Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dear ESB: Can I have a 2-TIER wedding?

Mother said I should ask Dear Abby  but you seem so much cooler...

Issue: Due to the budget (my mom and dad are paying) we have a small guest list... about 80 or so immediate family and family friends. Because Fi and I both LOVE our friends so much and to us they seem more like family I had a GRAND idea of doing what some have referred to as a 2 Tier wedding *GASP*.  80 guest invited to ceremony and dinner.... 80 plus invited to PARTY with us all on the same day. Wedding will start at 7pm with dinner immediately following. Party will start at 9:30pm.

How should I do the wording for the "partay" invites.... and would you be offended if you were only invited to party and celebrate rather than pray, eat, party oh and should I tell the party people they will be missing out on the wedding ceremony and if so HOW do I do that????


Are your friends local?

I wouldn't be offended to receive a 2nd Tier invitation, but I definitely wouldn't fly across the country just to attend a party.

Joy, of Crash-My-Wedding fame, has some more specific advice:

before you get too worried about wording i would check in with your caterer.. we were fortunate enough to work with an amazing group of guys who LOVED the idea and didn't charge us for the additional head-count* 

my 'wording' advice is to be up front about it.. your friends/coworkers/neighbors are going to understand that you have to draw the line somewhere and will be excited that you found a way to include them.. we threw together a flier style invite and emailed it to our crashers with a quick note of: 'Because we're having such a small wedding we had to get creative to come up with a way for all of you to make it!' Pretty much everyone we invited to crash made it (granted, they were all local) and they all thought it was the coolest idea.. there was no grumbling, no weirdness, no hard feelings..

when it comes down to it people go to weddings to celebrate your marriage, not watch you make out and sign your life away.. your family is going to get the intimate feel of a smallish wedding and your friends are going to get wasted on leftover alcohol..
win win.

on a side note.. one of the best things about having crashers is being able to invite people right up to the wedding and not worry about it f'ing with your guest list..

*it didn't hurt that we were providing the alcohol..


  1. This is pretty common in the UK. Invites for people to the ceremony and dinner just say the usual "invited to the wedding celebration, dinner and reception to follow" reception only invites say "invited to the wedding reception of so-and-so at 9pm etc.." no excuses or funny wording. Call a spade a spade and keep it simple.

  2. Yes, definitely common in the UK. The only time it doesn't go down well is if only a few people are invited to the evening part.

    In terms of timings though, a 7pm wedding, followed by a meal, with more guests arriving at 9.30pm sounds quite a short time frame. The last thing you want is the evening guests arriving when the meal is still in full flow. I've been there. It feels embarrassing.

  3. Yeah, would definitely not fly anywhere just for the after party, but should be fine for your locals.

    I'm with Peacock Feathers on the timing - make sure you'll be totally done, tables cleared, before your party guests arrive.

    Don't get into crazy detail about the two tier deal on the invitation, but when people ask about it (will probably ask why it's so late) you can explain the situation to them personally.

  4. I am never offended if I am invited somewhere with free booze.

  5. Yes! We had a day wedding on Labor day and my parents invited neighbors and their friends (who we were not personally close enough to us invite to our 70 person wedding and former co-workers) to a BBQ after party. It was a great way to continue the day. A lot of our guest had to leave (one of the major pitfalls of a monday wedding.) I think in the end we had more people at the BBQ than the wedding. I will say it worked for us since everyone we inited were local and it was a wedding/Labor day BBQ.

  6. This is exactly what we did. A small ceremony and lunch for family then a large party immediately after downstairs at the same venue. We got to pretty much invite anyone for the second event so no awkward guest list. In terms of wording, we actually used the invitation to announce our engagement/marriage and asked people to come help us celebrate. We also requested no gifts and made it known verbally that people were welcome to attend the ceremony (in a nearby park) if they wanted (some did). I think it helped that we were married in an area with loads of great restaurants so our ceremony crashers went off and had lovely lunches together. Of course we did not expect any interstate guests but some people made the effort as it was also a chance to catch up with other friends. To make it more wedding like, we had a few speeches at the party and cut a cake (made of cheese) to serve as part of the finger food. It was a really great compromise and we got to spends loads of time with family and friends over the rather long day.

  7. i was a reception-only guest to a wedding recently. the bride was honest, and the party was great. i didn't even get a written invitation ... in fact, i rather liked the informal verbal invite.

  8. We did this, but then we are in the UK. Wedding at 2:30, dinner at 6:30 party at 8:30 with an awesome band. We had 100 for the wedding and dinner and then invited about another 60 or 70 to the evening party including all out co-workers and pub friends. The party was amazing and everyone got cake, beer and dancing. It was brilliant and people still talk about it over a year later. DO IT! (and if anyone complains then say it is a European style wedding!)

  9. This pretty much standard in the UK for weddings, in fact quite often people only invited to the evening do/party will go to the church or registry office to see the bride and groom come out and throw confetti and general love in their direction.
    Its nice to hold off cutting the cake until the evening party so those guests get to share in something special.
    I do agree that you are leaving it far to tight with the time you need. Most wedding in the UK are about 2ish, the reception starts about 4 and the evening party starts about 7-8pm.
    Go for it!!

  10. we did something similar- everyone was invited to the ceremony and a following cake-and-punch-reception.

    then, we took just family out to dinner after. the key, like a few others said, is honesty + not having a ton of travelers. almost everyone was from the area, and those one or two that weren't, we included in the dinner.

    i would be MUCH more inclined to come to yours- since it involves booze.

  11. the tone you set for your wedding is the tone it will have. so pass the whole thing off as a modern, casual, and fun ne way of doing things, and your guests will feel comfortable with it because you are comfortable with it.

    it's like when you accidentally wear your crazy glasses (that you don't normally leave the house with) to work because you forgot to put in your contacts. just own it, and people will think you're cool and want some crazy glasses themselves. ;)

  12. @Anon 9:19 Who are you? You are adorable!

  13. me. i felt dorky with that comment...i look terrible in glasses and get a lot of "you're so ugly you're cute!" looks when i wear em. :P

  14. I was recently invited to the post-dinner portion of a reception and I was a bit offended, because my other friends had been invited to the entire event. Also, it was clear that it was a sit down meal and I couldn't understand how just showing up after dinner would look to the rest of the guests. If everyone else has a seat, where do you put your stuff? Do you just carry around your purse and jacket all night? I'd recommend being up front about it or maybe throwing a totally separate after party for friends.

  15. I agree with the last two posts, I think I would rather not be invited at all then just be invited to the after's like being left out on a private joke or something. I especially dislike the crashers idea of just show up for the last hour?!

  16. I can't help thinking that those who are concerned with their friendship rating need to remember....Its not about you!!! Its about the woman in the big white dress, the guy in the suit. Get over it, if its too much effort to put a bit of lipgloss on and have a good evening whilst wishing your friends a happy life then shame on you.

  17. I'm kinda having the same issue. We booked a venue that only holds 150 people, but since then our guest list has increased past that point. I'm thinking about using the 2-tier thing for our co-workers, and by just telling them that I couldn't afford everyone, but didn't want to hurt feelings, so I'm inviting everyone to the ceremony and then for the drinks and dancing. Let us know how it goes!

  18. We'll be inviting some people just for the evening - work friends etc. But as others have said evening invitations are quite normal in the UK. You'll see them in stationery sets like this:

    I suppose it's best to think about how you would feel if you were invited to the evening do of another person?

  19. I would love to do something like this... I like the idea of a morning wedding, light brunch, and then a party later in the evening for the dance-your-face off portion, because that doesn't generally happen at brunches.

    I have a lot of family that I would not take out to dinner and cover a $40 plate, which is what it ends up being if you have a typical Saturday night reception (if you're lucky!). But I feel like this is a good reason to party. Ugh. Torn.

  20. I want to be friends with Anon 9:19 and wear crazy glasses together. That is all.

    Happy holidays, ESB:) xo