Wedding Reception Forum

Wedding for a couple that doesn't like large formal weddings?

So we are still in the planning stages (and have been for awhile since we are both still in grad school and are saving up money for a wedding and a house), and are starting to get cold feet about a reception lol.

We both are pretty shy laidback people and hate large social gatherings along with dancing. However, we both still want friends, family, and coworkers to all be invited to our wedding. We just don't care to have a long wedding (i think 4 hours is around what we can handle including a ceremony lol) with a lot of dancing and speeches (when we get a dj/band, I won't have him/her initiate someone to make a speech unless a guest insists on doing it).

What would be a good compromise for what we want? We definitely want to invite friends, families, and coworkers,wedding cake, open bar, do the Hora (we are Jewish and like it), along with a first dance, beautiful decor and lighting, and have an evening wedding.

I know about throwing a small reception at a restaurant but we probably would have a guest list of over 65 people. I still want it to have a wedding feel to it though. Our theme is desert oasis.

What would be some ideas you could help me with? This is what I have so far-
a. Cake and punch reception with some appetizers and alcohol
b. Have a dinner buffet, but have a later ceremony so it won't be as long of a day. Skip a cocktail hour too and just have open bar served at dinner. 

For entertaiment, I am thinking it would be fun and nice just to have a Klezmer band there instead of a dj actually.

Re: Wedding for a couple that doesn't like large formal weddings?

  • I think option B would be fun.

    How many people are you thinking? I imagine a large restaurant could do a party of up to 100 or so people, at least.

    Maybe try an alternative venue, like an art museum, or even do a hotel - they can certainly accomodate a lot of people in a ballroom and have decent food from the hotel restaurant or outside caterer.

    You might want to have a separate room for the formal dances (seating for everyone) and have a separate dinner if you're not into too much DJ/dancing stuff.

    I'd not a huge dancer, so I'll probably do a first dance as far as the "formal" dances go, and that's it. No booty-shaking club music here. You can do whatever kind of music suits you.
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  • MaryMac- Yeah I am the same way with dancing!!

    We are still looking around at venues. We are probably going to have an oudoor evening wedding and ceremony. I used to like the idea of a brunch wedding, but I just love in pictures that I have seen of twinkle lights and a fire in a pit outside.
  • check out the website there are lots of great ideas there about small weddings. We're having 35-40 people at a beach house on Long Beach Island in NJ. I'm not wearing a gown, but a tea length dress. We're having a casual luncheon type reception and anyone who wants to stay in the house with us for the week is welcome to!
  • I think you could definitely check out some alternative venues.  I've seen some amazing bowling alley weddings, and we were trying, but unable, to get an old movie theatre for ours.

    You could also cut down on the spotlight moments, and just make it into more of a general party atmosphere.  That's what we're doing with ours; the only major thing we're doing is the cake cutting, and we'll just spend the rest of the evening mingling and enjoying the food.
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  • definitly go for the alternative type of venues. there's so much to chose from! what kinds of things are you two interested in? what do you like to do? plan a wedding around your interests and then just basically invite people to come and share some time with you!
  • Thanks for all the tips guys! We both love to travel, are vegetarians, and love Israel hence a desert oasis wedding with a lot of Mediterrean and Israeli food being served. We are very open to having a wedding out of Southern, CA. I like some spots I found in Sedona,AZ and a cheap ranch an hour from Austin (we might relocate there anyway). I guess it's still a destination wedding? I just always thought of destination weddings as being on a beach or something like a ski resort. We are also looking at the Phoenix Zoo which has Beduin tents for a reception which is really cool. We are still just getting ideas :)
  • Keeping it small, as in under 75-100 people is good.  It helps keep you from getting overwhelmed by too many people all wanting your time and attention.  It also means fewer people dancing and drinking, which will help keep the reception shorter. 

    Cake and punch reception just doensn't really go with an evening wedding.  If you want an evening wedding, then you pretty much have to serve some kind of meal, or at least heavy appetizers. 

    You might consider a cocktail style reception, or a finger food buffet.  Maybe just beer and wine, and a signature drink or two.  LImiting the alcohol will also help keep the reception shorter.  Unlimited free booze encourages guests to stay and drink longer. 

    For my daughter's wedding, we a brief "cocktail hour" (about 30 minutes while they took photos) of simple appetizers, beer, and wine.  Then a simple buffet dinner. 

    There were about 100 guests.  We combined the receiving line with the buffet line.  It gave us a chance to greet all the guests, and also kept the line moving quickly.  If you are shy, this might be a good compromise, because it keeps your interaction with guests brief.

    There was a DJ, some dancing, the requisite photo and a couple of special dances.  The ceremony was roughly 5-6 pm, the reception started about 6:30 and was wrapping up by 9-9:30 pm.  But the ceremony and reception was in the same location.
  • A destination wedding can be ANYWHERE - not just on a beach in the Caribbean.  We're in Chicago and doing our DW in Savannah, Ga because we absolutely ADORE Savannah. 

    When looking at weddings at home, we came really close to booking a local Zoo - it was just so fun and unique.  We also looked at some of those sightseeing yacht tour companies, thinking a wedding on the lake would be unique and fun. 

    Honestly, I can imagine you doing a total "Israel" theme - the desert oasis decor with foods typically served at an Israeli wedding.  Do the Israeli traditions (whatever they may be) and your guests will be so into the new experience that they probably won't even realize you're not into all the traditional American wedding stuff.  GL and have fun!
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