Reception Ideas

Open House Reception Activities

FH and I are planning a wedding for May in Minnesota. We are renting out an old Victorian home for our venue. Both of us are private people and I have major anxiety, so I've never had the desire to get married in front of hundreds of people. The plan is to get married in front of our immediate family only (Parents, Grandparents, and Siblings) and then host an open house reception in the afternoon at the same venue for around 150 people. We are nixing most of the traditional wedding activities because we want the reception to really be a time to chat with friends and family from out of town and enjoy being surrounded by them all. FH is worried that people will be disappointed because we aren't having a DJ or doing any of those traditional activities. We are trying to think of fun activities that we can provide for everyone who attends. We plan to have some yard games in the front yard and maybe do some sort of wedding Mad Lib, but other than that we are at a loss! We will have plenty of pictures up for people to look at, food and drinks, and we are asking special people in our lives to write letters for us to have up around the venue. Is there anything else we could add to make the open house reception feel more special?

Re: Open House Reception Activities

  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    I agree with @MobKaz on this one. I wouldn't travel from out of town to attend a party for a wedding I wasn't invited to attend (especially held the same day). However, I assume your family and friends may know about your anxiety issues so they may feel differently. I wouldn't have a lot of pictures and letters put up around the venue. Again, if the pictures are from the ceremony it just rubs it in I wasn't invited. Just have good food and drink, back ground music and let people mix and mingle. Don't expect it to go very long though if you aren't going to have dancing. Also agree to be very clear about what the invitations are for - a party and not a wedding.
    MairePoppyahoyweddingPrettyGirlLost
  • If you're going to do this, I suggest skipping the letters and the photos (assuming you mean photos from the ceremony). The photos will just rub it in that your guests weren't invited to the wedding ceremony. While I think it's a little odd that you asked people to write the letters (in my experience, when you receive letters related to a particular occasion, someone else has arranged for you to receive them), if this is something you really want, then keep the letters private and don't display them. 

    As for activities, all you really need is good food and drink and enough space/seating for everyone. Feel free to have some games available so people can play if they so choose, but don't make an organized activity out of it. 

    I agree that you have to be extremely clear on the invites that this is for the party only and not for the wedding itself. You also have to be realistic about the fact that a lot of people will not travel as great a distance for a party as they would for a wedding. People will probably understand that you didn't want a huge ceremony, but that doesn't mean that they'll travel more than an hour or two for this party.
    image
    charlotte989875STARMOON44InLoveInQueens
  • Photos that would be up would NOT Ave from the ceremony. There is only an hour and a half between ceremony and open house reception.  We were hoping that the letters would replace the traditional speeches that are given at a reception, so it would be from parents and 2-3 close friends also at the ceremony. 
    As for travel, we totally understand that people from far away will not come, but the majority of our friends and family live within 1.5 hours. Everything will be held near downtown Minneapolis so we are hoping that people will make a trip out of it (a few friends have already said that is their intention, see us for a few hours and then explore more of the city). 
    The Victorian Home we rented has over 4,000 square feet so there will be plenty of room rain or shine. 

    From what Im hearing it sounds like food and music will be enough, plus maybe a few yard games?
  • Photos that would be up would NOT Ave from the ceremony. There is only an hour and a half between ceremony and open house reception.  We were hoping that the letters would replace the traditional speeches that are given at a reception, so it would be from parents and 2-3 close friends also at the ceremony. 
    As for travel, we totally understand that people from far away will not come, but the majority of our friends and family live within 1.5 hours. Everything will be held near downtown Minneapolis so we are hoping that people will make a trip out of it (a few friends have already said that is their intention, see us for a few hours and then explore more of the city). 
    The Victorian Home we rented has over 4,000 square feet so there will be plenty of room rain or shine. 

    From what Im hearing it sounds like food and music will be enough, plus maybe a few yard games?
    It sounds like your plans are fine etiquette wise. It's a truly private ceremony, and you're not hiding that from your guests. I think just good food, music, yard games if you're into that, but I don't think you need anything else. If you really want other things, photobooths/areas are pretty popular. But again, you definitely don't need them. 

    I just have a question about the letters; are you asking people to write them for you? This seems a little, odd, to me. When people offer toasts at receptions they have offered to give them, but it sounds like you're asking people to write letters. I might just skip this part. 


    STARMOON44InLoveInQueensMairePoppyshort+sassy
  • We were hoping to have family members write letters in lieu of the typical father of the bride speech, best man speech, etc. Think this could still work? 
  • We were hoping to have family members write letters in lieu of the typical father of the bride speech, best man speech, etc. Think this could still work? 
    If they offer to give a toast I don’t see why you can’t let them give a toast. It just seems weird to have someone offer to do a toast then say “actually we’d rather have you write us a letter”. Is there a reason you don’t want toasts? I just think it’s odd (and a little not okay) that you’re asking people to write out things to you. 
    MairePoppy
  • CMGragainCMGragain
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    member
    edited January 30
    Toasts are not something that you can expect other people to give to you.  Asking people to write out a congratulations letter to honor yourself is rude.  Toasts are not necessary.  Why are you so focused on them?  If your guests want to wish you well, they will.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    InLoveInQueensahoywedding
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    member
    I wouldn't ask anyone to write you a letter or give you a toast. If anyone does that, they need to take the initiative and approach you about it, not the other way around.
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut
    Moderator Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    edited January 31
    We were hoping to have family members write letters in lieu of the typical father of the bride speech, best man speech, etc. Think this could still work? 
    TBH, I wouldn't miss the toasts at a wedding. I also wouldn't read the letters. Probably wouldn't even notice they are there. I like scribe's suggestion.

    As long as you have more than enough food, beverage and places for all your guests to sit, your plan is fine etiquette-wise. Be prepared that most, maybe all, of your guests will show up at the beginning of your open house. Music would add some party atmosphere, so hopefully your guests might stay a few hours. 
                
    InLoveInQueensCMGragainahoywedding
  • We went to a wedding this summer in an old house and it was super hard for things to feel cohesive. There were activities (photo booth, guest book signing, etc) in other rooms that we didn't even know about until right at the end. I would suggest some kind of sign or "program" (maybe a cute drawing of the house with what's happening where) that lets guests know where to go.

    Also, guests may not stay as long, and if you're having lawn games or outside things you'll want to keep a close eye on the weather. Maybe start things earlier to take advantage of more outside time. It can get chilly quite quickly even in May once the sun goes down.
    charlotte989875InLoveInQueenssouthernbelle0915sparklepants41
  • First of all, don't call it a reception. A reception is where you "receive" the guests who attended an event (i.e. your ceremony). Your reception will be immediately after the ceremony with the guests who attended the ceremony, and you should make sure that they are hosted properly (food, drinks, chairs, etc.). 

    The party you're having later in the day is not a reception, since you're not receiving your guests from anything. It's just a party. Maybe a great, big, fancy party...but it's still just a party, or a celebration, if you like that word better. 

    Most parties just have food, drinks, seats, and background music. And people socialize. If you want to have a specific type of party (like a party with lawn games, or a party with board games or mad libs, or a dance party) then you can do that, but it's not necessary. 

    All of the things that you're thinking are "typical" of wedding receptions--toasts (never speeches! They're toasts), introductions, and first dances--aren't required at all. No one will miss them at ALL. If you want to throw a specific type of party that has different activities in different rooms or something then go for it, but you don't have to. 

    The letters and photos sound pretty cheesy in an uncomfortable way, to me. 

    Personally, this type of party sounds very anxiety-inducing to me. People will be coming and going throughout the afternoon, and in various areas of a 4000sqft mansion and/or outside. And you're going to have to find and greet them all, and make small talk with all of them where everyone of them inevitably asks you how the ceremony was. You're going to have to cut virtually every conversation short (which is hard to do! anxiety!) to go greet other guests, and make sure everyone is taken care of. At a typical wedding reception everyone will just tell you the ceremony was beautiful, and everyone is there at the same place in the same room so it's easy to greet everyone (receiving line or table visits, or even just mingling throughout the room). Personally, I'd much rather take the anxiety of everyone watching me recite a few vows vs. the anxiety of trying to host an open-house style party as the host and guest of honor!
    mollybarker11
  • I think you’re fine etiquette-wise, though I might recommend not wearing a formal wedding dress if you wear one for the intimate ceremony. A white sundress, sure, but it sounds like this party will be more casual so I’d recommend matching your attire to that formality in case you haven’t already thought of that!

    I’m with others that you shouldn’t worry about posting photos or letters. Maybe a Polaroid guest book instead? 

    No need for activities beyond food, drinks, and background music, but if you want to do yard games, a photo booth, or otherwise that would be fine but definitely not necessary if you want to keep things as simple and stess-free as possible. 

    Enjoy your party!
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