The question of whether or not to invite your professional wedding officiant to your wedding reception is one that I know couples have but are shy to ask. It’s a good question, since the answer has probably changed over the years. So, I thought I’d write a blog post about it to help guide you as you’re planning your guest list.
In years gone by, when wedding ceremonies were predominately officiated by a clergy member of the church to which the wedding couple belonged, it was common curtesy to invite him or her to stay for the full wedding reception. Most likely that priest, minister, rabbi, imam, or other religious figure, was known to the couple, even if it was in a somewhat formal way. Because of this relationship, it was common practice to invite this person to celebrate with the couple.
FINAL ANSWER: In some traditions, inviting your religious figure is still the norm and you would be welcome to invite him or her to your entire wedding, including the reception.
“Ok, that makes sense, Maria, but what if we hire a professional officiant who we don’t know or don’t have a long-term relationship with?”
Modern Professional Officiants
In the case of the modern professional officiant, you have more leeway in whether or not you invite him or her to your wedding reception. If you form a nice, warm connection with this person and if you’ve worked closely with them over the course of many months to write your wedding ceremony, then you may want to include them in your guest count.
However, if you’ve hired a professional officiant, you aren’t obligated to invite them to stay. It’s always a lovely gesture, but we all know how important guest counts are and how limiting them is one of the best ways to stay within your budget. So, we totally get it if you’d rather keep your guest list to just friends and family. And, that’s completely ok. Your professional officiant won’t feel hurt that you didn’t invite them.
FINAL ANSWER: It’s becoming less common to invite your professional officiant to stay for the wedding reception, so don’t feel like you must include them.
Maria, should we invite you to our wedding reception?
Thank you for asking the question and for even considering inviting me!
Over the years, I’ve been formally invited to many of my couples’ wedding receptions. It’s such an honor to be included, and I’m always very touched by the invitation. In some cases, even my husband has been invited as a plus-one, which is so generous and thoughtful.
As much as I’m moved by the gesture to be included in the festivities, I always graciously decline.
It’s my job to ensure you have a deeply meaningful wedding ceremony and to start your wedding day in an engaging way where all your guests feel welcome. Once that job is done, I say my goodbyes and depart. I’m usually there for a little bit of the cocktail hour and then make my departure before you move onto the reception.
FINAL ANSWER: I’m always touched by the gesture but decline to stay for the reception.
Should we invite our officiant to the wedding rehearsal dinner?
I’d say, if you’re going to invite your officiant to your reception, then definitely invite them to the rehearsal dinner, but if you’re not including them in your guest count for the wedding day dinner, then you can leave them off the guest list for the rehearsal dinner. Make sense?
In the past it was much more common to invite your wedding officiant to your wedding reception, as they were typically religious figures you had a connection with. Nowadays, it’s less common as couples are working more and more with professional wedding officiants. Being invited to stay is a lovely gesture, but it’s not necessary.