Dear Etiquetteer: We have a couple of wedding invitation etiquette questions that we're hoping you can help with.
First, we want to have a "cocktail welcome party" the evening before the wedding for all family, and for friends visiting from out of town. We are trying to figure out the best way to get this info to people. I think these are our options:
- Include this as part of the formal wedding invitation on a separate card, thereby just inviting everyone invited to the wedding.
- Include an additional card in some invitations that invites particular people to the cocktail party.
- Send out a separate invitation entirely to those invited.
The second is our favorite option but I'm not sure how much of a faux pas this would be to include a separate card in some invites and not others. Thoughts? Would it be better to just invite everyone? We're just concerned about the number of people.
Second, do you have any thoughts about wording on the formal invitation itself for the reception? We want to include on the actual invitation that there will be "dinner and dancing to follow at ---," but also want it to be clear that this is immediately following the ceremony. Any way to do this without just putting the info on a separate card entirely, or is that our best bet?
Dear Happy Couple:
First, allow Etiquetteer to congratulate you on your coming marriage and wish you a long and happy life together. Your concern for others augurs well for a Happy Married Life!
Etiquetteer understands that your welcome cocktail party* is separate from the rehearsal dinner, to which Etiquetteer assumes only the wedding party and a smaller subset of family are invited. Before considering who to invite, let's first restate your purpose in holding this party, which should direct us in compiling a guest list. You write you want to give a party before the wedding "for all family, and for friends visiting from out of town." Using that guideline, the only wedding guests not invited are local friends. To Etiquetteer this seems perfectly sensible, though you may want to look at that list of local friends, and see if there isn't anyone there with particularly close ties to an out-of-towner who'd be there. For instance, if one of you belongs to a college fraternity or sorority, Etiquetteer would recommend that all brothers and sisters invited to the wedding also be invited to the welcome cocktail party.
Including an additional card in your wedding invitation for this welcome cocktail party would be Perfectly Proper, as has been done for wedding receptions for many years. Once upon a time, an invitation to the wedding was more sought after than an invitation to the reception; how times have changed, alas!** But considering that this party is for out-of-town guests, many of whom will have to book airline flights well in advance, Etiquetteer would encourage you to consider sending a separate invitation. That way they can schedule their flights to arrive in time (if possible, given the state of the airlines). This separate invitation would not have to resemble the wedding invitation, and could even reflect the more casual nature of the party.
As to the reception invitation, you actually included the Perfectly Proper language in your question. Your invitation should read like this:
Mr. and Mrs. Fairleigh Freshness
request the honour of your presence
at the marriage of their daughter
Miss Dewy Freshness
to Mr. Manley Firmness
on [Insert Date Here]
at the Church of the Deity of Your Choice
35 Blissful Way,
Upper Crustington, Connecticut
and immediately following the ceremony at
the Taj-Ritz Seasons Hotel Club
222 Colonial Drive
Upper Crustington, Connecticut
In the bottom left corner, put "Dinner and Dancing" along with your dress code. You may not put "And don't keep us waiting" after that.
Etiquetteer does understand that you'd like the wedding invitation to include the reception information, but encourages you to consider the separate reception invitation card.
*Please use "welcome cocktail party" instead of "cocktail welcome party." Welcome as those cocktails may be, your purpose in giving the party is to welcome the guests, not the cocktails.
**Etiquetteer sometimes wishes it was Perfectly Proper to include on a reception invitation "It will be quite impossible to admit you to the reception if you did not attend the wedding ceremony first."