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Is It OK to Send Reception-Only Invites to Some Guests?

Working within the constraints of your venue space is just one of the challenges that comes with writing a guest list. One solution, as Deborah pointed out via email, is to scale back on the ceremony invitations and ask a select group to attend only the reception. But is that appropriate, and how should you approach the issue? 

Photography by: Carrie Patterson

Q: My daughter would like to invite 150 people to her wedding, but the church only holds 100. Is it okay to ask some people to the reception but not the ceremony? If so, how should the invitations be worded?


A: This is completely acceptable and more common than you might think. There’s an established protocol when it comes to invites. “Basically, you have two versions of the suite,” says associate style editor Cassidy Iwersen. “There’ll be a reception invite, with a separate ceremony card printed for those you want to attend both.” For the dinner-and-dancing invitation, you might say, “Mr. and Mrs. John Fritz request the pleasure of your company at the wedding reception for their daughter … ” Just keep in mind that while a party invite always requires an R.S.V.P., the ceremony enclosure should be without. Having an extra card printed is more costly, but it’s an elegant way to cover your bases. If you don’t want the added expense, a more informal way to go is to extend the ceremony invites via phone call or note, and send the same reception-only suite to everyone.