We had a small wedding and feelings were hurt. Should we host a post-wedding party?

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We had a tiny wedding and feelings were hurt. Should we host a post-wedding party?
Carrie Fisher Quote "Unfortunately That Hurts All Three Of My Feelings" Cross Stitch from SavedByTheSpell

We got married this Saturday. It was a very small reception with mainly family. We were unable to invite all of our friends due to venue capacity being only 70 people, and also due to our budget.

Here we are on Monday back at work, and so many people are upset both at me and my now-husband. They are hurt that we didn't invite them.  My questions are:

  • Is it appropriate to have a small gathering at our house for all of our friends?
  • How soon should we host, or no later than how many months?
  • Do we wear our wedding attire?
  • How do we word the invites?

– A.

Yep, this sounds about par for the course when it comes to small weddings and elopements. A lot of the drama can be minimized prior to the wedding with rules for keeping your guest list small, and how to approach not inviting some family. But since we're past that, it's time to triage the damage.

First, it's totally acceptable to host a post-wedding party at your house for the extended guest list you weren't able to invite… It's also equally acceptable not to do that! Weddings are expensive, challenging, and guest lists are up to your discretion. But if you want to host something, you may be able to assuage your guilt and mend some fences, if that's important to you.

Post-wedding party timing

In terms of timing, I'd suggest that you aim to have the gathering less than six months after the wedding (or if not, at least let those disappointed friends and family know that it's in the planning stages). That alone should get everyone breathing a sigh of relief that they'll eventually get to celebrate with you.

You absolutely do not need to wear your wedding outfits again unless you want to. If the party is casual, rock your coolest casual wear. If you're going for a more formal vibe, feel free to dress up. That's your call.

Post-wedding invitation wording

This is where wedding announcement wording is pretty applicable. Here's one option you can customize to your situation:

With great joy we announce that we were married on
Saturday, June 4th, 2015
in [your venue location]

Our painfully small [guest list/budget/venue/whatever] meant there were many loved ones we were not able to invite. We deeply missed having you there, but you were in our hearts.

We are having a larger gathering to celebrate with all the people we love. Please join us at [venue, time, date] to share in our joy.

Please: absolutely no gifts!

Love,
Your Names

Note that last line there: there are some people who are extremely sensitive to any wedding-related event being seen as a "gift grab." We think the whole concept of a gift-grab is silly — why would anyone spend money to throw a party to try to get stuff you might like, when you could just spend your money to buy stuff you know you'll like!? But still, you want to ensure that you're very clear that any post-wedding reception-type gatherings are YOUR gift that you're giving your community — NOT an attempt to receive gifts.

If, for any reason, you don't want to throw another party (which is totally legit!), feel free to opt out and maybe plan a few small outings, dinners, or smaller get-togethers with little groups of folks. There are definitely no hard and fast rules here.

More small wedding and invitation wording advice:

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  1. For my sister's v. small second wedding, we had an outdoor garden party in summer, because they got married out west. It really kept the costs down to have it in the back yard of our parents' house (which was BIG), and the evening hours (6pm to dusk) meant people could wander in, visit and then go home.

    It's the Midwest, and there's always this expectation on the guests' side (especially older guests) that you have to bring SOMETHING. So they asked for either donations to the potluck (which the older ladies loved) or donations to either the kids' camp where he did volunteer work or the local animal shelter. The guests liked that, too. The camp has a scholarship program and it got a nice chunk that year!

    2 agree
  2. My only advice would be to throw the post-nup party only if a) the grief you've been getting is minor, and b) you would enjoy doing such a thing (and if you would, more power to ya!).

    Do not – repeat – DO NOT do it if you are being bullied or guilt-bombed into bandaging hurt feelings with your wedding outfit. That starts a very bad precedent of being treated like a doormat.

    In this day and age, giving a newlywed real grief about not having been invited to the wedding (especially AFTER the fact) says more about them than it does about the newlywed. How ungracious!

    You're a grownup, married person now. Time to not let yourself be pushed around.

    Be strong, my friend!

    5 agree
  3. Honestly this question just rubbed me entirely the wrong way! If you could have afforded a larger venue with a larger guest list you totally would have (I assume anyway). Therefore you throwing another party just seems like another expense that you didn't intend for. I'd keep cool, apologize that they're so upset, but *surely* they understand budget constraints and leave it at that. If you WANT to throw another party and it's within your means, go for it, but under no circumstances should you feel pressured to spend more money to satisfy these people. They're being rude.

    6 agree
  4. We invited basically no one to our wedding – it was an elopement in all but a few details. So, to soothe the savage grandparents, we let my parents and my wife's grandparents each throw us a small bash (we're from two different states.) One was basically a family dinner with a "here's the newest family member that literally no one has met yet" and the other was a barbecue and ice cream party at a local park. At neither did we wear our wedding clothes, and we made it clear that presents were VERY not-required, and that it was definitely just a "here, meet this person who just got married to the person you know" not "Wedding 2.0" Good luck!

    1 agrees
  5. FIRST, A WTF?:
    I have a hard time wrapping my head around people making your celebration about THEM. Like, if even my closest friends didn't get invited to my tiny wedding they'd still be SO happy for us. Hell, they'd probably throw US a party just so they could celebrate with us.

    PARTY:
    To that end, if money is tight but you still ACTUALLY want to have a party for these, frankly, pretty rude, self-centered bunch of turkeys, maybe consider a BYOBfast brunch, a dessert potluck or some other such picnic type get together.

    ON GIFTS:
    IMHO, if they want me to throw THEM a party to celebrate MY having gotten married, those suckers better bring gifts. And none of that toaster nonsense… I expect something sweet, clever and thoughtful if we're such good friends that they're deeply hurt for not being invited to the wedding.

    ON WHAT TO WEAR:
    How much did you love your original outfit? If I'd had a rad dress I loved, I'd totally throw that on over my fav pair of Chucks and run around the park stuffing my face with pie.

    4 agree
  6. I limited my guest list to 16 people, and I don't regret it. Part of the decision was made because of social anxiety, so throwing a bigger party later wasn't really going to work for me. If budget is a factor in your decision to have a smaller wedding, it may defeat the purpose of saving money to throw another party later. I'd say a conversation about your decision process with those who are offended would be a good idea, but you shouldn't feel like you have to accomodate them.

    1 agrees
  7. It says you're back at work and feelings are hurt – does this mean it's your colleagues who are upset? It depends how close the complainers are to you, but work colleagues might just be annoyed they missed out on free booze; or perhaps at your work it's expected to invite all your colleagues to your wedding so they can't understand why you didn't!

    An explanation of budget and venue constraints might solve it – hard as it is to believe they may not even have considered those factors! Their thought process could be "Everyone always throws big wedding receptions and invites everyone, so why not this time?" and that's why they're acting hurt. If they know it's not personal they might shut up and apologise.

    As others have said, if you couldn't afford to invite them to begin with don't feel pressured into more expense! Only do so if you want to (and who doesn't want an extra excuse to celebrate?!).

  8. We have a set of friends who got married last summer on a beach with just their immediate families present. This summer, on the Saturday closest to their first anniversary, they're hosting a wedding celebration at their farm. The invitation wording was very casual. Something like "We tied the knot on (date) and now want to celebrate with all of you! Join us at our home for our first anniversary bash!" My husband and I totally weren't expecting that and think it's pretty cool. We would never have given them grief for having a small wedding though. They're both pretty shy people so it made perfect sense to us that they wouldn't want to get up in front of 100+ people to exchange vows!
    I say do it if you want, but if you don't want to (I personally hate throwing parties, our wedding was the big exception) than don't. Don't let people make you feel guilty about the way you chose to have your wedding.

    1 agrees
  9. The one and only time I have been upset to not receive an invite to someone's wedding was when someone I considered one of my best friends got married. His fiancee was posting about the wedding plans on Facebook for all to see, but another friend of ours and I found out third-hand that it was going to be a very small wedding with only the bridal party and family invited.

    I think my feelings would have been significantly less hurt if my friend had a.) pro-actively told anybody about the wedding being small, instead of letting people find out when they were wondering to someone else if invitations had gone out, and b.) his fiancee hadn't been talking about the wedding plans constantly.

    I definitely did not make it A Thing or give them shit about it, though! If they had done a post-wedding celebration I probably would have gladly attended.

    1 agrees
  10. I'm stymied that anyone would give anyone grief about taking cost saving measures for wedding planning.
    The only person giving me grief about my plans is my grandmother, and I don't really need her approval because I'm not asking her for money.

    If their money isn't involved, why do they want you to spend more of yours?

  11. "Is it appropriate to have a small gathering at our house for all of our friends?"
    I think this is a brillant idea!
    –I would plan this ahead of time ( so nobody can complain it was an after thought ).
    –I would stress the venue couldn't hold everybody, even if it's not true. ( What? You never told a friend her disastrous haircut was nice? )
    –I would repeatedly and forcefully declare "NO GIFTS".

    1 agrees

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