Hosting reception months after foreign wedding-any guidelines???

dibgarAugust 12, 2008

Our 26-year-old son has been living in Japan for 3 years. He plans to marry a Japanese woman in December. My husband and I will attend the traditional ceremony in Japan, but I doubt that any other friends or relatives will be able to make the long trip.

I would like to host a reception for them on their next visit to the US, but that might be several months after their wedding in Japan.

They are visiting us this week, and we hosted a very informal "get-to-meet-her" party yesterday for some of his high school/college friends. For a reception next summer, however, I would like to include a wider range of people who knew him growing up in the church and community.

Are there any guidelines for hosting a reception months after a foreign wedding?

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I'm sure there are no official "guidelines," but everyone here will have ideas!

Here are mine: Don't re-enact the ceremony or have any type of quasi-ritual, attendants, etc. Just have a fabulous party for them -- live music and dancing if you can -- and then at some appropriate point in the festivities, take the microphone and welcome your guests, then have toasts and congratulations. Don't show a video from Japan, but if you want to have an album available or incorporate photos into centerpieces or other decorations, that would be nice.

    Bookmark   August 12, 2008 at 5:38PM
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I have to respectfully disagree. If it were a close frieend of mine, I would love to see video. Maybe you can a room or area off to a side where those who want can watch a 15-20 minute video and those who dont can hang out, eat, at bar, etc.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 10:27PM
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I'd like to see the video of a good friend's wedding, too, kkny -- but I wouldn't want to be invited to a "showing" of it; I'd just like to watch it with them at their home sometime. Besides, there may be many guests who are not interested in watching it. It would seem a little self-indulgent to me, like showing your vacation slides. I wouldn't say anything to anyone, but inside I would be laughing a little. And if there are those who are at all put out about not having been able to attend in person, they may feel like it's rubbing it in -- although in the OP's circumstances, as opposed to a "destination wedding," that seems unlikely.

I agree that having it running in a room off to the side would be much better than stopping the party for 20 minutes and making everyone watch. But I would make sure that the video room was the side show and the party was the main event -- i.e., continue the food, music, and dancing in the party room.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2008 at 11:12PM
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Before planning a "typical" American reception with music and dancing, be sure to ask your son if that would be appropriate in his bride's culture. If she isn't comfortable with dancing or some other part of a typical reception, then you may want to tailor your plans to fit what she would be most comfortable doing. Perhaps it will be a meal and spending time meeting the guests with background music. She might also prefer certain types of food or wine.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 1:50AM
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I hope this isn't construed as hijacking the thread, but I'm in a similar situation. What would you all suggest for the wording of the invitation to the reception? Something like this?

Bride & Groom, along with their parents Mr & Mrs A and Mr & Mrs B, invite you to celebrate their marriage with a reception at _____ place.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 8:13PM
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Annkathryn, if you are hosting the reception, I would begin the invitation with your names, such as Mr. and Mrs. Grooom's Parents invite you to celebrate the marriage of their son to.....

When the invitation begins with the couple's names, to me that indicates that the couple planned and are hosting their reception.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2008 at 10:49PM
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annakathryn, I agree with sweet pea -- let whoever is hosting the party "do the inviting," as it were, on the invitation. Note that this does NOT necessarily mean who is paying -- if, say, the bride's parents are paying, but they graciously want the groom's parents or a grandma or someone to be co-hosts, they can word it accordingly. Or, let's say the groom's parents are hosting, but Grandma Megabux is underwriting the whole thing -- that isn't anyone's business, so (if Grandma Megabux is okay with it!) the groom's parents can appear as the hosts on the invitation anyway.

I think the wording "invite you to celebrate their marriage with a reception" could be confusing. I wouldn't be sure what I was being invited to. There is also, unfortunately, the risk that some invitees might see the reference to the recent marriage as a prompt for a gift.

If someone other than the couple themselves are hosting, I would prefer "invite you to a reception in honor of Petunia and Cuthbert Newlywed." No need to mention the marriage -- anyone who is invited will understand. You can tweak the wording according to the nature and formality of the event (e.g., "please celebrate with us at a barbecue in honor of Petunia and Cuthbert / date/time/place / Muriel and Mumford Groomsparents" would be more casual; "Mr. and Mrs. Mumford Groomsparents request the pleasure of your company at a dinner dance in honor of Mr. Cuthbert Newlywed and Ms. Petunia Bride" would be formal -- you get it).

If the couple themselves are hosting, they really can't write "in honor of." It is important to avoid any feeling of "our wedding is long over, but we want to keep being the center of attention -- and maybe get some more gifts." I would just invite everyone to "a cocktail party" or "a dinner dance" or whatever you are planning. The fact that it is a printed invitation (even one you do on your computer) will cue people that it is a special occasion, not just a no-reason get-together, and everyone will understand that it is a post-wedding local reception for a couple who is simply being becomingly modest.

Have fun planning!

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 11:31AM
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What I meant in that last paragraph was that if the couple themselves are the hosts, I would omit any reference to the recent marriage at all -- just let the invitation read like for a regular party. The guests will all understand exactly why you are having the party and what it will be, but there won't be any trace of "Come honor us!" or "we-had-our-wedding-where-you-couldn't-come-but-we-still-want-you-to-buy-us-gifts."

It's tricky to host a party where you are the guest(s) of honor, but it can be done if you are very careful with things like this.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2008 at 5:23PM
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Thanks so much for all the responses! Here's my specific situation: I'm the bride-to-be. Fiance and I live on west coast, immediate family lives on east coast, extended family lives all over the country. In a perfect world, we would have a ceremony immediately followed by a reception with all of our close friends and relatives. The logistics of distance, young children, elderly parents, expense of travel, etc, are going to make this nearly impossible, so we've decided on what's really important to us.

Fiance and I are thinking of a very small ceremony on the east coast with my parents, his mother, and our brothers, sisters and children. Maybe 20 people at the most. To us, these are the people we most want to share this occasion with, and it's more practical to have the ceremony take place where everyone else lives than to expect everyone to travel out west to our home.

Then within a month or so of the wedding, when we're back home, we'd like to have a party with our close circle of friends, simply to mark the occasion and share our happiness with them. We wouldn't expect our east coast parents, brothers or sisters to attend, although they'd certainly be welcome to.

I like the rituals of the reception (toast, dinner, dancing, cake, etc) but feel a little awkward having all the rituals at the west coast party without having had the actual wedding ceremony there. But a big party at our home sounds like fun, with perhaps the only wedding ritual a formal wedding cake baked by a friend who's an expert pastry chef. And perhaps some toasts by friends who have been asked ahead of time.

In our case my soon-to-be-hubby & I would be hosting the west coast party. No family (except my teenage sons) would likely be attending, although all east coast relatives would certainly be invited.

So it sounds like just throwing a regular party, with the general knowledge that we'd just gotten married, is the way to go. On the one hand I like the idea of having the party invitations omit references to the recent marriage because my preference is for no gifts. On the other hand, I feel it's awkward to throw a big party and include some of the reception rituals (well, the gorgeous cake anyway) without letting people know ahead of time that we're celebrating our wedding.

A related question: since the wedding will be very small and won't include extended family, and since the extended family won't be invited to the west coast party (they don't live nearby), is it proper to send out wedding announcements to extended family? Alternatively, is it proper to not send out announcements to anyone not at the ceremony or the party, and assume that extended family will hear of our wedding by word of mouth, annual Christmas letters, etc?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 9:28PM
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I think your plans sound wonderful! It is just fine for you to have a wedding cake, toasts, etc., without "warning" everyone on the invitation.

Re: the wedding announcements. Yes, it's proper to send them out to those who aren't invited to the wedding (you don't send both an invitation and an announcement to the same people). But it is certainly "proper" not to send out announcements at all and just rely on the things you said for people to find out.

Indeed, I haven't seen an announcement in years -- are they common in your community? -- and frankly, I don't think I would send them. Receiving an announcement does NOT oblige the recipients to give a gift, just congratulations, but because they are so uncommon (at least in my community), I would be afraid that many people would wonder if it is a prompt for a gift. So if it were my wedding, I would send invitations to those I would like to include if they could come (without regard to whether they likely could), and let the others find out as you said.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:11PM
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As a wedding planner I can attest to the fact that couples do still send announcements, primarily to extended family but occasionally to business associates depending on profession. What I hear as a reason for sending them is that some of those receiving the announcement would be hurt to hear the news second hand; it makes them feel unimportant to the bride or groom.

As mentioned, an announcement is simply communication. It does not carry the expectation of a gift or even a card, though some people will choose to give a gift because they want to, not because they have to.

    Bookmark   August 16, 2008 at 10:33PM
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If you do not invite your extended family to the wedding, I would write each one a personal letter as otherwise they could feel hurt at finding out through the family grapevine.
But really, I think you are making a mistake in deciding on behalf of your extended family that they could not afford or would not make the effort to come. I would feel hurt if someone else made that decision on my behalf. I would send them an invitation to the wedding and let them decide for themselves- you never know, they may have some cash in a sock under the mattress they've been saving for just such an eventuality. And even if they have to send regrets, they'll know you wanted them there.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 4:33AM
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colleen you make a good point about sending invitations to extended family. I'll talk about it with my parents. I was trying to keep things as simple as possible given that I'll be planning the wedding from a long distance - I wasn't even going to send out wedding invitations at all!

Apologies to the OP for hijacking her thread - I'm hoping this will all be useful to other readers.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2008 at 3:47PM
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We got married on an island and had a reception back at home 6 weeks later. We took large posterboards and blew up some of our wedding pics on color printers and made scrapbook looking pages and hung them all around the reception hall. It was a great way to get people to mingle as well, and everyone got to see the best pics.

    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 11:42PM
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