Do We Also Need Wedding Reception Invitations?

What's the difference between wedding invitations and reception invitations? And when do you send one, the other, or both? Here's everything you need to know.

By The Zola Team

wedding invitation suite
Photo by Unsplash

If you’re asking yourself, “What’s the difference between normal wedding invitations and wedding reception invitations?” we understand your confusion. Typically, you only need the one invitation that says it all, right? Right; however, there are quite a few occasions where a wedding reception invitation is necessary.

We’ll outline all the times to send one, who gets it, what the invitation wording should include, and even give you some wedding card design inspiration. When we’re done here, you’ll know everything there is to know about wedding reception invitations and whether or not you need them.

When to Send Wedding Reception Invitations

Not every couple needs to send wedding reception invitations, but there are actually a few unique occasions where it’s necessary, either in tandem with the wedding ceremony invitation or on its own. Here, we’ll outline the appropriate times to send wedding reception invitations.

If the Ceremony and Reception Are at Separate Venues

When the ceremony and the reception take place at separate venues, you’ll need a reception invitation or card to outline the details of the party. This additional card should be sent with the rest of your invitation suite so that guests have all the information they need in one place. It should include the name and address of the reception venue, as well as the start and end times, if applicable. It will also be helpful for your guests if you include directions for how to get from the ceremony venue to the reception venue, so that no one gets lost along the way, or a note if there is pre-arranged transportation from one point to the next.

If You Already Got Married

Whether you had a small ceremony because Covid-19 forced you to cancel the big event, or you eloped, or you’re already married for any other number of reasons, you may want to have a reception to celebrate with a bigger crew. After all, who doesn’t love a good party?

These are all great reasons to host a wedding reception and, therefore, send out wedding reception invitations. Because there is no ceremony, in this case, the invitation can be less formal and truly reflect the theme of the party, be it a backyard BBQ or a black-tie cocktail party. You can also use this invitation as an announcement of your marriage, even if you shared your nuptials on social media.

If the Ceremony Is Intimate

There are a couple of reasons why you may have a smaller wedding ceremony than a reception, even if they fall on the same day. Firstly, you may be having a religious ceremony where only active members of that religion are allowed, but that may not include all of the people you want to celebrate with. Secondly, your ceremony venue may have a strict capacity that doesn’t fit your entire guest list. Third, you and your fiancé may want the ceremony to feel extremely intimate. It’s a very personal and meaningful occasion, and you may not want a large crowd of witnesses.

These are just a few of the likely reasons why your reception guest list would be longer than your ceremony guest list, in which case you’ll need to send reception invitations along with your normal wedding invitation suite.
In any of these situations, you’ll want to ensure that you have ample time between the end of the ceremony and the start of the reception. You may even want to consider having your ceremony earlier in the day or on a different day altogether, so that you have more time to party at night.

This will also allow you to take all your photos before the second round of guests arrive and make the ceremony and reception feel like two separate events, which will help avoid any awkwardness with guests not invited to the ceremony.

Wedding Reception Invitations Photo Credit // Unsplash

Whom Should Receive a Wedding Reception Invitation

If you’re sending reception invitations because the party's at a different location or because you’ve already tied the knot, everyone on your guest list should receive a reception invitation. It’s very poor etiquette and highly unadvised to not invite anyone invited to the ceremony to the reception, so don’t go cutting people who witnessed the main event.

In the final case, when you need to send a reception invitation due to an intimate ceremony where not everyone will be invited, you’ll have to think carefully about who you want to invite to the reception only. In this situation, you’ll need to create two guest lists: one for the group invited to both the ceremony and the reception and one for the group invited to only the reception.

Try your best to set hard and fast rules that apply to everyone, so that no one feels less important. For instance, draw the line at only family and the wedding party (plus their significant others), or only immediate family and friends. If you invite one uncle to the ceremony and not the other, or one friend gets to bring a plus one but not the other, you’ll create tension between you and your loved ones, which is not what this day is about.

How to Word Wedding Reception Invitations

When it comes to wedding reception invitations, the wording is critical. One wrong phrase and you could offend your guests or completely confuse them and have double the amount of people show up at your ceremony—eek. Here’s how to avoid any faux pas when it comes to wording your wedding invitation cards.

Make It Clear That You’re Already Married

If a guest is receiving an invitation, they will naturally assume it’s for the wedding in its entirety, so it’s essential that you make it clear that you are or will be already married and that they are invited to the celebration of that marriage. Here are a few examples of ways you can do so:

Casually:

  • We Eloped! Now we want to celebrate!
  • Join us for hors d'oeuvres, drinks, dessert, and dancing.
  • You’re invited to a reception celebrating the marriage of Ross & Rachel.
  • They’re Married!
  • Ross & Rachel invite you to join them for a celebration with the newlyweds.

Formally:

  • Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Spector request the pleasure of your company at the marriage reception of their daughter Elizabeth Taylor and James Steven Smith.
  • Ross & Rachel will be married in a small ceremony before family on November 2nd.
  • Please join us in celebrating their marriage on November 10th at Flora Farms.

Tip: Stay away from any words that hint at having your guests witness your marriage—eg. “witness”, “view”, “presence at their wedding”—and instead focus on celebrating it.

Use a Ceremony Insert Card

If the ceremony and reception are on the same day, your reception invitation will be the main invitation that goes out to everyone (read: both guest lists). The folks on your ceremony and reception guest list should receive a little card along with their invitation that includes an invitation to (and all the details of) the ceremony. In addition to when and where the ceremony will take place, the wording here is important. Here are a few ways that you can indicate an intimate ceremony:

  • The pleasure of your company is requested at a private ceremony.
  • Please join us for an intimate ceremony.

Tip: If you’re having a separate ceremony, don’t be secretive about it. Your guests will respect your necessity to keep it small if you’re honest with them, plus you’ll avoid hurt feelings.

Wedding Reception Invitations Photo Credit // Unsplash

Include All the Details

If all of your guests are invited to both the ceremony and reception, but they’re at different venues, you don’t have to worry as much about proper wedding invitation wording on a reception insert card. If this is the case, you simply need to make sure that guests have all the details they need for your reception. Here is what to include:

  • Location and address
  • Time: start and end
  • Attire or dress code
  • After-party details, if applicable

Here are a few examples of wording to include on a reception card in your wedding stationery:

  • Join us following the ceremony for a reception.
  • Please join us for drinks, dinner, and dancing immediately following the ceremony.
  • Let’s Party! Join us for a reception of cocktails, dinner, and dancing following the ceremony.

Tip: Don’t forget RSVP cards. You need to know how many guests will show, whether you’re just having a reception or having a ceremony, too. Hey, you may even be able to invite everyone to the ceremony if you receive an influx of regrets.

Whatever your reason for sending wedding reception invitations, now you know how to go about it properly so that you can party with all of your favorite people without drama. Now, that’s something to celebrate.

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