Post # 1
Would it be weird to break guests into 2 waves?
Like, say the ceremony is at 11:00 and you have immediate family only.
Could you have 2 different waves of the reception? Like invite 1/2 the guests from 12 – 4, and the other guests 5-9?
It’d cut down on costs of renting table linens, dishes (if you have an on-site dishwasher), and you could spend time with everyone you really want to (it’s so hard with 150+ people to spend time with each guest). AndI guess one would serve the same meal twice (buffet style).
Would it be feasible to have a crew switch everything out in under an hour and start it all over again? Is that fair/unfair to guests?
Post # 3
While I commend you for thinking out of the box, I advise against doing this.
Socially-speaking, it could be awkward. For example: Who gets invited to the first reception vs the second? What if a guest has a time conflict with one, then can they come to the other? Then why can’t everyone choose? What if not all the guests from the first reception have left by the time the second wave arrives? Seems like a good opportunity to accidentally offend or snub someone.
Also, I don’t think you’d really save much money – or the reuse would be obvious. Table linens, for example, are quite dirty by the end of a 4-hour dinner. Either you’d have to leave soiled linens for the next guests (ew…) or rent a double set. Plus, everyone will want to see you cut your cake, so you’ll want two …unless you display a half-eaten cake. And then consider the extra cost of renting the location for so long, plus all the extra time for servers, photographer, and DJs/musicians.
And really, do you WANT a rerun reception? Two "first" dances? Make your bridal party give their speeches twice while you give a "spontaneous" reaction? And isn’t the point of a wedding to have everyone come together? Plus, you’re going to be so tired after nine hours + ceremony.
Ultimately, you know your particular circumstances best. But these are my thoughts.
Post # 4
I guess you would have to talk to your venue about whether or how they can change everything out. My experience was that it took about an hour for our people to set everything up (including favors, flowers, etc). You would need to reserve the venue for twice as long, pay the staff for twice as long, get two sets of linens… dishes and glasses could probably be washed and reused, but again how long it takes for them to bus everything and wash and reset is a question for the venue.
I actually wouldn’t want to do it myself. We found that our 4-hour reception did kind of feel like it flew by, as far as getting to spend time with everyone, but we also found that by the end of it we were exhausted, and absolutely ready to head to the hotel and get out of our fancy clothes and relax. I don’t think I could have face a whole second reception, and I think the guests would have seen it…
The other thing that I realized after the wedding is that our guests really didn’t mind that they didn’t get to "spend time" with us. They had a great time spending time with each other. My family was great about their duties as hosts, and made sure to talk to everybody. And in general everybody knew that we were crazy busy, and was satisfied with a hug and a few moments of our time. And honestly, we had about 150 – so I can tell you that even with that number you’re not going to get to "spend time" with your guests like you would if you had them over for dinner. But I think that’s okay.