Post # 1
I’m having a destination wedding in central CA (it’s “destination” bc we live a 5 hrs drive south, and our guests are all at least 1 hr away from the venue, but it is easy enough for our friends and family from all over the US to get to by car and plane). We anticipate that half or more of our wedding guests may arrive Friday for our Saturday night wedding. We can’t invite them all to the rehearsal dinner (that would be like a second wedding..and with just fam & the wedding party it’s already 30 people).
However, the restaurant we’re doing the rehearsal at actually turns into a really hip outdoor firepit bar/lounge at night, and we were thinking it might be fun to extend an invite/suggestion to all guests in town early to meet up there Friday night from 7-9pm (after the 5:30pm rehearsal dinner). Except that we cannot afford to add to the budget an extra hosted bar event for who knows how many people…Aside from the cost, we do not want to drink much ourselves the night before nor booze up our attendants who will have already been at the dinner. Obviously anyone can do anything they want to ultimately and pre/after party on their own, but we’re hoping to keep official events formal and conservative, and we don’t want to encourage heavy drinking. (No judgement on those who enjoy weddings as drinking events, that’s just not us.)
We could try to do some kind of drink ticket, 1 drink per person… but I feel like drink tickets might look kind of cheap and out of place at this upscale bar. The drinks there are about $10/cocktail so those heavy-drinkers are probably less likely to order more than a couple of drinks there anyway.. Would it be a good or bad thing to invite people to stop by at 7 for drinks and mingling? If so, how would we word it so that it’s not sounding like a free-booze thing…just a stop by if you want to say hi and buy yourself drinks/food if you want thing? Or should we just skip it if we can’t pay for everyone to drink?
Post # 3
I would inform people informally…. by text, email, in person when you see them that “hey- we’re meeting up with anyone who wants to come at X bar at Y time for drinks so people can hang out before the wedding/get to know each other. come if you’d like!” i think that makes it obvious that you’re not hosting, but that you’d like them to come out and have a nice pre-wedding get together with you.
Post # 4
- Wedding: July 2012 - Walnut Beach Resort
My wedding was a destination wedding, and had a lot of guests arrive at the resort the day before. We had a rehearsal dinner buffet-style on the patio, where we paid for the bridal party but additional guests were welcome to join and pay their own bills. It worked well 🙂
Post # 5
- Wedding: April 2014 - Italian Villa
i might mention it in passing to people more last-minute. if you mention it too far in advance, they are more likely to assume you’re footing the bill. if you mention it a couple days before or the day of the rehearsal, people are more likely to view it as an opportunity to hang out (and will probably assume they are paying for themselves).
the more casual you are about it, the more casual they’ll be
Post # 6
We didn’t have a rehearsal dinner(no rehearsal) but we instead treated our immediate family to a really nice dinner the night before. We too technically had a destination wedding since everyone, including us, had to travel to it. Afterwards we met up with everyone else that wanted to at another restaurant/bar. Was very informal and was told by phone calls, texts. It worked out fine and all our friends we hadn’t seen in a long time were just glad to be able to have some time to hang out with us before the wedding. No one expected us to pay for their food and drinks there.
Post # 7
- Wedding: October 2013 - The Down Town Club, Philadelphia
I’m in the exact same situation. I think what we are going to do is the word-of-mouth thing. Nothing formal, no invites, that way people don’t think we are picking up the tab for it.
We may actually move it to the hotel bar, so no one has to even drive or go out of their way to see us that night.
Post # 8
@Reeniero: We wanted to meet at a bar somewhere but some of my friends had traveled with their children so I wanted it to be someplace everyone could go to.
Post # 9
We are thinking about doing this too, just having people meet at the hotel bar so they can get to know each other and we can say hi to anyone who we haven’t seen already. I don’t think people expect it to be hosted when it is super casual.
Post # 10
Just do a ‘no pressure, come as you are, if you want to meet up with us, here’s where we’ll be” kind of invite. I think that’s perfectly acceptable.
Post # 11
- Wedding: October 2013 - The Down Town Club, Philadelphia
@nursemel: Good point. I wonder if the hotel bar will allow kids to be at the tables. Putting it on the list to find out.
Post # 12
I’d try to get someone besides yourself to spread the word, let people know on advance so they can attend. We were invited to a wedding once and made travel plans, bought plane tickets, etc. But found out a week before that there were all these get togethers before and after the actual wedding. It was a bummer because we couldn’t change our plans but would have loved to spend more time with the far flung friends and family who were there.
Post # 13
we’re doing this exact thing. Yes, I would love to host everything for everyone but come on, it’s just not realistic for everyone. What’s important to me is seeing all of my guests who have traveled from really far places, and if not being able to pay for their drinks means I “shouldn’t” have the event then that’s where I pull out the whole , “Srew Emily Post” phrase. lol.
We’re putting a little booklet thing in all of our welcome bags that will have info about the whole weekend and area and will mention the hang-out the night before, with some pricing info (it’s a bowling alley) so I believe that states, “hey, we’d like to see you but we’re not paying for it”. haha.
With my group of friends and family, this will be PERFECTLY fine. but I also understand things are different in different places. I really think you’ll be fine as long as it’s not a formal invite.
Post # 14
We did this for my wedding. We basically did what others have suggested, an informal word of mouth/text thing. Something like “We’ll be at the hotel bar around 7 if anyone wants to join us.”
No one expected us to host and it was fine.
Post # 15
We hosted a ‘Welcome Cocktails’ event at a nearby restaurant the night before our semi-destination wedding. It was a blast! Originally we were going to do something like you’re proposing, like, ‘hey, let’s all show up at this bar and we’ll buy a few pitchers and some wings for everyone!’. Unfortunately it was not that easy…
We checked in with a few of the local bars to see if they had a back room or something – none of them had the space for 75 people to just show up. We wanted to ensure that our guests were comfortable and somewhat taken care of, so we decided to turn it into a more structured thing – we had to make some adjustments to our budget. We already weren’t doing a rehersal dinner, so the cost of that was not a factor. Essentially we decided against expensive floral decorations and a photo booth at the actual wedding – that covered the bill for the ‘Welcome Cocktails’. We limited our offerings to 3 selections of local beer and 3 selections of local wine (no hard alcohol) along with heavy appetizers. A few people ordered real dinner – and they were able to order that on a separate bill.
We had 55 guests rsvp that they were coming to the Welcome Cocktails, in the end 75 people of our 95 person guest list came. It was originally supposed to go for 2 hours, it turned into 5 hours and was an AWESOME TIME! Even for all of that overage, the final bill with tip and all was around $2200 which I think a was SO worth it. Having everyone that I haven’t seen in months or years in one room was amazing and it totally calmed me down for the actual wedding day. I got plenty of time catching up with everyone – but I did wake up with a bit of a champagne hangover the next day…
I recommend checking with venues that you plan on arranging the meet up at – you don’t want to invite everyone out to a place that is not prepared for your arrival. Even if you are trying to do something casual, people will look to you for some sort of organization. You don’t want stress the night before your wedding.