If you’re planning a destination wedding, chances are a large number of family and friends will be unable to attend the nuptials. That might be part of the appeal for you, but you’ll still want to offer friends and family a way to celebrate with you. Hosting a reception at a later date gives you a great opportunity to party with loved ones who couldn’t attend the ceremony. Here are a few pointers for planning a bash after your destination wedding:
1. Invitation: Hosting a larger party following the destination wedding allows you the opportunity to include more people in your celebrations. It might be tempting to send these people an actual wedding invitation, assuming they won’t be able to make it, and include the info about the late reception with it. Unless you’re willing to accommodate these guests at the destination wedding, don’t send them an invite. You might be pleasantly (or unpleasantly, as the case may be) surprised at the number of people willing to attend your destination wedding, raising the costs for you considerably. Instead, send them a separate invitation strictly for the post-wedding reception/gathering. Depending on how long you’re waiting between the actual wedding and the party, you may want to wait until after the wedding and send the invitation along with a marriage announcement.
2. No Gifts: Proper etiquette states that if a guest isn’t invited to the actual wedding, you should not expect to receive a gift from them. Granted, most people attending your reception will want to commemorate the event with a present, but it shouldn’t be expected, which means that it’s best not to include registry information on the invitation.
3. Casual vs. Formal: The great thing about hosting a separate gathering is that it removes a lot of pressure from you, as the bride, about the overall feel of the event. Because it’s slightly unconventional to host a reception on a day other than the wedding day, your options are limitless. You can organize something as formal as an elegant, sit-down dinner or as relaxed as a backyard barbecue. It’s entirely up to you.
4. Cost: A post-wedding reception can be a costly affair, especially if your guest list is large. If you chose to have a destination wedding to save costs on a massive, lavish party in your hometown, you might want to consider an informal gathering for the post-wedding reception. If you and your new husband have recently purchased a home, call it a housewarming party and prepare the food yourselves or rent out pavilions at a nearby park to host a barbecue. If cost isn’t an issue, plan the reception of your dreams at your favorite local venue.
5. Festivities: It’s perfectly acceptable for your post-wedding reception to feature all of the events and traditions of a conventional wedding reception. You can have your first dance as husband and wife, cut the wedding cake together, and toss a bouquet. If you prefer to opt for a low-key or unconventional gathering, that’s fine too! There are no rules about what you do and don’t need to do!
6. Attire: What you wear is up to you, but guests will love to see you in a wedding dress! Plus, wearing a more traditional wedding gown will certainly place you and your new husband at the center of attention. If your post-wedding party is more relaxed, consider purchasing a casual white party dress to wear.
7. Photos: Don’t forget to display photos from your destination wedding for guests to see! It’s a great way for attendees to feel like they’re part of your celebration. If you have video from the big day, schedule to show it on a television or screen during the gathering or let it run on a continual loop somewhere in the venue for guests to watch.
After everything…be sure to read our blog on Thank You Card Etiquette.