Wedding Reception Forum

Clerk of Court Ceremony Now/Reception for Family Later?

I have a (possibly) very odd question and I hope I can get some opinions on it.


My fiancée and I are planning to marry within the month; we would like to do a clerk of court ceremony with just the two of us now and then are planning (at around the time of our first-year anniversary) a reception-only for our families and friends to visit us and celebrate with us. We are unable to bear the expenses of both a wedding and a reception this year because of money and time constraints (on everyone's part) but rather than cancelling or rescheduling our nuptials (or not doing anything at all) we settled on doing the ceremony (as planned) as just the two of us and then next year do something with everyone (that my fiancée and I will pay for). We feel very strongly that this well relieve some pressure and curtail the various problems that came this year.

We are not religious nor do we come from religious families so a church wedding is not an expectation or something we are interested in so my fiancée and I are fine with just doing the clerk of court ceremony; my question is how do we announce our intentions? We want to formally announce our marriage but let everyone know that while we did the wedding ceremony privately there WILL be a reception-style celebration to follow.

For the reception we would like to have everyone come for a 3-day weekend to relax, have a lunchtime BBQ (or something similar) as the 'main event' and just hang out. We live near a beach so we have ready made activities  and can rent a few houses to accommodate my parents, siblings, and few close friends (his family and friends live in town).


My question is, is this a viable option?? Is there any way to improve upon it?? Any problems I am overlooking or tips that anyone could share with me? Is separating out the ceremonies rude or given what we are trying to do understandable?? We want everything to be as relaxed as possible and we do not want to burden our relatives/friends with expenses (that in some cases would be too strenuous on the individual or their family) which is why we want to do something low-key and pay for everything ourselves. We do NOT want to give the impression to anyone that they were not thought of or that we did not want to include them in our Big Day. 


Please and Thank You







Re: Clerk of Court Ceremony Now/Reception for Family Later?

  • Options
    Eloping/private ceremonies are perfectly fine. So is throwing a party at a later date. But this party is not a wedding reception, as that can only happen immediately after your ceremony. This means no wedding gown at the party, no first dance, no bridal party, no ceremony redo, basically nothing that says "wedding". A BBQ sounds great for this. Also, it is not a gift giving event so no registries, showers etc. However, if you are inviting people to the courthouse, you should host something for them, even if it is just cake and punch. Basically these two things are completely separate events, your wedding (at the courthouse) and a backyard party. If you want a private ceremony, send announcements afterwards. You don't need to say anything about the party the following year, because that is a different event.
  • Options
    Thank you SO much for your reply! We have been concerned about doing things this way because although it "felt" right to us we also wanted to make sure that we were respectful of feelings and we wanted to be VERY clear that there WILL be something later but that it would be a separate low-key event that was basically just a celebration and not anything "wedding". I definitely see your point that the second event should not include wedding elements so that there is no confusion or problems about what we are doing. Again, thank you so very much for your reply. You have put some minds at ease this morning. =)
  • Options
    I'm glad to hear that. I've always thought elopements were fantastically romantic! Just remember: elopement = just you two getting married and not telling anyone until after. Private ceremony= you two, maybe parents, 1 or 2 friends or siblings. Both have pros and cons. Elopements mean your parents aren't there, which can hurt them. Private ceremonies can be tricky because people may feel that they should have been invited and they may find out about it beforehand. Also, if your invite people you need to host something for them, even if it is just cake and punch. Be prepared for some blowback, but as long as you and Fi are on the same page, you'll be fine. Best wishes and have fun- congrats on your upcoming wedding day!
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