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"Pre"ception/Engagement party vs a reception.

We're getting married on November 5th, 2015 and I want an opinion on having a reception a few days before the wedding. November 5th is a non-negotiable date for several reasons. We will be getting married at the local courthouse and then immediately catching a plane out of the country. But being so close to Halloween, we're thinking of having a themed party 5 days before the ceremony. Here's where it get's interesting. We're doing a Back to the Future themed party as the future part takes place in 2015. So, instead of a reception and engagement party staggered across the fall. I want to have once big party/reception prior to the ceremony. Very informal, costumed, decorated as "Enchantment Under the Sea", maybe make it a potluck, we'd supply booze and the fancy cake. Thoughts?
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Re: "Pre"ception/Engagement party vs a reception.

  • lovegood90lovegood90 Ontario member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary Name Dropper

    We're getting married on November 5th, 2015 and I want an opinion on having a reception a few days before the wedding. November 5th is a non-negotiable date for several reasons. We will be getting married at the local courthouse and then immediately catching a plane out of the country. But being so close to Halloween, we're thinking of having a themed party 5 days before the ceremony. Here's where it get's interesting. We're doing a Back to the Future themed party as the future part takes place in 2015. So, instead of a reception and engagement party staggered across the fall. I want to have once big party/reception prior to the ceremony. Very informal, costumed, decorated as "Enchantment Under the Sea", maybe make it a potluck, we'd supply booze and the fancy cake. Thoughts?

    The whole point of a reception is to receive your guests for the first time as husband and wife. You can absolutely have a Halloween party that isn't wedding related and then elope a few days later, but you can't have a "pre-reception." Also, you shouldn't be throwing your own engagement party anyway, so that point is moot.
    Agree with all of this. Anyone attending your ceremony should be hosted immediately after. Whether that's simply cake and punch, a lunch, or an evening dinner and dancing is up to you. But it also needs to be fully hosted by you, so a potluck isn't okay according to proper hosting etiquette; your guests would be hosting themselves (partly), which isn't right.

    Formerly martha1818

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    fwtx5815Blue_BirdSP29[Deleted User]
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited December 2014
    Any party held before your wedding date cannot be a reception.  It is not wedding related.  It is simply a party.
    If you do have some guests at your ceremony, you need to take them out for lunch afterwards.  THAT would be your reception - for your guests, not for you.

    Trying to have a big reception before your wedding ceremony is just gift grabby.  Ugh!  Pot luck is forbidden for a reception, anyway,
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    Blue_BirdSP29[Deleted User]Amanderson1290
  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer
    MobKaz said:



    We're getting married on November 5th, 2015 and I want an opinion on having a reception a few days before the wedding. November 5th is a non-negotiable date for several reasons. We will be getting married at the local courthouse and then immediately catching a plane out of the country. But being so close to Halloween, we're thinking of having a themed party 5 days before the ceremony. Here's where it get's interesting. We're doing a Back to the Future themed party as the future part takes place in 2015. So, instead of a reception and engagement party staggered across the fall. I want to have once big party/reception prior to the ceremony. Very informal, costumed, decorated as "Enchantment Under the Sea", maybe make it a potluck, we'd supply booze and the fancy cake. Thoughts?

    Thoughts? No. Sounds like a prom gone all wrong. And how is it "Back to the Future" themed if it's decorated like Enchantment Under the Sea? And no potlucks! No. The whole thing is one big resounding hell to the no.

    If I am not mistaken, I believe that was the theme of the dance in the movie. 

    OP, my opinion and thoughts are in agreement with everyone else that has commented.  You cannot "receive" people prior to a wedding.  You cannot invite people to wedding related activities if they are not invited to the wedding.  You cannot "host" a party and then make it pot luck.  These points are also non-negotiable. 

    (Boxes)

    Its clearly been too long since I've seen this movie. Netflix, away!!

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  • chibiyuichibiyui The Boring Part of MD member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Why not have a private ceremony, just you and your fi, witnesses if required, and then throw the party in celebration of your marriage when you get back?
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    Anniversary
    [Deleted User]
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Agree with PPs. You can have whatever kind of party you want before your wedding if it is not wedding-related, but a "wedding reception" must immediately follow the ceremony. It cannot take place before the event you are thanking your guests for attending, and it must be hosted: no potlucks or otherwise trying to pass hosting costs to your guests. And all guests at any parties that ate wedding-related must be invited to the wedding.
    Blue_Bird
  • You can have this party, but after you return from your trip. You can have a celebration of our marriage event and still have the fun theme. And please don't do pot luck. Since this would be a reception, people typically (although not required) will bring gifts. It's rude to ask people to bring food & then gifts too.
    Blue_Bird
  • I don't agree with any of these people. I think have a engagement party/preception party is fine. You are already doing it the "nontraditional" way by getting married at the court house. It's not like all your friends and family are going to pull up chair around you while you say your vows and most people will probably know that you are leaving right after for your honeymoon. Don't call it a reception because it's not, but you can definitely think of a fun and unique way to convey the idea that this is the celebration of your marriage together. I know a lot of people who have gotten married at the courthouse and done their reception months later. Why can't you just do it a few days before? Seems more exciting to me? Especially since  you are theming it. I'd go, dress up, and bring you a present too.
  • I don't agree with any of these people. I think have a engagement party/preception party is fine. You are already doing it the "nontraditional" way by getting married at the court house. It's not like all your friends and family are going to pull up chair around you while you say your vows and most people will probably know that you are leaving right after for your honeymoon. Don't call it a reception because it's not, but you can definitely think of a fun and unique way to convey the idea that this is the celebration of your marriage together. I know a lot of people who have gotten married at the courthouse and done their reception months later. Why can't you just do it a few days before? Seems more exciting to me? Especially since  you are theming it. I'd go, dress up, and bring you a present too.
    I don't think this poster read the original post.  The OP is leaving for her honeymoon immediately after the ceremony.  No reception.  She wants to have a pot luck reception before the wedding day.

    What makes you think courthouse weddings are non-traditional?  They have been done for two hundred years.  It is today's huge evening receptions with sit down dinner and dancing that are really non-traditional.  They have only been popular since the 1970s.  Tuxedos have only been permissable since the 1960s.\

    There is nothing wrong with non-traditional weddings and celebrations as long as they do not violate etiquette.  Hosting your own engagement party is against etiquette.  Potluck receptions are against etiquette.  Having a wedding reception days before the ceremony is against etiquette.  Being married privately at the courthouse is just fine, though.
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    Blue_Birdlc07ohannabelle[Deleted User]
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    I don't agree with any of these people. I think have a engagement party/preception party is fine. You are already doing it the "nontraditional" way by getting married at the court house. It's not like all your friends and family are going to pull up chair around you while you say your vows and most people will probably know that you are leaving right after for your honeymoon. Don't call it a reception because it's not, but you can definitely think of a fun and unique way to convey the idea that this is the celebration of your marriage together. I know a lot of people who have gotten married at the courthouse and done their reception months later. Why can't you just do it a few days before? Seems more exciting to me? Especially since  you are theming it. I'd go, dress up, and bring you a present too.
    If feel like it's in bad taste to have a party BEFORE an event.  So much can happen in those 5 days including one of both of them changing their minds.   It happens, often actually.  Just last month a wedding my parents were to attend was cancelled 3 days out.  3 DAYS.   It was an OOT wedding also.   I can guarantee you a year out they would have told everyone there is no way this wedding was going to be cancelled.  


    You also do not invite people to a pre-wedding event and not invite them to the wedding.  Don't get me started on the pot-luck.

    A celebration of marriage when they get back is a better plan. 






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
    MGP
  • Other people give the couple an engagement /announcement dinner, or party, not the couple. And people are expected to bring small gifts.
    No reason you cannot simply invite people to a dinner or party, as long as you do not say it is an engagement party, thus no gifts, and while there invite everyone to share your happiness at finally being engaged.
    Have a sendoff party if you want 5 days beforehand and do not mention or expect gifts, like a bon voyage party before a cruise.
    My first wedding was a courthouse wedding with a few friends. There is no obligation to have a reception.

    After the wedding we left on an extended hiking trip. When we returned we found most of our family and friends had sent gifts. Not because any etiquette book said it was required, but because the original reason for wedding gifts is to wish a couple happiness and give presents that will help make a new joint home.
    So many people focus on the wedding and say if you did not invite me I won' t send anything. But that should not be the reason for giving. Not for people who truly care about you.
    parkera92
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Other people give the couple an engagement /announcement dinner, or party, not the couple. And people are expected to bring small gifts. No.  It's common in some circles but should never be expected.  No reason you cannot simply invite people to a dinner or party, as long as you do not say it is an engagement party, thus no gifts, and while there invite everyone to share your happiness at finally being engaged. Have a sendoff party if you want 5 days beforehand and do not mention or expect gifts, like a bon voyage party before a cruise. My first wedding was a courthouse wedding with a few friends. There is no obligation to have a reception. Incorrect.  Anybody who is invited to the ceremony must be hosted immediately afterwards with food and drink appropriate to the time of day.  That is the reception.  After the wedding we left on an extended hiking trip. When we returned we found most of our family and friends had sent gifts. Not because any etiquette book said it was required, but because the original reason for wedding gifts is to wish a couple happiness and give presents that will help make a new joint home. So many people focus on the wedding and say if you did not invite me I won' t send anything. But that should not be the reason for giving. Not for people who truly care about you.  That's fine and all, but irrelevant to this thread.




    fwtx5815slothiegal
  • I took a Miss Manners etiquette book and an Emily Post one down from the shelf to check.
    Both say that for a city hall or courthouse or private justice of the peace ceremony with just a few people as witnesses, NO entertaining, follow up dinner or reception substitute is necessary. Just a sincere thank you at the time, and a prompt written thank you note to follow. If you want to give a little keepsake gift later as a thank you, fine but not necessary.
    Wedding industry sponsored sites and advisors seem to advocate spending money on at least a meal for everything, but traditional etiquette is that for some things sincere thanks is enough.
    parkera92
  • mikenbergermikenberger In a f'n cornfield member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer

    I don't agree with any of these people. I think have a engagement party/preception party is fine. You are already doing it the "nontraditional" way by getting married at the court house. It's not like all your friends and family are going to pull up chair around you while you say your vows and most people will probably know that you are leaving right after for your honeymoon. Don't call it a reception because it's not, but you can definitely think of a fun and unique way to convey the idea that this is the celebration of your marriage together. I know a lot of people who have gotten married at the courthouse and done their reception months later. Why can't you just do it a few days before? Seems more exciting to me? Especially since  you are theming it. I'd go, dress up, and bring you a present too.

    I wish I weren't on mobile because I would bold "Don't call it a reception because its not, but you can definitely think of a fun and unique way to convey the idea that this is the celebration of your marriage together."

    THEY. ARE. NOT. MARRIED. She wants a party BEFORE she's married. You are giving terrible advice.

    Either get married and host your themed reception or get married and jet away. You cannot have both of the things.

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    ohannabelle[Deleted User]
  • Wow, man, people on here are HARSH! I say do whatever you want. We are actually thinking of doing something similar, and here's why. We are eloping out of the country, and are moving out of state several months before the elopement.

    Most of our family live in the state where we currently are. Since we are not having guests at our wedding ceremony, and family wont travel across country for a small reception after the elopement, we are going to have a "pre-ception" as you called it, right before we move away. We wont be married yet, but its really the only way we get to celebrate with our families here in the area.

    My point in telling you that is: do whatever you want! All these people caught up with the etiquette stuff make me laugh. Who cares. It's your wedding/celebration/marriage. You can choose to celebrate it however you want, whenever you want and if anyone doesn't like it, they don't have to come!  Best of luck with whatever you decide :)

    moorewedding530parkera92
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers

    Wow, man, people on here are HARSH! I say do whatever you want. We are actually thinking of doing something similar, and here's why. We are eloping out of the country, and are moving out of state several months before the elopement.

    Most of our family live in the state where we currently are. Since we are not having guests at our wedding ceremony, and family wont travel across country for a small reception after the elopement, we are going to have a "pre-ception" as you called it, right before we move away. We wont be married yet, but its really the only way we get to celebrate with our families here in the area.

    My point in telling you that is: do whatever you want! All these people caught up with the etiquette stuff make me laugh. Who cares. It's your wedding/celebration/marriage. You can choose to celebrate it however you want, whenever you want and if anyone doesn't like it, they don't have to come!  Best of luck with whatever you decide :)

    Well aren't you special.  Screw your friends and family, it's all about YOU!
    esstee33slothiegal[Deleted User]
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    I took a Miss Manners etiquette book and an Emily Post one down from the shelf to check. Both say that for a city hall or courthouse or private justice of the peace ceremony with just a few people as witnesses, NO entertaining, follow up dinner or reception substitute is necessary. Just a sincere thank you at the time, and a prompt written thank you note to follow. If you want to give a little keepsake gift later as a thank you, fine but not necessary. Wedding industry sponsored sites and advisors seem to advocate spending money on at least a meal for everything, but traditional etiquette is that for some things sincere thanks is enough.
    That may be true, but geez, I'd at least spring for lunch or dinner at a local pizzeria or pub. If it doesn't fall under proper etiquette, it should fall under common sense!
    [Deleted User]
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    Wow, man, people on here are HARSH! I say do whatever you want. We are actually thinking of doing something similar, and here's why. We are eloping out of the country, and are moving out of state several months before the elopement.

    Most of our family live in the state where we currently are. Since we are not having guests at our wedding ceremony, and family wont travel across country for a small reception after the elopement, we are going to have a "pre-ception" as you called it, right before we move away. We wont be married yet, but its really the only way we get to celebrate with our families here in the area.

    My point in telling you that is: do whatever you want! All these people caught up with the etiquette stuff make me laugh. Who cares. It's your wedding/celebration/marriage. You can choose to celebrate it however you want, whenever you want and if anyone doesn't like it, they don't have to come!  Best of luck with whatever you decide :)

    Without being married, you have nothing to celebrate. By eloping, and not inviting guests to a wedding, you have no guests to invite to any type of pre-wedding party. Your lack of "etiquette stuff" makes me ill. The best you can hope for is that someone offers to host a going away party. You may have a snowball's chance of getting people to attend that party. I dare say that with your attitude, I'd be glad to see you go!
    fwtx5815MGPlovegood90[Deleted User]
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