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Destination Weddings

At home reception- selfish or great idea? was it worth it?

Hi all! New to the boards, but looking for some advice. My fiancé and I are getting married in a year in Belize and while planning the wedding itself has been fun and rather easy, the idea of having an at home reception is quickly becoming overwhelming. Partly it's hard for us to find a relatively inexpensive place for 100 people outside the DC area. 
 Also since we're getting married in November 2015, we want to avoid having the reception during the holidays, so we'd look at having the reception in Jan/Feb. It almost feels too long after our actual wedding but at the same time we'd want pictures and our video to be there. 
 Lastly (mainly), we feel like we're asking a few close friends and family to travel pretty far and spend some serious cash to spend our wedding with us, only to turn around and have a local party a few months later. It kind of sounds a little selfish. Well maybe that's just us thinking that. Plus the idea of spending around $5000 on top of our wedding (and thats for a REALLY cheap reception) seems like it defeats the purpose of getting away. 

What are your thoughts? Did having an at-home reception really warrant the cost? I'd love to celebrate with friends and extended family we're not inviting, but not sure it's worth such an expensive price tag. 

Re: At home reception- selfish or great idea? was it worth it?

  • WinstonsGirlWinstonsGirl The Cold North member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    My Mom insisted.  We said no for about 6 months before and after the wedding before finally caving.  We invited only those invited to the wedding, and our guests were mostly those who couldn't make the trip.  It turned out well cos I had a lot of family come, so it was a bit of a family reunion for my side.  

    Ours was a "Meet the Married Couple" backyard open house.  My parents hosted snacks, beer, wine, pop/juice/water.  I brought Cake Pops.  We had our wedding album out and that was about it.  It was super casual.  Everyone just hung out and chatted.  My Mom's original idea was pretty much a full blown reception.  No thanks.  We got married in March and had ours in July.  I'm sure it cost my parents about $200-300 for the food and drink.  
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  • We had an absolute blast at our AHR. We held it a week after we returned from our DW/honeymoon.

    We had 15 people at our DW and about 120 for our AHR. It was great to celebrate with our local crowd and everyone who came had a great time.

    We were able to keep the cost in check bc we self catered and the venue is owned by a friend.

    If it's within your budget to have a local party I would say it was worth it. Had we not been able to pull it off it wouldn't have been a world-ender or anything but I'm glad we had one.

  • We did not have an AHR. If we did, it would have totally defeated the purpose of eloping away from home. We didn't have any guests (obvious, since we eloped!) so no one got to do or see anything WR. We eloped to avoid stress and drama.

    DWs can be very costly. Most of the savings is in the fact that you tend to have a smaller guest list. If saving money is the main reason for you having a DW, then I think having an AHR is not worth the stress. The only thing that may or may not be doable for you is to wait until late Spring and have a backyard BBQ type party. Do hamburgers and hot dogs with sodas, water, beer, and maybe wine.

    I don't think anyone would be mad if they knew you had a smaller wedding b/c of finances. You can always celebrate with close friends or family by having individual meet ups with them after the wedding. Like treating a few people for dinner.


  • Mine was also a case of my mother insisting. My parents paid for the party and there were about 120 people there. (As opposed to just 30 at our DW.)

    I did not want the party and to be honest, once I was done with the wedding I was DONE. (Our wedding was beautiful and perfect but man, once you've talked about something for a year or more you are pretty much ready to let it go.)

    It was a good party (we did a bbq, nothing wedding-y) and my parents really enjoyed it. It was an amazing gesture from them. That said, I found it a bit overwhelming and too large and of course, the whole point of our DW was to avoid that.

    Oh and ours was about 5-6 weeks after our wedding. It didn't feel all that long - we didn't even have our pictures back yet.

  • I definitely do not want one. This is just my personal feeling, so feel free to disregard or even flat out disagree. I'm doing a destination wedding because I want a very small wedding and I really do not want a big party with everyone in our extended family or circle of friends. I've made that choice and I feel like I need to stick with it. If we were to do some sort of at home post-wedding party, I feel like it would be somewhat similar to a tiered wedding. People would be hurt that they were invited only to the post-wedding party and not to the wedding itself. Additionally it adds on a whole layer of big party to an event that I wanted to keep small. 

    I've been invited to a post-wedding BBQ and to a tiered wedding and to several wedding ceremonies where I was not religiously qualified to attend the ceremony. In all cases I felt somewhat uncomfortable or excluded or annoyed. That's not to say that all the guests felt this way, but I did. While I expect some of our friends and family will be miffed at their lack of invite to our destination wedding, I'm hoping that they will feel better when we keep it to immediate family and a very few best friends and won't feel obligated to give gifts or attend a gathering that might feel second-rate to them. 
  • Thanks everyone, this is so insightful!! I think we're leaning toward an AHR but only if it can be done on the low-end. It is REALLY helpful to hear pros and cons and really relieving to know that if we don't do it, it really isn't a huge deal. And if we do decide for it, it can be as low-key as we want without fear of duplicating a wedding. I really hated the idea of having a reception which just seemed like a wedding since that's the whole point in destination wedding- intimate setting with close friends and less traditional! The only thing I really wanted in an AHR is basically a fun dancing/drinking event with friends who weren't initially on the invite list- so we may do some derivative of that! Or put that money into the reception at the DW! So many choices!!

    Again, thank you all!! It's so hard to rehash the same pro/con list with the fiancé.  Not to mention since our parents are really laid back, their advice is basically 'whatever you want', which I really can't complain about. Couldn't imagine being forced into a reception! That's definitely commendable :)
  • I think it comes down to whether you anticipate that people will travel to the reception.  If I got a plane ticket and the expenses like hotel and rental car to come to a reception, then showed up find beer, wine, snacks, a few cake pops, and a photo album, I'd be really disappointed.  If I have to spend hundreds/thousands for H and me to travel (and a $450 plane ticket across the country, x2, rental car, hotel, a few meals, present quickly turns into a $1,500+ trip), you'd better be providing an awesome meal and a fun time.

    If I go to a destination wedding, I'm not buying plane tix, etc. again to go to an at-home reception.

    If it's all local guests, an open house is a lot more appropriate.  I don't expect as much if I'm just driving 20 mins across town for an open house.
  • Welcome to the board!I joined the knot about one month ago and I found it really helpful during the process of planing my wedding.The ladies here give me very useful opinions which I really appreciate them!
    In my opinionhaving a reception at home is really a good idea if you just invite the close friends of family.As they are close to you,they will be very considerate to you other than a costly outdoor reception.
  • I am not interested in having one because I agree it defeats the purpose of having a lower cost destination wedding. People have been asking and I keep saying no we are not planning anything but if friends want to throw something for us when we get back we'd be up for that lol We are giving people 8 months to pay so I kinda feel like it they reallyyyyy want to go they can. We know a lot of people and the cost would be through the roof. FH mentioned it early on and I told him he's welcome to plan it but I just threw him a huge birthday party and between the people who didn't RSVP or came late or just didn't show I was not inclined to go through that again especially after the actual wedding. So we will see. I already have 4 different groups planning bridal showers so I am already partied out lol
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