FI and I are both pretty introverted, and cost-conscious, so we have steered away from a "traditional" wedding reception with a full meal. We have decided on apps, beer/wine and cake (all the best parts in our opinions
) for the reception of 50-70 people. We would like to then host an "after party" of an intimate, fancy dinner (off-site) for immediate family and attendants, who would be invited on a separate invite in the suite. Essentially, we want to host everyone, but really show love to our immediate family and dearest friends.
I need a little help refining this idea. Feel free to chime in with ideas/advice!
(I will be noting the reception type on the invites, because I would want to know what to expect as a guest. Also, there will be enough seating for everyone, just not sure what "media" yet. We wouldn't "broadcast" the dinner, but if someone mentions it, we would say that it is an intimate thank you to those who made the day possible.)
1) Timing. My thoughts are:
1pm: first look/family photos??? (see #4 below)
2pm: short & sweet ceremony
2:30-3pm: entrance, intertwined first dance, father/bride & mother/groom dance.
3pm-4:30pm: apps, open bar for entirety of event,
4:30pm: cake cutting
4:30-5:30pm: cake eating, toasts, little bit of dancing
5:30-6pm: send-off/end time on invites
7pm: after party dinner??? (see #5 below)
2) Setup. Since we both like more relaxed atmospheres, we are thinking of doing a more lounge-style than a bunch of tables. No seating plan, so people can roam, come/go as they please to different groups. Maybe tables for 75% of guests, and a bunch of casual seating areas, like couches/adirondack chairs with coffee tables. I haven't refined this at all, so feel free to shoot out ideas.
3) Amount of food. In our area, "dinner time" is at 6pm. In my opinion, even if people normally eat dinner before 6, that still leaves a lot of time to go get dinner, especially since there would be a defined ending time on the invites. Would we still have to offer enough apps for a "full meal"? If so, we would have to trash this idea entirely, as it would not save us any money and not allow for the dinner which is what we're both most excited about. I'm most worried about this.
4) Photos. With such a short "wedding", there would be no time for photos during cocktail hour as usual. Would we take photos after the reception, but before the family dinner? Has anyone done photos after the reception? We're both pretty opposed to a "first look", but if there are no other options, that may have to happen.
5) Time between reception and dinner. I'm considering having this time between the reception and dinner to allow for a little rest (his gramma is 90+), time to change if need be, and travel to the restaurant (don't have a venue or restaurant booked yet, but they likely wouldn't be at the same venue, but not far away). Is an hour too much? I have seen that that's typical for a church ceremony, then venue reception.
Sorry I'm all over the place with this idea, I'm just really trying to make it work. Thank you in advance for the help!