no meal at reception?

marie26April 15, 2005

I read on here that some of you have had a reception where you served only desserts and champagne. This sounds like an ideal option for me since trying to feed so many people at the house we are having the reception at will be difficult.

Those of you who have done this, what did people say afterwards? And those of you who haven't, does this sound tacky?

Also, how do you time it? How long between the ceremony and reception so that everyone has time to go out and eat. I want a night time reception and mid-afternoon ceremony.

Also, how do you ensure people will return for the reception after two hours or so?

Thank you for any advice.


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I was thinking about this a little more and thought that we could have the ceremony at 7:00 or so and then a fancy dessert buffet. If we did this, we could then have the ceremony and the reception and dancing at the same place.

Do you think this is a good idea?


    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 3:05AM
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When I have attended a reception with no meal, it has been an early afternoon wedding followed by the reception. It is an acceptable way of doing things. The time of the wedding and reception would indicate that no meal is being served. For example, wedding at 2:00 and reception at 3:00.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 3:48AM
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it seems to work for afternoon weddings, or where most of the guests are local.

if you have a lot of people coming in from out of town, you'd then be obligated to see that they get fed in the intreval- to set them up with a buddy to recommend restaurants, that sort of thing.

if you have an afternoon ceremony followed by an 'cocktail' reception, you can have the pretty petit fours and the strawberries in the champagne- and use the dancing as an excuse to indulge :)

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 10:07AM
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yes , but i would like to have a good dance party all nite. it wouldn't make sense in the after noon. if you have a reception that started at like 3, then how do you expect people not to eat dinner? have them out by 5?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 10:41AM
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Yes, usually receptions that don't include a meal are short and take place outside of usual meal times. They range in formality from cake and punch at the church after the ceremony to Chinacat's strawberries and champagne with a jazz combo and dancing, and usually last no more than two hours or so. That's probably because if you go much longer, you'll be into a mealtime and would need to feed people. The ones I've been to have been in the morning or early afternoon.

I definitely wouldn't try to have the ceremony in the afternoon and the reception in the evening - I think most people would guess you've planned it so you don't have to feed people. Plus, having a break in the activities is hard on guests unless everyone lives nearby.

Even 7:00 isn't really safe, as many people (myself included) eat dinner between 7:00-8:00. You'd have to put something on the invitation to indicate that dinner will not be served.

About having a good dance party all night, I'm not sure how it would work without plenty of food and drink. I'm sure you could manage an hour of dancing, though, maybe a bit more.

If your concern about feeding people is based solely on space, I'd encourage you to think creatively about what sort of dinner you might serve that could easily be eaten from a plate on one's lap. Anything from sandwiches cut into halves to casseroles with uniformly small pieces might do. How about chicken in a mushroom-wine sauce with rice pilaf and cooked carrots?

You could have everything in one place, with the ceremony at 5:30, dinner at 6:30 or 7:00, and dessert and dancing afterwards. That would fill an evening nicely.

Best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 2:10PM
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Would you please describe the problem you are tying to address a bit? You say "trying to feed so many people at the house we are having the reception at will be difficult....i would like to have a good dance party all nite."

Is this a space issue or a money issue or some other type of problem?

I think if you want to have an extended dancing reception immediately following the ceremony, there would be no reason not to have the ceremony at 9:00 pm. It would not be a tradional time to have it, but unless you have your heart set on some 5-years-old family members being there, I doubt there would be much real problem.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 3:04PM
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If you are wanting a dance-all-night reception, you're going to have to think in terms of at least heavy hors d' oeuvres. Stuffed mushrooms, chicken bites or wings, deli tray, maybe a small meat and cheese tray with the small sandwich bread (cocktail bread). Just munchies in general. It is perfectly acceptable to have a 7:00 wedding with an 8:00 or 8:30 reception (depending on your drive time from one spot to the next). Most champagne and dessert table receptions I've been to do not last very long. Maybe an hour or so.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 8:05PM
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my problem is mostly money, then time it would take to set everything up for a dinner, take it down for reception, plus ceremony before hand in the same place. In the end I want everyone to say they had a lot of fun. Its not about how good their dinner was. And don't most people find the sit down dinner boring and want to get to the cake and dancing anyways?

    Bookmark   April 15, 2005 at 10:41PM
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I don't know about most people, but I love the dinner. It's a time to reconnect with family and friends, when almost everyone is there and has the time for a good chat. I like eating the cake, but don't care whether I see the cutting. And the dancing is less important than it used to be, though I still enjoy having a few dances.

For better or worse, people *do* talk about how the food was at weddings. It's a part of whether they had fun. Not that this means you need to provide prime rib and lobster, of course.

You know the logistics of your venue better than we, but I could easily see having long tables set up on one side of the room, to be filled with plates of appetizers, sandwiches, and desserts immediately after the ceremony. You'd need a couple waiters or some willing family, though. The chairs will need to be out for both the ceremony and the reception, though in different configurations.

Is there anything you can do to free up more money for food? Less flowers, no favors, fewer guests, a second job? I think I'd try those things before I decided to serve no food other than dessert for a long reception.

Good luck in whatever you decide.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 11:12AM
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When I got married -- 30 years ago -- wedding receptions in our community were almost *always* cake/punch/nuts/mints. If you wanted a little more, there might be finger sandwiches. But full, sit-down meals were nearly unheard of. In other words, wedding receptions, then, were just like any other reception. (For instance, a reception welcoming a new university faculty member, or a new city manager, or a visiting well-known author -- if it's called a reception then only light finger-foods are served...if a meal is served it's advertised as a "dinner").

But, times seem to have changed. And now, Joann is probably correct when she says "I think I'd try those things before I decided to serve no food other than dessert for a long reception."...but notice that she said "for a *long* reception", which is apparently what you are wanting.

If you are willing to forgo the dance, and the extended socializing, then you can get by with very simple refreshments, immediately following the ceremony. But if you have your heart set on the dance, then refreshments along the lines of what Joann suggested (appetizers, sandwiches, desserts) would be more appropriate.

And I see nothing wrong with a 7:00 p.m. fact, I think it could be quite lovely.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 1:40PM
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You could provide food, according to the set up and time of year, on the patio or in the house. It could be as casual as a BBQ with hot dogs and burgers and potato salad, chips, deviled eggs, baked beans. Or you could go fancy with pretty little finger sandwiches galore, etc. as mentioned above. If you look at Costco, you can get lots of finger foods in the frozen food section to heat and serve too. The little quiches, mini hot dogs, frozen meat balls with bottled sauces, fruit balls or chunks, tiny pizzas, etc. Or ask your very close female friends and relatives to pitch in and bring a covered dish to help fill out what you will provide.

Having said that, if you want to allow for dinner between the ceremony and the reception, your invitation could invite your guests to a champagne and dessert reception. If you word the invitation correctly, then your guests will understand that they must get their dinner before coming to the reception. So much of this depends on the customs of the area in which you live too. You just do not want to fail to inform your guests of the set up. Nothing worse than hungry men at a social!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 3:14PM
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If space is the issue, then opt for smaller serving tables and create food stations - one for hors d'oeuvres, one for salads, etc. If you really want to have only desserts and the ceremony and reception are at the same place, have the ceremony at 7:30 or 8:00 and state on the invitation "dessert reception following the ceremony." That way, guests know what to expect. Just be careful about serving sugar-laden desserts and alcohol, since alcohol turns to sugar in your system. Plan on including a cheese and cracker tray or something similar so that those who either can't have sugar or who have more than one or two drinks don't have problems.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 4:59PM
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I'm with Joann -- I love the meal! I don't know who your guests will be, but if you are planning for on various ages, remember to consider everyone's tastes and stamina, not just your own generation's, when planning the reception. Many people prefer talking to dancing.

I agree with the others that you don't have to have a meal at all, but if you don't, then you will have a shorter or later reception, because you really can't invite people for a period over a meal time and then not feed them. So either have an afternoon wedding at, say, 2, followed by coffee, champagne, and cake, or chips and beer, or whatever you like, and call it a day. Or else start well after the dinner hour, like at 9 pm or even 8:30, and just have light refreshments with the dancing afterward. I, too, would assume if you invited me for 7 pm wedding that you would be serving dinner afterward. If you do that, you will lose people early because they will want to go get dinner!

Alternatively, there is certainly nothing wrong with having a very inexpensive meal, like a picnic or sandwiches, if that helps. Personally, I love hot dogs as much as prime rib.

I know that in many communities, it is not uncommon to have the ceremony much earlier than the reception, but I've never seen it in mine; here, they are often in the same place. I like going straight from the ceremony to the reception. Everyone is already dressed, the flowers are still fresh, and you don't have to reconvene and get everyone back into the group feeling all over again.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   April 16, 2005 at 6:52PM
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I'm a post wedding mother of the bride and I agree with most everyone here. Between the cake and the meal - the overwhelming majority of people are interested in the meal, not the cake. (which is grossly unfair considering how much those babies cost!)
Anyway, different regions of the country do things differently. We are from the midwest (michigan) and I will tell you the norm/accepted way things go here.
1. If you are going to have an afternoon wedding and an evening reception - you are going to be feeding them a meal. Here it just isn't good form to tie people up for the whole day and not have a meal.
2. An evening wedding - say about 7 pm, followed by a heavy hors d'oeuvres like those suggested above is a dandy idea. Especially if any alcohol is going to be served. You don't want people drinking and not eating.
If you do #2, make sure your reception card or the corner copy on your invitations says hors d'oeuvres/dessert reception to follow. People will know that you are serving finger foods and they will eat before they come.
You don't have to make it super fancy, just make sure it is substantial enough that people won't start leaving because they are hungry.
Since space is an issue for you, I think the "stations" idea could be very helpful.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2005 at 8:32AM
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Either have an afternoon wedding with a finger-food and cake reception right after, or go for the late evening wedding and dessert reception with the dancing. If doing the latter, some substantial hors d'oeuvres are really necessary.

I think that if you have a delay of several hours between the ceremony and the reception, you'll end up with no-one at the reception.

Personally, I would *not* attend a wedding where someone expected me to entertain myself for hours between the 2 halves of the day. Sorry to squash your plan, but it just seems *rude* to expect guests (especially out of towners) to fend for themselves, just to wait until the happy couple decides to show up for the remaining festivities.

I do not expect or need a dinner unless the ceremony and reception overlap the dinner hour.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 1:48PM
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Mary, you made perfect sense.

How about wine, finger sandwiches and other cold appetizers (all tastefully done) before the ceremony for everyone except the bride. She would use this time to finish getting ready. The groom could mingle with the guests. This would be at around 7:00 p.m. Then the ceremony at 8:00. Then there would be a fancy dessert buffet with dancing after the ceremony.

Obviously, I am trying to cut out the dinner. The reason is the space for a sit-down meal at the house this will be taking place and the cost of a sit-down meal.

By the way, the only out-of-town guests are the bride's parents and siblings as well as 3 friends and their spouses. These friends have already agreed with helping to set up everything.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2005 at 2:18PM
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Jennifer, I'm afraid that if you go with that plan, people will leave after the ceremony rather than stay around for the desserts and dancing. It would just seem confusing, and then either someone has to miss the ceremony to clean up, or else you return to all the mess. I'm afraid that this plan would be too complicated without a coordinator, waiters, etc.

If you are prepared to start the ceremony at 8:00, instead of in the afternoon, you really don't have a problem. It is perfectly fine simply to invite people for then and have the invitation say, "Dessert and dancing to follow" (or "Dessert and dancing to follow at [location]" if you are moving to a different venue for the reception). All you guests will understand that you are not serving dinner, and that's okay, because you aren't really holding them during meal time. I've been invited to many parties that are just dessert and dancing; it's not at all uncommon, so don't worry. A bonus is that now -- if you want to -- you can have it be a dressy affair, because everything is at night.

Have fun!

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 9:16PM
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Actually, what Jennifer suggests is currently the "in" thing for many weddings. The couple entertains guests before the ceremony with a cocktail time. Then, at a specified time the guests take their seats and the ceremony is held, then the party continues. It works quite well if you have a group that is largely young professionals, though I am doing a similar wedding for a professional couple in their early 60's. I would keep the pre-wedding party to no more than 45 minutes. That is long enough for guests to mingle, but not long enough to get bored.

Jennifer, have you considered renting a chocolate fountain? That could be the centerpiece of your dessert reception. Guests love them and there is some relatively healthy food served because of the fruit for dipping.

    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 10:39PM
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sweet pea-

What would the timing be then? start appetizers at 8 or 7? I wanted them to have some real food so noone would be hungry plus if they drink they are not just consuming sugar.
thanks for your comments, they made me feel better about my decision.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2005 at 11:36PM
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I've been to a couple of receptions that had appetizers and drinks before the ceremony, followed by dinner and dancing after the ceremony. I don't see a problem with it being dessert instead of dinner, as long as you say that on the invitation.

I've noticed only two issues. One was when they didn't have enough wait staff and things weren't cleaned up quickly, so the ceremony was held in a messy area.

The second happened at a wedding where the ceremony and the reception were held in the same house, but in different areas. The ceremony was in the garden, appetizers, dinner and dancing on the lawn.

As we arrived, the chairs were arranged around a number of round tables, set up for dinner. And no one moved things around to provide for chairs during the ceremony. So quite a few people who weren't able to stand for the (relatively short) ceremony had to leave and go back to the tables, missing the ceremony.

Personally, I think it's easier if you have the ceremony first, then the reception immediately following. Plus, I just like having the ceremony before the reception.

I'm sure you could make either work, but it does seem you'd need more help the more you want to move people (and stuff) around.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 12:27AM
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i was going to have the appetizers set up in a big room with tables and chairs. in another room, which will be locked off, will be the whole dessert buffet already set up. i will provide chairs for the ceremony and for sitting to eat. it will only be one long table with food. and i will have a garbage can to throw out any garbage. so no mess.
i could have all the food after the ceremony, but figured people show up and mingle anyways before it, so why not provide some food then.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2005 at 1:08PM
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Just to put in my 2 cents- I don't enjoy it when I am a guest at a wedding and then have two or more hours to kill before the reception. Here I am, all dressed up in my nice clothes and "on hold". I think that is a bit inconvenient for the guests and many will drop either the wedding or the reception.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 1:11PM
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if i have it start at 7 with the ceremony at 8 then that is not two ro more hours to kill. and they dont have to show up till 8 if they dont want

    Bookmark   April 22, 2005 at 9:23PM
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One problem with hors d'ouvres first, before the wedding, is that IF the bride does not want to be seen before she marches down the aisle, she will not be there to enjoy her company.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 3:58PM
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i will enjoy them after the ceremony, at every wedding i have been to u dont see the bride till she walks down the aisle

    Bookmark   April 24, 2005 at 7:01PM
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I'm no wedding expert, but I think that sounds perfectly fine. People who would rather eat dinner rather than just appetizers can go out to eat or do whatever they want until 8pm. You also have to keep in mind WHO would be attending. If I were having a wedding, I know my friends would rather do a later ceremony with more dancing and dessert than a dinner thing. I think appetizers and a dessert bar sounds like fun. Everyone will have their own opinion, but this is your wedding, and you can do whatever you want. I think it sounds like a fun wedding to attend.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 5:28PM
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thanks jennmonkey- i talked to some of my friends and they too agree. we all love to dance and have fun being in our mid-20's. it just makes sense for me to cut out dinner.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2005 at 7:33PM
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jennmonkey makes a very good point: "You also have to keep in mind WHO would be attending." I can't tell if your twenty-something friends, who share your tastes, are going to be your only guests, or if you will also have different generations, family, etc. As a host, you do need to be considerate of all your guests, not just your best friends. That doesn't mean that you can't entertain according to your own tastes, of course. But you may lose people who feel like some of the posters here do about going away and coming back hours later, etc.

You seem to have your mind pretty well made up now, though. Enjoy your day!

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 4:36PM
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i have decided not to have a break in between. invite say 7-8pm appetizers or something to that effect
8-? ceremony
?-? dessert and champagne and dancing

anyone can eat before 8 if they feel like on thier own

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 4:38PM
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It all sounds good to me. Your timing should be fine. You might mention on the invitation, "cocktails at 7 p.m., ceremony at 8 p.m. with dancing to follow." You can do this on the invitation or on an insert card.

If you don't want to provide tables and chairs for everyone during the cocktail time, consider renting a few bistro tables. They are 42" tall and a guest can sit a plate and/or a drink on the table while talking. They encourage mingling. Have some tables for the older people and a few bistro tables for the younger ones.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2005 at 7:53PM
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Marie, I think your plan sounds lovely. And I'm definitely not "twentysomething" -- in fact, double that and add some more years!

We are often reminded on this forum that a bride is, in reality, the hostess at her reception, and that as such, a hostess needs to be considerate of *all* her guests. That's a wonderful concept -- in theory. But the truth is, no matter what you do, there may be someone there who doesn't like something you have decided, or that makes them uncomfortable (the father "giving the bride away"...the wording of the vows..."inapproppriate" music at the ceremony or at the dance...the garter toss...etc).

At my DD's wedding the issue was whether or not to serve alcohol. Some of the guests were going to be offended if we did serve it. Other guests were going to be offended if we didn't.

As I said, Marie, your plans are lovely...go with them!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 7:23AM
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thanks guys i feel better knowing not everyone thinks my idea is tacky. after all it is my decision in the end(and of course my fiance) but he agrees with me eanyways.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 11:15AM
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Oh, Marie, I don't think anyone thought your idea was "tacky." I think people were just trying to help you keep it simple (and inexpensive), and the main point was simply to avoid a meal time. A champagne and cake (or even coffee and cake) reception is FAR from "tacky" -- indeed, it is very fancy-schmancy aristocratic.

I think your plans sound like fun. But if it starts getting too complicated, I also think it would be no problem at all if you skip the pre-ceremony reception and started with the ceremony at 8 (or whenever) and then had just the desserts and champagne along with the dancing to follow -- you certainly have no obligation to feed people before the ceremony, and it would relieve you of having to figure out how to get the appetizers cleaned up and the desserts set out during the ceremony, without either hiring help or having friends or relatives miss the ceremony.

Congratulations, and have fun planning!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 12:49PM
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I'll second what Gellchom said, Marie. Nothing at all tacky about having champagne, dessert and dancing. I think people were just trying to address issues that might come up.

I think your weddings sounds very romantic. And if it starts later in the day and the invitation lets people know there's no dinner, then people will eat ahead of time and then come celebrate with you. Best of luck - it sounds lovely.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 4:46PM
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Oops, I meant "Jennifer"! The screen name confused me. Sorry, Jennifer!

    Bookmark   April 27, 2005 at 5:51PM
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i think that's a great idea!!! i'll have to admit though, i fit the stereotype (since i'm 20), but i seriously think that you should go through with it. yeah, great-aunts and cute little nephews may not stay for that part, but i think most of your guests will have a great time...

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 11:49AM
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I think the ceremony at eight pm and the champagne and dessert reception at the end is a FABULOUS idea! I love the idea of setting up a room with a dessert display and having pre-ceremony cocktails. You'll have a great time and you won't break the bank.

Your idea is nowhere near tacky and your guests will love it. Out of town guests will know to get dinner before arriving and then they'll be treated to a great dessert buffet.

I had a friend who had a 3pm ceremony followed by a quick finger foods reception in the church hall. Then, about 4 hours later, she had an after party at a friend's home, with music and snacks and desserts. About 50-75 people came to that, though it was the younger crowd and that is because we only found out about it at the ceremony... it was very impromptu. We just made certain that we ate beforehand (actually we enjoyed it - seeing people we hadn't seen in a long while and eating with them at a place away from the bride and groom, where our attention would be all on them and not our old friends).

I had the best time at that wedding, since there were so many fun activities to go to.

I hope you have a great wedding.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2005 at 3:18PM
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Good Luck with your "Wedding" and hope you have Many Many years of happiness. I have been to two weddings and a 50 year anniversary where they were "Pot Luck" dinners and everyone brought the food. The only thing that was supplied was the fancy cake, punch/tea/coffee. They were fantastic dues. Many years ago when I was married, we had the ceremony at 7 p.m. then had fancy sandwiches and baking at the reception. There was also dancing later with chips, etc. for folks to snack on. When the snacks came out, the bar closed and there was lots of coffee.

    Bookmark   June 22, 2005 at 12:58AM
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I am getting married this coming May and we are having a private 'family' wedding (about 12 guests total) in my parents' backyard. Our reception will follow the next night, Saturday, and I think it will be an 'Hors d'oeuvres, dessert, and champaign reception'. We're vegetarian and virtually none of our guests will be and we don't want to buy/serve meat, but if we served a meal, our guests would expect it, so we're avoiding that situation. Would anyone find this offensive (not being invited to the ceremony and/or no dinner)? Also, we're debating between having the reception at a facility of some sort or my parents' house. I want an evening reception and the house is not conducive to dancing or partying really. It would be better at a lodge or vineyard, huh?

    Bookmark   October 11, 2006 at 11:12PM
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Well, if the only issue is meat, you certainly can have a lovely vegetarian meal. Our wedding was meatless, just fish and dairy, and it was fantastic. That's what we almost always do for big events, now that I think of it. But if you don't want to serve a full meal, simply start well after supper time and call it a "dessert reception." I go to those all the time, and don't worry, it isn't tacky at all. If you really want to serve savories, too, then call it "light supper reception" instead, but still start a little later than you would for a full dinner -- maybe 8 or 8:30. I wouldn't mention both appetizers and dessert; it seems to make too much of a point that the main course is being omitted. "Light supper" does the job. No need to mention champagne specifically.

It is certainly not offensive, or otherwise "wrong," to have a private ceremony followed by a large reception, and it isn't wrong not to serve a full meal (unless you are tying people up during a meal time). But I see your concern: you don't want people to think that you don't care about their presence at the ceremony or like them enough to provide dinner, but you do want lots of gifts. Don't worry. The way you are doing it will be just fine.

Best wishes!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 2:42PM
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What you plan to do is fine. It is fairly common to have a small private ceremony and then have a reception at a later date. Because you are serving hors d'oeuvres, you shouldn't have any problem serving only vegetarian items and your guests will probably never notice.

If you want guests to linger and have dancing, then you may need to have the reception at some venue other than a home. The alternative would be to rent a canopy or tent, depending on weather, and a dance floor and have everything in the yard. That also is very common, however, it can cost more than renting a facility when you factor in the cost of the tent, tables, chairs, linens, etc.

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 5:15PM
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Thanks for all the feedback; it's so helpful! I'm kind of reconsidering the evening reception because w/o dinner it would have to start late, like several people have reccommended, and I really want kids there.

Oh, and another key component is how very informal(its more "us" and *some* central guests (ie groom's fam) don't have formal clothes etc), yet nice,I want it to be.

So, I'm thinking a 3:30 reception on a Sat at my church and then, for the younger crowd, we'll reconveine to go out informally later. Stay tuned for my rough draft *informal* invite wording. Thanks everybody!


    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 5:58PM
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okay, here it is:

To help us celebrate, please join us for an informal wedding reception celebrating the union of
Brock and Alicia T-L
3:00pm on Saturday, May 19th, 2007
Unitarian Universalist Church
123 Road, City, State
The couple will be married in a family ceremony on May 18th, 2007

basically, I am super excited about the fact that we're hyphenating and I really want to put our married names on it! web sources seem to indicate that this would be exceptable...? also, is it clear that a 3:00 event and "informal" means no meal? suggestions?

also, I am a graduate student and would like to informally invite my dept so that they all know that they are welcome to come, but don't feel pressured either to come or to give us anything. how do I do this? just word of mouth and ask people if they'd like an invite? or email? i don't know. I'm also debating on inviting some of my teachers that are younger and "hang" w/the grad students often. any thoughts?

thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks thanks!!

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 8:39PM
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Well, you really can't issue an invitation in the name you will have if you don't have it yet. Also, "informal reception" is a little confusing. I think you mean to refer to clothes, or perhaps to no meal, but it sounds sort of like there is a formal one some other time. It certainly does not do the job of indicating that there is no meal. Some of the most formal wedding receptions have no meal, and some of the most casual ones do.

What about something like this:

Brock L and Alicia T
will be married in a family ceremony on May 18th, 2007
Please join us for a reception
Saturday, May 19th, 2007
3:00 pm
Unitarian Universalist Church
123 Road, City, State

If you like, at the bottom in tiny type or on a separate card:
After May 18th, 2007
Brock and Alicia T-L
at home

--> Make sure that the date of the reception is more prominent than the date of the wedding, so no one will be confused when they glance at it on the refrigerator later.

Don't invite anyone by word of mouth or email. If you want to invite them, send them invitations. An invitation is not pressure either to attend or to send a gift. I would be confused if you just sort of let me know casually that it was okay if I came: "Does she really want me there, or is she just feeling like she should have invited me, or what?" I don't know how big your department is or how close you are with everyone, but you are not obligated to invite them all. People understand that you can't invite the whole world, and if they aren't close with you on a personal basis, they probably wouldn't want to come anyway (even the most fun wedding in the world is no fun if you don't know the people there -- take it from a clergy wife!) If the faculty members are really your friends, no reason not to invite them, but don't feel bad if they decline. It sounds like you are very excited, which is good, and want to include everyone you like. But eventually you have to put on the brakes!

Have fun!

By the way, what are you studying?

    Bookmark   October 12, 2006 at 11:21PM
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The fact that the reception is in the afternoon indicates that it isn't formal and you really don't need to worry about the food. You are the hosts, so your guests should accept what you choose to serve. Hors d'oeuvres are perfect for a mid-afternoon reception. Then, as you mentioned, anyone who chooses to get together later in the day can do so, whether it be you and your friends, or your extended families each doing something.

I agree on inviting your college friends, send an invitation to those that you want to attend.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 2:11PM
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I study Political Science. I agree with the suggestions and I like the idea of the address card with our new names!

    Bookmark   October 13, 2006 at 11:53PM
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Sorry if anybody said this already- but remember that if you are serving drinks, you really should have some food to go along with it. Something more than strawberries and chocolate.

I recently attended an afternoon wedding reception at which they served only cake and punch and mints. As we were leaving I heard people joking about where the closest McDonalds was. Too humiliating!

Think about it- guests have given up their Saturday, bought and wrapped a gift, maybe bought new clothes or went to the trouble to take extra time to look nice, maybe driven a distance, hired a babysitter, got the car washed, their nails done - I don't know, all kinds of things for your wedding - don't send them away hungry.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2006 at 10:40PM
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i totally agree, scarlett! I was planning on hors d'oeverves and w/my mom on it, they'll be plennnnnty to eat! :)

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 12:06AM
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In my opinion, if a reception is going to be in the hours of either 11:00am - 1:00pm or 5:00pm-8:00pm substantial food needs to be serve. No, it doesn't have to be a sit down dinner or even a full course buffet, but it should be heavy enough to feed people a meal.

I would never considering hosting a party that would go within those time periods without feeding people. Maybe some don't personally think it needs to be done, but believe me, there will be a substantial amount of people that will be talking or joking about the lack of food and how tacky your reception is because of it. They may not tell you to your face, but they will be thinking it.

So, if you are looking for people to tell you it's ok to not have much food, you will find some, BUT remember there will be just as many, if not more people, that will be disappointed and 'laughing' at the lack of food, If having 50% or more of your guests disappointed with your reception is ok with you, then go for it.

Otherwise, I would look for a different way to cut corners. Possibly do a brunch reception and/or don't serve any alchohol.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2006 at 12:50PM
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However, if the wedding is between 2 and 4, and the reception is somewhere clearly not a restaurant and esp. if it immediately follows it, I won't expect you to feed me very much. I would expect there to be SOMETHING to eat, but I won't expect a meal.

And if there's not that much food, I would expect the reception to be a pretty short event--45 minutes, tops.

(my IL's family is always having birthday gatherings at restaurants at 2pm--it's starting to tick me off. It's just to darned awkward to time my family's meals so we can sit down to a full, three-course Italian meal in the middle of the afternoon!)

For an afternoon wedding, I'd never buy a new dress unless I needed one anyway, so you don't owe me for that.

I probably wouldn't get my nails done for an afternoon wedding, either.
I would expect not to have to hire a babysitter for an afternoon wedding, because it's not a formal event. If you didn't invite my kids, well, I'd pay a babysitter, but I find that most afternoon events don't exclude kids.
And you don't owe me a meal because I washed my car. (I don't spiff my car up for an event I'm attending, actually; if I wash it, it's because it really grimy, and it has NOTHING to do w/ your wedding).

    Bookmark   October 18, 2006 at 10:49AM
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im sorry but if i am incited to a wedding and have to go out and buy a new dress and shoes and have my hair done plus get a gift or give money, i would want something to eat/i wouldnt care about a band or champagne, of course you probobly would want music so they can do the bride and groom dances etc but there is nothing wrong with a deejay. aand NO KIDS

    Bookmark   November 21, 2007 at 1:28AM
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