Newsflash: Weddings are expensive. So who hasn't thought of throwing a super-casual after party — on your guests' own tabs, of course — to keep your costs down and your interactions high. But is it really OK to ask people to your after party but not your wedding?
"The etiquette rules for weddings are not as black and white as they used to be," says Betsy Krug, event director and co-owner of Rebecca Rose Events in North Carolina. "Celebrations truly come in all shapes and sizes, with quite different price tags." One way to cut wedding costs, she says, is to scale back your nuptials and trim your guest list.
But "couples who have an intimate wedding celebration often still want the chance to celebrate, even casually, with a broader group of family, friends, neighbors and co-workers," Krug says. And to the question of whether you can extend your guest count for a post-nuptials party there is, unfortunately, no easy answer.
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Before you send out separate invitations for an after party, ask, "will the guests invited only to the after party understand why they were skipped over for the wedding and reception?" Krug suggests. "Is there an easily discernible break in who is invited to the wedding, for example, just immediate family? Is the after party meant to be a more casual version of the reception, or truly a late-night affair?" Depending on your answers, you may find an after party-only guest list is not in good taste.
Krug suggests you also make clear your after party is uber-casual, and doesn't require your guests to bring gifts as they would have to your reception. "The level of formality of the after party should be conveyed appropriately in the invitation, so guests know what to expect," she says.
If you still can't decide, Krug says, "you should ask yourselves, 'how would we feel if we were invited to something like this?'"