Daytime V’s Evening Wedding Guests

Hello gorgeous.

I was involved in an interesting debate recently about the etiquette surrounding splitting your wedding guest list in half, by creating day and evening invitations. Some loved the concept and others loathed it.

Is it ok and perfectly acceptable to invite certain guests just to the evening celebrations of your wedding? Will guests see it as an insult? Like they’ve been demoted?

An insult? No way! Sometimes it’s just not financially possible to feed everyone during the day! If people see it as an insult they weren’t very good friends in the first place, Brooke, Newlywed

I think evening invitations are a bit harsh,but totally understand the need for them (regarding money and wanting to have people there)… I often wait on tenterhooks as I think it kind of defines your relationship with the couple.. and i guess we’re always hoping we’re the friend/family member that is near the top of the list. Jemma, Team Married.

It’s fascinating isn’t it the psychology and feelings associated with wedding guest lists and the assumptions and meanings we place behind receiving a day v’s evening invitation.

When we were conjuring up our guest list – Mr Nu Bride HATED the concept of evening guests. He felt it was disrespectful. Associating day invites for VIPs and evening invites for people who weren’t important. Alright, alright Mr Nu Bride, calm down. Disrespectful….That’s a bit harsh isn’t it?

Etsy | Wedding Invitation | Nu BrideImage via Etsy by Wishmade Cards

I tried to talk him round, but he wasn’t budging at all, he was adamant that his guests should and would be limited to day guests only. As for me, I ignored him (of course lol) and saw nothing wrong with opening up invites to include evening guests. I saw it as an opportunity to invite even more gorgeous people to share in our day that wouldn’t have been financially possible as day guests.

Inviting evening guests is okay IF the couple pays for an open bar. To make guests come after AND make them pay for their own drinks is a big no-no! Elisabetta, Wedding Planner | Linen and Silk

I was just having this conversation with someone last night, not specifically about wedding evening invites, but about weddings and the choices of the bride and groom. Anyone who doesn’t respect the bride and groom’s choices, doesn’t care about them in the right way. It’s not about me, it’s about their special day. Celia, In a relationship

I am also beginning to hear more and more about couples inviting guests to the ceremony, then asking them to retreat and then come back again for the evening reception, cutting out the big meaty money chunk in the middle….food. I wouldn’t personally recommend this option unless the guests you are asking to travel back and forth live right on your venue doorstep – otherwise it could be a logistical nightmare for them.

Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding Photography_Chinese_Vietnamese_Stephen_Souwah_033Bandele Zuberi

As a guest – I have no issue with being invited as an evening guest, because I understand weddings cost money and there is also a level of intimacy that the ceremony and daytime celebrations bring. So, if you do not have a super close relationship, it’s completely understandable that you might not be invited to or want share the whole day.

But ultimately your invitation choices should be nobody else’s business but yours right? While you should certainly be considerate, couples shouldn’t be made to feel like they have to justify their invitation choices.

I think, if we all start to accept that there absolutely is a hierarchy system with day / evening invites the less of an issue this is. For example, we have friends, we have best friends, we have family, we have close family. We have acquaintances, we have work colleagues. We share more personal information with some, more than others. So why wouldn’t this be reflected in who we invite to our weddings?

Personally I loathe the concept. It’s like turning up to a party late and we all know how awkward that is! However, it all depends on the plan of the day. The last thing you want to do is have evening guests arriving into the same room where the other guests have just had a meal. My first thought would be “Where do I sit”, all the seats would be taken by the other guests. Ricky, Ultimate Wedding Magazine

For many couples, splitting their guest list in half makes a huge and positive impact to the guests they can invite to share their wedding day with them, often meaning they can have a larger overall guest list and can focus on quality during the day instead of quantity. But for some, like Mr Nu Bride, the concept of evening invites are a complete and utter insult. Here’s the best of both worlds….

The Pro’s

Save Money

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Yup. Suffice to say, if you haven’t already discovered along your wedding planning way – the BIGGEST expense is the price per head for food and drink.

So quite simply, the more guests you invite – particularly during the day, the more your wedding will cost. It seems completely illogical to put yourself into marital debt, because you are worried about upsetting someone if you invite them to the evening and feel obligated to have them as a day guest. If you can’t afford a large guest list, you have to find ways to cut down costs and this a useful way of doing so.

Avoid Guest List Disputes

Etsy Feel The MagicImage via Etsy by Feel The Magic

Splitting your invite into daytime and evening guests can save money and it can also dilute some guest list politics. (Yes you know they type lol) These little critters almost always arise when your beloved or family want to invite long-lost friends, ex-partners (yes, really), or relatives that you have never even met and probably don’t really want to be spending some of your wedding budget on, effectively, a stranger. Evening invites can be a GREAT compromise!

On the flip side – just having a day guests means everyone gets comfortable is settled for the entire day and you don’t need to worry about interrupting the flow of your day and there is no offence caused or any ill-feeling around ‘VIP’ syndrome!


Splitting your day in half means you can focus on quality and not quantity and enjoy an intimate wedding ceremony.

This option might be appealing especially if you are worried about being in front of lots of people, or if those giving speeches are nervous about large crowds. It also means you will be able to spend a good amount of time talking to and spending quality time with your day guests.

Celebrate With More People

JK PhotographyJK Photography

By opting to have smaller selection of day guests, will mean you can afford to have a more generous overall guest list by inviting more of your favourite celebrate with you in the evening

The Con’s

Guest Ego Wounded

Henry & Shaz 534 JK Photography

Some guests may be disappointed when they realise they are not invited to your whole day. Most of your friends and family will understand, most won’t even mind and will just be happy to celebrate with you….but there will always be some who might. Some who will take be disappointed or may even offence. Just make sure it’s not your mum or best friend invited to the evening, that will cause a riot. lol!

To ease the blow ….we informed some guests in advances. For example I invited some cousins to the evening only – I sent a private message / phone call before invites out, just letting them know how much I wanted to celebrate with them and boogie on the dance floor in the evening and that we had opted for an intimate ceremony and that their parents would be ‘representing them all’ for the day. They didn’t mind at all.

Timing: Interrupt Your Flow

Guests who have been with you all day will have already settled well into the wedding atmosphere.

You will need to consider at which point you want your evening guests to arrive so that the ‘flow’ is not interrupted and that they do not arrive too early! (Do you really want your evening guests to arrive when you’re in the middle of a mouthful of pudding, in the middle of a speech and having to ask them to step outside? Awkward!)

Bandele Zuberi Photography_Wedding_London_Luton_Hoo_Hotel_Freccia_Travis_Nigerian_Guyana_Caribbean_Bentley_025Bandele Zuberi

Top Tippies:

1. Make sure your wedding invitations clearly state it is an evening invite and the arrival time for evening guests

2. Make sure your evening guests are greeted by your wedding party or host and are made to feel as welcome as your day guests.

3. Where possible make sure you have a separate room or bar area where they can be greeted with a drink when they arrive, so they don’t walk into the middle of a wedding breakfast that is running over!

4. Think about what time you want them to join you. A good and natural time to have them, is after the wedding breakfast, especially if you are changing or turning around rooms, this is a natural break in the ‘flow’ of your day and means they can be included in some of the formalities like the cutting of the cake and first dance for example.

5. Consider booking some entertainment around their arrival time to welcome them and ease everyone in together. These are some great ideas; surprise singers, Le Gateau Chocolat, or a Magician.

6. Consider having images or brief video footage from the ceremony on display on tablets or via a projector, so you’re evening guests get a feel for what they missed during the day and you all get to reminisce too!

What do you think ladies and gents? Will you be splitting your invites in half and having daytime and evening guests? Do you loathe them or love them?

Evening invitation image in header by: Wedding Invitation Boutique

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23 Responses to “Daytime V’s Evening Wedding Guests”

  1. Nells
    August 11, 2014 at 1:39 pm #

    Good post! Hits close to home as I have a friend who has fallen out with bride (also a friend) and not attend the wedding because her other half was invited to the evening reception while she was invited for the whole day.

    Sad situation as neither have spoken to each other and I’m in the middle.

    • Nu Bride
      August 11, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

      Thank you for sharing your experience Nells. It really is upsetting to read when the psychology of wedding invitations starts to impact life-long relationships. Must be so hard being in the middle. Such a shame they are no longer speaking. I hope it resolves itself. Weddings do seem to bring out the best in some relationships and the worst in others. Thanks for commenting Nells. Fingers crossed for a happy ending.

  2. Kat Forsyth
    August 11, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    The concept of Evening Guests was a completely new one to me when I emigrated here from South Africa two years ago. We don’t do that over there. And so I can’t help but be on the side of it feeling a bit awkward and mean to invite people to the evening party. It feels like you’re saying, “You aren’t important enough to see us actually get married, OR to feed, or hear the speeches.” I completely understand that it can be a matter of money, that you just can’t afford to feed that many people, or hire a venue big enough to seat them. But it can also feel like you’re only inviting them so that they’re obliged to get you a gift. But remember my feelings are biased because I didn’t grow up with this being the norm! If I had, I might feel differently.

    • Nu Bride
      August 11, 2014 at 9:45 pm #

      Hi Kat,

      I am definitely learning that wedding evening invites are influenced a lot by culture. Perfectly acceptable in most western UK wedding, but causes outrage and insult to some cultures. Nigerian cultures for example sound very similar to what you describe might happen in SA if a couple were to send an evening invite. I don’t think it’s down to people being mean at all. It is down to culture, personal and sometimes financial choice. Interesting spin on the ‘gift’ angle. Wow, never thought of it like that at all. Now that would definitely be cruel and slightly manipulative. lol!
      Thanks so much for commenting. It is so fascinating to read other people’s beliefs and experiences on this matter.

  3. Heveneiress London
    August 11, 2014 at 8:47 pm #

    I agree with the comments made so far. To me, there’s also an element of culture. Day vs Evening invitations are inconceivable in certain cultures where it would be a sacriledge NOT to invite guests to attend the entire day. I’ve heard people say on this issue: well if the couple cite financial issues as a problem then maybe best to cut down the actual guest list and not invite some people at all, or wait until they can afford it! Not sure that last part is fair, but all in all its the couple’s choice.

    • Nu Bride
      August 11, 2014 at 9:50 pm #

      Hi Heveneiress. Great comment. Thank you!
      I think if people are able to remain neutral around the idea it would be far healthier for all of us. As it is so evident our personal upbringing and cultural beliefs add a lot of weight and different ‘meanings’ to what it ‘might’ mean to receive an evening invite. Neither is right or wrong, but useful to consider what angle makes us feel better about the situation and like you say, ultimately respects the couples choice. At the end of the day it is about their marriage to one another.
      Thank you so much for sharing.
      Nova x

  4. Sonia | Want That Wedding
    August 11, 2014 at 10:22 pm #

    How strange that this isn’t something I even gave a second thought to. I guess I’ve just grown up with it being a tradition. I invited quite a few work colleagues to my evening reception, if anything it would have felt too intimate to invite them to the ceremony, yet it was important for me to celebrate with them as I had worked with many of them for years…

    • Nu Bride
      August 12, 2014 at 5:58 am #

      Not an usual if it’s in your upbringing and culture Sonia and quite right. I’m sure your wedding celebrations wouldn’t have been the same without them. But as you can see from some of the comments it’s such an emotive subject for some! Thanks Sonia x

  5. Karen -
    August 11, 2014 at 11:12 pm #

    I heartily agree with Mr Nu Bride as I can’t bear the idea of evening-only invites. Personally I think that if someone’s not important enough to you to be included in your ceremony (which ultimately is what your wedding is all about) why do you need to bump up the numbers in the evening? For me, evening rent-a-crowds don’t work and I have seen ugly scenes tear out at friends’ wedding when ‘evening’ peeps suddenly realise they are only evening peeps…

    Not my cup of tea…

    • Nu Bride
      August 12, 2014 at 6:05 am #

      Hi Karen…. The ‘ugly scenes’ you describe would lead me to refer back to Celia’s quote in the post about respect and the type of friendships you acquire & poor pre-communication. For some couples the onus is about the celebration with friends and family rather than just the ceremony itself and that should be respected too. Neither is right or wrong. Each to their own. Ps. So I take if I sent you an evening invite you wouldn’t attend then Karen? Lol! Thanks for sharing! Such an interesting debate x

  6. Karen -
    August 12, 2014 at 7:43 am #

    Hi Nova. Well the interesting thing is if I was invited as an evening only guest I wouldn’t mind at all. I would totally respect the choice of the couple to do what feels right to them (that’s what I constantly promote on the blog after all!) and I wouldn’t see it as a reflection of my relationship with that person either of course.

    I want everyone to do exactly what feels right for them at their wedding at it’s none of my business to start projecting what I would do at my wedding onto what they choose to do at theirs.

    I would gladly attend an evening only invite (only if I had a genuine affinity with your couple, mind) but it’s something that doesn’t appeal to the way that I would go about things at my wedding!

    • Nu Bride
      August 12, 2014 at 7:56 am #

      Touché. Karen Touché ! 🙂 I think your points highlight how important it is for all of us to be careful not to force or influence our beliefs and judgements about weddings onto couples and their choices. The connotation behind guest list choices for one person will be completely different to another. Helpful reminder for all of us I think. Especially guests too! Xx Thanks Karen x

    • Natasha Johnson
      August 12, 2014 at 8:24 am #

      I totally agree that being invited to the evening reception would not bother me in the slightest. BUT being from a West Indian background, where people buy their outfits from the minute you announce you are engaged, you can easily see how some people believe they have a right to attend the big day more than the couple do themselves. It’s a tricky one, but Nova gives so good tips on how to do it smoothly. xx

      • Nu Bride
        August 28, 2014 at 9:19 am #

        Tell me about it Natasha, we had some relativise abroad looking for flights just weeks after our engagement, don’t think we had found a venue at that point. Lol! Thank you for sharing Natasha.

  7. Natasha Johnson
    August 12, 2014 at 7:51 am #

    I think that is a bit harsh to split a couple up over the course of the day. You either invite them both during the day or both in the evening. I would like to think people understand that in this day and age when many couples are paying for their own weddings, sometimes they have to reflect this. Personally, I kept my wedding to a minimum so I didn’t have to make decisions like this!!

  8. Krishanthi Williams
    August 12, 2014 at 10:28 am #

    Great post Nova, this is always an interesting debate and – like many wedding planning aspects – comes down to personal preference. For our wedding, we felt much like your husband (not so strongly disrepectful, but more that it would be nice to have everyone there for the full event if we could). But that impacted all of our planning e.g. finding a ceremony room that fit everyone, a caterer we could afford etc. There’s no right answer – some couples fall in love with a venue and are then bound to their rules around numbers and costs! As you say, it is always nice to be invited to any part of a celebration; whether you choose to attend or not is up to you!

    • Nu Bride
      August 28, 2014 at 9:17 am #

      How lovely. You’re absolutely right Krishanthi. I think for us we knew we wanted something intimate, but it did end up being even more intimate because we loved the venue we chose and the cost massively dictated numbers. On that note, I’d LOVE to see your wedding pictures!

  9. Ika
    August 12, 2014 at 12:13 pm #

    Interesting post Nova, being South African myself I know exactly what Kat is talking about.We just don’t do evening guests, besides it would be hard as everyone close to the couple will be expecting to receive an invite for the day. However weddings are expensive and if couples can save a bit of money then why not. After all it is their day and I think guests should accept and respect the couples choice.

    • Nu Bride
      August 28, 2014 at 9:15 am #

      Hi Ika, thanks so much for your reply. It’s so insightful hearing how different cultures weave into this little topic. I agree with you about respecting couples choices, it’s all in how the couple choose to communicate their choices which makes the difference to people being offended or understanding

  10. Dawn
    November 24, 2015 at 7:06 pm #

    This was a really interesting read and one that strikes a bit of a chord. I’m currently planning my wedding and until recently hadn’t thought that there was any problem with the day vs evening guest scenario. However after mentioning that we’d be having some evening guests to people at work they’ve really turned their noses up at it. Admittedly they are South African and from reading these comments it definitely sounds like a cultural difference. But it also makes me question if we should have made compromises in other areas so that everyone could be there all day (I’m pretty sure that we made the right decision but it’s in the back of my mind).
    The other big concern I have is about how the day will flow. I definitely don’t like the idea of our evening guests arriving and not being greeted or feeling excluded so I’ll be making a conscious effort to ensure that there’s a drink waiting for them and that the wedding breakfast and speeches don’t overrun! Timings are something that are starting to play on my mind!

    • Nu Bride
      November 24, 2015 at 9:29 pm #

      Hi Dawn thank you for commenting
      You are quite right, I think culture certainly does impact. For us, having evening guests is often expected, but at the end of the day it all comes down to personal preference and they type of wedding you want. There is no right or wrong! Don’t beat yourself up, whatever decision you make, accept it’s the right one for you at the time. We all have budgets to accommodate!
      Re: timings – let me know if I can help with a blog post!
      Best wishes

  11. Gail Perri
    February 25, 2016 at 4:48 pm #

    I was invited to the hen do of a work colleague and agreed to go because I thought that was a nice indicator of our friendship. As is customary, I and the other hens are paying for the bride’s share of the weekend.

    Only recently have I realised that I am going to be an evening guest at her wedding. If I had known that I was not important enough to attend her wedding or be fed, I wouldn’t have agreed to take annual leave for her hen do and spend £350 plus on it! Not to mention that her wedding is on a Friday in the countryside so I will have to take another day off and spend money on a hotel and train travel.

    I am getting married next year and it is not in my culture to invite day and evening guests. You invite everyone or no one. You treat your guests as important. If you don’t want to invite people to your wedding, then that is fine. I am not inviting anyone from work to my wedding as is my prerogative. But to invite people to bits and pieces, expect them to take annual leave and spend on a hotel AND a gift AND not provide a free bar, I think is very inconsiderate.

  12. Hanna
    June 7, 2017 at 12:40 am #

    I think evening guest invites are rude. Better to have a wedding you can afford then invite people when the wedding is two thirds over!