As you plan your wedding and costs add up, it’s likely that at some point you’ll ask yourself, “should we invite everyone to everything?” This is a guide to help you think through this. It’s a balance of cost, social standing, and logistics.
Destination Wedding: seems like common sense that everyone invited to a destination wedding would be invited to all of the events, except maybe for a family-only religious ceremony. The same applies for local destination weddings. If people come from afar to attend the wedding, they should be invited to everything.
Wedding Day Schedule: Most South Asians choose from one of two types of wedding days:
- time gap between lunch and cocktail hour or
- back-to-back, which means the ceremony goes straight into cocktail hour
In a back-to-back wedding schedule, everyone who was invited to the ceremony, should also be invited to the reception. It would be unsavory to ask them to leave, as the celebrations are continuous. It’s ok, not to invite everyone to the ceremony, but don’t invite guests only to the ceremony in a back-to-back wedding.
In a time gap day, it’s ok to restrict invitations to either the ceremony or reception. Venues charge less for lunch than dinner. On the other hand, the reception is the main event. We recommend talking this over with your families to consider various perspectives, as this can be sensitive and you don’t want to offend people.
In general, you can get away with saying that you’re restricting the ceremony to family and closest friends. It’s harder to make that claim for the reception and some people will be offended if they’re not invited to the reception.
As more and more couples are paying for their wedding themselves, correspondingly they’re emphasizing more of their guest list over their parents’ guests.
Out-of-town guests: should be invited to all events as they travelled from afar, specifically for your wedding.
Local people: use your discretion. You might want to limit the number of guests at the ceremony or reception. Often people don’t show up for the ceremony, even if they RSVPd ‘yes’. If you’re serving lunch after the ceremony, that can amount to a lot of wasted money because most venues charge you a per person fee for lunch.
Restricting Number of Guests
It makes sense to restrict the number of guests from a single family. Furthermore you can specify whom from a single family. For instance, if Uncle and Aunty are both invited, but Aunty is going to be out-of-town, you might give her seat to someone else instead of leaving the invitation open for them to bring along one of their kids. This can get hairy and political, so think through it and use common sense and discretion.
DON’T invite guests to the sangeet-only. It’s tacky on your part and insulting to the guest. Better to just not invite those people at all.