Offbeat Weddings

Courthouse wedding reception


I am strongly considering planning my 'wedding' to be begin no earlier than 5 on a Saturday, and having the legal wedding prior to our reception.  This might have to be the day before if they aren't open on Saturday.

We want to have a reception, because....well, it's fun.  But we also want to have it because it is important to have our friends celebrate our union.  We do plan on having a short, secular ceremony....but we are unsure if that will include an officiant.

I have heard things about a post-legal wedding reception being a gift grub (which seems sort of unfair to me... just because a few hours, days, or months go in between the legal contract and family celebration, a registry becomes uncouth).  I really don't want to offend any guests, but it's not a vow renewal or an after-the-fact party for us.  It's still an important part of beginning our marriage.  I also heard that it's rude to expect guests to travel to your wedding if you are already married.  There will still be a very definite "wedding" feel to this party, and we will be hosting it, and there will ceremonious elements (special dances, vows, etc.)

Another reason we want a separate event is because  there is an ~ 5% chance we will end up legally married between the time plans are made and the actual date.  Once upon a time a couple could have the ceremony they desired when they decided to get married.  Now-a-days, logistics, grandiose expecations and courtesy for your guests schedules and travel arrangements mean longer engagements than might be ideal for a couple.

We were considering wording the invitations

"Bride and Groom,
along with their parents, MOB
and MOG & FOG,
request your presence to celebrate their marriage

or invite you to their wedding toast

*drinks, dinner, dancing, and dessert to follow*

Has anybody else had a similar "weddinged" experience?  What etiquette issues did you face? 
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