Wedding Etiquette Forum

Private dinner before reception

So my fiance and I are planning the wedding, but staying with our unsaid budget is hard. My MOH and I are trying to do as many DIY projects as we can and with the early head start in planning we've found a lot of great deals. Currently, my future mother in law wants to invite A LOT(!) of people to the wedding. We've established that feeding the previous head count of 200 is crazy expensive for catering and rentals, so we cut it down to 140-160 guests, which is still pretty expensive. Also, the arrangement of my venue is that it fits about 120 people tightly per side and the other side of the room is not visible. 
He came home from work with an idea from a co-worker about doing a private dinner with the bridal party and immediate family before the reception to cut costs down. I figured that was rude and we compromised on the private dinner and hors d'oeuvres at the reception. I searched similar ideas and I can't figure out if that would be rude too? Everyone still gets to participate in festivities.
 
Also, how could I fit this into my timeline? 
Original timeline was
- Ceremony at 4:30
- Cocktail hour and photos at 5
- Dinner at 6:30
- Champagne toast at 7
- First dance at 7:30
- Cake cutting at 8:30
- Event end at 10

we could just do pictures and dinner during the cocktail hour. Add in some games for guests to do and more photo booth time to kill time.

What are your thoughts?


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Re: Private dinner before reception

  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer

    So my fiance and I are planning the wedding, but staying with our unsaid budget is hard. My MOH and I are trying to do as many DIY projects as we can and with the early head start in planning we've found a lot of great deals. Currently, my future mother in law wants to invite A LOT(!) of people to the wedding. We've established that feeding the previous head count of 200 is crazy expensive for catering and rentals, so we cut it down to 140-160 guests, which is still pretty expensive. Also, the arrangement of my venue is that it fits about 120 people tightly per side and the other side of the room is not visible. 

    He came home from work with an idea from a co-worker about doing a private dinner with the bridal party and immediate family before the reception to cut costs down. I figured that was rude and we compromised on the private dinner and hors d'oeuvres at the reception. I searched similar ideas and I can't figure out if that would be rude too? Everyone still gets to participate in festivities.
     
    Also, how could I fit this into my timeline? 
    Original timeline was
    - Ceremony at 4:30
    - Cocktail hour and photos at 5
    - Dinner at 6:30
    - Champagne toast at 7
    - First dance at 7:30
    - Cake cutting at 8:30
    - Event end at 10

    we could just do pictures and dinner during the cocktail hour. Add in some games for guests to do and more photo booth time to kill time.

    What are your thoughts?


    Absolutely not acceptable.  All guests have to be invited to all parts of the ceremony and reception and hosted equally.

    I don't understand what you mean when you say that the venue can fit 120 per side tightly and you can't see the other side of the room.  Please elaborate.



  • I agree this is rude. Think of it this way: how would you feel if you were expected to go to an event from 4:30 pm to 10 pm and were only given snacks? Most likely there isn't even place nearby to purchase food so they would be leaving early to get food. If it were me I would grab a couple of snacks and leave as soon as I realized dinner wasn't going to be served.

    Also, is your FMIL paying? If she isn't she needs to understand her large guest list is not in your budget.
  • The way the building is set up it is divided in half by a staging kitchen. Awkwardly placed, but I figured one half would be for tables and the other half be the dance floor and photo booth.

     
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer

    The way the building is set up it is divided in half by a staging kitchen. Awkwardly placed, but I figured one half would be for tables and the other half be the dance floor and photo booth.


     
    Then the max you can invite is 120, and that number has to include you, your wedding party, and your vendors.



    novella1186SP29PrettyGirlLost
  • esstee33esstee33 Pittsburgh member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited July 2015

    The way the building is set up it is divided in half by a staging kitchen. Awkwardly placed, but I figured one half would be for tables and the other half be the dance floor and photo booth.


     
    Then I would keep your guest list to 120 maximum or find another venue.
    Yes, this. Make sure you're including yourselves and any vendors in that count. Whatever you do, don't invite over that number!!!! We've seen horror stories of brides who were counting on that whatever % decline rate, over-invited for their venue, and then got 100% acceptance. 
    Knottie14450423PrettyGirlLost
  • She has offered to help, but we are not relying on her as she has her own finances to work out. We've already established that my fiance will narrow down his side of the group. The issue is feeding 120 people is expensive, I'm not changing my venue, and my date is set on a Friday evening.
  • She has offered to help, but we are not relying on her as she has her own finances to work out. We've already established that my fiance will narrow down his side of the group. The issue is feeding 120 people is expensive, I'm not changing my venue, and my date is set on a Friday evening.

    Yes, don't rely on her until you have the cash in the bank. I get that weddings are expensive but if you are having an evening wedding you have to feed your guests dinner. Based upon what you are saying all you can do is move your time up or cut down the guest list significantly.
  • She has offered to help, but we are not relying on her as she has her own finances to work out. We've already established that my fiance will narrow down his side of the group. The issue is feeding 120 people is expensive, I'm not changing my venue, and my date is set on a Friday evening.

    Also, I have been to a wedding before where hot dogs were served. I didn't complain because I was actually fed and I like BBQ. There are ways to feed people that aren't expensive. Cut out the photo booth and you should be fine.
    [Deleted User]OliveOilsMommadamerwin
  • esstee33esstee33 Pittsburgh member
    Ninth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    edited July 2015

    She has offered to help, but we are not relying on her as she has her own finances to work out. We've already established that my fiance will narrow down his side of the group. The issue is feeding 120 people is expensive, I'm not changing my venue, and my date is set on a Friday evening.

    I'd be getting rid of the photo booth post-haste, honestly. They're cute and fun, but people are going to be way more concerned with being fed than getting photo booth pictures taken. Food is seriously one of the most important things about your wedding, and it's one that all of your guests will remember, whether you did it very well or very poorly. 

    That goes for favors, too, if you were having any. There is only one wedding I've ever been to where I cared about the favor, and it was because they were homebrewed bottles of beer. But otherwise? They're not necessary and most people probably don't care, especially if they're not edible. 

    The Budget Weddings board has lots of helpful posters, btw! 

    Also, does your venue allow outside caterers? Italian and BBQ restaurants are super cheap for catering. 
    JCbride2015chibiyuiPrettyGirlLost
  • edited April 2015
    Agree with all PPs.  Cut your guest list and/or have a cheaper meal option, or have your wedding and reception at a non-meal time.. Do not make people go from 4-10PM without any dinner.  That is probably the rudest thing you could do.  What if your guests realized you made them come for your day, you understood that you would need to eat a regular meal in that time, but you decided they could survive on appetizers and a slice of cake? By the time you returned to the reception, I'd be surprised if anybody was still in attendance.
  • LondonLisaLondonLisa London, UK member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Hangy guests= the worst guests.

    If I wasn't fed, but found out that the bride and groom had a VIP room with a meal, but only snacks for me, it would take all my restraint to take my gift back and leave. That would be a friendship ending move to me. 

    I would suggest doing a brunch buffet on a Sunday, but since you wont change your venue and you wont change your date, you need to figure out the cheapest meal option and serve it to everybody. You chose to have your wedding during a meal time so you need to serve a meal. 

    1.) Find out your exact budget amount, and how much you have to spend on food. Make sure you include everything, including gifts for WP, tips, and a contingency fund. 

    2.) Call your venue and find out what their cheapest meal option is. (You cannot get away with passed apps or bar snacks- you need a full meal and enough heavy apps to constitute a meal is more expensive). Also include your drinks package in this. If you want alcohol, maybe only do beer and wine. Otherwise have a dry wedding. At no point is it acceptable to have a cash bar, partial cash bar or have your guests open their wallets for anything. 

    3.) Divide the budget number for food by the cheapest meal/ drink option. Subtract 2 (for you and yoru fi). This is the number you can invite. You already need to cut the guest list, because the maximum you can invite is about 112 (so it is 120 including you two, photographer, DJ etc- usually fire code is based on people in the room regardless if they are invited guests or vendors). 

    This would all be so much easier if you were willing to budge on your venue or time. Sunday brunch would be about 1/2 the cost of a Friday dinner. 
    JBee85PrettyGirlLost
  • If your venue can only seat 120, then the maximum number of people you should invite is 120. Always count on 100% attendance. We had an OOT wedding where mostly people we traveling from all over the country and had about 80%. And there are people here who have actually had 100%.

    If your FMIL isn't paying for the wedding, she doesn't get a say in who's invited. That should help cut your guest list.

    What your FI and your coworker came up with is called a "tiered reception" and it's incredibly rude. It basically says to non-dinner guests "you weren't important enough, so please wait around for 2 hours while we host people who are really important."

    An appetizer reception is just fine but you'd need to move the whole event back by about 3 hours. So your ceremony about be at 7:30 and reception at 8-11 or 12. That way, you purposely avoid meal time for everyone and you don't have the rude gap.
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    [Deleted User]MairePoppymadamerwinPrettyGirlLost
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Ninth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited April 2015
    A private dinner for some, but not everyone, is rude. That has to go. Period.

    As for what to do instead, you cut your guest list or move your ceremony and reception to a time of day when full meals aren't expected. And if your FMIL isn't paying, she doesn't get a say.
  • saric83saric83 member
    Ninth Anniversary 500 Comments 100 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited April 2015
    I agree with all PPs.  I read this to DH, and he was also pretty appalled by it and said he would much rather not be invited than to go somewhere he for that timeframe with different food for different people.  

    You're right that feeding 120 people is expensive, but that is the BARE MINIMUM obligation you and your FI have as the hosts of the reception.  End of story.  There is absolutely no wiggle room around that.  Time to cut that list a bit more and cut some other things to make your budget work. 

    Also, I just wanted to add that there's nothing wrong with a heavy h'orderves reception (aka - enough food for a meal, not a snack), but often it tends to cost just as much (if not more) as a cheaper buffet or even seated menu. 
  • littlepeplittlepep South Carolina member
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Anniversary First Answer

    You're having a champagne toast and a photo booth, yet you can't afford to feed your guests? Ok. 

    Yep. Sounds like you have some things you could cut. Food is NOT one of them. You need to feed people. 

    It's especially rude to make your guests wait around while you eat and they don't get to.

    I once went to a "dry" wedding, which is perfectly fine. But then we saw the wedding party sneaking back into a secret room where they had drinks. They were walking around with them. It felt really crappy to know that they to have a beer and we didn't. If I found out you did the same thing with food, I would be pissed and probably not want to be your friend anymore. 
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  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Cut your guest list to 120.

    Do not accept money from your FMIL because money comes with strings and that means she can start adding people to your guest list.  Since you can only fit 120 people then this could lead to some major issues.

    Get rid of all the unnecessary items such as the champagne toast and photo booth and favors. People can toast you just as easily with a soda or a glass of wine or a mix drink as they can with champagne.  And photo booths are fun, but can be a big eye sore if you are squashed into a corner eating a slice of cheese and a cracker.  Food/drink is > extras.

    Possibly consider pushing your wedding time back to like 8pm.  This way you can have a light app and dessert reception instead of providing a full dinner which will help cut down some costs.

    southernbelle0915OliveOilsMomPrettyGirlLost
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers

    This is so absolutely a "but the wedding I always dreamed of is at this fancy venue with a photobooth and a lot of people, and I shouldn't have to give that up" situation.

    You don't have to give up that vision if that's what you truly want. No one is forcing you to get married in July. You have time to postpone until you can save enough money to do both the things you need to do (food) and want to do. However, if you want to make the choice to get married in a few months, you cannot have all these things.

    It's okay! The important thing is that you'll get to be married to your FI. People would have a good time celebrating with you without a photobooth or champagne. They don't even technically need any alcohol - you can host only non-alcoholic beverages. But if you continue with your current plan, no one will remember your wedding as a fun celebration.

    [Deleted User]PrettyGirlLost
  • Am I reading this correctly that you want to feed some but not all guests?

    Oh shit no.  Just no.   

    That's going to go over about as well as a fart in church.  

    You and your FI need to figure out how many people you can afford to feed equally.   As in - all of you are offered and able to consume the same food.   If that's 20 then that's your guest list.   If that's 100 then that's your guest list.   

    The private meal with your bridal party is your rehearsal dinner and it's the day before your wedding.

    If I was ever a guest at a wedding like this I'd either decline if I knew in advance or I'd be PISSED at the reception and I probably wouldn't stay.     
    PrettyGirlLost
  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    This is horribly rude. You need to host all of your guests properly, especially for what seems to be a wedding during a meal time. 

    If your event room can only hold 120 guests, you can't invite more than that. and make sure you're including yourselves and your vendors in that count. 

    Cut out the extras and hosts your guests properly. That means serving all 120 people a meal, and not making them pay for a soda. You don't need to have a photo booth. 
  • peachy13peachy13 in my cubicle, doing very important work member
    Fifth Anniversary 1000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    OP -- everyone on this thread has great advice for you. How would you feel if you were invited to a wedding and were being served passed apps or whatever, and then found out that some of the other guests received a full dinner meal before you showed up? I doubt you would shrug it off just because there's a photobooth and champagne toast at the reception. You would be pissed that the bride and groom blatantly chose a group of people more important than you to feed.
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  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Ugh.   My DH is in a wedding.  The groom was telling a story  how only the WP will be getting a particular food item(s) and not the rest of the guests.  I'm not in the WP.     That made be think "WTF".  So DH gets whatever and I don't.  It was just odd that he even brought it up.   Made me feel pretty shitting and unwelcome.   


    I can't even imagine how I would feel if I heard there was a full blown meal for some and not others.

    Change your venue, cut your list.  For the love of god get rid of the Photo Booth.  But do not have a private dinner for some of the guests and not others.  No.






    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. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest member
    Eighth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    lyndausvi said:

    Ugh.   My DH is in a wedding.  The groom was telling a story  how only the WP will be getting a particular food item(s) and not the rest of the guests.  I'm not in the WP.     That made be think "WTF".  So DH gets whatever and I don't.  It was just odd that he even brought it up.   Made me feel pretty shitting and unwelcome.   



    I can't even imagine how I would feel if I heard there was a full blown meal for some and not others.

    Change your venue, cut your list.  For the love of god get rid of the Photo Booth.  But do not have a private dinner for some of the guests and not others.  No.
    Yeah, the groom in one of the fall weddings I'm in was talking about a scotch bar for just the WP (because his guys are scotch enthusiasts and he doesn't want to spring for it for everyone) like it was a brilliant idea, in front of my DH. I really wanted to say "Actually, that's pretty rude," because it is, and that's only a different type/quality of alcohol.
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