Every year, I get a couple of brides who want to do something that, as a planner, makes me break out in hives. They want to invite EVERYONE to their wedding ceremony, but they only want to allow SOME of those people attend the reception. Often, this is an issue of budget. The bride feels that they can't afford to feed everyone at the reception, but they can invite everyone to the ceremony.
I hate this.
First, it's tacky, tacky, tacky. It's like saying that you want everyone see you walk down the aisle and bring a gift, but all of those guests aren't special enough to dine and dance with you and your new spouse. Second, it's potentially a logistical nightmare. Often, guests just assume that everyone is invited to the reception since everyone was invited to the ceremony. This is often an issue when brides opt to invite their entire church family to the ceremony and communicate this by having the invitation read during church service. This is the issue I will address since this is something that is quite common in the South.
As a planner, I will always discourage a bride from inviting everyone to the ceremony and not inviting them all to the reception. BUT...if you insist on doing this (sigh,) I will explain the best way to avoid having a lot of uninvited guests at your reception.
Scenario: You've read your wedding invite during the church morning announcements to the congregation of 500 people. But only 150 people are invited to your plated reception. This excludes the vast majority of your church family.
Solution: Following your ceremony, I suggest that you invite ALL of your church family to a cake and punch reception in the fellowship hall. I'm thinking that this will be a fairly low-budget affair, so that you can accommodate (potentially) the entire congregation. This is when you go simple with an inexpensive cake and punch with disposable plates and cups. Your church family really wants to be able to congratulate you, get pictures of you and celebrate with you. This way, you're not cutting them out of a chance to feel like they're a part of your big day.
Oh, and do NOT announce information about your more formal reception that will take place later. This should be an invitation-only affair. So, to avoid a nightmare, do NOT announce something like this: An invitation-only reception will take place after the ceremony at the Marriott on Main Street. If you do this, everyone who has heard the ceremony announcement now thinks they are part of that "invitation-only" crowd. Just avoid mentioning the formal reception.
Make sure your more formal reception is scheduled to start a bit later in order to give yourself time for post-ceremony photos and your church reception. So, if your ceremony starts at noon and is over at 12:30, allow 30 minutes for post-ceremony photos and approximately 45 minutes for your cake/punch reception. Also, allow time to get from your church to your formal reception site. So, you might want to aim for a 2:30 start time for your formal reception. Make sure your guests are aware of the start time.
So, this solves the potentially sticky situation with confused, uninvited guests showing up at your formal reception. But, as a planner, I will encourage you to re-think the process of inviting everyone to the ceremony and only some to the reception. It's best to only invite guests that you can afford to have at both events.
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Karen Clark is a celebrity wedding planner who publishes the "Perfect On A Penny" weekly e-zine. Get your FREE audio seminar: "5 Super Secret Tips That Will Save You $5000 On Your Wedding" at www.PerfectOnAPenny.com
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