The guest list is limited, and I was not invited to the reception. Since the couple getting married and their families are very special to me, and I have been involved in their lives, what is wedding etiquette concerning me attending the ceremony at the church?
I don't know where to look. My etiquette books are old. One used to be able to go to the church ceremony without attending the reception.
-- If you are invited to the wedding ceremony, by all means attend and yes, a gift would be proper; however, you need not over do it. -- And please do not feel slighted by the non-invitation to the reception. These days it's a huge expense and on my end of things I hear from the wedding party constantly about how bad they feel at having to exclude some dear friends, even some family members at times (aunts, uncles, cousins that are not that close) -- If you are not invited to the ceremony, there may be limited seating in the venue which makes it prohibitive. Again, do not feel insulted. In the case of having no invitation you are not obligated to give a gift, but I would send a card nonetheless to remember the occasion
There aren't separate invitations to the ceremony and reception; Usually, people who aren't invited to the reception don't go to the church ceremony; But, since I know that budget is a consideration, and they can't invite all the special people in their lives to the reception, my question is if it is proper for me to go to the church ceremony to share in the celebration - even if I'm not invited to the reception? The church is very large to accomodate anyone who would want to come.
Should I call the parents of the groom to see if it is OK ?
Is there any wedding protocol to say that if you're not invited to the reception, you're not invited to the church wedding ceremony?
-- If they've only sent out one invitation to include both the ceremony and the reception then it's anyone's guess about who is welcome at the church. Yes, I would absolutely call the parents of either the bride or groom, although this might be awkward. The proper wedding protocol is to send invitations to everyone they want to include in the ceremony with the RSVP cards for the reception included only in the invitations to people invited to attend both wedding & reception. This is why I asked if you at least received an invitation to the ceremony. I'm very surprised they are sending invitations out this way (to people invited to both only)
Formal event coordinator/officiate, announcement author