2013 at 11:27 am

I was invited to a wedding like this.

Actually, I was never “invited.” The invitation was printed out on an 8.5×11 inch sheet of paper and passed around our bible study. In essence it said that they would love to have everyone celebrate their wedding with them, but couldn’t afford a reception for everyone, so would we be so kind as to go to the wedding, leave for a while and then return for the party after the dinner? Thanks so much.

I attended neither wedding nor reception. No one said a word to me about why I wasn’t there when just about everyone else was. I still don’t feel like I missed much.

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WildIrishRose March 20, 2013 at 12:54 pm

The thing about these kinds of situations is that people apparently aren’t aware of two ways of preventing them:

1. Don’t invite everyone you ever knew in your entire life. It’s very possible to limit your guest list so you don’t have to insult people.

2. Don’t serve a sit-down dinner. I didn’t. I couldn’t have afforded to do it even if I had wanted to. We made sure that our wedding/reception didn’t conflict with most people’s dinnertime, and served cake and punch in the church fellowship hall. No meal, no liquor, no band, just a simple reception for ALL our guests. And I heard not one complaint.

I honestly do not understand why people feel like they need to break the bank to have a nice wedding. Have they all forgotten what a wedding actually is?

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Sarah Jane March 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm

You. Are. Kidding. Me.

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Michelle C. Young March 20, 2013 at 4:42 pm

Carpooling for this could be quite problematic. A’s and B’s in the same car – Oy!

I suppose the thinking on this was that they wanted to avoid the hurt feelings of people who show up expecting to be A-listers, only to find out AT THE PARTY that they are not, actually invited. Being kicked out of a party really does hurt. Knowing in advance that you’re not welcome is hurtful, but not so publicly humiliating. No, it’s privately humiliating, instead.

Folks, just have one party, OK? Please?

My ideal wedding (other than an elopement, which sounds better and better, all the time) goes something like this: Bride and groom throw a low-key party, at which they break the news to their besties that they are, in fact, engaged. Yay! As the wedding approaches, bride’s best friend and groom’s best friend plan parties for the bride and groom, to celebrate the nuptials, and the families are consulted, but not involved in hosting duties. The bridal shower is something along the lines of tea and cakes at an afternoon party with oodles of time for chatting with each guest in a small party. Bachelor party is whatever the groom wants, provided it is not vulgar, nor leaves anyone too hungover the next day. The wedding is small (please no more than 50 people!) and again, a simple affair with tea and cakes and a party tray from Schlotzky’s, a mix CD on the boom box and some party games that everyone can enjoy, and nobody brings any gifts to the wedding, because then the bride and groom have to keep track of it all. The party lasts for a couple of hours, tops, and then the bride and groom leave, and everyone can party, if they want, after that, but no one is actually expected to. The bride and groom leave immediately for their honeymoon (paid for it themselves), and nobody hears from them for two weeks, except for the single phone call (We made it safely, Mom. You can stop worrying.) and then after they return, they open the gifts in the privacy of their new home (paid for and furnished it themselves), and then they send their heartfelt thank-you notes out to those few friends who actually care enough to want to give a gift, for real, rather than feeling guilted into it. I’d rather have only 10 small gifts from real friends than 100 large gifts from people who feel obliged just because I’m feeding them some Chicken Marsala. I already have stuff. I can never have enough love and good memories.

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June First March 22, 2013 at 4:48 pm

You forgot: Photos before the ceremony, so there’s no lag between ceremony and reception. Our guests were grateful and confused. In a good way.

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Michelle C. Young March 24, 2013 at 2:42 am

Heh. This is MY ideal wedding, so photos would be a couple of snapshots, and take no time, at all. Five minutes, tops.

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kingsrings March 20, 2013 at 5:08 pm

I recently received a just-reception invite. The couple are exchanging vows at a very small space (the backyard of a family member), and so they invited those that were the closest to them (family and close friends). Their entire friend circle was invited via Facebook to their reception, a casual affair at their house afterwards. Was this rude on their part? I don’t feel slighted or excluded being that I’m not that close to them, and I understand their space restrictions and the reason they chose that (affordability from having to rent a place). All the guests will be provided the same food and refreshments at the reception, there’s no ‘A’ or ‘B’ list in regards to that.

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manybellsdown March 25, 2013 at 10:09 am

It is acceptable to have a separate reception. Generally, everyone invited to the ceremony should be invited to the reception, but not vice-versa. Consider Mormons married in their Temples – only a very few people are allowed into the actual ceremony, due to religious restrictions, so they host very large receptions afterward.

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Lex March 21, 2013 at 5:30 am

Guest Hierarchies are crass when there is a clear differentiation and exclusion – inviting everyone to the ceremony then telling people to go fend for themselves during the dinner is tacky. It is common practice in the UK to have guest hierarchies to manage the costs, however the organisation of this is such that the Bride and Groom have a list of close friends and family plus others depending on affordability. The ceremony, drinks reception and meal are attended by the ceremony guests. Later on there will be an ‘Evening Reception’ where all ‘day guests’ are invited (though some may decline due to child care arrangements/age/ill health etc) with additional ‘extended’ friends/co-workers/aquaintances. This usually consists of musical entertainment, a buffet and wedding cake. It is not unacceptable to be invited to the evening reception of a co-workers wedding – we all know how tight money is these days.

I have to disagree that cash bars are tacky – an open bar at a wedding is invitation for abuse and often leaves the family with a HUGE bill – Alcohol in hotels and venues is HUGELY expensive. It is the norm in the UK to provide red and white wine and still/sparkling water on the table during the reception, and to provide 1 or 2 ‘arrival drinks’ plus a ‘toast drink’ for each guest, but it is very common and (I feel) not at all unacceptable to expect guests to fund their own drinks if they don’t like what is on offer on the tables. If I choose to drink something different to what has been provided with the meal that is my responsibility. Unfortunately, perhaps only in the UK (although I doubt it), an open bar can and will be abused by gate crashers and guests resulting in drunken behaviour and general poor conduct. The only way to manage a cash-less bar is to issue ‘drink tokens’ to guests. Personally I’d be more offended at having to beg for an extra token than buying my own.

When I attend a wedding I expect to have to buy my own drinks above and beyond the wine and water, arrival and toast drinks and factor this into my budget. I am toying with the idea of having an ‘open soft drinks’ policy at my own wedding.

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Sarah Jane March 21, 2013 at 9:52 pm

“often leaves the family with a HUGE bill – ”

I still have to agree with the admin on this. If you can’t do it right (i.e., HUGE BILL), then don’t do it at all.

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Bint March 22, 2013 at 11:54 am

But they ARE ‘doing it right’ in their own country’s culture. UK weddings usually do have cash bars. Even historically they did, unless (as today) it was the very wealthy being married. Our cultural expectation is to buy our own drinks after dinner.

There’s little point applying American etiquette to a British historical standard and saying they’re not ‘doing it right’. Most Brits think making your BMs buy their own dress is really tacky, but in the US that’s normal.

It’s also normal for us to have an ‘evening reception’, which again has been accepted for centuries. Although evening guests don’t come to the ceremony and don’t usually give presents; the festivities become more of an open party. Again, totally normal and standard practice for many people. Not tacky.

Inviting people to the ceremony, telling some to leave and come back? Appalling!

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Elizabeth March 22, 2013 at 10:06 am

In the US, it is quite common to pay a flat fee per guest for an open bar. The hosts are not charged per drink. Whether or not it is affordable is one thing, but at least you know the price well in advance, and there are no surprises at the end of the evening.

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June First March 22, 2013 at 4:54 pm

Elizabeth- I wish this happened at our reception in the Midwest. The hall required we buy all liquor from them, but they charged us for the keg and then wine by the glass. (Guests could purchase mixed drinks, but beer and wine were included in the open bar.) An hour and a half into the reception, guests had gone through our supposedly generous $650 budget! Rather than make them pay for drinks early on in the evening (dinner was just over and dancing hadn’t started), my FIL and BIL saved the day with their checkbooks. The total amount spent at the bar was about twice the hall rental…which might be why it was so cheap.

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Mer March 23, 2013 at 3:37 am

And I think there is a huge difference in alcohol prices between countries if $650 budget felt generous to you. Around here it would basically be one drink per guest if you have approximately 100 guests, maybe two if you have less than that and have a lot of kids and non-drinkers in quests too. Might explain why open bars are quite rare around here. More common is to try to find a place where you can bring your own alcohol. This excludes basically any restaurant that serves alcohol, because if they have right to serve alcohol, guests can never bring their own.

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Michelle C. Young March 24, 2013 at 2:51 am

This sort of thing is one of the reasons I’m glad I’m a teetotaler.

My ideal wedding would have no bar, at all. But then again, it would be early-to-mid afternoon, be no longer than 2 hours, and have basic refreshments of cake, punch, and a sandwich party tray. Maybe some milk, too, to go with the cake, and some good bottled water for people watching their sugar intake.

Alcohol is completely unnecessary, especially before five o’clock. I do understand the expectation of alcohol at an evening reception, which is one reason I would not choose to have an evening reception. It’s possible to have a dry evening reception, but if you want to avoid the “you can’t have a wedding without alcohol” argument, you need to either have an early reception, or only invite teetotalers.

Another benefit to an early, and dry, reception is that it makes it so much easier for the recovering alcoholics in your social circle. They won’t be tempted, and no one will ask awkward questions about why they aren’t drinking, like the other guests.

And of course, dry receptions are just SO much less expensive.

Carol March 21, 2013 at 6:05 am

I wonder if the ‘everyone’ who is the ‘everyone is invited’ are invited to the ceremony, or if they are trying to say that after the actual wedding, they’re doing an open house, and anyone who wasn’t invited to the wedding could stop in. Which…still stupid, IMO, but as long as they are not doing it to solicit gifts, maybe they are just trying to open their celebration to all their acquaintances. That’s a misguided idea at best, but maybe their hearts are in the right place.

More likely, considering the stories we see here so often, it’s more of a gift grab, trying to get as many people as possible to feel obligated to bring a present for the happy couple.

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Mae March 21, 2013 at 9:44 am

This would be an event where I would decline the “honor” and send a card with best wishes but no gift, monteary or otherwise.

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Ashley March 21, 2013 at 1:09 pm

Hi all, OP here. I’m glad to see I’m not the only one flabbergasted by this. I tried considering the reasons the couple would do this, and all I can come up with is that the groom has a VERY large circle of friends. He has traveled extensively in other countries where he has both studied and worked (student teacher), he has a large Bible group (he actually met his fiance at a convention his Bible group was attending) and since he is a really nice guy, he has a lot of friends from high school. So the only reason I can think of for the couple to do this is because their guest list probably is MASSIVE. This whole A/B guest list set up is the only rude thing I can ever think of this guy doing in the entire 20 some odd years I have known him.

But then if the massive guest list is the issue here, the whole situation is further complicated by the fact that most of the guests will be coming from out of state (he lives in one state, his fiance in another, wedding is in fiance’s state). So which of those guests will be fed, and who will have to fend for themselves in an unfamiliar town?

I’m not sure what the gift situation is like, but there was a very clear registry section labeled “Regsitry- Goodies!” so part of me thinks that yeah they are hoping for lots? Idk. This whole situation is SO out of character for him.

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Michelle C. Young March 24, 2013 at 3:00 am

In my opinion, the more people you know, the smaller your wedding should be.

If you have a social circle of about 100-200 people, it’s easy enough to invite them all. If you know several hundred, or a thousand people (and the more you move, the more people you will know), or if you have huge extended families, then you have to make very painful decisions about who to invite and who to exclude.

However, if you have a tiny ceremony, with only the bride and groom, the two witnesses, and perhaps immediate family, then you don’t have to worry about offending a lot of people, because you couldn’t afford to invite them to a lavish wedding. You can truthfully say that the wedding was tiny, private, intimate, and “strictly closest family.” Send out all the announcements you want, but keep the ceremony and reception small.

People are more likely to understand that, and not feel like they were B-listers, if the “A-list” consisted of the bridesmaid, best man, parents and siblings of the couple.

And as for presents, those who receive your announcement, and are actually happy for you, and care for you, will probably send you a gift, anyway, just because they want to. And those who would only provide a gift out of guilt won’t feel guilty for not giving one. Hence, what well-wishes they give you will be much more sincere.

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Wim March 21, 2013 at 1:15 pm

In Belgium (and I would guess in various other Western-European countries as well), it is common practice (and in no way considered bad etiquette) to have a reception during the day for a wide range of guests (including co-workers, neighbours, old study friends, etc.) , followed by a more formal dinner for close friends and relatives at night.

Every guest receives the same invitation to the reception, while the dinner is announced on a separate card or insert. That way, none of the guests can be confused about what they’re being invited to.

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chechina March 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm

This is an interesting point and I wonder how really common it is.

I was raised in Portugal and Germany and not common there at all. You only invite people you can afford to feed. The exception would be to have a small wedding ceremony and then a large reception some other day.

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Double You March 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

Well, that’s why I say that I would *guess* it would be similar in other countries… I can only speak from my own experience (i.e. traditions in Belgium and in the Netherlands), but it’s interesting to hear that in Germany (one of our neighbouring countries!) things are done differently.

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Bint March 22, 2013 at 11:56 am

Ours is the other way round; formal wedding breakfast for fewer people, then opened up afterwards (eg about 7pm) to a wider, less formal party with dancing, usually cake and a buffet later on.

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TylerBelle March 21, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I see situations like this as BWW tunnel-vision. With it, all the B&G sees is (1) the reception being a big, happening party that’ll be talked about for years to come, and (2) the more bodies invited = a bigger haul in goodies. And if all the people to be invited surpass the budget, well, too bad, it’s not really about them, so compromises have to be made.

Goodness, as mentioned, have parties you can afford and treat everyone equally.

@Cat – That scenario made me laugh. I would not surprise me for something like it to have really happened.

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Michelle C. Young March 24, 2013 at 3:04 am

Remember that awful story a year or so ago, about the couple who invited a lot of people, and had them waiting outside, without any shade, or refreshment, or even some water or CHAIRS, while the bridal party were inside, enjoying a fancy meal?

About the only thing that would surprise me about such a scenario, now, is if they were to actually warn their guests up front that it was going to be that way.

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Angel March 21, 2013 at 10:11 pm

Never have I been to a wedding like this. And I’ve been to some pretty tacky weddings–but–not this tacky!!

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Mer March 22, 2013 at 4:04 am

Oh, and there is also a different rude practice of this A-list/B-list setting. Some people around here feel that they need to invite the boring relatives to please parents and/or get better gifts that young friends usually can afford. But hey, as they are soooo dull, it will be just stupid to have them over in the evening to ruin the real party time. So why don’t we put different ending times for part of the guests. Boring relatives can leave after dinner and cool friends can party till small hours. I don’t know if somebody suggested this to my sister or where did it come from as she came huffing and puffing to me that she could never have such appalling practice. And I fully agree.

However, I don’t mind separate parties when other party is not called wedding. I’ve seen that often as with students it’s a problem that you have a wide circle of study friends who all are quite good friends but you cannot invite everyone and it is really hard to draw the line who is “good enough friend”. So couple has their wedding, with relatives and perhaps with few long time friends and so on. After some time, perhaps few weeks, they throw a very informal party for more wide circle of friends. These are not called weddings, just parties, maybe in theme of “let’s drink away the excess booze from our wedding” or just plain “we are now married, let’s have a party”. Gifts are not usually brought in these parties, or if guests bring something it is usually something humorous or small rather than a new kitchen aid.

These I do not have a problem with, especially because I know that most couples limit their guest list based on space limitations. I also think that we don’t usually have as large weddings as in US. 150 guests is already a big one, I think most have less than 100 guests. And I think part to this is that it is hard to find places that can hold several hundred guests.

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Library Diva March 25, 2013 at 2:23 pm

My cousins came up with a great way to do that (and this branch is not known for their outstanding etiquette). Although this option certainly isn’t available to everyone, it worked for them. They held the reception in their parents’ yard. Their parents live out in the country on a property that once was farmed. They set up a tent, they had catered dinner at a normal time, and got a DJ and bartender to just commit to the whole night. No one was kicked out, but us boring relatives trickled out around 10 or 11 and the cool friends kept the party going until the sun came up.

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Bint March 22, 2013 at 11:58 am

I actually have one worse than this! My friend attended a wedding in London – standard invitation. Only after the service, the groom announced to everyone that the party would start at Xpm, but there were tons of restaurants in the area where everyone could find something to eat until then!

AI YI YI YI YI!!!!

Apparently it got worse afterwards, including two very rude icing figurines on the cake and some much ruder behaviour with them by the bride, but she was laughing so hard by this point that she could hardly tell me.

They split up after 4 months.

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June First March 22, 2013 at 4:58 pm

My dad told me that I should invite everyone to the ceremony, then just have close family for the dinner, then invite everyone back for the reception dance. He and my mother apparently did that when they were married in the 70s.
He then complained about how he wanted everyone to buy their own drinks, but his uppity mother-in-law INSISTED they have an open bar.
And he wonders why he has a cheapskate reputation in our family.

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Mary March 23, 2013 at 7:11 am

My mom always said , first you decide who you want at your wedding. Then you decide what kind of wedding you can afford for those people. Not the other way around.

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Michelle C. Young March 24, 2013 at 3:06 am

Your Mom is very wise.

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Mary March 24, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Thanks! Yes, she is wise. I just wish more couples would learn that same concept.

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Lynn March 24, 2013 at 11:20 pm

Just a note…a wedding and reception doesn’t have to be one step above eloping to be enjoyable for both the bridal couple and their guests… While dating my future husband, we went to a lot of our friends’ weddings. We kept track of all the wedding traditions that we disliked… Long ceremonies, long reception lines, long distances between wedding and reception venues, long waits between them while bridal couple did their pictures…these were universally annoying no matter how big the reception was. We were also aware that a friend had insulted a lot of her social circle by creating an A and B list for her wedding so she could have it in a “special” place that was too small to accommodate everyone. So when our turn came, we planned away all these problems. First, we decided to invite everyone (adults only) that would feel they should be there, including friends of our parents who’d endured stories of our lives for years …+.250 people. We chose a venue that was big enough and would let us bring in our own liquor, not a fancy place by any means. Then we selected a menu we could afford, friends being more important than expensive food. Husband made his own beer and we bought wine, soft drinks and water by the case. We had the photographer do her thing before the guests started to arrive, then we took up our posts by the entry and greeted everyone as they came in, no formal receiving line required. Those who were early headed to our “beer garden” area for liquid refreshments and light snacks after their drive to our venue. At the designated time, we headed to the center of the dance floor for our short wedding ceremony, then turned around and declared the dinner buffet line open. Total distance from ceremony to reception, 10 feet, Total time, maybe 10 minutes. Had some group dancing and open dancing into the evening, we had a fabulous time and everyone still talks about what fun they had at our wedding.

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Johelen March 27, 2013 at 10:58 pm

Why in the world wouldn’t they just have the cake and punch right after the wedding for everyone. Then, they could send everyone home and those invited for the intimate dinner could return later.

I’m not a huge fan of this kind of idea, but I do know that a general smaller reception and then dinner for only family and close friends is more the norm in Europe.

I wouldn’t be at all bothered if a friend, but not best friend, had their wedding in this way. I would be pretty livid if I was expected to hang around for hours just to come back for punch and cake.

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Angel March 29, 2013 at 2:06 pm

Johelen, this is the only scenario I can see that would be acceptable. Cake and punch reception first, then have close family/friends return a few hours later for a dinner. I am not a huge fan of this idea either. But it’s better than what was proposed in the OP!

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Vicki June 5, 2013 at 12:47 am

We sort of had a hierarchy at our wedding due to the disparity of the venue capacity. We got married at a registry which had a strict, fire safety rule of no more than can be seated, which was 50, and the ceremony was very short (20 mins). We then went on to a small dinner for family and very close friends (20 people) whilst everyone else went to a finger food and free bar party where we joined them a little later to continue celebrating. The venues were all separate, and the invites were carefully written as to not give the impression that they were ‘A’ or ‘B’ listers. Presents were optional, we really just wanted our friends and family to have a good time.

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