Yeah Weddings
reception only invite wording

How to Write Reception Only Wedding Invitations

Brides and grooms have chosen to have intimate ceremonies and large wedding receptions in recent years for plenty of reasons. Figuring out reception only invite wording can be awkward, since you need to express that guests are not invited to your ceremony. 

Some couples plan on having a destination wedding with a group of their closest friends and family members while still wanting to host a large party after they return home. Others purposely seek out a smaller venue for the sake of easier planning and a way to meet their budget. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Fugere Urbem (@fugeree.urbem)

In the case of brides and grooms who have eloped, they’re already not interested in having a larger ceremony but may want to experience the celebratory excitement among their loved ones. 

No matter your reasoning behind having a small ceremony, reception only invitation wording still remains as a significant part of the planning process. 

If you’ve never helped out with organizing a wedding before, you might be feeling unsure about how to invite a certain number of people to your ceremony while leaving the rest to attend your reception only. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Ledgewood Fine Stationery (@ledgewoodfinestationery)

Know that you’re not alone and countless couples have asked the same questions about reception only invite wording. How should I design my reception only wedding invitations? Can I be formal or informal when writing a wedding reception invitation? 

We break down in this guide how to accomplish reception only invitation wording without hurting any feelings or causing confusion among your wedding party! 

Create Separate Guest Lists

wedding guest list

Creating separate guest lists ensures that you can keep track of which people are attending both parts of your special day and the others who are only invited to the reception.

Keep in mind that proper wedding etiquette says that a wedding reception invitation must be given out to everybody who attended your ceremony. Some of your ceremonial guests may skip out on the reception, but they’ll appreciate the request nonetheless.

Stand Your Ground 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Chique Weddings and Events (@chiqueweddingsandevents)

After finalizing your separate guest lists, be prepared to stand your ground against guests who have received reception only wedding invitations. They may ask you to make an exception by including them in the ceremonial proceedings as well. 

If you alter your guest list once or twice, you’re more than likely to keep going and not leave many other people who are only attending the reception.

Don’t be afraid to be honest if your guests ask why they received a wedding reception invitation instead of a ceremonial one. They’re less likely to feel offended if you explain your reasoning, especially if it’s out of your control. Be sure to remind these guests that you’re excited to have them during your reception.

Design Your Invitations 

wedding invite

Consider designing your wedding invitations with two cards.

The main card should contain reception only invite wording that is mailed out to everybody on both guest lists. An insert with ceremonial information should be included only for the people invited to both parts of your special day.

This design becomes especially helpful by limiting any potential confusion or hurt feelings among your guests. 

After deciding on the design of your wedding invitations, plan to send out your reception only wedding invitations as you would with the standard invitations. Plan to time your wedding invitations so your guests have enough time to pick out wedding attire and make travel accommodations if necessary. 

Schedule Your Events


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Bride Side Wedding Planner (@brideside.weddingplanner)

Your wording for reception only wedding invitations truly depends on how you’ve decided to schedule the events of your ceremony and reception. 

If you and your partner are planning on having both events on the same day, organize your wedding reception timeline so there’s enough time in the middle. You may have some guests who only received a wedding reception invitation arrive early and realize that they were not asked to attend your ceremony. 

For ceremonies and receptions that are happening on different dates, you don’t have to worry about this potential awkwardness at all. This option works for brides and grooms who don’t mind about spending more money and extra time during the planning process.

Decide on Reception-Only Wording


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by Graceful Lace Stationery (@gracefullacestationery)

Reception only invitation wording ultimately comes down to personal preference. You may want to write with formal language as a way to reflect the extravagance of your event. An informal writing style tends to make more sense if your celebration is more towards the casual side.

No matter which writing style you decide to use for your reception only wedding invitations, you need to include the right information so nobody misunderstands and misses your celebration. 

Any wedding reception invitation should feature the name of you and your partner along with the date and time of your event. Including the name of your chosen venue may seem like a no-brainer, but omitting the address will only cause unnecessary confusion among your guests.

Reception only wedding invitations can be written by saying how the event is being held as a celebration of the marriage. Your guests will assume that you and your partner have already been married by the time that they arrive at the venue even if you haven’t provided them with any specific information about when the ceremony took place.

Just Married! Please join Jean and Scott in celebrating the joyous occasion with some dinner and dancing!


We Did It! Celebrate with Sharon and Steve following their wedding ceremony!

If your ceremony and reception are planned on different days, take this opportunity and use reception only invite wording that clearly states when the ceremony has occurred. Your guests are less likely to be upset if you describe your ceremony as private or intimate. 

Richard and Kori invite you to join them for a celebration after their small marriage ceremony on June 14th!


Peter and Mary Jane will be married in a private ceremony on November 12 and request the pleasure of your company at their wedding reception!

This page may contain affiliate links. If you click through and make a purchase, we'll earn a small commission, at no additional cost to you.

Lauren Peterson

Add comment