It goes without saying that this year has brought some unprecedented hurdles to those who planned on getting married. Weddings have been postponed, adjusted to accommodate the present normal, and even canceled. Many couples, however, are opting for small, intimate (even sometimes virtual) ceremonies now and celebrating with a reception including family and friends later. That’s where reception-only invites come in.
Whether you’re splitting your ceremony and reception dates or always wanted to only host guests at the reception portion, reception-only invites are a must. Read on for our full rundown of what they are as well as how and when to use them.
As the name suggests, these are invitations sent to guests invited only to your wedding reception. In this case, they typically aren’t invited to the ceremony or the couple has already been wed. Reception-only invites contain information only pertaining to—you guessed it—the reception.
That being said, let’s talk about why someone would send out reception-only invitations. What we’re seeing a lot of right now due to the coronavirus are couples that—rather than postponing their weddings entirely—are having small civil ceremonies. Sometimes a small group attends, but often it’s just the couple that’s being wed, the officiant, and any witnesses.
Thanks again to COVID, currently many receptions are being postponed to a later date, when more people can safely gather together. This way, couples can still get married as planned and, down the line, throw their celebratory bash.
Reception specific invites aren’t new, though. There are a handful of situations in which an engaged couple would want to send them out. For example, destination weddings or elopements where the couple plans on having an in-town celebration later. Similarly, couples opt for reception-only invites if they plan to have a smaller, intimate ceremony followed by a larger reception.
Like standard wedding invitations, these should be sent out six to eight weeks in advance. This allows guests just as much time to reply with a yes or no, purchase a gift off of your Zola Wedding Registry, and (if needed) book travel and accommodations. While a ceremony may not be taking place, this is still a special occasion and people will need to plan ahead.
If your wedding plans have changed and you already sent out invitations, reception-only invites should be sent out to everyone who received one before. Doing so will clarify your new plans with your entire guestlist. Plus, having a formal invite will help make the event feel special and important, despite the hurdles it may have taken to get there.
If you’re having a ceremony the same day as your reception, however, these invitations should be sent to those who are only invited to the reception. Think friends, friends of family members, coworkers, and the like.
When sending out paper suites, consider printing two separate cards: A reception-only main card and an insert with ceremony details. Guests invited to both should receive both cards, while reception-only guests receive only the main card. Include instructions on how to RSVP in both. This way you get the right information to the right people without confusion and potentially offending anyone.
Before dropping your envelopes in the mail, there are a few pieces of etiquette you should consider. This differs slightly from full invitation etiquette, so take note!
Now that we’ve covered the common questions like the whats, whos, whens, and hows, let’s look at some wording examples.
Refer to in the case of a destination wedding, elopement, or civil ceremony followed by a reception at a later date. What’s key here is letting the guest know you’ve already been married. For example, don’t invite them to witness your marriage. Instead, invite them to a reception in celebration of your wedding. However much or little information you want to include in this regard is up to you.
“First Last and First Last invite you to their wedding celebration party! Saturday, October 10th, 2020 at 7pm. 123 Street Name City, State Please respond by October 19th by mail or online.”
“WE DID IT! First Last and First Last were married in a private ceremony in Location on Wedding Date. Please celebrate with us at our reception on October 10th, 2020 at 7 pm. 123 Street Name City, State Please RSVP by October 19th.”
Refer to if your ceremony and reception are on the same day with different guest lists.
“First Last and First Last will be married in a private ceremony on Saturday, the tenth of October.
Please join us in celebrating at our wedding reception following the ceremony at seven in the evening. 123 Street Name City, State Please respond by October 19th by mail, online, or to email@example.com”
As always, we’re here to assist you in these unique times. If you have questions regarding your wedding and COVID-19, check out our dedicated advice section. If you have any further questions or need assistance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.