Wedding invitations for reception only: cute wording ideas!

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How to word reception-only wedding invitations.
This is a hacked version of the Rustic Charm wedding invitation. The original is much nicer.

We are planning a small ceremony during the day with a limited number of guests. Later that evening, we will have a party/reception for everyone to come and celebrate whether they were at the ceremony or not.

What is a polite way to word the invitations to the reception-only people so that they know that the ceremony was kept small so that no feelings are hurt?


Ooh ooh, I can answer this one! When I got married, I had a relatively intimate afternoon ceremony and dinner, and then an open-invitation “Bring your friends!” crazy dance party reception that night. We invited these reception guests via an evite that read:

As many of you know, WE’RE FRICKING GETTING MARRIED! We’re trying really hard to keep the ceremony/dinner part of our wedding intimate….but it simply wouldn’t be a party WITHOUT YOU THERE so we sincerely hope you can join us for the post-ceremony dancing reception!Please join us for a night of dancing, camping and freak-nasty wackiness under the trees of Bainbridge Island! Naturally, since we first fell in love at a rave, we have to throw a small (very small) rave-like thing to celebrate the wedding. So come dance with us.

You can read more about how we did this in the Offbeat Bride book, but in terms of how to word wedding invitations for reception only… I actually would NOT recommend doing it the way we did. Personally, I don’t think there’s any need to even mention the ceremony on reception-only invitations.

Even if you’re just trying to be nice, there’s no need to talk about the part of the wedding they can’t attend when inviting them to the part that they can. “We love you but you can’t come to this part — but we still love you … no seriously!” It’s just rubbing salt into a wound that people didn’t even know they had. Rather, just focus your invitation wording on how excited you are to have them attend your reception, how awesome the event is going to be, etc etc. Most folks think ceremonies are boring anyway, so don’t let them in on the fact that yours is going to be awesome. Just invite them to the reception and leave it at that!

One very basic example would be something like this:

Jane and Joe
invite you to join us at our
celebrating our recent marriage.

Please come
get down with us at
7pm on Saturday, the 10th of October 2019
Bigtown Ballroom
Your Town, WA

There are some who suggest including a small line at the bottom of the reception-only invitation that reads “A private wedding will precede the reception.” I guess that’s sort of what we did, just in a more casual/more wordy way.

More wording examples for wedding invitations for reception only:

Liz and Alli
together with their parents
invite you to celebrate their love and commitment
at a reception following their ceremony
Join us for hors d’oeuvres, drinks, dessert and dancing.

We started our family, now we are tying the knot.
We are having the ceremony in a tiny private spot.
We hope you can still join us right after,
for a dance some drinks and plenty of laughter!

Mr. and Mrs. ____________
Mr. and Mrs. __________________would like to invite you to the
reception celebrating the marriage of their children_____________
_______________onSaturday, August 2, 2014 at 5:30pm

ONE LAST THING: Don’t make this reception-only invitation mistake!

Some folks are extremely sensitive to the concept of “gift grabs,” ie “Oh, they only invited me to this part of the wedding BECAUSE THEY WANT A GIFT.”

Personally, we’re not sure why so many people are so convinced that couples even want their gifts (since so many of our readers actually try to opt-out of gifts completely), but if you want to avoid any feathers being ruffled, make sure to note No gifts, please! on your reception-only wedding invitations.

I’ve been to numerous reception-only weddings, and never once did I feel like people were standing around gloating “What a LOVELY CEREMONY. Oh, you weren’t there? Sucks to be you, girlfriend. Tee hee!”

PS: Check out more wedding invitation wording ideas.

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