Wedding Reception Invitation FAQs

Wedding Reception Invitation FAQs

Nowadays, it’s common for couples to invite more guests to their wedding reception than to the actual ceremony itself.
With limited space or a tight budget, it might not be realistic for you to invite everyone to all parts of the day. However, you still want to celebrate your special day with as many people as possible come the evening.
It’s understandable that you may have some concerns about how to word your wedding reception invitations. You might worry that your evening guests will feel upset that they haven’t been invited to the ceremony. Or, worse still, that they might turn up at the ceremony because they’ve misunderstood the invitation.
In this article, we’ll answer your most frequently asked questions about the etiquette around sending wedding reception invitations.

Can You Invite Someone to Your Wedding Reception Only?

A traditional wedding day is split into three main parts, the ceremony, the wedding breakfast and the evening reception.
The wedding breakfast is a catered meal, held just after the ceremony. Afterwards, there’s a break of around 1 hour before the evening reception begins. This is normally a more casual party, with dancing, a band and/or DJ, and a buffet.
Guests that are invited to attend all three parts of the day are called ‘day guests’. Those that are only invited to the evening reception are ‘evening guests’.

There are many reasons why you might want to invite some guests to the evening reception only.

For example:

• You’re working with a small budget and can only afford a limited number of guests at the wedding breakfast.
• You’re a private person and you’d prefer that only close friends and family members witness the ceremony. But you’d still like to celebrate with extended family and friends in the evening.
• The ceremony venue is small and can’t seat many people, but there will be more space at your evening reception.
It’s completely up to you who to invite to the reception and who to invite as a day guest. Your guests won’t be offended or upset, they’ll just be happy that they get to celebrate with you!
However, if you’ve invited someone to your hen/stag party or bridal shower, it’s good etiquette to invite them to the whole wedding day. Anyone who’s invited to the ceremony should always be invited to the breakfast and reception too.

Wedding Reception Invitation Design Ideas

A wedding reception invitation can look any way you want it to look. Most people choose to have their evening invitations match their day ones, or at least correspond with the wedding colour scheme. But really, it’s up to you.
Day guests normally use the colour scheme on the invitation to coordinate their outfit. For example, if your invitations are blue, guests may avoid wearing blue in fear that they’ll clash with your wedding party.
This isn’t as crucial with the evening reception, as you’ll have already had your professional photos taken. So, you can exercise a bit more freedom when designing the evening invitations.
Because the evening reception is usually an informal event, the invitation can be as casual as you’d like. You don’t need to spend a lot of money on luxury invitations adorned with gems or ribbons (though you can if you want to!). A simple but tasteful card will suffice, so long as it contains all the necessary information.
When you’re ordering your wedding day invitations, see if the supplier stocks evening invitations in the same style. This will save you the hassle of finding a different but matching design.

What to Include On a Wedding Reception Invitation

It’s important that your wedding reception invitations contain all the information that your evening guests will need. In short, they need to know where to go, at what time, and what to expect once they’re there.
You don’t want all of your evening guests frantically phoning you because you’ve forgotten something important. So, make sure your wedding reception invites include:
• Add the names of those who are invited. Make it clear if they can bring a guest (plus one).
• Address and post code of your reception venue.
• Time that the evening reception will start and an approximate end time. If you have no idea, “7:30 until late” (for example) is acceptable.
• Dress code, for example, ‘formal attire requested’ or ‘black tie optional’
• A mention of refreshments, so your guests can decide whether to eat beforehand.
• An RSVP card, with a stamped and addressed envelope. Alternatively, provide an email address or a phone number for your guests to reply to.
• The date that your guests should RSVP by.
If the bar will be cash-only, mention this too, especially if there isn’t an ATM nearby.
You may also wonder should I include a gift list with evening-only invitations? This is up to you. If you’d feel awkward asking for gifts from evening guests, you don’t have to. But many evening guests will want to buy you a gift, so it may be helpful to include a list anyway.

How Do You Word a Wedding Invitation for Reception Only?

Many people wonder how to word a wedding reception invitation. It can be tricky to get the message across that you’re only inviting them to the evening, without sounding tactless.
Here is an example of wording that you could use on a formal invitation.
“Mr & Mrs Jones
request the pleasure of your company
at the Evening Reception
following the wedding of their daughter
Jane Louise
Michael William Smith
at The Manor Hotel
On Saturday 28th May, 2022
At 7:30pm”

For a more casual evening invitation, feel free to change things up a bit. For example:
“Jane & Michael
would love for you to join them
at the Evening Celebration of their marriage
on Saturday 28th May, 2022
at The Manor Hotel, Townshire
7:30pm ‘til late”

However you want to word it, make sure to use the term “evening reception” or “evening celebration”, so that it’s clear to your guests. Otherwise, they may think they’re invited to the ceremony, and will be wondering why it starts so late!

When Do You Send Wedding Reception Invitations?

If you’re inviting a guest to the evening reception, but not to the ceremony or wedding breakfast, a ‘save the date’ isn’t strictly necessary. This is because your evening guests won’t need to set aside a whole day for the festivities.
So, unlike with day guests, you won’t need to warn your evening guests as far as 12 months in advance. 8 to 12 weeks of notice is more than enough. This still gives your guests enough time to organise transport, plan their outfit, and arrange childcare if applicable.
We’d recommend that you send out your evening invitations at the same time as you send your day invitations. That way, you won’t forget about it, and you’ll give your guests plenty of time to reply.
You should send out your evening invitations a little earlier if any of your guests will have to travel a long distance. The same goes if your wedding day will be held on a weekday, or a busy time of year (e.g. Christmas).

1 comment

I was invited to a bridal shower & I thought I was going to be invited to the wedding, but only recieved an invitation for the reception. I was just curious as to protocol since from what I have been reading is that if you are invited to the shower, then the wedding as well, not just the reception only-which is at the same venue

Kris Brady January 10, 2024

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