Is it OK to Have a Small Wedding Ceremony But a Big Reception?

Big wedding reception ideas

Photo: Brian Finke

Before asking guests to join you only at your wedding reception, give your decision some extra thought. Our etiquette experts explain how to make your close friends feel part of your wedding day no matter what in our daily post.

We'd like to have a small ceremony but a big reception. Is that OK?

Your ceremony guest list can certainly be pared down to a few key players. However, before you make the decision to keep things intimate, ask yourselves this: "Will we look back and regret the fact that everyone we love didn't get to see us seal the deal?" If you don't think so, then go for the smaller ceremony. It's important to do what makes the two of you comfortable and happy.

However, it's inevitable that your decision will make some other people unhappy. Here's how to cushion the blow: Have your ceremony videotaped and set up a TV at the reception so guests can catch the highlights. Also, ask the DJ or band leader to announce all the "firsts" at your reception (your first toast, meal, dance and bite of cake as hubby and wife). By making a big to-do about these first moments, people will really feel like they are a part of your wedding day (without needing to see the first kiss). Bonus tip: Your invitations should make it clear that the recipient is invited to the reception only. (For example, "You are cordially invited to the reception celebrating the marriage of..."). Otherwise you'll have a room full of people scratching their heads and wondering what happened to the "I dos."

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