It Matters What That Party Is Called…And When You Have It

by admin on October 4, 2013

I have been wrestling with this problem in my mind, and I figured it would be best to ask the etiquette maven, herself.

Due to having most of our extended families far away in different states, my fiance and I decided on a destination wedding. Due to the fact that not everyone can make it, my mother has been encouraging me to warm up to the idea of having a shower of some kind to give people something wedding-related they can attend, hosted by my future sister-in-law (FSIL) and/or future mother-in-law (FMIL). They have offered to host this, and, after some initial trepidation (I don’t want people to feel obligated to buy us gifts, and I certainly don’t want to spend time during the party opening them in front of people- both are implied by “shower”), I agreed.

Part of the debate is over what to call this party- perhaps this is a separate issue? My fiance wants to call it an engagement party (but it is two months before the wedding, 10 months after we got engaged, so quite late for that, in my opinion), FSIL wants to call it our at-home reception (which I don’t want, because it is before the wedding, and because if it were a reception, I would be planning it myself), and FMIL and I are struggling with alternative, more appropriate names.

But on to the actual etiquette dilemma. FMIL wants us to invite anyone and everyone we like, which is very generous of her, but when I expressed that I think it would be rude to invite those who aren’t invited to the wedding itself, both she and my parents protested, saying that we should invite “everyone” (meaning people from work, neighbors, etc). These are people who would never fly across the ocean for our very intimate wedding, but if we were getting married locally, would come. Both sets of parents are saying it would be more rude not to invite Mrs. So-and-so from down the block to our yet-to-be-named party.

What do you think? Should we invite people who we weren’t planning on inviting to the wedding? Should we then invite them to the wedding itself? As I said, I can’t imagine any of these people would fly to Europe for our wedding, so perhaps it would be weird to even invite them. I could use your advice on this one, and, if you are on my side about trimming the list to those invited to the wedding, how to talk to them about it. The “etiquette dictates” approach has already failed. 0924-13

I began twitching right at the first paragraph.   What this party is named does matter as it will direct the guests as to what to expect and what is expected of them.   Call it a shower and they will bring gifts.   One NEVER invites people to any wedding related function that has an expectation of gifts being given when those same  guests will NOT be invited to the actual wedding.   Inviting supposed friends to a shower but not the wedding screams, “Your presents are appreciated but your presence at the wedding is not.”

Inviting people to an engagement party but not the wedding is deceptive in that it misleads them into believing they will be invited to the wedding.   And in your case, the celebration of the engagement that occurred 10 months earlier is a bit late and gives rise to speculation that this is yet another material asset acquisition scheme under the guise of wanting neighbors and friends to “share the joy”.   Let’s be real….if you *really* wanted them to “share the joy” and be a part of witnessing the wedding vows, these guests would be invited to the wedding.   What your parents are suggesting is offering these neighbors and friends a mere taste of the wedding festivities.

I detect some double mindedness on the issue of what type of wedding to have and how many guests that vision of your wedding involves.  Whether a wedding is “intimate” is irrelevant to the actual location it is held.  To have a purposely intimate wedding with a limited guest list or a destination wedding that will restrict the guest list by virtue of being too expensive/too far for guests to travel means that you have decided to similarly limit the size of the events closely associated with a wedding.  It’s as if your families want the trappings (and benefits) of a large wedding yet are constrained by your desire for a destination wedding to Europe.

Since you appear to have intractable family members who have no consideration for your perspective, you don’t have many good options that will be easy.

Option 1:   Change your destination wedding to one local to your home.    My daughter’s wedding was intimately small yet all the family traveled from Arizona, New York and Kentucky for it.

Option 2:  I suggest you invite every one of these shower/engagement/at-home “guests” to your destination wedding and let the chips fall where they may as to who actually attends or not.    At least you will have extended a sincere invitation to *really* join you and your fiance in witnessing your marriage vows.

Option 3: Appeal to family to host this party after you are married as this would be the most appropriate time to celebrate a marriage with people who were not invited to the wedding itself.

{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Agania October 4, 2013 at 8:58 am

I vote for Option 3. Wait until after the actual wedding and hold a (or a couple of) “hey come and meet my new hubby/wife”. Also at that gathering offer some sort of hospitality such a casual bbq or finger food on platters. It doesn’t have to be lavish. Even if you don’t call it a reception (and you shouldn’t) there will be some who will want to give a gift. Even though you don’t expect gifts, Great Aunt Maude will still insist on giving you one of her hand crocheted afghans. And whatever you do, DO NOT register.


kingsrings October 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm

I went to this an event like this just over the weekend. A friend of mine had gotten married the weekend before in a small, family-only wedding in a different city, and his bride’s parents hosted a party for their closest friends this past weekend. They served food (that they provided themselves, no tacky potluck requests), decorated the house and yard, had music. It was a casual party that wasn’t a wedding reception. No mention was made anywhere in the invite (well, there was no formal invite anyway, just my friend individually emailing everyone) about gifts or a registry. I felt bad about showing up empty-handed, so I brought along a pretty flowery plant and card. There were a few wrapped wedding gifts other guests had brought. They had it post-wedding so nobody would feel gipped about not being invited to the small wedding. The perfect, etiquettely-correct answer to this dilemna.

Another friend had something similar this past spring. She sent two invites – one for the wedding, which was small and in her parent’s backyard, so not enough room for everyone. just family and close friends. Then another invite to those just invited to the reception that was after the ceremony, which was at the couple’s house.


No Wedding October 4, 2013 at 9:18 am

I think Option 3 is the best bet IMHO. Some friends of mine had a small intimate wedding with immediate family only, and then a few weeks later, had an open house BBQ at their house for everyone. It was a nice event. Oh, and they made it clear on the invitation no gifts, though a few people did bring small presents or cards.


Goldie October 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

I, too, vote for option 3 with no gifts. I’ve had a personal experience similar to this one. My cousin’s daughter called me and said “so (fiance) and I went out and got married, and would now like to celebrate it with our family and friends; can you come?” Due to where they held the celebration, it was implied that a cash gift was expected (it’s a local, cultural thing), so we brought one, to the tune of two or three hundred dollars. Imagine my surprise when, at the celebration, the newlyweds passed a wedding album around! Turns out, they hadn’t “gone out and gotten married”, they had a destination wedding in Europe for closest family and friends only. I have to say this left a sour taste in my mouth. Had I know the details, I wouldn’t have come. For all intents and purposes, this post-wedding celebration looked like the bride and groom hadn’t gotten enough gifts at their destination wedding, and were angling for more. It also feels pretty awkward to find oneself on the B-list when it comes to guests.


RC October 4, 2013 at 6:22 pm

*spluttering* Oh dear no, that’s awful!


Mer October 5, 2013 at 11:00 am

I’m not sure I understand, can you slightly open up how the gift was expected. I understand if you do not want go to too personal detail, I was just left wondering.


Powers October 4, 2013 at 9:34 am

I agree with Miss Jeanne here; have it after the wedding and call it a reception. You don’t have to host; you and your new spouse will be the guests of honor.


Mae October 4, 2013 at 12:00 pm

I vote for Option #3 as well. It will give friends & family a chance to celebrate the marriage without having to rearrange your wedding plans.

I also agree that some guests may bring a present because some people really do just *like* to give gifts. I would tell whoever hosts the party if anyone asks about gifts or a registry, they can tell them no gifts are expected. I would also write thank you notes not only to those who may bring gifts, but to everyone who attends.

Congratulations and best wishes on your wedding!


ddwwylm October 4, 2013 at 2:57 pm

Another vote for #3. Even before I finished reading the advice, I was thinking, why don’t they just have it after the wedding. The only other thing I could think of was possibly calling it a bon voyage party, but even that is a little weird since it’s still 2m before your trip, and you’re coming back after you’re married, not moving away. I would also quiblle with your parents idea that neighbors and co-workers would be upset at not being invited to some sort of wedding party. If I know and like you well enough to want to go to your wedding and it was local, great. If I have those same feelings towards you, but knew your wedding was overseas, I would wish you well, and not feel bad AT ALL that I didn’t get to celebrate with you. In fact I would think it a little odd that you invited me to a party to celebrate your wedding that was overseas. If people like you enough they will give you a gift anyway. The only scenario I can think of for having an at home party for those who missed out on the wedding would be for CLOSE relatives and VERY CLOSE friends. Say if your grandma or favorite cousin wouldn’t be able to go, they would probably love to go to a party to celebrate your marriage, your co-worker or neighbor down the block, not so much.


Kimstu October 4, 2013 at 3:06 pm

Yes, Option 3 for the win. A party to celebrate a marriage is properly held after the marriage has taken place.

Anyhow, props to the OP and her fiance for wanting to do the correct thing in this case while not hurting the relatives’ feelings and also shunning the gift-grab. I’m afraid that they will have to go for the “nuclear option” of declaring kindly but firmly that they WILL NOT ATTEND any pre-wedding party including any guests not invited to the wedding itself (especially not if it’s called any kind of “shower”).

You can’t do anything about your families’ willful disregard of etiquette, but you can keep them from throwing this proposed tacky party by making it clear that the guests of honor will not attend it. Don’t lecture or scold, just keep repeating how awful you would feel about seeming to “tease” guests with a pre-wedding party and then excluding them from the actual wedding, and how much you would prefer to throw a celebratory party for your extended circle AFTER the wedding.


gellchom October 4, 2013 at 3:23 pm

I agree, it definitely matters what you call it, and you should be careful about that. And that is especially true in the case of a destination wedding, where you have to be extra careful.

We have run into this in the past. And the best and simplest solution we have found is not to call it ANYTHING other than “a party for Petunia and Cuthbert.” You don’t have to say that it’s in honor of your marriage or engagement. That’s obvious. But leaving the words out makes it one tick farther from a gift-giving occasion.

We word the invitations something like this:

“Please join us for [cocktails/dinner/BBQ/brunch/whatever you’re doing] in honor of Petunia Jones and Cuthbert Smith [do use the last names; yes, they know you, but they may know another Petunia]

You could add “who will be married in Rome on April 31, 2021” or something, but I wouldn’t. It both makes it more likely that people will think they are supposed to bring a wedding gift and also waves in their faces that you are spending all your wedding budget on an exotic venue instead of something that they could attend (it would not be as bad if the wedding were in Rome because you or a parent lives there). It’s not rude to have a destination wedding, but like any other party or pleasure that others aren’t able to share, you have to be very, very careful not to flaunt it — and that goes double if you are inviting people who aren’t even invited at all to the wedding. So we do it this way, and it works out fine.

We usually end up referring to it among ourselves as an “engagement party,” just for want of a better term — it is easier than saying, “Hey, what are you wearing to the Party in Honor of Cuthbert and Petunia”? But not usually on the invitation, for the reasons above.

I think you can have it either before or after the wedding. My preference is for before when possible.

I’m glad you don’t want to let them give a shower under these circumstances. I know that there are people who don’t see anything wrong with inviting people to showers when they aren’t invited to the wedding. But there are plenty of us who do, and I bet there are on just about anyone’s list. Don’t be fooled by no one complaining or criticizing; I didn’t, when I was invited to a shower but not the wedding, and I attended with a nice gift and a smile on my face, but I thought it was an awful idea, and I know I’m not the only one who did. I understood the bride’s mother’s and her friends’ desire to include a lot of people in the festivities somehow; the wedding was out of state and she was given only a very small number of invitations for their friends. But IMO she should just have asked the hostesses to give some other kind of party, not a shower. So unless it’s some very special circumstance like a charity-case or medically compromised couple who had no choice but to be married in a private ceremony or a military deployment situation or something, I would not do it.


AIP October 6, 2013 at 3:09 pm

Co-signed! A shindig after the wedding would be nice, and I really wouldn’t call it anything other than a party.


Catrunning October 4, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I think I am seeing a trend – people are having intimate weddings at their dream destination fulfilling one fantasy, all the while expecting huge showers and other gift-giving wedding activities to fulfill their other fantasy of a being the center of attention with a huge wedding following. They get all the benefits of a large guest list (lots of loot) without the expense and headache of actually putting on the wedding. I always thought you can’t have it both ways – you can’t invite lots of people to showers unless you invite those same lots of people to your wedding.

Well, I’m told that rule is obsolete. That’s because there are so many people out there just begging to “share the joy” any way they can – even if it does not include attending the wedding – that it would be cruel to deny them invitions to showers, and especially cruel to deny them the opportunity to spend their hard-earned money showering the happy couple with gifts.

I honestly think most people have enough going on in their lives so not being invited to a wedding is not the worst thing ever. (For some of us, it is often a relief). Believe me, if someone is not close enough to be invited to an intimate wedding, any joy the muster up for the happy couple is most likely of a fleeting and perfunctory nature. People are not out there desperately longing to “share the joy” and are certainly not desperate enough to pay the admission price of a shower/engagement/whatever-you-want- to-call-it gift in order to bask in this shared joy.


Kimstu October 6, 2013 at 5:22 pm

@Catrunning: Well put. Note that this should not be taken as calling out the OP in particular, who on the contrary seems to be trying to avoid a “gift grab” aspect in the planned celebrations.

But on the wedding scene in general there definitely seem to be increasing expectations along the lines of “of course other people will want to make a fuss about our wedding even if the wedding itself is off-limits or inaccessible to them”. This sends the message that their larger circle of family/friends/neighbors is valued primarily as a source of tribute rather than as a beloved community to help celebrate the start of the couple’s new life.

This kind of attitude is especially distasteful when it’s somewhat “bait-and-switch”: that is, a bridal couple or their immediate families may blithely charge ahead throwing engagement parties and/or showers and accepting engagement/shower/wedding gifts, and only later let it be known that the wedding itself will be one of those destination thingies for the happy couple only.


Lou October 7, 2013 at 5:21 am

I agree – I’ve noticed a similar trend in the UK where couples want to have the best of both worlds so essentially plan themselves two weddings, a small ‘intimate’ one somewhere out of the country and a larger ‘reception’ nearer home a week or two afterwards. I was lucky (??) enough to attend both parts of one of these events over the summer and have my reservations about the concept if I’m brutally honest.

Firstly there is the issue of giving up two weekends to what is, after all, only one wedding, with the commensurate costs of two outfits, two lots of travel (air fares plus taxi fares), two evenings of drinking at expensive bars (UK cash bars as standard) and so forth. Second, which may not be universal, is witnessing a friend practically run herself into the ground trying to plan two weddings at the same time, where planning one is usually enough to send most people round the bend – I couldn’t see that the additional stress, expense and time made for a wedding that was in any way ‘better’ than the traditional format. And finally, and again this may not be universal, the home ‘reception’ just seemed…flat. The bride and groom wore their wedding outfits again but it felt like they were just playing dress-up for the sake of it; the atmosphere didn’t have chance to build the way it normally does at a wedding, and very few people danced. Overall it felt a bit sham-like, as though the extra guests (mostly not-so-close friends, the outer circle of family and work colleagues) had been invited for the sheer glory of seeing the bride in her dress and to make up the numbers present-wise. I agree with Catrunning that the majority of the guests would have been perfectly satisfied to see the pictures on Facebook, and maybe receive a photo announcement or a piece of cake in the post. Strange times…


Kimstu October 7, 2013 at 10:40 pm

@Lou: Ugh, that does sound rather dreary. At least in American etiquette, a post-wedding reception is typically held quite a bit later than seven days after the actual wedding. And any guests who’ve been to the actual wedding aren’t necessarily expected to attend the reception.

AND the bride doesn’t wear her wedding dress after the day of her wedding (unless she gets it out of storage a couple decades later for a renewal-of-vows event). After the wedding day, you can look at the pictures of the bride in her gown to your heart’s content, but she doesn’t get to play Dress-up Bridal Barbie and get into the gown again for another lot of guests on the following weekend.

I think you nailed it: bridal couples who do this are essentially attempting to have two weddings, and trying to convince their larger circle of guests that the second one is just as significant and special as the first. As you’ve found, it doesn’t work.

It’s perfectly correct to have a festive post-wedding reception (or more than one, at various times and in various geographical locations for different batches of family and friends, if you’re up for it) any time within about half a year of a private or very intimate wedding ceremony. But you don’t wear your bridal garments for it, you don’t have a specially dressed bridal party for it, and you don’t mimic any other aspects of your actual wedding for it (no ring exchange, no candle lighting, no vows, whatever).

Just put on something nice and give a party dedicated to the enjoyment of your guests rather than the glorification of your no-longer-brand-new marital status. And oddly enough, if you do this, your guests will have more fun and feel happier for you than if you try to turn it into a revised version of the wedding itself.


Reno October 4, 2013 at 5:54 pm

Agreeing that Option 3 is the appropriate alternative.

The letter writer didn’t say why this was being planned before the wedding. Even the SIL see’s it as an “at home reception” which is what it sounds like they are trying to do. So do it at an appropriate date.


RC October 4, 2013 at 6:31 pm

Option 3 has my vote! OP, you seem to have a good handle on the many reasons why you should not have a wedding-related pre-event involving any guests not invited to the wedding. Congrats on your wedding, and please do give us an update on what you decide to do and how your etiquette-challenged family members react to your plan!


Lo October 5, 2013 at 8:26 am

I agree that option 3 is the best.

We had similar issues with our family when it came to being pushed to do things we really didn’t feel comfortable doing because it was “expected” and because people were *clearly* just dying to give us cash and presents I ended up getting talked into things I now regret, one of which was a registry. The rational being that people wouldn’t know what to get us otherwise and would just take it as a hint to give money if we didn’t register. Well we couldn’t figure out a way out of that. I kind of hate myself for letting that happen.

The problem is that family can easily lose sight of what’s polite in their eagerness to showcase the couple. Don’t listen to your family. Hold a party after, have no expectations of gifts, and don’t invite anyone you aren’t close to.


E October 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm

Count me as another vote for Option 3. Why the rush to have it before the wedding? I can’t imagine anything more stressful than to have to prepare for a big party before a wedding and a big trip combined. If you have it afterwards, you can show some photos, and you can bill it as a “welcome to the family party” or even a “party in honor of the marriage of X and X.” I would keep it deliberately casual – like a BBQ buffet rather than a plated meal, so that it doesn’t unintentionally suggest that it’s an ersatz wedding reception.


Vicki October 5, 2013 at 2:55 pm

One more vote for Option 3, and an addendum: if you’re having that destination wedding someplace with limited space, don’t invite more people than the venue can hold. That’s obvious advice when the wedding is three blocks from home, but easy to overlook on the theory of “nobody but our closest friends will spend the time/money to travel that far.” But “destination wedding” generally means a location that has appeal for at least some people in addition to the event itself: someone who wouldn’t fly to Peoria for your wedding might fly to Paris, even if it was more expensive.

The other aspect of that is that you could wind up with your immediate family, five closest friends, and two random acquaintances, which might feel weird in a way that neither having lots of less-close friends, or none at all, would.


Jennifer October 5, 2013 at 4:17 pm

I am quite torn between the three options. I personally think that option 2 would be the best option. I feel like while option 3 sound good it leaves the door open to hurt feelings for those who feel as if they weren’t deemed worthy enough to get an invitation to the wedding. I have been on the receiving end of the whole “oh we just decided to go to the justice of the peace and get married” never mind the fact that the bride had told me that she would be doing this a good couple of weeks prior to their wedding. I was, at that time, her best friend. It wasn’t long after that our friendship began to fall apart, and yes not being at her wedding while I did nothing but support and help her get ready for it hurt far more than I realized at the time. My thinking on this whole situation is that if they weren’t important enough to warrant an invitation to the wedding then they shouldn’t be invited to any type of shower/reception/meet and greet.


Decius October 5, 2013 at 10:04 pm

Option three is what my wife and I are going with. We got married at a destination wedding in scenic Pittsburgh, PA, with only close relatives/friends invited, but we told our parents they could throw us a reception later in their respective hometowns for everyone who couldn’t attend.


Kirsten (the first!) October 7, 2013 at 5:35 am

I am always wary of the invitations about ‘those who couldn’t attend’…there’s a post on the old board somewhere where she says, “Couldn’t attend? How about ‘wasn’t invited’?!”

This is for people who weren’t invited to the wedding. Couldn’t attend is different.


Decius October 10, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I’ll correct my phrasing then – for everyone who wasn’t invited OR couldn’t attend.


Shoegal October 7, 2013 at 5:05 pm

Pittsburgh, PA is scenic and beautiful. I can think of no better place to hold a destination wedding. Perhaps, not as exotic as Europe but it has its own unique flair. 🙂


Kirsten (the first!) October 8, 2013 at 6:17 am

It sounds pretty exotic to me! I would love to go there!


Elsie October 6, 2013 at 12:34 am

I vote option #3, with no gifts expected. I would also refrain from attending ANY wedding events before the wedding. Have a casual party after the wedding for those who missed the wedding to come meet the couple, imo! 🙂


Allie October 6, 2013 at 11:31 am

I hate to say this, but I detect some double mindedness on the issue of whether you would like to receive gifts at this party and be the center of attention without having the bother of opening said gifts or having to participate in other traditional shower activities. If you don’t, then don’t call the party anything other than a party. No one need know that you are throwing it in celebration of your impending nuptials and if it is at someone’s home then the guests will likely bring a small hostess gift or a bottle of wine and nothing more. If, as you claim, you are not interested in gifts, this is the solution I would suggest.


Michelle C. Young October 6, 2013 at 8:03 pm

Option 4 – Call it “a party,” invite anyone you want, and just don’t mention the wedding in the invitations. Once everyone is gathered, you can have a toast, in honor of the couple and leave it at that.

You know, if you don’t obviously shake down people for presents, the ones who really care about you will give you one, just because they *want* to. If you invite them to such an unnamed party, and have a toast, it will remind them that you are getting married (far away, with few attendees), and the ones who truly care will be prompted to do something nice for you, shortly thereafter.


Pam October 6, 2013 at 9:56 pm

Option #3. If you were my friend, I would be excited for your destination wedding! After the actual wedding I’d want to see your pictures and I would want to celebrate with you. We have a lot of anniversary open houses in our area and there is usually a little note that says “Let your presence be your gift” Not sure it that is a cool thing to say etiquette wise, but it would make it clear that the party was not a gift grab and allow you to invite everyone you’d like to celebrate with. No pressure on them, but if someone was a close friend and wanted to get you something they still could, and it would be because they wanted to.


Patti October 7, 2013 at 6:14 am

My hubby and I got married in Hawaii in March. We had sent out invitations to everyone that we would have invited if the wedding had been local. While we would have been delighted if everyone had come, we were happy that 11 people made the journey. A month after we returned, we hosted a somewhat lavish (carving station, seafood display, open bar, live entertainment, etc.) reception for the people who could not join us. We made sure to indicate on the invitations that we did not want gifts. It was lovely and I think that everyone appreciated that they were able to participate in some way.


Sarah Jane October 7, 2013 at 8:10 am

I scanned the other comments, and I didn’t notice whether anyone else pointed this out…but the idea of FMIL or FSIL throwing their own family members a “shower ” made ME twitch.

I vote for Option 3, also. But do not put “no gifts, please” ,or anything to that effect, on the invitation. That’s tacky, too.


Cady October 7, 2013 at 9:30 am

I say combine 2 & 3. Invite everyone, let the chips fall where they may, and have a reception back home AFTER the wedding for everyone who was invited to the wedding, whether they were able to make it or not. Invite guests to both on the same invitation and provide RSVP options for “X will be joining you at the wedding in Paris,” “X will be joining you at the reception in Milwaukee,” and “X sends their regrets.”


AMC October 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm

I think Admin hit the nail on the head. It sounds like OP’s family wants to have their cake and eat it too. My vote is for Option 3. That way, you can have a party with everyone but without the expectation of gifts. I don’t think I’d call it a reception though. I think I would keep it casual, like a backyard BBQ after-party.


kellyrnh October 7, 2013 at 1:39 pm

Option 3 as well!

I just experienced this, and was a bit bummed out to be honest. One of my really good friends moved across the country – we keep in touch but have definitely seen a closeness fade that used to be there.

She became engaged and planned a wedding in her new state – I was very happy for her, she is great and deserves to be happy 🙂 I really didn’t know whether I’d be invited or not.

Then, I got an invitation to a wedding shower hosted by her parents in our state. It was called a shower, and said where they were registered. The only difference from your normal shower was this was at night, for both men and women and in a function hall.

I went, had a great time and did bring a gift. I never was invited to the wedding. I am not mad, as I would have had to turn it down (I couldn’t travel those dates), but I won’t lie that I would have liked just to receive the invite.

I think they considered it more on the lines of a reception/party, and had very good intentions, but I still would have liked to be invited. If this was a second reception in our state after the wedding, I think I would have preferred that.


Margaret October 7, 2013 at 1:40 pm

No need to invite everyone to the wedding; keep your ceremony the size you want it.
You can have a party before the wedding, but just call it that “A party (cocktails?) (dinner) to meet ______[fiance]” if he’s from elsewhere.
I recently received one much like this for a wedding three thousand miles away. Lovely cocktail event! No gifts expected.


Shoegal October 7, 2013 at 5:17 pm

I’m in the camp of Option #2 and let the chips fall where they may. Although, Option #3 is not a bad idea either – I think it is a more kind and gracious and genuine gesture to invite everyone you want to share in the event with you despite the locale. The hard truth of it is – depending on who you were to me – I would probably not go to Europe to celebrate with you unless you were either a very dear friend or an immediate family member (like a sister) because of money and time constraints. Most people will not attend your wedding but will think kindly of an invitation to a locally held reception afterwards especially if it has all the perks of a wedding reception but is just more convenient. I would happily attend with a gift in tow thinking I was a valued wedding guest despite of my travel limitations.


Lisa S October 8, 2013 at 1:32 pm

We got married in Las Vegas (just the two of us) and decided to have a party later, especially since our families and friends said, “Hey! You guys should have a party, so we can celebrate your marriage!”

DH’s sister offered to have it in her backyard, and took care of getting the flowers from the Flower Mart in L.A. and arranged them. I set up the party rentals and caterer (really simple Italian buffet) and she got the fun of arranging a party that she didn’t pay for.

I tried to find a casual white dress (nearly impossible in the fall, go figure), so I did wear a white skirt and blouse, and ordered a small bouquet because I thought it would be nice to make the pictures seem somewhat weddingish.

We invited everyone with an evite (Let’s Celebrate Lisa & N’s Wedding!) but said NOTHING about gifts, and we didn’t register. It was the first time our families met, so it was very festive. A couple friends did bring presents, some didn’t, and it was all good.

We had a blast.


C October 11, 2013 at 6:52 pm

I had always heard that co-ed showers were a “Jack and Jill.” Since it’s not the traditional bridal shower, it always felt more casual to me.


Cheryl July 22, 2014 at 1:22 pm

It is a wedding shower, most host with the bride and groom in attendance, doesn’t really matter. You can’t invite those who will not be attending the wedding, this would be rude and makes you look like you are a gift grabber which makes you look bad.


Olivia July 6, 2016 at 6:23 pm

Our situation adds a different dimension : both future bride and groom live and work in the Middle East. Bride’s family home is local, groom’s is in Europe. Wedding will be held in Europe (NOT in his family’s country) and invited guests limited to immediate family.

The now “party without a name” will be held in the bride’s family home 4 months before the wedding, when the bride and groom to be will be visiting for a week.

What to call the party where the 30 invited guests are old friends of the bride/family?
Is it proper to add a gift registry to it?


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