Can I Attend the Wedding Ceremony, But Not the Reception? (or Vice Versa?!)

Ceremony & Vows, Etiquette

Attending a wedding is a big commitment. Even if you're not traveling for a few days to be with the happy couple, you're still devoting almost an entire day to their celebration (not including the time you'll spend getting gussied up to attend!). So if you have other things on your schedule, can you attend just the ceremony but not the reception — or vice versa? Here's what our experts have to say.

While the reception is definitely the fun part of any wedding, the ceremony is the moment that really matters — that is when the couple actually gets married, after all!

If your schedule prevents you from staying for the entire celebration, but you still want to be there to witness the "I dos," be sure to include that information in your RSVP so that the couple knows you'll be attending, but that they don't need to save you a seat at dinner. You don't need to give a detailed explanation of your plans, but a brief note stating that you'll be there for the ceremony but aren't able to party with them after will suffice. And of course, since you will be attending the ceremony, you should remember to send a wedding gift!

The no-no, however, is skipping the ceremony and going straight to the party. You've been invited to be a part of an important moment in this couple's lives, and it would be rude to only show up for the food, booze, and dancing.

If you really won't be able to attend the ceremony, due to your work schedule or another conflict, get in touch with the couple before sending in your RSVP. Let them know that you won't be able to make the ceremony, and ask (yes, ask!) if they would mind if you still joined them for the reception. Be prepared for them to say no!

And that rumor that you don't need to attend the ceremony if you have a history with one half of the couple (i.e. the groom is your ex)? Forget it! If you two are close enough for you to get a wedding invite in the first place, it's an invite to the whole shebang.

See more: What to Do When Guests RSVP, But Are a No-Show at the Wedding

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