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Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from ckennett81. Show ckennett81's posts

    Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    Has anybody ever had a small ceremony with close friends and family and held a large reception at a later date?
    My fiance and I scratched a large 200+ wedding for numerous reasons and are thinking about a small Vegas wedding with just immediate family and close friends who want to come.  And at a later date, holding a reception for the other friends and extended family.
    What's the ettiquette on something like that?

  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from ALF72. Show ALF72's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    Etiquette aside: why do you want to do this?

    Usually when people cancel a huge wedding, it's b/c the reception is too expensive or there are too many wacky family situations to deal with.  If this is why you cancelled in the first place, what has changed to make this a good idea.

    Many times, we feel we 'have' to do something b/c it's what everyone does or what is expected.  If you have already made the decision to have a smaller, intimate wedding w/ close family and friends, why do you need to have a second to do? 

    My personal preference for these kinds of events is One and Done. You have the wedding and reception all at one time.  Honestly, if I don't make the cut for close friends/family for the first event, I generally decline the invitation to the larger second string party.  You can still entertain family and friends at a later event, but why not do it w/ a simple cocktail party or cookout?  Why does it need to be 'wedding themed'? 

    There is nothing to prevent you from having a second event, of course, but if you didn't want to do it the first time around, why not save your money and just go w/ the smaller event? There is no special etiquette that goes w/ this kind of event  - it's just a party. You send out invitations and plan accordingly as you would for any other party. 
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from kargiver. Show kargiver's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    The etiquette is quite simple, actually, you just send invitations to the reception that say, "You are invited to celebrate our wedding of [date]!  Blah, blah, information about when and where."  Here are some examples (4 and 5 might give you ideas):

    Although, I have the same question as ALF.  You didn't say it was cost that was the issue, but the bulk of the cost is the reception, anyway, so you don't save anything for reducing the size of the wedding and having the same size reception.
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from kiwigal. Show kiwigal's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    While my situation is not exactly the same as yours, we had a wedding and a second reception later. DH is from NZ and we had our wedding here in the US. We travelled to NZ later that year and had a reception there for all the family and friends that couldn't logistically work a trip to the US for our wedding. It was a fairly casual affair. We wanted a chance to catch up with family and friends and an opportunity for me to meet folks that I couldn't during our one previous trip to NZ together. We rented a restaurant and had an afternoon cocktail and canapes reception. We really didn't do anything bridal or wedding, except for having a small album of wedding photos for people to look at if they were interested and MIL surprised us with a small wedding cake (along with a brief toast from FIL before we served the cake.)

    IMO, don't try and recreate a wedding or typical reception. It leads to all sorts of confusion (like ALF and Kar have mentioned). Just try and have a fun party and follow the same rules you would if you were having any other kind of party. Also, you didn't ask, but I would also play down the gifts aspect as well. We made it clear through MIL that we were not expecting any gifts (or realistically could accept many gifts given that we were travelling internationally and were still on our way to Fiji for a honeymoon). A few people gave gifts (as those who want to are free to do), but we didn't get gifts from most and were perfectly happy about that. We got a number of really lovely cards, though, and we still cherish them.
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from pinkkittie27. Show pinkkittie27's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    I've been to celebrations like these before, and they're usually much more casual than your average wedding reception.

    Be sure your invitation reflects the formality of the event, and you'll probably want to skip most of what usually happens at a reception- No 1st dance, no bouquet toss, etc.
    A speech from the couple can be a nice touch, just to thank everyone for coming and saying how important it was to them to celebrate their union with everyone, even though they chose to have an intimate ceremony.

    I think it's also nice to have pictures from the ceremony there, so people can see.

    And if you're going to register, make it modest or people might think you're only having the party to get gifts.
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from kinga9. Show kinga9's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    My matron of honor did just this. They had the ceremony in Michigan (where the groom is from) for just immediate family on a Thursday evening and then held a pig roast on a farm in Indiana (where the bride is from) for all the friends and distant relatives that weekend. They still had speeches from their best man and MOH, but it was a very casual dinner and very fitting for the couple.
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from JJLen. Show JJLen's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    My sister eloped, and a couple of months later had a "reception": they did NOT try to recreate the wedding -- she didn't wear a wedding dress, they did not have any kind of ceremony first. They did have a wedding cake. It was informal -- a huge (catered) BBQ-type party outdoors. Tons of people were invited. It was a blast.

    The invitations made clear that they had been married already, and so this was a party to celebrate that; I don't think they called it a "reception." The wording was something along the lines of "You are invited to celebrate the wedding of..." 

    In terms of etiquette, if you get married, don't pretend you weren't maried -- don't do a post-wedding bridal shower, don't redo the ceremony, etc. But by all means, have a party if you want a party!
  8. You have chosen to ignore posts from katel. Show katel's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    I did this. Twice, actually. My former husband is from New Orleans, I grew up here. He was also not all that comfortable getting married in front of a whole bunch of people (he left me for another woman 2 years later...perhaps that should have been a sign!!! Lol). So, we had a ceremony here in August, but out on a boat (I grew up on a marina and around boats. Just my family and his and a few very close friends. We then took the boat back to the marina where there were an additional 100 guests, and we had a big reception (on the invite, we just put "private ceremony preceding reception). Then, 2 months later we flew to New Orleans and had a 2nd ceremony (performed by a friend, talked a lot about us surviving Katrina, helping to rebuild our city before moving to Boston, etc.) and reception there.
    Given that so many family and friends lost everything in the storm, we didn't want to burden them by having them come up to Boston, and it was important for us to go down there and celebrate with the people who knew us. I don't think that anyone was offended to not be included in the original ceremony (and if they were, they didn't say anything!), and once I explained that DH was a pretty private person and wanted to marry just in front of our families but wanted to celebrate with everyone, people seemed to be ok with it.
    Again, in retrospect, perhaps this was a foreboding thing, but I don't think so. For us, at the time, it made perfect sense.
    Good luck!
  9. You have chosen to ignore posts from sportsfan161. Show sportsfan161's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    My fiance and I are planning second marriages and will probably have a small ceremony in Florida where his elderly parents live because they cannot travel.  Our friends are mostly in New England, though, so we want to have a larger "no gifts, no-fuss" bash here.  I have done event planning for others and this type of arrangement is totally etiquette appropriate.
  10. You have chosen to ignore posts from 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e. Show 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    We were married by a JP at our home, with one couple attending as our witnesses. We mailed out an announcement of the wedding (as kargiver describes) with an invitation for an open house, which was to be held about six weeks after the wedding. The reception was an afternoon open house with catered snacks and desserts (very inexpensive, compared to a formal reception) and it was for all ages. We hired a couple of local teenagers to entertain the children and make sure they didn't get stepped on. That way their parents could relax and socialize. Two points: we didn't get as many attendees for a reception as we would have for an open house and we didn't have a gift registry, partly because we didn't need stuff and partly because we thought it might look tacky to have a fancy registry but no fancy wedding. My only regret is that because I thought some people wouldn't come so far for a less formal event, I didn't invite all of my extended family. I was wrong and some people felt left out.

    My niece and her husband had a destination wedding in Jamaica, with immediate family and those who could both get out of work and afford to attend. About a month later the husband's family held a huge barbeque in his home state; it was mostly local folks but a few of us who couldn't get to Jamaica went to Oklahoma instead and had a fabulous time.
  11. You have chosen to ignore posts from ckennett81. Show ckennett81's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    Thanks everyone for the advice and comments!  The reason behind my question is because my FI's father passed away recently and as we neared the big day, it became a circus: releasing of doves, bagpipers, spreading of ashes, etc.  I was in a tough position: being understanding of his family's feelings but not wanting any of this...stuff. Weddings are hard enough to plan and having an immediate family member pass away only made it more difficult to figure what is appropriate and what, in the end, my family and I wanted. The big wedding I had painstakingly planned is out and it's something I've had to let go of.  I love my FI but his family made it clear I had no say.  I don't know where to go from here as my family has watched this all fall apart and hold much animosity towards my FI's family.  So no wedding, an elopement, city hall, or a private ceremony with immediate family and close friends and a reception so extended family and other friends can celebrate in some fashion? It's dizzying.  I cancelled the wedding prior to my bridal shower so no shower and I certainly don't expect gifts at the reception. 
  12. You have chosen to ignore posts from 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e. Show 2ada63d622e89774a9fdcbc90527ab8e's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    Wow. That's hard. Do I take you to mean that the family wanted to spread ashes at your wedding? Like your FIL would be there with you in spirit somehow?
  13. You have chosen to ignore posts from oldchild. Show oldchild's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    This is a cloud with a silver lining.  Better you should find out that your in-laws will act like a stone wall NOW before you have to deal with really urgent decisions.  It might be reasonable to ask you to scale down a fancy wedding if the death was one of FI's parents.  It is NOT reasonable to make a wedding into the post-funeral party.

    DO NOT get married in any ceremony until you and your FI go through a few counselling sessions.  You need to sort out how you will deal with the birth of children, buy a house, deal with aging parents, etc, in terms of how you will stand together against these people who give you no choice.

    Don't worry about your own family.  You can always have a big wedding party later.  They won't think less of you for having your own ideas without interference.
  14. You have chosen to ignore posts from ash. Show ash's posts

    Re: Small Ceremony, Large Reception at a later date

    What you are suggesting is not uncommon.  I've been to a couple of weddings like this, one which took place immediately following the ceremony (and was a little awkward, only because the bride and groom couldn't figure out how to keep the ceremony small enough) and one which took place a month or so later and was hosted by the groom's family.  

    I think wanting to do this is very understandable in your situation (meaning the death of your husband's fiance and not that there are issues with his family).

    I don't know if there is any real etiquette on this, but to me its all about politeness and perception.  I think its ok for this to be formal and have some of the trappings of a "regular" wedding reception (toasts, introductions), but you just have to keep in mind that you are already married and this is just a party to celebrate (which is all a reception is, only you get to wear a wedding dress!). 

    I for one, don't buy the stuff some people spout off about not being important enough to be invited to the ceremony and these occasions being gift grabbing. As long as you are not pretending not to be married, I don't see the big deal. People have lots of reasons to want private ceremonies.

    Two other things I would add:
    1. Do not, I repeat DO NOT, make a big deal out of gifts.  Don't say anything about gifts.  Don't spout off to anyone that you are not expecting gifts.  If people want to bring gifts they will.  If they don't they won't. This is a customary gift giving occasion and believe me...some people do really want to give you a gift!
    2. These occasions can leave a bad taste in some people's mouths (as mentioned above, some people really don't like not being invited to the ceremony), but you can't let that affect you.  There is nothing you can say to some people, so just ignore and move on.

    Good luck!