Wedding Reception Forum

Needs Ideas for Intimate Wedding "Reception" at Home

Hi everyone!  So I'm in need of some help.  My fiance and I got engaged this summer and were planning on having our wedding in 2022, however we decided we don't want to wait to be married :smile: Instead, we're going to have an intimate ceremony at my church.  It will be in a small chapel with just our immediate families.  We're also planning on making it a surprise! At this point we're thinking my fiance will invite our families to my "surprise birthday party" and ask that everyone dresses up.  Then on the day they'll show up and...surprise! :wink:

So after a quick ceremony at our nearby church, we'll come back to our house for a nice little catered dinner.  What I'm needing ideas for is what to do for our "reception".  We have a small home, I'm hiring a family friend florist/designer to help me spruce up the house with some fancy Christmas decorations (our date is December 19th of this year).  We don't want to hire a DJ/band as there's not enough room.  It will also be a dry wedding, my fiance and I don't drink. (Sorry, I know, not very much to work with!)

So, what should we do for fun??? I love board games, but I know, that seems a little silly and non-wedding related/themed.  Obviously something a little classier/party-like is ideal.  So what's a fun activity we could do to celebrate?  Thank you SO much in advance!! :smile:

Re: Needs Ideas for Intimate Wedding "Reception" at Home

  • Do you think that your family isn't going to be onto the surprise if you ask them to show up dressed to a birthday party that starts at a church? 

    Before you move forward I'd really ask that you PLEASE leave the surprise element out.   I know that's not part of the equation here but I'd consider attending a wedding as a bigger deal over a birthday party that is a week before Christmas.

    Also, consider that there's still a pandemic, cases are spiking and IMO, you want to 
    1) Feel out those you're inviting to know their risks and if they can make it.'
    2) Ensure that your hosting provides ways for guests to be seated by family unit and tables can be seated far apart from each other. 
    3) Also consider that people just won't go because it's really risky to have an event like this given the pandemic.

    I'll be honest and say that as much as I want my own sibling to get married I'd actually consider it to be really risky and I'd be a bit saddened by his decision making if he did that.

    But if you're looking to have a low key event in your home I'd plan for a reception where you host a meal that your guests enjoy with nice food and soft music.  I wouldn't move to play games or try to ask people to mingle outside of their own nuclear household. 
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Ninth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    If my sibling, in law, or grown child told me they were having a birthday party and were inviting both their own and their FI's family, I would say "You kids have fun, but I'm not coming." The risk or inconvenience vs. worth assessment would be different for a wedding. I imagine many people's calculus would be the same. So that is one reason to leave out the surprise element. No one wants to miss their sibling's wedding because they were told it was a once-a-year event instead of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

    I think you can have games and such out at the reception, but let people pick them up if they want them.
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Making the wedding a "surprise birthday party" instead of being up front about it means that your family likely will not give the event its due attention and may not make plans to participate. So I'd skip the "surprise" element.

    I think a nice dinner with a special meal and good conversation should work fine as a low-key reception. You don't really need "activities" beyond that.

  • I agree with the others.  Ditch the surprise element.  I know your immediate family would enjoy the wedding a lot more if they are looking forward to it.  If a close friend/family member did this to me, sure I'd be genuinely happy for them and, once I got over the shock, ready to celebrate with them.  But I would also have mild feelings of annoyance and irritation.

    Plus @banana468 makes a good point.  People don't have their birthday parties at a church, so it might not be much of a surprise anyway.

    The at-home reception sounds lovely!  That is a cool thing about getting married around Christmas because I assume your home will already be decorated with all the pretty trappings of the season.  Red and green.  A lighted Christmas tree.  You don't need to provide any entertainment.  People will eat, drink, and mingle.  It will be fine!

    I got married and had my reception on my mom and stepdad's patio.  We had about 35 guests.  There was room for tables and chairs for everyone, but no room for a dance floor or anything like that.  We put together a play list on my mom's Ipod and just played that for background music.  Everyone was mingling and chatting throughout.  I know I'm biased, lol, but it was a really fun time!
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  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I'll echo the others and say that I would skip the surprise element. I'm invited to a party at my sister's house next week that includes our family and her in-laws. Her in-laws and I aren't compatible in our approach to safety right now. They certainly aren't part of our bubble. So, as disappointed as I am, we won't be attending the party. If I knew that the party was a once in a lifetime event like seeing my sister get married, I'd be willing to reconsider the risk and make concessions to attend. (That would include self-isolating for two weeks following, so skipping Christmas to be there on 12/19.) So, if any of your relatives' calculus is anything like mine, they'd be heartbroken to find they'd skipped your wedding. It's really not fair to ask people to calculate the risk of attending an event right now without being honest about what the event is. 

    The reception at home sounds lovely. I would ensure that there's seating separated out by households or bubbles. To the extent your weather permits, try to do what you can outdoors. I would just do a nice meal with some background music. People will entertain themselves with conversation, but putting a few games out would be nice. If you're in a warmer climate, lawn games would be ideal. 

  • Drop the 2022 event if you're getting married this December!  What you're hosting this December is your wedding, the other would be a PPD or Vow Renewal and just not necessary.  I also agree with others, people right now are less likely to attend a birthday if they're on the fence than if it's a wedding they'd be attending of an immediate family member.  

    I'm with the others, be open and honest about your wedding on December 19th this year, and have your reception at your house exactly as you're telling us now!  You don't need the extra things like a DJ or the like, have a dance with the two of you in your living room if you want that, have the cake, etc. Also, just because you're having a "Dry" party doesn't mean you can't have mocktails or a delicious punch option.  We don't drink in my family either (Not against it, just not our thing)..  

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