Miss Jeanne Goes Grouchy

by admin on April 16, 2013

My H2B and I are getting married in July and we are so excited. Our story comes from a phonecall I had with my Mum (MOB) earlier today.

We were chatting about the wedding, more specifically, who had accepted/declined the invitations when she casually says,”Yes, and don’t forget you will need chairs for Rosie’s Granna and Grandad during the ceremony.”  Then she starts talking about something else.

At this point, I asked her to repeat her comment again, and she said the same thing. I was stunned into silence.

Rosie is my flowergirl and although she is not a relative of mine or H2B’s she is akin to a baby sister to me, or a goddaughter. Her Grandparents, whom I have never met, have informed my Mum they will be coming to the ceremony to “watch Rosie walk down the aisle.”

I believe there are several things wrong with that statement, the first being that she wont be “walking down the aisle” as we are having a civil ceremony, with no aisle to walk down. After that of course, what I believe is rude in and of itself, is their intention to “gatecrash” a wedding, so they can see their granddaughter. Then there’s the fact that because we don’t know these people we didn’t invite them!

My Mum then finishes the conversation with, “Aunty Shirley and Aunty Ida are coming early to see the wedding ceremony. But, don’t worry they won’t be there long, they’ll just ‘sneak in the back’ and stand and watch, then go get something to eat elsewhere. Bye.”

At this point I was fuming. Aunty Shirley and Aunty Ida have been invited to the evening only (this is very very common in England, so don’t get grouchy about it, it’s actually how things are ‘done’ traditionally here and how most places ‘package’ their weddings. EG you have 60 guests for day and 100 for evening.) They haven’t been invited to the ceremony because of the sheer cost, plus the fire safety regulations of the room.

I don’t know what to do. There are several people who were not invited to the ceremony who now are planning on “sneaking in the back” to watch and at no point was H2B or I consulted on this. We were only told because Mum “slipped up” by telling me. (She told me she had been told not to say anything.) What on earth is the polite way to say,  “You weren’t invited to the ceremony, don’t come,” without offending anyone?

Please help! 0414-13

Regarding Rosie’s grandparents, call them and say, “I am sorry but we cannot accommodate your desire to come see Rosie in the wedding as that would usurp my other guests’ ability to be seated in our very tiny wedding venue.  I will make sure the photographer takes good pictures of her and send you a few afterwards.” And then make sure you do.

As for Aunties Shirley and Ida, I do not understand why relatives have been so conspicuously assigned to the B guest list.   Why did you not plan a wedding ceremony that included all your relatives on the same guest tier?   It’s not as though the aunties have been utterly overlooked as potential guests and therefore not invited as was the case with Rosie’s grandparents.

And what is this, “go get something to eat elsewhere”?   Are you saying that the guests to the ceremony will be treated to a meal while the “evening” guests are invited to partake in possibly light or even no refreshments?   That would explain why Aunties Shirley and Ida, if they sneak into the ceremony, must go find food elsewhere while the ceremony guests enjoy a meal prior to the evening dancing reception.

I am going grouchy on you.   I don’t care how “common” these types of wedding arrangements are in England.   It is still hierarchical treatment of guests with some deserving of gracious, generous hospitality while others must make do with the hospitality crumbs from the tables of the elite guests.   I cannot wrap my brain around the concept of assigning friends and even relatives to a second class guest status who are only invited to an evening dance to celebrate a significant life event they were not deemed sufficiently worthy enough to witness.   That seems like prioritizing the partying over the solemn occasion of a wedding commitment.

Op, your dilemma is a common one for those who choose to segregate their guests into tiered levels of hospitality.   To be honest, I do not have a ready answer as to how to extricate you from the horns of a dilemma of your own making.   Best I can advise is that you suck it up and ignore the Aunties’ presence at your ceremony since calling to tell them they are not invited to witness your wedding ceremony just screams out how ungracious you are and unkindly brings blunt attention to their exact place in the wedding guest hierarchy which they had the audacity to try and rise above.

{ 76 comments… read them below or add one }

Lo April 16, 2013 at 8:02 am

Here in America it is much more common for there to be open invites to the ceremony but selective invites to the reception.
(technically anyone can attend a wedding ceremony here if it’s in a church or public place, I’ve gone to lots as child with my parents that I wasn’t invited to the reception of, my folks just graciously declined the reception invite if they couldn’t find a babysitter, attended the ceremony with us, and took us home after)
After all, the ceremony is the most important part and costs nothing for extra guests.

I don’t want to judge how things are done in England, it’s not my culture. It’s just different. I would advise to be very blunt with Rosie’s gate-crashing grandparents. Their intrusion is not acceptable. You aren’t automatically invited to every single thing your grandchild participates in. It’s reasonable to ask for photos, but not to just show up.

As for your aunts, it may be that what they are doing is awkward, inconvenient, and rude, but I would just pretend not to see them if they were there. Just let them sneak in, honestly, unless due to fire code you’re afraid they’ll be removed from the premises.

At my own wedding I was thrilled that a couple of my relative’s relatives (people I rarely see) who weren’t invited showed up to see the ceremony. They didn’t make any trouble, they didn’t help themselves to the buffet (the reception was held right after the ceremony in the same building), they just came to wish me well and partake in our public vows. It warmed my heart and I got to get them in some of the photos with me.

I think you should take it as a compliment that they want so badly to see your vows, honestly. So many people only care about the reception. But the ceremony is the point of the wedding and the most important part. I can see how they might want to witness it out of love for you.


Melnick April 16, 2013 at 8:16 am

I truly struggle to understand the international wedding practices. In Australia, if you’re invited to someone’s wedding, you are invited to the ceremony AND the reception. They just go hand in hand. No one ever receives an invitation to just one. Most brides will make the offer to friends/acquiantences that they were unable to invite due to cost or space restricitions that they are more than welcome to come and witness the ceremony. There’s no expectation of a gift or anything else if you just come to watch the wedding. It truly is just for people that want to have a stickybeak. Wedding here are often between 60 – 80 guests with many venues struggling to accommodate more than 100. There are exceptions of course for various ethnicities but by and large, the weddings are relatively small and no one feels particularly overlooked if your wedding is limited to family and very close friends. That also means that a lot of friends that you like but aren’t in your very inner circle aren’t invited. They’re not offended but they are close enough that they’d love to watch the wedding and see their friend on their special day. I have NEVER heard of a wedding where the guests were only invited to the reception. I can’t see anyone accepting an invite that way either to be honest.

To deliberately exclude people from the ceremony baffles me. To be honest, I’m not at all surprised that the grandparents of the little girl would like to watch her on a day that is very special to her. If space is an issue, there’s not that much that can be done to accommodate them since it means excluding someone close to you. It really shouldn’t matter to you that your aunts want to just stand up the back and watch. How on earth does that hurt you or detract from the day?

I hope your wedding goes well. Let go of the small things – the people that get worked up on their big day tend to be the ones that feel the need to control every aspect. Roll with it if it’s not going to cause genuine issues. Try to remember that though you are the guests of honour, it is a special day for those who love you too.


Mental Magpie April 16, 2013 at 9:31 am

I understand that things are done differently where you’re from, OP, but I have to agree with Miss Jeanne. There is no polite way to tell them, “You weren’t invited to the ceremony and you know it. You’re only to come to the reception so only show up for that.”

As for Rosie’s grandparents, I also agree with Miss Jeanne’s advice. Ring them and tell them you are unable to accommodate them at the ceremony.


Kammy April 16, 2013 at 9:54 am

she never said that she was having an A and B list for her ceremony. Her aunts said that they were going to watch the ceremony and then go get something to eat. so that is not her fault


WildIrishRose April 16, 2013 at 10:07 am

Custom be damned, you don’t invite SOME people to the wedding and not the reception, and you don’t invite SOME people to the reception and not the wedding. Either they are your guests or they aren’t. I’ll never understand why people do this and then blame the venue or the cost or whatever. If you can’t afford to feed everyone, you don’t serve a dinner. If you can’t afford to or can’t find a large enough venue for everyone, you limit your guest list–but EVERYONE who gets a wedding invitation goes to the reception.

That said, I will also never understand wedding crashers. The movie was funny but the real deal just isn’t.


emwithme April 16, 2013 at 10:08 am

I’m sorry, Miss Jeanne, but your advice is wrong here, and is based on a very US-centric view of etiquette and properness.

It is quite proper in the UK to have “day” and “evening” guests. It is not seen as “hierarchical treatment of guests with some deserving of gracious, generous hospitality while others must make do with the hospitality crumbs from the tables of the elite guests”. It is seen as a way of celebrating the wedding with as many people as possible. The way it works in the UK is that you have the wedding ceremony (either civil or religious), you have the wedding breakfast (generally a multi-course, waiter-served meal), followed by speeches etc, and then you have the evening reception – which is basically a party – with the first dance, disco and, generally, a buffet. To an American, this may seem wrong, but there are many “traditions” surrounding American weddings that, to me as a Brit, seem wrong.

In the “olden days” Aunties Shirley and Ida would have been allowed to come to the church; when marriages *only* happened in churches, it was acceptable for anyone to come and see the wedding ceremony itself – as the church is a public place, one cannot exclude anyone entrance – but now that many weddings happen in licenced premises, one can restrict entrance to whomever one wants. If the OP wants to only invite these people to the evening reception, she is able to do so. Would you prefer that she did not invite them at all?


Mae April 16, 2013 at 10:13 am

I would be calling Rosie’s grandparents immediately to tell them I could not accommodate them. I think that maybe a little harder to do for the Aunts.

I would immediately call my mother and impress upon her the importance of not letting people invite themselves to my wedding, especially as they seem to think that it’s ok to tell her and ask her to keep it a secret from the bride and groom. THAT is very telling- they know what they are doing is rude and your mother knows that it is rude. By letting it “slip” maybe she is hoping you will get over being upset by the time the ceremony rolls around and just let it happen.

I also do not understand the two-tier guest thing. I understand from several posts and comments here that it is common in the UK but I still think it can be hurtful to family members when they feel they don’t make the cut to see the ceremony and be part of the dinner, but they are allowed to come for dancing and refreshments.

I don’t understand the fascination some people tend to get about weddings. Sure, it’s nice to go and see people who love each other commit in front of friends and family but if you are not invited, YOU DON’T SHOW UP! The grandparents are especially galling because their only interest is to see their grandchild “walk down the aisle”. Really? She’s a flowergirl, NOT a bride. Your wants do not supercede the bride & grooms.

OP- I would suggest you squash the grandparents immediately and the aunts, too, if you really do not want to invite them. And tell your mom to stop letting people run over here and keeping secrets about *your* wedding!!


Lou April 16, 2013 at 10:16 am

As a UK resident I would disagree.
An evening initiation is something included in almost every wedding in the UK.
As a UK wedding lasts from morning until around midnight, wedding receptions are set up in this manner.
The ceremony, photos and then the wedding breakfast, with often an hour’s interlude after dinner whilst the room is moved around ready for the evening reception, during which time evening guests will begin to arrive, the evening aspect will begin with the first dance by the bride and groom and will usually have an evening supper buffet.

I will be attending my second wedding as an evening guest this weekend and am in no way concerned about not being invited to the day. It’s a good option for work colleagues or for friends you are not as close to as others but would still want to see on your wedding day.


admin April 16, 2013 at 1:08 pm

But the OP isn’t talking about co-workers or acquaintance friends. It’s her two aunts who are not invited to the ceremony or formal reception.


Kirsten April 16, 2013 at 2:04 pm

And she has the right to make that decision. I have aunts I’ve only met once in my entire life. I would feel it was entirely appropriate to invite them to the evening reception only if the venue couldn’t hold/we couldn’t afford to have them at the ceremony and meal as well, especially if having them at the ceremony and meal meant missing out on people who I was closer to.


Ergala April 16, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I have to agree with the U.K. posters. I’m American and it is not my place to judge or condemn their practices in regards to weddings and showers. The Royal wedding I do believe was an all day event and not everyone was invited to every single part. The only way I’d be raising an eyebrow is if the “Aunts” were invited only to the ceremony but not to any of the receptions/after parties.

However for anyone to say they are going to a part of the wedding they were not invited to is just plain old rude. I’ve actually seen family members crash wedding photos. They were cousins and distant relatives and thought they should be in the photos of the bride and groom with their parents and siblings. If you aren’t invited you don’t show up….simple.


Double You April 16, 2013 at 6:07 pm

It depends on how close you are, really.
I come from a fairly large family.
I invited the cousins I’m closest with to our “whole” wedding. Another bunch of cousins, with whom I have very limited contact (less than once a year), were invited to the ceremony and afternoon reception only. A third group of cousins, the ones I wouldn’t even be able to pick out of a line-up, were not invited at all (if they had been, I’m sure 9 out of 10 would not even have known who I was).
If I would have had to invite all of them, our wedding would have doubled in size!


Lauren April 17, 2013 at 6:49 am

In this situtation I think admin is incorrect. I think there is a difference between rudeness and culture. Some cultures are different but we should allow for that. That said, I would look the other way for the aunts. Some times you need to let it go. Rosie’s grandparents, on the other hand, heck no. Not appropriate for them to attend at all.


Cat April 17, 2013 at 10:24 am

That confused a lot of us until she explained that, in England, “aunty” does not imply a relative. In this case, these “aunts” are the wives of her Dad’s old army buddies. Anyone who doesn’t read all of the replies should get that information as it changes things for Americans.
Relatives are one thing; wives of Dad’s friends are another.


Cat April 16, 2013 at 11:28 am

I am very territorial about some things so I agree with you. It’s your wedding and no-one, not even the MOB, has the right to invite people or to tell them it’s “ok to sneak in the back” without asking you.
I don’t think she should even be asking you because it’s a way of pressuring you into doing something you don’t want to do. If you are an adult and it’s your wedding, you do what is comfortable to you without having to “suck it up” when other people start running your wedding. MOB should be saying, “You will have to ask the bride and groom about that. It’s their wedding, not mine.”
Call these people, tell them Mummy let the fact slip that they are coming to the wedding and you regret you cannot accommodate their wishes. When you have done that, let Mum know you are planning your own wedding and, as an adult, you expect her to respect your right to have the wedding you want.


Diane April 16, 2013 at 11:35 am

I am in England and have to say that having Day and Evening receptions and guests is very, very common over here. Admin might view it as rude, but if so, thousands of couples are guilty of this every year. I have travelled for hours to weddings where I have only been invited to the Evening Reception and wasn’t offended at all. Also addressing someone as “Auntie” does not mean they are a relative or even a good friend of the Bride or Groom. I was brought up to address friends of my parents as Auntie and Uncle and if I had invited them all to my wedding there would have been no space for anyone else. This is also common in the UK.
As for people coming to watch the ceremony, I know that churches have to allow members of the public in to witness the ceremony by law. If this applies to other wedding venues I cannot say for sure.


Kimstu April 16, 2013 at 8:28 pm

I think the difference is that in the UK the ceremony/breakfast/formal meal and the evening reception seem to be practically two separate events, with everyone invited to the latter but only a small subset invited to the former earlier in the day.

This sort of thing used to be more common in American weddings too: a couple might have a big reception and put separate “ceremony cards” into the invitation envelopes for the smaller number of guests invited to witness the ceremony as well. Conversely, a couple could instead have a large ceremony and a more private reception later: in that case, they’d put “reception cards” into a few guests’ invitation envelopes along with the general invitations to the ceremony.

Neither of those was considered rude if done right, i.e., without calling the attention of the larger group to the fact that there was also a smaller additional event to which they were not invited. But now that American weddings tend to be more of a combo package, with vows and reception widely considered different parts of the same event, it is harder to separate them. Consequently, it is generally (and rightly) viewed as rude to try to “B list” some of your guests at an American wedding nowadays, because the exclusion aspect is just too glaring.

An approximate modern US equivalent to the UK (and others’) double-header wedding might be the distinction between the rehearsal dinner and the wedding itself. It’s accepted etiquette that the rehearsal dinner is a separate event for the wedding party and a small subset of wedding guests, and nobody thinks it’s rude that most of the other wedding guests aren’t invited to it.

And certainly it would be very rude if a wedding guest gatecrashed the rehearsal and rehearsal dinner, even if they just “sneaked in the back to watch”. By the same token, I think the OP’s “Aunties” should have the manners to avoid barging in on the ceremony that they know very well they weren’t invited to. Maybe, as Diane noted, the Aunties are confusing the ceremony venue with a church where members of the public are legally entitled to enter and watch if a ceremony is being held (let’s not forget that the UK has an established church and so churches are to some extent public buildings, if I’m not mistaken). But the MoB should have set them straight about that, and clearly she didn’t.

In any case, @AnnaMontana/OP, I don’t think there’s anything you can politely do about the Aunties’ gatecrashing plans if they haven’t told you about them. If they had ASKED “Ooh can we just sneak into your ceremony and watch from the back?”, you could have done the “I’m sorry but I cannot accommodate that request” bit, but you can’t preemptively tell them to stay away if you don’t officially know that they’re coming.

Are your ushers strong and forceful people who can effectively see to it that invited guests get seated and uninvited ones are politely shown the door? If not, I’m afraid there’s not much you can do about having the back of your ceremony venue cluttered up with Aunties. But so what, you’re marrying the man of your dreams! “It is not Aunties that matter, but the courage we bring to them.” ;)


AnnaMontana April 17, 2013 at 1:13 pm

Thank you. I actually don’t mind them coming, it’s just the whole not being asked aspect that I hate. Also, Rosie is 5 years old, her parents are invited to the wedding and she is staying over with me in the hotel the night before. Her grandparents are not invited to the ceremony, reception meal or party afterwards. They aren’t supposed to be there period.
Ushers are my brother and H2B’s brother in law. BIL might be useful if it comes down to kicking people out, but my brother would be less than useless!


Miss Merlot April 16, 2013 at 11:44 am

I am English and would only ever invite people like colleagues, distant friends etc to the evening do – people who I didn’t necessarily know well enough to invite to the ceremony / reception, but still wanted to include in some form or another. Relatives – or at least ones who clearly care enough to want to see you married – I would definitely invite for the whole day.

As it happened we kept our wedding close-knit and the only people I invited to the evening that I didn’t also have to the day was a couple of girls I’d just started hanging out with and a full-on invite would have been weird for.


another Laura April 17, 2013 at 10:26 am

But “auntie” could be just a courtesy title given to some of her mother’s friends who the bride doesn’t feel close to at all.


Catrunning April 16, 2013 at 12:53 pm

I just love how people get away with treating others rudely by justifying something as a “common practice”. Just because a lot of people do something does not automatically make it gracious, kind or considerate. Having been the victim of this practice on several occasions, I can definately say that it was not a pleasant experience. When the happy couple doesn’t want you around for the ceremony (which is the whole purpose of a wedding, lest one forget) and they don’t want you around for the meal because then they’d have to pay for it, I figure they really don’t care for my presence at all. What they do care about is getting a gift or two (’cause I’m always invited to the shower, go figure).


Ergala April 16, 2013 at 3:42 pm

I’ve been invited to showers but not the actual wedding. I’ve also been invited to the shower even when I have RSVP’d Not able to attend to a wedding. If they had sent out the invitations close together I could over look it…however they were sent out months apart. The wedding invitation had dollar dance info, wishing well info, registry info, said it was a cash bar….oh and a pot luck. The shower invitation had registry info again, a door prize thingie where if you brought some lingerie you were entered into a drawing for a prize, a gift card tree and it was pot luck as well. I respectably said I would not be able to attend. And no I didn’t send a gift.


Kirsten April 22, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I think common practice is actually important. It’s common practice in the USA to throw wedding showers for engaged women. They are not at all common practice in the UK, and are actually viewed as grabby.


kirstenh April 16, 2013 at 1:18 pm

To me it sounded like the ceremony and reception were in two different places, and that while the reception is large enough to accommodate a lot of people, the civil ceremony itself will take place in a small room with not enough seating for everyone who wants to drop by.

From my understanding, it is not rude to have a small, private ceremony and then celebrate afterwards with a large reception. In England, there are tight restrictions on where you can have a wedding ceremony, and for a civil one (not held in a church) most of the locations available are small and don’t accommodate a lot of people, so people who elect to have a civil ceremony must choose whom they wish to attend. It’s usually not allowed to perform a civil ceremony in a park, home, or whereve a couple wishes, so having a larger venue for the ceremony isn’t an option. This is why there are more people at the reception than at the ceremony itself.


Kimstu April 16, 2013 at 8:46 pm

@kirstenh: “In England, there are tight restrictions on where you can have a wedding ceremony, and for a civil one (not held in a church) most of the locations available are small and don’t accommodate a lot of people […] It’s usually not allowed to perform a civil ceremony in a park, home, or wherever a couple wishes, so having a larger venue for the ceremony isn’t an option […]”

Thanks for explaining this issue, which I think has been causing some confusion among us American commenters (and is likely to make our heads go splody a bit now that it’s been explained!) I don’t think many of us would have known in advance that a UK bridal couple can’t just move the ceremony to a larger venue to accommodate more guests.

Over here, as long as you have a properly certified officiant, said officiant can conduct a civil wedding ceremony on a mountaintop or in the hall of the Elks Lodge or at Joe’s Bar or in a hot-air balloon* or wherever the heck you wish, because FREEDOM. Or something.

*Actually, I guess the balloon would have to remain in the airspace of whichever state issued the marriage license, or the marriage technically wouldn’t be valid. No getting a license from Arizona and then riding the thermals over to New Mexico before saying your vows!


Double You April 17, 2013 at 5:56 am

Well that’s something I would like very much… the freedom to get married “wherever you want”!

Over here in Belgium, rules are equally strict, if not stricter, than in the UK: you can only get married in the town/city hall of the town/city where one or both of the partners have their official domicile address, during their regular opening hours (typically this would be every day between 09.30 and 12.00 except on Sundays, but smaller towns may only perform weddings 2 or 3 days a week), and wedding ‘slots’ are allocated on a “first come, first served” basis, meaning the first couple to register will get the 9.30 slot, the second couple the one at 9.50, the third at 10.10, and so on in 20-minute intervals.

As nearly all of my relatives live a couple of hours out of town, we didn’t want our wedding to be too early in the morning, so we waited until the final days before the deadline for registering our wedding, and fortunately we got a fairly good 10.50 slot.

Another consequence of this rule that weddings can only take place in one particular the town/city hall, is that it limits the number of guests that can be accommodated. We are fortunate to live in a rather large city, but still its wedding hall only has a seating capacity of around 50 people. Fortunately there was quite some space on either side of the seats, as well as at the back of the hall, but this did mean that a lot of our wedding guests had to stand, and were probably grateful that wedding ceremonies only take about 20 minutes.


Rodinne April 17, 2013 at 7:33 am

Precisely because “FREEDOM.”

Specifically because due to the First Amendment, the government does not decide whether a religion is valid or not, or whether a person is an officiant in a proper one or not. You can become a Pope of the Illuminati and hold weddings in a hot tub and be just as valid an officiant as a Catholic priest holding a wedding mass in a cathedral.


nayberry April 18, 2013 at 3:05 pm

pod Kirstenh,
my DH and i had a small civil ceremony and were limited by the number of guests we could invite due to the size of the registry office (think JoP in USA) we had about 30 to the service and lunch and then another 20 or so to the evening “do”
i say “do” as we catered almost entirely ourselves barring the main which was a hog roast.
the reception was in my parents garden and we had an ipod for music.
this was all we what we wanted to do and my parents paid for it all, including my dress, and some fun transport to and from the ceremony for everyone so that they didn’t have to drive.


Ellen April 22, 2013 at 11:56 pm

I think the legal requirement of getting the marriage license in the US is similar to the civil ceremony in Europe. You must obtain your license from the county clerk or judge of probate of the county in which the wedding will be held (not sure if residence is required in any states – not in mine), and that can only be done during regular courthouse hours.
However, in the US the marriage license does not make you legally married until there is a separate ceremony, which may be civil or religious.


June First April 16, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Ouch, OP. I could almost hear your indignant shouting over here in the US.

Take a few deep breaths. Then, ask yourself a question: Is this a big deal, or a little deal?

First, you’re getting RSVPs! In April! For an event that isn’t scheduled for four more months! (With the assumption this post was sent in recently) Your guests are being super-courteous!

About the “gate-crasher” elderly couple: Is the flower girl staying with her grandparents that weekend? Who else will be watching her? What’s the plan if she gets tired/bored/decides she wants to run up and down the non-existent aisle? Side note: if there is no aisle, what will your flower girl be doing? Serving as a junior bridesmaid?

Miss Jeanne covered my rant about the Aunties, except for one thing:
Just because something is “done”, doesn’t mean that it’s nice. I think you owe them an apology.


AnnaMontana April 16, 2013 at 1:22 pm

I am the OP. We cannot afford to have all our guests at our wedding. Its not rude in this country to have ‘day/evening guests’ . We also don’t have ‘showers’, just ‘Hen Nights’ which the Bride typically pays for (I am not having one.) These Aunties, as one commentor has suggested are NOT relatives, they are my Dad’s Army friends’ wives, therefore I am not related to these people!


Carol April 16, 2013 at 2:21 pm

You’ve already said you’re just doing a civil ceremony which is going to a registrar or something, is that right? I can totally see how you can’t fit all the people who would want to come into whatever space you’re in – it isn’t a church or a hall.

Maybe if you tell the Aunties that there simply isn’t space, not even to ‘sneak in and stand at the back’ and that they’d likely be turned away that will help them understand. Make sure they know you are looking forward to seeing them in the evening, and that you are happy they are sharing your big day with you. They obviously don’t expect to come along to whatever food portion of the day you have, so maybe they will understand.

I like the idea of telling the grandparents there is no ‘aisle’ and that you will make sure they get lovely photos of Rosie in her flower girl outfit is a good idea.

Try to look at it as people with good if misguided intentions, and don’t let it become an issue of stress, if you can.


Cat April 17, 2013 at 10:19 am

As you can see from the comments, you are going to have to stand your ground and let the criticism slide off your back. Most people took your “aunts” as sisters to your Mum or Dad and not as wives of old Army buddies.They thought you were being rude to close family members. I have family members who cannot be dealt with in any other way, so I was with you regardless of the relationship.
Bottom line-your wedding, your rules. If you offend someone, you will have to deal with the aftermath, but no-one has the right to create a situation in which you are backed into a corner and then to blame you for refusing to let them run over you.


Taylor April 17, 2013 at 10:48 pm

Wouldn’t matter if they were related. I don’t think you’re under any obligation to EVER invite someone even if they -are- family. That’s like saying if your father was abusive and beat you, why did you invite your best friend and not him? Blood and a family title mean nothing if you’re not close to them so I wouldn’t listed to the admin.

As for talking to the “aunts”, WILL it be an issue for fire hazard reasons? If so, I’d just call and tell them that you’re sorry, but that will be an issue because of legal requirements on the venue.


Marozia April 23, 2013 at 5:12 am

@AnnaMontana. If you and your partner are paying you have the right to invite who you want and how many.
Did Rosie’s parents let the grandparents know that they weren’t invited? Probably best it comes from either them or you and your partner. After all, this won’t be the only wedding Rosie will be attendant at. Photos will suffice for grandparents. I’ve said it before and will keep saying it. These little ‘surprises’ that MOG/MOB come up with are not acceptable.


Penster April 16, 2013 at 1:53 pm

Another UK poster here and I completely agree evening reception invitations are standard custom and I would not be at all offended to receive one instead of a whole day invitation unless it was close family (e.g. siblings) or very close friends. If Shirley and Ida are indeed blood relatives I would be surprised they aren’t invited to the whole day, but if they are friends of OP’s parents affectionately referred to as ‘Auntie’ I would say they are being a bit rude to try and gatecrash the ceremony. I would try and explain to them about the restrictions of the room size due to fire regulations, as they may just have assumed they weren’t invited due to the expectation of them joining the wedding breakfast if they attend the ceremony.
I agree with Miss Jeanne though about Rosie’s grandparents.


Stacey Frith-Smith April 16, 2013 at 2:08 pm

I can see where customs differ and also where space restrictions would create problems. For my two cents, however, it’s much more straightforward to invite guests to both the ceremony and the reception. I do understand that from the event sequence portrayed here, there are three events (ceremony, meal, reception) as opposed to two (ceremony, reception with or without meal). Here, the best that can be managed is to halt the gatecrashers at the proverbial gate, nicely. Don’t allow encroachment, it won’t help matters at this point and may muddle the understanding of others who conclude that “a few more” won’t matter at the evening reception. Prior posters have noted that those invited for an evening reception don’t usually attend the ceremony or the meal following- they just join in for the party. It seems to me that there is some logic in this- guests aren’t being asked to idle the hours away in between two events separated by a “private” formal meal. Do evening attendees bring a gift? If they are the recipients of lesser hospitality but are required to offer both well-wishing and a gift, that would be more objectionable. If, however, they are there for the party as guests and are just enjoying a little hospitality from the hosts in celebration…perhaps not so bad. No… I’m typing this and I still can’t make it work. See, it’s a muddle to deal with two tiers no matter how nicely it’s handled and how easily it’s normally accepted. What would be the harm in having a smaller guest list and having all guests attend the ceremony, meal and reception? Anyway, OP- congratulations to you- hope your day is truly lovely!


Lyn April 16, 2013 at 2:55 pm

I only have one thought about the grandparents of the flower girl; are they her transportation to the ceremony? If so, expecting them to drop her off and leave and come back later is kind of rude. Also I don’t remember seeing the flower girl’s age mentioned … If she was my daughter/granddaughter and was under 10 years of age or so .. I would expect to stay there with her.


gellchom April 16, 2013 at 3:11 pm

Actually, unless it really would mean you couldn’t seat your invited guests, I would let Rosie’s grandparents come watch. You won’t even notice them, and it will be a big thrill for them. It would be different if you had to accommodate them at any kind of reception, but you don’t. And the “there isn’t an aisle” thing? Do you really think that matters to them? Come on, you know that doesn’t really bother you.

May your worst problem ever be that people want to see your wedding. Keep a generous heart. That’s what distinguishes a lovely bride from a bridezilla.


Tara April 16, 2013 at 3:22 pm

Usually I agree with the advice handed out on this site but I really believe the admin got this one really wrong.

The admin needs to consider that customs are different. I was married in Germany (my husband is German) and the etiquette is very different than here. There is a civil ceremony which is your legal marriage and typically is just the bride, groom and their witnesses. This isn’t attended by anyone. Then you typically have a church wedding (many people are invited to this – morning suit & dresses, hats, etc) and a light single plate reception is typically held after this. The evening event is then held somewhere, black tie and usually is a smaller set of the church invitees (not necessarily distant aunts but direct family and close friends, usually the “younger” folks). This can last until 5-6am. So distant and older aunties wouldn’t be included in the evening festivities & wouldn’t be upset by this.

I think it’s a bit of a narrow view to assume this isn’t showing hospitality. It really depends on the expectations of the culture. I know I have friends in Canada that had a civil ceremony and they could not have fit more than 20 people in that small room with the judge. I believe the poster points that out. That’s not rude to say there’s only so much space.

There are so many cultural considerations….Would you assume it’s rude to pay a dowry for a bride? I think it’s weird, but that’s exactly what my traditional Chinese friend had to do for her son’s future wife. Different culture, different rules. It has nothing to do with hospitality, it has to do with cultural expectations.


Miss-E April 16, 2013 at 3:26 pm

I don’t think it is fair for those of us who are not UK natives to judge the OP here. In many Asian countries it is traditional to ask for money as wedding presents but I wouldn’t expect anyone to heartily object to that if they were attending a wedding in China. Etiquette differs from country to country and it isn’t right for someone who isn’t from that place to condemn people for following customs.

OP: unfortunately, I think you’re just going to have to bite the bullet, talk to all these sneaky guests and tell them they cannot attend.


Surianne April 16, 2013 at 3:28 pm

I don’t think we can judge another culture’s wedding etiquette as being “wrong” just because we’re from North America and do things differently.

For example, here it’s expected that bridesmaids pay for their dresses and shoes, which has always seemed ridiculous to me — and in other countries, the couple getting married pays for it, which makes a lot more sense.

They’re different traditions, that’s all.


kingsrings April 16, 2013 at 4:01 pm

I’m a little confused. Just recently, I attended an evening wedding reception of a friend. She’s a friend of mine and we work together in the same industry, but we’re not close friends. Her wedding took place in the backyard of a family member’s home, and there wasn’t a lot of room , so she invited just their family and close friends to the ceremony, then a bigger circle of friends to the evening wedding reception in the backyard of the couple’s home. They couldn’t afford to rent a venue. It was a very casual reception. Did my friend err in wedding etiquette? I didn’t feel snubbed or anything from not being invited to the wedding ceremony as we’re not very close to begin with, and I understood their space restrictions. Is this a wedding etiquette no-no? And what are the alternatives to this predicament if so?


admin April 16, 2013 at 11:29 pm

The only time Miss Manners condones not inviting guests to the ceremony but to the later reception is when the wedding ceremony is very private and intimate with only immediate family and a few close friends in attendance.


Sarah Jane April 17, 2013 at 11:24 am

I am glad you are clarifying this…I’ve always believed this. There are a number of reasons a couple may want to keep their ceremony private/intimate, but they still wish to celebrate their nuptials with all of their friends and family during a reception- type event. I can’t see anyone being offended by that.

After all, while a wedding is a truly beautiful thing to watch, the spotlight is primarily on the bride and groom. The reception is about treating your guests, making them feel special and showing your desire to have them share in the festivities.

It definitely seems better than the opposite situation: inviting someone to the ceremony only. It’s like saying, “I know you’re one of my adoring fans, feel free to come watch me say my vows, but you aren’t invited to the party, which is for my real friends, so please leave before we have to feed you anything. Oh, and you’re welcome.”

I’m from the US, and having multiple parties with Guest Lists A and B really rubs me the wrong way.


kingsrings April 17, 2013 at 4:51 pm

Exactly, Sarah Jane. To me, it’s like telling the invitee that you don’t care enough about them to spend the money and time feeding/drinking/entertaining them at the reception. But you want them at the ceremony for the reasons you described, AND to score yet another wedding present! Plus, that would be very awkward to everyone when the ceremony is ending and certain guests are heading off to the reception and certain guests aren’t. “See you at the reception!” Oh, no you won’t, actually…..


Shoegal April 16, 2013 at 4:10 pm

I chalk this up to a difference in cultures and I think it sounds interesting. From reading this I gather that weddings last ALL DAY and if it is a standard practice to hold weddings in the UK in the fashion described. I would venture to say that it really isn’t a violation of etiquette. It is the way it is done. No one is offended if they aren’t invited for the all day affair unless they are close family and there is food and refreshments for everyone – no matter what part of the festivities they are invited to. Also it is, in fact, possible that the “Aunties” aren’t really related to the couple at all.

The part I don’t understand is what guests are doing all this time. From what was described: first – a cermony, pictures etc. etc. Then there is a wedding breakfast – ok – but then what?? Is this breakfast nearly at the hour of lunch – because what is everybody doing??? It just sounds as if guests eat, then wait around until dinner (I mean – was there no lunch?)- after which there is a small break while the room is moved around and then – dancing and evening supper buffet is put out. Sounds like a lot of eating and sitting around until the party gets started but I’m almost positive I’m missing something here. Personally, I think I’d always rather be invited to only the evening affair – because it would take up an entire day and I’d like some time to get some other things done – especially if it was my one day off.

In America – it is usually an evening thing with the ceremony starting around 4 or so. (can be earlier or later) but the wedding does not last all day and there is really only one meal served. Following the ceremony, there is a dinner reception which includes a cocktail hour with appetizers and drinks & then dinner is served with dancing afterwards. In America, we consider it wrong to invite some guests to part of the events and not all. But we don’t seem to have the space limitations. It is almost always possible to find a venue for the ceremony and reception that will accomodate the amount of guests you wish to invite.

As for the OP – tell the grandparents to stay away. That is ridiculous – they will get over not seeing Rosie in the wedding. Just cause they want to – doesn’t mean they get to. As for the “Aunties” – if they want to stand in the back I’m not sure that is causing too much harm – it is nice that they would like to see you.


Lou April 22, 2013 at 4:06 am

To answer your question.
Typically, the ceremony will be somewhere around 11am/12 pm.
Then the guests transfer to the reception venue.
Then photos can take around 1-2 hours, with welcome drinks, and more often than not, canapes offered to guests, who mill around whilst the ushers (groomsmen in the US), get the correct people into each photo).
Then afterwards will be the receiving line and wedding breakfast, which will be around 3pm/4pm so a late lunch, early dinner. the breakfast will take a good hour or two, followed by speeches. Typically the groom, best man and father of the bride. These can take up to an hour.
Then yes, and hour or so interlude, in which evening guests will arrive and then dancing and evening buffet.
Carriages at midnight.
It might sound like a long day, or a lot of waiting around, but it really isn’t, and the interludes give everyone chance to catch up with old acquaintances and give the newlyweds time to get round the party and speak to everyone. I have never been bored or wished to be elsewhere on a full day wedding.


AIP April 16, 2013 at 4:46 pm

The practice of “afters” is very common in Ireland too. It’s usually for people that you would not be close enough to invite to a full day – work colleagues you’re not especially close to, people in any clubs you belong to, more distant friends, perhaps a couple of friends of younger members of the bridal party so they’d have some peers there, and friends of your parents that you may not be especially close to. It is always a cash bar at weddings in any event, although there may be snacks (sandwiches, cocktail sausages and the like) provided for the entire group at around 11pm or so.

On the etiquette issues, I agree with the admin on the issue of the grandparents. A photo of her in her finery would be a nice gesture.

As for the “aunties”, what harm if they want to see the ceremony? if it was a church service, any member of the public could technically view it (although it would be rare enough to be considered odd). Unless its in a private space or one with a severe size restriction (eg a small registry office), or there are number limits, then I wouldn’t stress about it.


Ergala April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

From I understand it is indeed a private place. She mentioned fire codes in regards to how many people she could invite to the ceremony. ” They haven’t been invited to the ceremony because of the sheer cost, plus the fire safety regulations of the room.”


Jess April 16, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I’m from the UK, and I also have to agree that only inviting some guests to an evening reception is the norm for a lot of weddings. As previously mentioned, it is often the case that work friends, friends of the Bride & Groom’s parents, etc. will be invited to the evening reception where there is usually a supper buffet provided. It is not seen as rude. My experience of UK weddings is that the gift giving expectation is far lower than the US, and therefore you would not be expected to bring a gift to the evening reception. Also, as mentioned before we don’t have Bridal Showers, only Hen nights, which are the equivalent to your Bachelorette parties, but with no expectation of gifts. I know no-one that has been invited to the evening reception only that has been insulted by this. I understand that things are different in the US, but the OP was not rude by my understanding of UK standards. I agree that the flower girl’s grandparents turning up, without knowing the Bride or Groom, is odd. Sending them some nice pictures of her on the day seems like an elegant solution. I wouldn’t really have a problem with the two ‘Aunties’ watching the ceremony, although the possibility of them being thrown out for breaking the fire safety reasons would be more than awkward, which makes this a dilemma indeed for the OP.


CWM April 16, 2013 at 7:22 pm

Let me make sure I understand the wedding etiquette correctly before I get to the rest of my comment. If you can’t afford to have a big wedding and reception then you should have what you can afford, but then it’s perfectly acceptable to have a party when you return home or sometime afterward to let people who couldn’t come to your wedding congratulate the happy couple, correct? Because if I’m understand British tradition properly, they’re basically doing all of this in the same day. Very small wedding due to size limitations and an early afternoon reception, then a party later on in the night for the people who can’t fit in the wedding venue itself. I don’t see the etiquette problem involved. When I was married in a courtroom, there was enough room comfortably for myself, my SO, our two witnesses, and the justice of the peace. I can’t imagine trying to stay within our budget with the ceremony and still fit in all of our friends who came to the reception into that tiny courtroom, nor can I imagine trying to explain why etiquette dictated that I didn’t invite them to the reception since they weren’t invited to the ceremony itself.

I agree that the flower girl’s grandparents should be politely called and informed that there is sadly no space for them at the ceremony (unless for some reason they are transporting or otherwise in charge of her during that time). I also think that the Aunties should be called and told that while their intentions are appreciated (to be there to support OP and H2B), it isn’t possible to have them at the ceremony.


Kimstu April 17, 2013 at 11:20 am

@CWM: “If you can’t afford to have a big wedding and reception then you should have what you can afford, but then it’s perfectly acceptable to have a party when you return home or sometime afterward to let people who couldn’t come to your wedding congratulate the happy couple, correct?”

Correct. There is no official limit to the number of separate receptions/parties a bridal couple can throw in different places (e.g., when visiting the hometown or different sets of in-laws, or whatever) to celebrate their recent wedding. IF, that is, they are throwing the parties properly, as generous offers of hospitality and celebration for their guests, rather than trying to make a gift-grab out of them. (Note also the qualifier “recent”: it’s not “quite quite” to be still throwing parties specifically to celebrate your wedding more than a few months afterward, no matter how happy you are about being married!)

Separate receptions that occur very close in time and space to the wedding itself are a bit more tricky. As Admin pointed out, there’s no etiquette violation in having a larger reception separate from the actual ceremony when the ceremony is very small and private (so you’re in the clear, @CWM). But if the ceremony is quite grand or formal and not much smaller in number of guests than the following reception, it’s hard to avoid the impression that the non-ceremony guests have been “B-listed”.

As I said, though, UK etiquette seems to consider daytime ceremony and evening reception basically as two different events, similar to the US distinction between rehearsal dinner and wedding, so I’m not sure a charge of “two-tiered hospitality” can be made to stick in the OP’s case.


Jordy April 17, 2013 at 12:30 am

When I married 15 years ago in the US, I planned a wedding just like the OP, kind of. I very deeply believe that the wedding ceremony is between you, your spouse and God. The law requires a pair of witnesses and an officiant. So that was who we had there. I also had the ceremony almost two hours away to keep crashers away. As this was on Halloween we had planned an Old Fashioned Halloween party complete with a Haunted Hayride, dunking for apples and costume contests. The reception included all of our friends and relatives, about 100 all together.
Everyone knew of our belief in the private ceremony and no one questioned it including our parents. Could we have had all of those guests at the ceremony? Absolutely! We were married on a beach. There was plenty of room but we did not want to ruin the intimacy of the ceremony. We did not ask for gifts because of not including our guests in the ceremony and had the request printed on our invitations so you cannot accuse me of being a gimme pig. We simply wanted to celebrate with our friends and family later. It removed much of the stress from what is one of my happiest memories.

I do not see the big deal with the OP not wanting her “Aunties” at the ceremony. In the UK, some of the places Civil Ceremonies are held are very small, so therefore, extra guests would be against code. Also, we do not know if the Bride or Groom suffer from some sort of anxiety disorder that would be made worse by standing so front and center during the ceremony. I do not see this a a two tier system. It is not as if the OP is asking for people to skip dinner and come for cake as a way to get gifts. Truly, this is no different than eloping and having a party later. I do not see the problem in this. You immediately see it as rude but do not take into consideration other factors. I do not believe you can judge another culture’s customs no matter what etiquette dictates for us.


Marozia April 17, 2013 at 1:27 am

RE: Rosie’s grandparents. If Rosie’s parents are invited, maybe they can tell the g/parents not to come. If you and H2B are paying for everything, you have the right to dictate who can/can’t come. As for Aunts Shirley & Ida, if they and your mother knew English wedding etiquette, they should then know can be invited to one or the other. I get really sick and tired of MOBS/MOGS adding these little ‘surprises’.
Simply tell people, NO GATECRASHERS.


NostalgicGal April 17, 2013 at 1:42 am

It’s sounding plain like many times before here on E-hell, people are inviting themselves. Period.

It doesn’t sound like there’s an A and B list, just a Some Invites are Wedding Only, Some Invites are Reception Only.

I would say OP has the right to ring those that invited themselves and use the classic “I’m sorry but we can not accomodate your request (plans/crashing)” And if they go ‘how the bleep do you KNOW’ the OP does not have to reveal sources. Just that ‘it has come to my attention’.

There is always bailing, eloping, and holding a reception afterwards…. or getting some bouncers.

Others have said it more nicely, but that’s about it. Crashers are crashers. Don’t cave.


Hayels April 17, 2013 at 10:23 am

I have to agree with the people here that don’t judge other people’s cultures.
It was mentioned that ‘just because something is common, doesn’t mean its not rude’. As a Brit, I find many US customs rude – ‘showers’ for example, the name makes it clear they’re just for gifts! We have hen parties and people are just invited to come and have a good time. Gifts are not expected at all. Asking someone to be a bridesmaid then expecting them to pay for their dress, shoes, etc. If you’re asking someone to wear something specific, shouldn’t you pay for it?
But I accept that its a different culture. Just as the person who pointed out the Chinese tradition of giving money. Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t make it rude.


Library Diva April 22, 2013 at 9:57 am

Agree, Hayels. “Rude” is a cultural construct. Commonplace behavior in some parts of the world is shocking rudeness in others. Some cultures have entire rituals around things that others don’t regard as a big deal.

And honestly, it is the aunts and grandparents who are being rude here. They’re trying to gatecrash something that’s invitation only, and they’re putting OP in a terrible spot. I believe the OPs of these scenarios know what their only two option are, but they’re hoping against hope that a magical third one will reveal itself, which it won’t. OP can either contact these people before the wedding, tell them that due to seating constraints/fire codes/ budget/whatever, they cannot attend the ceremony, although OP certainly appreciates their desire to wish her and her fiance well. Or, OP can say nothing, hope they change their plans, and either let the venue deal with it (if that’s even an option) or be prepared to pay extra. Sorry, OP, and best of luck.


Cami April 17, 2013 at 10:24 am

I just wanted to comment on Lo’s assertion that it’s common in the US to invite people to the ceremony who are not invited to the reception. That is a regional custom, not universal. In the majority of the locations in which I’ve lived, it is considered highly tacky to invite people to the ceremony and not to the reception because it’s akin to saying, “You’re good enough to come when it costs us nothing, but not good enough to feed, water, and rent a chair for you.” In those locations, when people show up at a church for a wedding who are not invited to it by way of an actual invitation, they are expected to sit along the back and sides so as not to impede the way or view of invited guests.


AthenaC April 22, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Is it regional? Which region? (I honestly have no idea)

Growing up in the Midwest, the only time I saw invitations to the ceremony and not reception was when a teacher at my small school got married. In the school bulletin there was a general invitation to the ceremony for anyone in the school, with a note that said the reception was by invitation only. I didn’t think anything of it, since probably none of us knew her well enough to have a reasonable expectation of a wedding invitation, but we all certainly wished her well. If I am not mistaken, I recall that quite a few students went to the ceremony.


Library Diva April 25, 2013 at 12:48 pm

My parents did this! They were both teachers and met at work. Both of them were the type of teacher who had never wanted to do anything else, ever, and were very invested in their work. They told all their students that they were welcome to attend the ceremony at the church, but were having a small reception. Many students attended, and my parents still smile to this day (40 years later), remembering the students who cultivated a tough image but nevertheless showed up in their Sunday best and got all misty-eyed at the ceremony.


Ellen April 23, 2013 at 12:00 am

I have never seen this done by individual invitation, and agree that would be highly tacky. However, it is pretty common practice in many churches/denominations in various parts of the country to post a wedding announcement on the bulletin board or in the weekly worship folder, extending a group invite to all parishoners to the ceremony.


AMC April 17, 2013 at 12:35 pm

I’m torn on this issue. I live in the US and and have only had this experience once of being invited to the reception and not the ceremony. It was several years ago. My cousin and his bride got married in a small ceremony at the MOB’s home. Only immediate family attended. The reception was held at a different location a couple hours after the ceremony. If I remember correctly, the invitation clearly stated that it was to a reception and made no mention of the ceremony. I don’t know what their reasons were for this arrangement.
At the time, I didn’t view it as rude, but there’s no way I’d ever feel comfortable doing the same thing. Of course, my ceremony and reception were held in the same location, so…


Nicola April 18, 2013 at 5:29 am

I disagree. This is not common in the UK at all, most wedding I have been to may have an evening do, but this follows on directly after the wedding.

Having said that, I was recently invited to a wedding that had a ‘gap’ between events, so we would see the marriage, (at two) have ‘drinks’, then have to entertain ourselves for hours while the main wedding party went off to have a lovely meal. The evening do (starting at 7) involved some sort of finger food, no meal.

I declined. I thought it sounded tacky.


Kirsten April 22, 2013 at 12:07 pm

That does sound tacky. If you invite people to the wedding ceremony in the UK, you invite them to the meal and to the evening reception.


Pam April 18, 2013 at 10:29 am

In my opinion, if you have to invite someone to one part of an event and not the other, if you’re inviting them to the part that costs YOU money – (the reception) then it doesn’t come across to me as rude or tacky. It would seem tacky if you invited someone to the “free” part, but then excluded them for the part of the event that would cost you something.


Marie April 18, 2013 at 11:14 am

It really irks me that both the admin and many commenters have adopted the “If it’s not done the American ways, it’s not done the right way” mentality. Your culture and customs are not the ultimate authority. Many of these etiquette “rules” that I have stumbled upon in this website would be considered rude in my culture. Context matters.

Attending a ceremony that you have not been invited to, is rude. Tell your Aunts that if they choose to attend, you might get in trouble with the building for firecode violations, which could very possibly ruin your wedding. Tell them you would be happy to share pictures and videos with them, and will look forward to seeing them in the evening, but you unfortunately just cannot fit any more people.

And since you do not know the flowergirl’s grandparents, you can either speak to them yourself or tell your mother to let the know. They did not bother to tell you themselves that they were attending the ceremony, and should not expect the same courtesy from you, although it would definitely be the preferable scenario.


EllenR April 18, 2013 at 2:36 pm

Isn’t the ceremony, civil or in a church, public by law? Which means that anyone can attend? I think that’s the case in my country. It would still be rude to attend a ceremony you’re not invited to, but difficult to tell someone they can’t come


NostalgicGal April 19, 2013 at 1:22 am

Ceremony crashers are not a new thing in the UK… When Charles and Camilla got married, they had some live feed on a news channel about the goings on outside. One lady with her hubby, dressed up, tried to get in… having a DVR I could back up and I read her lips a few times as she tried to convince the security person at the door that they didn’t have their invite but surely being close friends they are invited (and it will be alright). The guard politely refuses them, twice, (because they are not on the guest list). The two end up walking away, and the Lady (she had used a title) looked less than happy about being rebuffed.


Gabriele April 24, 2013 at 8:16 pm

I didn’t watch the wedding but I followed it in the UK press. The press coverage was quite extensive and mention was made that they selected the venue they did because it was historic, etc. In order to have weddings performed in a place it has to be available for others to have a wedding there as well, so it couldn’t be done in one of the royal buildings, as the venue would had to then be open to others for weddings…
For this wedding, since it was their second (she, divorced; he, a widower) and given the background of their relationship, it had been decided it would be a small event. I don’t remember quie what happened after but as I remember there were two social events which were noted more by the (later) Duchess of Corwall’s dress changes.

NostalicGal, I love your story! Having a title is obviously no guarantee one also has the proper manners!


Ellen April 23, 2013 at 12:07 am

Um, can I just say that I think there has been quite enough ganging up on the Admin for giving the advice *that she was asked for*. If you don’t want to hear someone’s opinion, don’t ask for it.

Yes, the specifics of etiquette vary from culture to culture, but I don’t think Admin -or this site’s – cultural orientation is a surprise to anyone who reads regularly. Also, her advice is based on broad principles of etiquette, such as hospitality, treating people fairly, graciousness, etc. Those are universal, though the specific application may vary.

Of course, it’s a very interesting discussion of whether holding separate events constitutes two tiers of hospitality, or how long or how widely a practice must be used before it becomes polite when it was rude before. Of course we are all free to express our own opinions, but criticizing Admin for having her rightful opinion? Tacky.


Caros April 25, 2013 at 4:12 pm

I think a few people are not considering a vital piece of information here. The OP states: “… plus the fire safety regulations of the room.”

One extra person over the number allowed might just be ignored, FOUR extra people…. the fire regulations are there for a reason. These four extra people could cause the venue to lose their licence to hold civil ceremonies!

There are some people who are muttering on about inviting people to the ceremony only and not any post-ceremony celebration – for heaven’s sake, read the original posting properly, at no point has the OP suggested that this is what they are doing.


LenaH May 3, 2013 at 3:37 pm

I came across Hell’s Bell’s recently, and decided to comment on this one because it’s in my neck of the woods. Regarding the aunts who are left out of the ceremony, and are only invited letter on (and are thus relegated to the “B list”, I would just like to say that this isn’t “how things are done in England”. That’s rude wherever you are.


Enna May 4, 2013 at 6:47 am

When my neighbours’ daughter got married we were invited to the reception but not the ceremony, but then we are neighbours not close family or firends. I was okay not going to the ceremony: I think it depends on the situation and the relationship you have with the couple getting married. I think people should be treated as equllay as possible.

One of my oldest firends is VERY shy: she had a small wedding which I was not invited to, the brother of the groom wasn’t invited and he was a bit hurt by that: I could see why but due to the circumsantaces such as my firend’s shyness and her falling out with his partner I can see both sides.


Livvy17 May 20, 2013 at 4:57 pm

Personally, no matter how culturally acceptible, I find it at least classist/elitist to have seperate parties with differing guest lists and offerings, but I’m from the US, where we at least pretend that everyone is entitled to the same courtesies and inclusion. Even if it is very common in the UK, one can’t deny that it does create two different sets of guests – “day” and “night”, with different levels of inclusion and priviledge. If those groups are very clearly defined by some easily distinguishable and understandable grouping, such as immediate family, then it’s easier to tolerate the division.

Regardless, might I propose a possible solution to your dilemma?

Perhaps you could arrange a webcast of your ceremony that the grandparents / aunties / any other “evening” invitees could watch? You could also record it that way, for your own viewing pleasure later.


Lizzie B May 31, 2013 at 9:02 am

I’m in the UK and I just got married three weeks ago. Lots of vendors asked if we were having evening guests as it’s common here – but I think it’s the utmost rudeness to have separate guests. If they are close enough to celebrate my marriage then they are close enough to watch me get married. Either you pick a venue that can accommodate all your guests or you slim down the guest list. We had about 10 people we might like to have invited but didn’t.

Just because lots of people do it, doesn’t mean it’s polite. But what’s done is done – now you have to call these people and uninvited them from your ceremony – because the venue most certainly won’t allow you to go over capacity due to fire regulations.


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