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Small (200-300 members) churches - do you open invite?


BlsdMama
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DH and I came from a moderate sized church - about 500+ members I'd guess.  While we knew most of them, weddings were not an open invite.

DD is getting married in her sweetie's church.  The young adults are discussing an open invite to the wedding.

I'm not exactly against it, because, inviting everyone would be lovely, but.... well, budget & just the planning.  They have approximately 300 regular attenders.  I would assume about a third would show up?  But how would I ever plan for that? 

 

We are DIYing the entire reception as a brunch.  We did just get done doing DS' Eagle Scout project breakfast and we did feed about 300 people and it wasn't nearly as hard as I thought it would be, but the stressful part was knowing how many might show up.  And this would be that same stress.

 

Without the open invite to the church, we expect about 125.  With the open invite we would have to plan to double that maybe triple so we wouldn't run out of food.

 

 

So, my question becomes, is it really customary to open invite at small churches?

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One of my son's closest childhood friends recently married a pastor's daughter at her home church. They did not do an open invite to the congregation. They wanted it very small, informal, and simple. The year before her sister had a very large, formal wedding with an open invite and after that experience, she wanted the exact opposite thing.

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Oh - and the menu is ham (pre-sliced, in roasters), fruit salad, coffee cake, some little tart things, obviously cake, and then the only really tricky part is the egg frittata bakes. That is the ONLY thing that must be cooked the morning of.

 

If you want to open invite, replace the frittata with quiche. What you don't use, you can keep frozen for future meals.

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You may not want to do this. In smaller churches where people are likely to know a lot of families better than in a large church, attendance in my experience as a wedding planner is open invitation nets upwards of 80% if the church is focused on marriage as a sacrament idea and promotes the big, traditional wedding ideal and for those that don't 50%.

 

You need to consider if you can manage that number.

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With an open invite I'd expect the reception to be cake, nuts, and punch. I'd never expect a full meal.

Unfortunately, in many church groups there is absolutely an expectation of at least a luncheon if not a full buffet meal with a bunch of hot dishes. A lot of what the hosts face are regional, familial, and religious expectations within that specific denomination and church family.

 

I have yet in my area to see an open invite church wedding that was not a large buffet reception. This is why we did invite only for dd's wedding. It was a small crowd so she could visit with everyone, and we could do a meal without breaking our budget.

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The weather of the day of the invite is huge. I have posted before about my dd's bff and her June wedding. A LOT of extra people showed up even though it had been an RSVP event because the weather was too rainy and cold to do something outside. The mom of the bride had to run to Costco (fortunately there was one super close to the church) and throw together extra food for the buffet. That was the rudest thing I have ever seen at a wedding, I think. So many people don't get the concept or don't care about, RSVP anymore.

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Agreeing with Ann, a lot of people simply can not be bothered to RSVP but are more than brazen enough to show up anyway.

 

So my advice is always invitation only and assume 75-80% attendance. Usually this holds well unless a high percentage of invites are too people too far away to attend.

 

Invitations are expensive and stamps at a half dollar each really piles on. So my advice is to go simple and use kits which can be purchased at Staples. You can get them for as little as 50 cents per invite/rsvp/envelope combo then print your own. Usually some computet savvy, graphics person in the family can he prevailed upon to type it in, format it, and print. Then hand out as many as lossible in person at church on Sunday even enlisting the ushers/greeters.

 

Second cheapest option is took a take a lovely photo of the couple and upload to the Walmart online photo center and turn it into a nice invite. That can be upwarss of a $1.00 each maybe even $1.50 bit still way cheaper than ordering custom invites. You would not have rsvp cards to rely on so you absolutely have to plan for that 75/80 percent attendance.

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Open invitations are not done at my medium sized church.

 

However, there tends to be an expectation that church workers issue them.

 

I have a relative who was fairly poor when she got married, as was her fiance.  One worked at a medium church, and the other at a small one.  They felt they had to issue open invitations to both.  So they had cake, coffee, and punch in the parish hall of the wedding church for the large group, and sent written invitations to their formal reception to those they could afford to host.  The formal reception was elsewhere, so no one had their nose rubbed in it.

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Are the young couple paying for and organizing their own wedding? If so, they can do what ever they want. It sounds like a nightmare to organize if "open invitation" includes the reception, and not something I'd ever do, but they may be feeling extra excited to share their special day with "the world."  If they want to do this, I'd have them actually do it - as in order the food, figure out who's going to make it, serve it, etc. You agreeing to hold the reception for 125 is very different than this "open invitation" thing.

 

 

Edited by wintermom
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Open invite used to be the norm at the small church I grew up in. It had probably 200 members when dh and I married there sixteen years ago, and my dad insisted on an invite to be read to the congregation during service (he was paying, so...).

 

I would guess 20 or so extra people came, most of those friends of my grandmother. We had a very simple reception, so it didn't impact our bottom line too greatly.

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The only people who did an open invite at our church were the pastor's children. Both had a cake/punch reception at the church. No other food. They were also both barely out of youth group- so not like they were 30 and had been living out of town, ya know.

Edited by wonderchica
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Our church usually has an open invite however only those who know the bride or groom show up. The most recent wedding I attended had a sit down meal, but you had to RSVP in advance. This was a ministers son.

 

Average attendance at our church is around 350. I would guess the average wedding has around 125-150 attendees.

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I would open invite and then do cake & punch reception. I would then have a "day-after" brunch with a smaller guest list.

 

We didn't have an open invite but we did do a day-after brunch with a smaller guest list. I hardly got a chance to really talk to anyone at the main reception because we had to be polite and make the rounds. I was glad to get an opportunity to actually visit with the people whom we were close with and hadn't just invited because they were distant relatives or my dad's business associates.

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Our church has an expectation of open invite. Unless we are told otherwise, every wedding is done this way. The good thing about it is that the women are experienced in food requirements and set up needs. While each couple gets their little details, on a whole things are done the same way. I would be extremely nervous or reluctant to open invite in a church where that wasn't commonly done, and personally I wouldn't be happy just having a cake and punch reception.

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With an open invite I'd expect the reception to be cake, nuts, and punch. I'd never expect a full meal.

Yes, the entire-church open invite thing means a very casual reception, no meal. For meals you need better numbers unless it's just massive Costco sandwich platters and someone is cool with eating any leftovers OR running and grabbing more in the middle of the reception :)

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In my small church, an open invite means "to the service" (because we usually share services on a weekly basis, and it just feels right to be inclusive that way, venue permitting) it does not mean "to the reception" -- that info is not announced and is only found on the invitations, which have RSVP cards.

Edited by bolt.
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Honestly, though, if a half dozen good hearted members can put out an after-funeral spread for 'nobody knows how many will come' on the average of 6 days notice... I fail to see how a similarly simple after-wedding spread becomes a nightmare. I think it just grows stress tentacles because there is too much time to plan.

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Honestly, though, if a half dozen good hearted members can put out an after-funeral spread for 'nobody knows how many will come' on the average of 6 days notice... I fail to see how a similarly simple after-wedding spread becomes a nightmare. I think it just grows stress tentacles because there is too much time to plan.

Here the family of the deceased has to pay for the meat/main entre. Since they cannot know how many are coming they usually have to buy a huge amount. Unfortunately, that is often quite a financial burden. The church provides salads, rolls, and desserts. I have been too funerals with a mind boggling amount of food leftover, far beyond what the family could take home, and then to funerals where they ran out of food before half the unexpectedly large crowd made it to the buffet line. It happens more than you think here. At $1.50 per serving for chicken - the cheapest thing the Walmart deli provides - it is pretty expensive just for the entre. And that is the only option. This area is 50 miles from the nearest Costco, Sam's, or Gordon's food service.

 

Not a single church in the tri county area assists in any fashion with reception foods, set up, etc. I know this because until recently, I had an event planning business, and charge rental fees for tables and chairs so not being able to predict with some reasonable accuracy the number attending, means having to over pay for everything just in case. It comes to hundreds of dollars, sometimes topping a thousand for even frugal weddings. Not to mention that many are charging rent for their fellowship halls even to members. Since wages have not kept pace with inflation by a rather startling margin in the past ten years, many parents and couples simply can no longer feed a large crowd or if they are going to try, need to have a pretty accurate head count.

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I have a former colleague and friend who married her husband in the middle of a Sunday church service so obviously their wedding was open invite as far as their church family. They did send wedding invitations to out of town guests and people who did not attend their church. They had a pretty simple brunch type reception which was pretty much completely coordinated by the women of the church who considered it their gift to the couple. They ordered their wedding cake (and oodles of cupcakes for the children of the church) from a local bakery and I know they paid for that. I think they also made a generous donation both to the church and to the women's fellowship group after their wedding. Their wedding was very simple in some ways but beautiful in many other ways. I will admit it was the first wedding I had been to in the middle of a church service (where the bride sang in the choir and played handbells with a choir robe over her wedding dress) but all in all it came together and came off well.

 

 

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It happens sometimes in our church.  It isn't uncommon with parish members (others also use the church at times for weddings.)

 

What I would say is that it isn't only a question of practicality or even tradition, there is also the question for some of what is theologically and liturgically correct.  In many Christian groups, a church simply isn't a private venue, and a wedding isn't really some private service supplied by the church to individuals - rather, the church building belongs to the parish and even wider Christian community, and a wedding happens within the context of the Christian community.

 

If you are trying to convince someone who sees it that way that it isn't practical, for reasons that are really peripheral to the religious element, you may not get far.

 

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I don't think I'd attempt open invite unless I either did just cake/punch OR the church ladies had a system of pitching in covered dishes and setting up a communal potluck. My mom's church has this down to a science, but their congregation is small. If I'm trying to have a special wedding menu I'd do the reception elsewhere OR have a closed service.

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In the 200ish size church we attend, there will often be an invitation to the ceremony for everyone, but not the reception.  They word it nicely, but I don't remember how.  If the reception is at the church, it has then included everyone and the reception is very simple.

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Here the family of the deceased has to pay for the meat/main entre. Since they cannot know how many are coming they usually have to buy a huge amount. Unfortunately, that is often quite a financial burden. The church provides salads, rolls, and desserts. I have been too funerals with a mind boggling amount of food leftover, far beyond what the family could take home, and then to funerals where they ran out of food before half the unexpectedly large crowd made it to the buffet line. It happens more than you think here. At $1.50 per serving for chicken - the cheapest thing the Walmart deli provides - it is pretty expensive just for the entre. And that is the only option. This area is 50 miles from the nearest Costco, Sam's, or Gordon's food service.

 

Not a single church in the tri county area assists in any fashion with reception foods, set up, etc. I know this because until recently, I had an event planning business, and charge rental fees for tables and chairs so not being able to predict with some reasonable accuracy the number attending, means having to over pay for everything just in case. It comes to hundreds of dollars, sometimes topping a thousand for even frugal weddings. Not to mention that many are charging rent for their fellowship halls even to members. Since wages have not kept pace with inflation by a rather startling margin in the past ten years, many parents and couples simply can no longer feed a large crowd or if they are going to try, need to have a pretty accurate head count.

Wow.

 

I've never had any connection with that type of funeral. I'm having a hard time imagining an entire county where none of the widows or widowers have friends of the 'can I bring sandwiches?' variety. Around here, that's pretty much the least you can do.

 

(Literally: the least you can do. Like, if you are close enough to go to somebody's funeral from your church: and you are local, and you aren't coming straight from work or carting small children -- you bring fruit, veg, desserts or sandwiches. It's just the thing.)

 

But then, I've never been to a funeral with any sort of 'main course'. Culture is a funny thing. What feels normal just feels really normal.

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Wow.

 

I've never had any connection with that type of funeral. I'm having a hard time imagining an entire county where none of the widows or widowers have friends of the 'can I bring sandwiches?' variety. Around here, that's pretty much the least you can do.

 

(Literally: the least you can do. Like, if you are close enough to go to somebody's funeral from your church: and you are local, and you aren't coming straight from work or carting small children -- you bring fruit, veg, desserts or sandwiches. It's just the thing.)

 

But then, I've never been to a funeral with any sort of 'main course'. Culture is a funny thing. What feels normal just feels really normal.

 

I've never been to a funeral where the bereaved are expected to feed anyone, including themselves.  People just bring food and there's always too much.  In a situation where you can do nothing, and you're local, you just bring food.  Nobody expects a widow to cook for herself or out-of-town family.  I'm stunned that there is ANY place with a culture that expects the people paying for a funeral to buy everyone's lunch.  

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Unfortunately, in many church groups there is absolutely an expectation of at least a luncheon if not a full buffet meal with a bunch of hot dishes. A lot of what the hosts face are regional, familial, and religious expectations within that specific denomination and church family.

 

I have yet in my area to see an open invite church wedding that was not a large buffet reception. This is why we did invite only for dd's wedding. It was a small crowd so she could visit with everyone, and we could do a meal without breaking our budget.

 

Perhaps this has changed in the 42 years since I got married. :-) But we had cake and nuts and mints and punch at our wedding. It was at a time of day when a full meal was not expected. 

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When we got married our church was about that size (it's much larger now), but it was pretty common to do an open invite, a signup sheet was on the bulletin board and people could just sign up to give you an idea of how many to plan for.  Not ever couple did it but it was more common than not.  Now that the church is larger the open invites are pretty rare.

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We had an open invitation for our church wedding,(I was the church secretary, so knew everyone), which was printed in the church bulletin. Our off-site reception was by invitation only. I have never heard of any confusion or hurt feelings from anyone not being included for the reception. It's been 18 years and we still have the same church family.

 

If I could do it over again, I would love to have the wedding as part of the Sunday service and have a brunch buffet in the church hall for everyone.

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I've never been to a funeral where the bereaved are expected to feed anyone, including themselves. People just bring food and there's always too much. In a situation where you can do nothing, and you're local, you just bring food. Nobody expects a widow to cook for herself or out-of-town family. I'm stunned that there is ANY place with a culture that expects the people paying for a funeral to buy everyone's lunch.

Ditto.

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My husband grew up in this kind of church. They had open invitation weddings with a cake and punch reception in the gym. I come from a culture of invite only, sit down plated dinner and dancing in a hotel ballroom or country club.

I was horrified by his and his family's initial expectations. We wound up not being married by his pastor or in a church at all. Many of the people he invited to our wedding didn't come.

I regret that now, to be honest. He was so invested in his church and I unintentionally caused an rift. I didn't mean to, and I don't really understand the hurt feelings of the church members, but it's a divide now that has hurt my husband deeply and I don't think he will ever go back to church.

I wish I had done it differently now. I just simply did not have the cultural background and no one tried to explain to me how important an open wedding at the church was to them.

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Honestly, though, if a half dozen good hearted members can put out an after-funeral spread for 'nobody knows how many will come' on the average of 6 days notice... I fail to see how a similarly simple after-wedding spread becomes a nightmare. I think it just grows stress tentacles because there is too much time to plan.

 

The stress tentacles comes from - do I plan to feed 150 people?  Do I plan to feed 400?  There is a world of difference there in cost and waste.  Huge.  And in prep.  We do not have the budget to have this thing catered.  I, as in me and my daughters, will be preparing the food.  So, while I am totally willing to do this, there is stress in the unknown.  If I can plan accordingly and execute well, great.  But what if I plan for 300 and 100 people go without food?  What if I plan for 400 and I have DOUBLED my food budget unnecessarily?  If this isn't big in your world than I suspect you and I work on different budgets. ;)

 

 

 

 

Are the young couple paying for and organizing their own wedding? If so, they can do what ever they want. It sounds like a nightmare to organize if "open invitation" includes the reception, and not something I'd ever do, but they may be feeling extra excited to share their special day with "the world."  If they want to do this, I'd have them actually do it - as in order the food, figure out who's going to make it, serve it, etc. You agreeing to hold the reception for 125 is very different than this "open invitation" thing.

 

The couple is young (20 and 19) and are moving a couple of hours away to finish school.  No, we are not asking them to pay for anything except the groom's clothing.   We are tentatively willing to have everyone there that they have an emotional connection with, kwim?  But 200 of their closest strangers?  Dunno.  I can't get a good grasp on how connected the young man really is in that church.  Currently, the kids are *very* close to one of the pastors and his family, and a few more families from the church.  All of them will be receiving printed invites as we had previously planned.

 

 

Agreeing with Ann, a lot of people simply can not be bothered to RSVP but are more than brazen enough to show up anyway.

 

So my advice is always invitation only and assume 75-80% attendance. Usually this holds well unless a high percentage of invites are too people too far away to attend.

 

Invitations are expensive and stamps at a half dollar each really piles on. So my advice is to go simple and use kits which can be purchased at Staples. You can get them for as little as 50 cents per invite/rsvp/envelope combo then print your own. Usually some computet savvy, graphics person in the family can he prevailed upon to type it in, format it, and print. Then hand out as many as lossible in person at church on Sunday even enlisting the ushers/greeters.

 

Second cheapest option is took a take a lovely photo of the couple and upload to the Walmart online photo center and turn it into a nice invite. That can be upwarss of a $1.00 each maybe even $1.50 bit still way cheaper than ordering custom invites. You would not have rsvp cards to rely on so you absolutely have to plan for that 75/80 percent attendance.

 

So we did print invites.  Originally we planned on all our families and close friends of the couple.  (We also are inviting one family who is technically *my* friends, but they have been an important part of our family for about 17 years.) 

 

We plan on sending out about 70 personal invitations to these people -approximately 150.  We expect very close to 100% attendance.  This would only be immediate family and close friends. (We all have very large families.)  The open invite would be to the church as a whole if they chose that.  Make sense?

 

 

I have a former colleague and friend who married her husband in the middle of a Sunday church service so obviously their wedding was open invite as far as their church family. They did send wedding invitations to out of town guests and people who did not attend their church. They had a pretty simple brunch type reception which was pretty much completely coordinated by the women of the church who considered it their gift to the couple. They ordered their wedding cake (and oodles of cupcakes for the children of the church) from a local bakery and I know they paid for that. I think they also made a generous donation both to the church and to the women's fellowship group after their wedding. Their wedding was very simple in some ways but beautiful in many other ways. I will admit it was the first wedding I had been to in the middle of a church service (where the bride sang in the choir and played handbells with a choir robe over her wedding dress) but all in all it came together and came off well.

 

I'd love if you'd tell more about the "simple but beautiful in other ways" part? ;)

 

 

It happens sometimes in our church.  It isn't uncommon with parish members (others also use the church at times for weddings.)

 

What I would say is that it isn't only a question of practicality or even tradition, there is also the question for some of what is theologically and liturgically correct.  In many Christian groups, a church simply isn't a private venue, and a wedding isn't really some private service supplied by the church to individuals - rather, the church building belongs to the parish and even wider Christian community, and a wedding happens within the context of the Christian community.

 

If you are trying to convince someone who sees it that way that it isn't practical, for reasons that are really peripheral to the religious element, you may not get far.

I actually really love the idea behind this - the idea that this is a sacrament and a privilege to have your marriage vows supported by your church family and it's why we aren't willing to just say, "Whoa, this is a huge stretch on the budget." KWIM?  

 

I'm just not sure how to flesh this out.  For example, we are making the food for the rehearsal dinner.  We are trying to switch that from  Friday to Thursday so I will have Friday to do wedding prep.  But at the end of the day, I will have six young girls to dress that morning for photos.  So food prep is going to be dicey.  As much as possible must be done the day before.  

 

 

 

I love the idea of inviting their church.  They've been supportive of these two in a tricky situation (pregnancy) and frankly their support is wonderful.  We have never been members of a small, close knit church, so when this was brought up to them, it was entirely out of my experience, kwim?

 

I think I will take suggestions and have her talk to her pastor's wife.  She is a wonderful woman and I think she will be able to plan accordingly.  We can also adjust some.  We had planned a small cake with cupcakes, catered.  But i think maybe we will do just the cake and about three dozen cupcakes for photos and then Costco sheetcakes.  300 cupcakes at $1.75 each.  Um, no.

Edited by BlsdMama
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My parents' church (Southern Baptist) was about that size when I got married. Open invite was not the norm.

 

Definitely call the pastor or pastor's wife. As you are the host and planner, it's perfectly fine for you to call. Maybe the couple could provide coffee and doughnuts for the congregation as a thank you for their support on the next Sunday they're in church.

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I've never been to a funeral where the bereaved are expected to feed anyone, including themselves. People just bring food and there's always too much. In a situation where you can do nothing, and you're local, you just bring food. Nobody expects a widow to cook for herself or out-of-town family. I'm stunned that there is ANY place with a culture that expects the people paying for a funeral to buy everyone's lunch.

They are not expected to cook. They are expected to pay for the meat/entre, paper products, and use of the facility especially if not a member of the church hosting it. Churches here are not rolling in money. They cannot do numerous large meals for free. They do not have the funds. Folks having secular funerals use the VFW hall which charges $350 and of course pay for everything. I have never lived anywhere in an area in which an entire funeral luncheon for a large crowd was free. Never. The work was volunteer but supplies for the main dishes, beverages, and table service was the family's responsibility. Some sides and all the desserts was what came in as potluck. No family members cook.

 

I have only rarely lived in well to do areas with monied churches. So my experience is very different. As a result I would find it bizarre to expect a large funeral dinner to be paid for by a church or a bunch of people in the community. That would be like having a reception for 200 or more people and asking the church to pay for it.

 

It is a bone of contention with my mother. When her husband passes, she expects to have the big, traditional funeral which means since he was a businessman in the community for many years and knows a bizarre number of people well, a funeral of about 400. Their church said they can handle desserts but that is it for a funeral luncheon that size. I expect that supplies to feed that many is going to run well over $1000.00. They are going bankrupt, have no life insurance, and expect us to pay for it. I have two in college and another entering in 2018. So there is no way. We told her that it would have to be a private memorial service for 75. I am, as usual, the evil bad daughter. Whatever. I cannot afford to feed that many and the only facility in the entire county that can seat that many costs $500 to use on top of that.

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I've never been to a funeral with a sit down meal either, that was supplied by the family.  Our parish supplies a reception for funerals, much like what you see after the service on Sunday - coffee, tea, little sandwiches, dip, sweets.  And as far as people having the reception at home, when that happens, people bring food, and leave it.  The idea that the family should be given food is a pretty strong cultural norm, even now. 

 

OP - I think talking to the pastors wife is a great idea.

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Definitely talk to the pastors wife. If the young man has been attending this church only a couple years not as many people would attend as if he grew up attending that church. Since you don't have a feel for this church you could compromise but have the open invite include an RSVP of a week or two in advance (however much time you need to plan). That would reduce your stress level without hurting a random church member's feelings.

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In my small church, an open invite means "to the service" (because we usually share services on a weekly basis, and it just feels right to be incisive that way, venue permitting) it does not mean "to the reception" -- that info is not announced and is only found on the invitations, which have RSVP cards.

Same with our church, and we are not a small church...upwards of 500 families.

Edited by LisLisaKG75
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It is customary in our denomination to put a announcement in the bulletin a week before the wedding.  It would be something like  "Everyone is invited to witness the sacrament of marriage(or wedding ceremony) of_______ and ______ at 2pm Saturday, January 28"  They know they are not invited to the reception unless they received that invitation in the mail with a response card.

 

 

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They are not expected to cook. They are expected to pay for the meat/entre, paper products, and use of the facility especially if not a member of the church hosting it. Churches here are not rolling in money. They cannot do numerous large meals for free. They do not have the funds. Folks having secular funerals use the VFW hall which charges $350 and of course pay for everything. I have never lived anywhere in an area in which an entire funeral luncheon for a large crowd was free. Never. The work was volunteer but supplies for the main dishes, beverages, and table service was the family's responsibility. Some sides and all the desserts was what came in as potluck. No family members cook.

 

I have only rarely lived in well to do areas with monied churches. So my experience is very different. As a result I would find it bizarre to expect a large funeral dinner to be paid for by a church or a bunch of people in the community. That would be like having a reception for 200 or more people and asking the church to pay for it.

 

It is a bone of contention with my mother. When her husband passes, she expects to have the big, traditional funeral which means since he was a businessman in the community for many years and knows a bizarre number of people well, a funeral of about 400. Their church said they can handle desserts but that is it for a funeral luncheon that size. I expect that supplies to feed that many is going to run well over $1000.00. They are going bankrupt, have no life insurance, and expect us to pay for it. I have two in college and another entering in 2018. So there is no way. We told her that it would have to be a private memorial service for 75. I am, as usual, the evil bad daughter. Whatever. I cannot afford to feed that many and the only facility in the entire county that can seat that many costs $500 to use on top of that.

I am so very sorry you're in this spot.  What you describe is exactly what is expected here - a sit down meal to follow a funeral.  When my sister buried the babies last year a wonderful place in town catered it as a donation.  (Wonderful human beings.)  And all the aunties, people from congregation, brought desserts.  It worked well, but you know, funerals are such drop of a hat thing.  I have no idea how most people do it all.  Funerals are incredibly expensive already.  Older couples often have some cushion or insurance.  My aunt and uncle lost my cousin this year through a car accident and I just think if he had been married, etc., his wife might not have been able to do any of it.  What then?  What does one do?  I can't imagine.  Our church home is/was Catholic and all of our families still are - so big families, mid to mod. high income, big attendance - big weddings.  Of the funerals I've attended, I can remember a meal after each one.  I never thought much of it until now.

 

Definitely talk to the pastors wife. If the young man has been attending this church only a couple years not as many people would attend as if he grew up attending that church. Since you don't have a feel for this church you could compromise but have the open invite include an RSVP of a week or two in advance (however much time you need to plan). That would reduce your stress level without hurting a random church member's feelings.

I will.  I have not met her personally but I've met her hubby and two of their oldest kiddos.  If they are ANY reflection of their folks, they must be great people.  Their kids are very sweet.  DSIL has gone to church there since he was four, so fairly strong ties from my gathering.

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I don't have any advice to offer. I'm just astonished that people think 200-300 people is a small church.

That seems huge to me.

Well where I am currently that is small. Without trying I can think of about 10 churches that have 1000 (over multiple services) around me and a couple have over 5000. However, there are quite a few with under 50. My husband's grandparents go to a church where us visiting out numbers the regulars. It redefines small!

 

ETA that's in the region, not one town/city. I am in the Bible Belt though.

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Honestly, though, if a half dozen good hearted members can put out an after-funeral spread for 'nobody knows how many will come' on the average of 6 days notice...

This is how funerals at our church work. The family calls the person in charge of funeral luncheons, and she coordinates a bunch of volunteers who each bring a dish or two, plus do the set up and take down. I don't think the cost of a dish or two is terribly expensive for each individual volunteer, and (as dh said), funerals are usually during business hours, so there's not much extra cost for the church wrt utilities and clean-up (our church doesn't charge to use the facility for funerals). All the funeral home stuff is still so costly (including transport to and from the church), but the church service and luncheon at least isn't.
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I grew up in a church where the open invite for a wedding was common, but it was ALWAYS accompanied by a sign up sheet on the bulletin board if the invitation included the reception.   

 

In most cases, very few church members actually attended the wedding and reception.  Truly.  The sign up sheets usually had a few families on there, but I don't recall ever seeing a sign up sheet fill up for a wedding.  

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I just want to say that I'm totally intrigued by the alternate funeral culture that I never knew was out there.

 

On the one hand, I can see that it would be odd for a church to arrange a significant catered meal for the funeral needs of their members.

 

On the other hand it's hardly takes a "monied church" to find a group where many/most families are able to spend an extra five-to-twenty dollars at a grocery store on the rare occasions that someone (someone they know and like enough to attend a funeral) loses a loved one.

 

Probably expensive funerals exist here too, but the ones I go to sure aren't like that.

 

I'll quit derailing -- I'm just so intrigued to have learned this.

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I just want to say that I'm totally intrigued by the alternate funeral culture that I never knew was out there.

 

On the one hand, I can see that it would be odd for a church to arrange a significant catered meal for the funeral needs of their members.

 

On the other hand it's hardly takes a "monied church" to find a group where many/most families are able to spend an extra five-to-twenty dollars at a grocery store on the rare occasions that someone (someone they know and like enough to attend a funeral) loses a loved one.

 

Probably expensive funerals exist here too, but the ones I go to sure aren't like that.

 

I'll quit derailing -- I'm just so intrigued to have learned this.

My parents' church has 160 people attending with average family size of five for those still in the work force and most of the retirees (usually two per household) living on modest social security. At $1000 to feed 400 people as my mom wants and this would be a simple luncheon (given prices, despite what she says, I really do not think it can be done for even that little unless I buy the meat ahead - which is sort of hard to do since one does not know when it will happen - and then cook it all myself), this would require each family to bring $33 worth of food which for easily half these families is 1/3 of their weekly grocery budget, it is too much. (Yes grocery budgets tend to run $100 a week around here where starting wages for a new teacher are $26,000 and median income $30,000 not to mention having the rent the the facility big enough to hold it. $500.00

 

It would be very wrong of me to expect any significant financial help putting on a funeral luncheon of this size.

 

For weddings, churches do not assist putting them on at all. I have literally never seen that. It must be really nice to live somewhere in which that kind of help is common.

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I don't have any advice to offer. I'm just astonished that people think 200-300 people is a small church.

That seems huge to me.

ME TOO . the town I live beside has a population of less than 50, the closest large town has a total population of 1000 and has 4 different churches,  most of the congregations would probably be less than 30 people.

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