May 22

Ask Etta: Non-Wedding Events—Who to Invite and How to Invite Them

While we dish about the hottest trends and latest designs (aka the fun parts of wedding planning!) we also know how stressful prepping for the big day can be. So, we would like to formally introduce you to Etta, our new etiquette expert. She’s ready and happy to delve into your every etiquette dilemma.

Quite a few people have asked about who to invite to non-wedding events and how to invite them. So here’s what Etta had to say…

Who to Invite

When it comes to weddings with a large amount of out-of-town guests, it is completely normal to have pre and post-wedding activities to entertain them while they’re in town. It’s also fine to to invite only certain people to these activities, as long as you have defined guidelines for who those people are. For example, it is totally acceptable to invite only out-of-town guests to your events, and to leave the local people out. This is done regularly for weddings and most guests will completely understand that your goal is to entertain the people who do not live there and have to stay in hotels, pay for travel, etc.

If, however, you decide to invite some local people and some not, you may end up hurting feelings or causing resentment between guests unless you have clear guidelines for your decisions. Since your wedding is meant to be a celebration of a joyful time, make sure that your events either include everyone, just out of towners, just bridal party, just family,  or a combination, etc. You want to try to avoid inviting some local friends but not others, or some local family but not all. If you decide you want some local people, etiquette states there really is no choice but to invite them all. You may also want to mix events; for example, have one event that includes everyone and then have a collection of smaller events only for your out-of-town guests. This way, everyone will feel included in something!

How to Invite Them

It is customary to send a separate invitation for the non-wedding events. This allows you to invite the people you want included for that particular event. Keep in mind, this invitation does not need to be as formal as the wedding invitation nor do you need to include formal response cards. It is perfectly acceptable to have email, phone or online RSVP for events like the rehearsal dinner, post-wedding brunch, etc.

If you are having multiple events that the same people will be invited to, another idea is to create a little packet to inform guests of all the events. This informational invite can outline your pre-wedding events as well as post and also be sent separately from your wedding invite. Think of it as a little itinerary for the weekend.

Are Non-Wedding Events Mandatory?

It is perfectly fine not to have additional pre and post-wedding events. However, it is recommended to have a rehearsal to practice the details and logistics of the next day. But, a postrehearsal party isn’t obligatory although a nice opportunity for the couple’s families to come together. Another nice gesture for out-of-town guests is to provide a list of local restaurants and/or things to see and do in lieu of or in addition to a physical event.

Hope this helps clear up all the trickiness around the non-wedding events!

Have an etiquette question for Etta? Email us at and she’ll post an answer for you.


One thought on “Ask Etta: Non-Wedding Events—Who to Invite and How to Invite Them

  1. Meena Mathis

    I have another question for Etta, but can’t find a forum.

    Q: My fiance and I are having a destination wedding. When we decided on a date, we chose to throw and engagement party a year before the wedding. During the planning, we decided that we needed more time to get everything together and pushed the wedding out a year.

    It’s now been almost 1.5 years since our engagement party and some friends we invited have fallen away. No other pre-wedding events have yet been thrown. Should we invite the friends that we invited to the engagement party that have fallen away to other wedding events?


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *