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Etiquette

Intimate ceremony & cocktail reception

My fiance and I are planning on getting married on a property we are renting for 4 days. It has 2 houses for overnight guests and a beautiful barn on 10 acres. We are set on having a small, intimate ceremony there with immediate family only and then taking them to an early dinner at a local restaurant afterwards or having it catered on the property. My mom suggested I have, in her words, "A big party" that evening as our reception since I wanted to avoid the formalities (introductions, speeches, dj, formal cake cutting, etc.) We wanted to buy/rent speakers and have a digital playlist playing in the background and have tables, seating, and cocktail tables. There is also a bar built in the barn that we can use. 

My question is would a cocktail like reception be tacky? There would be a few hours in between to clean up the ceremony dinner. We would be able to invite an unlimited amount of guests and provide appetizers, desserts, alcohol and beverages along with music, fire pit and backyard games (cornhole, yardzee, etc.). We've been together for 7 years and have two kids already and feel as if the formalities aren't necessary. We would prefer to have a laid back weekend and celebrate with friends and family along with providing overnight accommodations for out of town guests. 

Invitations- As an invitation designer, I was thinking of sending the cocktail reception invite to everyone and an additional ceremony invitation inserted in the same envelope to the immediate family. 

Answers

  • JKBiller said:
    My fiance and I are planning on getting married on a property we are renting for 4 days. It has 2 houses for overnight guests and a beautiful barn on 10 acres. We are set on having a small, intimate ceremony there with immediate family only and then taking them to an early dinner at a local restaurant afterwards or having it catered on the property. My mom suggested I have, in her words, "A big party" that evening as our reception since I wanted to avoid the formalities (introductions, speeches, dj, formal cake cutting, etc.) We wanted to buy/rent speakers and have a digital playlist playing in the background and have tables, seating, and cocktail tables. There is also a bar built in the barn that we can use. 

    My question is would a cocktail like reception be tacky? There would be a few hours in between to clean up the ceremony dinner. We would be able to invite an unlimited amount of guests and provide appetizers, desserts, alcohol and beverages along with music, fire pit and backyard games (cornhole, yardzee, etc.). We've been together for 7 years and have two kids already and feel as if the formalities aren't necessary. We would prefer to have a laid back weekend and celebrate with friends and family along with providing overnight accommodations for out of town guests. 

    Invitations- As an invitation designer, I was thinking of sending the cocktail reception invite to everyone and an additional ceremony invitation inserted in the same envelope to the immediate family. 
    On paper you can have a truly intimate ceremony and reception and then have a large party assuming intimate is your nuclear families only.

    But I don't love the sound of it.    

    Can you do the intimate dinner the night before and then have the casual event without the formalities the next day?  
    charlotte989875InLoveInQueensPrettyGirlLost
  • We've tossed around the idea of doing the ceremony Friday but my maid of honor, mother and 2 family members would not be able to schedule a Friday off. It would be nearly impossible. My other thought is scheduling our photographer for 2 consecutive days, the rental company items, etc. 

    I'm torn, I love the idea of doing something small and then celebrating with our friends that evening but the logistics of it are giving me a headache. 
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    While your plans pass etiquette muster by the letter, I don't think people would want to attend a big party after being excluded from an "intimate" ceremony.

    I would either have the intimate ceremony with no big party following it, or invite whomever you want to invite to this big party to the ceremony and follow it with a reception for everyone. 
  • mollybarker11mollybarker11 member
    500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 500 Comments Name Dropper
    edited February 2017
    I don't see a problem with the idea unless your immediate family comprises a significant portion of the overall guest list, as others have mentioned. To me it sounds like the evening celebration would be an after-party of sorts. (The "reception" would be the dinner you provide the wedding guests.)

    An alternative would be to have an intimate dinner with your family, then have a wedding ceremony once your expanded guest list arrives, then move right into to an evening cocktail reception. Making it an official wedding reception does not mean you need to have introductions, speeches, formal cake-cutting, or a DJ!


    Logistically I see issues with inviting an "unlimited" number of guests as you'll need to ensure enough food, drinks, seating, and toilets. Sounds like you would also need confirmation of who's staying on-site and who will need to find accommodation elsewhere.

    short+sassycowgirl8238eileenrobgeebee908
  • Eh technically, yeah, you're within etiquette BUT you may still get some side-eyes. You can definitely have an intimate (immediate family only) ceremony and then a reception with as many people as you want, and as few or as many "trappings" of a traditional reception as you want. 

    Could you have a small dinner the night before the wedding for your families? Or maybe a brunch the morning of or the morning after? 

    If you DO end up doing an intimate ceremony with a larger reception after, you'll still need enough food, drink & seats for every person you plan to invite. You can put an announcement in with the invites for the reception (see the Invites & Paper board for wording) or just spread that info via word of mouth. I've been invited to this type of reception with either type of invite and there was no issue.
    InLoveInQueens
  • How many people are invited to your intimate ceremony?  I feel like if it's more than parents, siblings, and maybe grandparents, you are likely to hurt some feelings with the plan your mother wants.  But yes, it's fine etiquette-wise.  If people will be travelling from far away and spending multiple days, I would suggest upgrading to a full meal for everyone you invite to the party or have apps that equal a full meal.  
    If you are dead-set on an apps and dessert only party, your party should be at a non-meal time--start at either 2 pm and end before 5, or start after 8 pm.  
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Viczaesar and @LondonLisa . This doesn't pass etiquette muster at all to me. This is just a tiered wedding with a gap in the middle.  

    OP, you really need to make some decisions here. Do you want the intimate wedding, or do you want the big casual party? From your post, it sounds like the big party is your mother's idea. You don't have to do it just because she wants you to. 

    Decide who you want to invite, and then plan the event from there. Having second tier guests is rude, and it's going to hurt a lot of people. 
    InLoveInQueensViczaesar
  • People get so caught up in all the crap that is piled into weddings these days--the toasts, the intros, the bridal party, etc. You don't need any of it. Or maybe you want some of it. It's totally up to you.

    What you need to have a wedding: a fiance, a person legally able to marry you, a marriage license, and in some states a witness.

    What you need to have a wedding if you invite guests: all of the above, plus seats for all your guests at the ceremony, and food/drink appropriate for the time of day immediately following the ceremony, with the appropriate amount of seats and tables. 

    That's it.

    How about an intimate dinner then night before, then a brief ceremony and casual party with everyone you want to invite. No intros. No bridal party if you don't want them. No toasts, etc.

    Personally, I had a "traditional wedding" where we had a ceremony and then cocktail hour, then seated dinner, then dancing, all on a Saturday night. No bridesmaids/groomsmen. No intros. We had a DJ and 2 toasts because we wanted that, but also not required. Have whatever YOU want, not what you think you should have, as long as you follow the rules above!
    short+sassyInLoveInQueensSP29ernursej
  • Viczaesar said:
    This sounds like a tiered reception to me - small party for ceremony and dinner, followed by a larger party for dancing and drinks and finger foods.  I don't think it's two separate events in that case, just one event with a 2-hour gap and a tiered invitation list.
    I agree with this actually. In my earlier post I thought of it as sort of an after-party, but the after-party guests aren't invited to the party-party so yeah it's 100% a tiered reception.

    OP: I strongly recommend moving the ceremony portion to the evening, once all your guests have arrived. You can still have an intimate family dinner beforehand and a casual cocktail reception afterward.

    cowgirl8238InLoveInQueens
  • tiered reception is a huge no no and this is one of them. Invite everyone to ceremony and reception do it at a non meal time and serve heavy apps cheese crackers veggies dips maybe like a mash potato bar or something different you can still skip all the formalities, you don't have to have cake i went to a wedding and the bride groom cut into pies and served various flavors of pies with ice cream, do cupcakes, have an ice cream bar or a smores bar. but don't have a dinner for some people and then have others come later its rude tacky and against etiquette 
    InLoveInQueens
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