Compromise between courthouse wedding and traditional wedding?

posted 2 years ago in Reception
Post # 2
813 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: May 2018 - Farm

wasabipea :  I think the compromise would be a small intimate wedding with 50 people or less.  You could still have the dancing, cake and anything else that you may want to add. 

Structuring you wedding:

You should first figure out your budget and guest size ( this will determine the cost of a lot of things associated with your wedding. If you can keep your guest list small it should decrease your overall cost).

Figure out what things are important to you:









These things have different priorities for different people. If you need to be organized for your wedding planning it may be best to hire a wedding planner to help you stay organized.  I will not be hiring a planner.   I will hire a Day of Coordinator to help with the wedding the day of. I have planned and researched  and hired all vendors, decor etc myself for the wedding and only need someone to help out the day of with decorating and working with the other vendors and making sure things flow well.  Google searches and wedding sites have helped with planning.



Post # 4
6528 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: June 2015

wasabipea :  My husband didn’t want all that attention either.  We found a ‘ranch’ with cabins and a lodge to rent – same prices as normal hotel rooms and $10 a head to rent the lodge.  It had a huge bbq and my husband cooked the meal to keep himself busy and not feeling center of attention.  We actually had the ‘reception’ part of our day before our wedding ceremony so that no one was waiting around hours for the meal to cook.  Then everyone went to the ceremony venue, we had a 20 minute event with his father officiating (prayer, said our vows, smooched) and back to the lodge for dessert.  Basically just one big hangout and everyone really enjoyed the change in pace from a standard wedding.

We had 34 guests (invited about double but it was far away from everyone since that’s where we live), tritip for our meal, strawberry shortcake for dessert, music via iTunes with rented speakers – guests danced about a half hour.  It was lovely and I wouldn’t change anything but the weather and the hem on my dress.

If his family has bigger expectations, I’d keep quiet about whatever you decide to do.  People can’t complain and cause you to second guess yourselves if they don’t know what’s up.  In the end, as long as you host the guests you do have well, it’s your wedding, run it how you (both) want to.

Post # 6
4038 posts
Honey bee

wasabipea :  How many guests are you talking about? So just to clarify, you want family only for the courthouse ceremony and reception or family only for the ceremony and inviting family AND some friends at the reception? 

Post # 8
713 posts
Busy bee

I’m doing something similar. I orginally wanted to elope at SF city hall because I hate being the center of attention, but my mom convinced me to do something small if she was paying. We are having a small wedding (30ish) people in May at a resturant. We found a resturant that does weddings, so they have a place for a ceremony to be held. We also live in a very expensive city (san francisco) but managed to find a place up in Sonoma. There will be no dancing for us (because I hate dancing) but they have the space for it if that’s what I wanted. I would just look at different resturants that also do weddings as a compromise. 

Post # 9
4038 posts
Honey bee

wasabipea : 


I think your best bet and to keep costs down is to look for a restaurant with a private room that can hold 50 people. Think about it, you don’t have to rent chairs, tables, linens, chinas, silverware, etc. At most, you just need to bring floral centerpieces/candles and that’s it.

I would also do a pre-fixed menu meaning that because it’s a restaurant, don’t let guests order whatever they want from the regular menu because it will be a headache. Instead, you and your SO talk to the restaurant and tell them ahead of time for example, we want: a salad starter (one choice only) and 3 choices for main entree (chicken, fish or beef with side dishes) that guests can choose from. 

Toasts you can do around dinner time. I would also bring in a wedding cake. You don’t need to order additional dessert from the restaurant. But double check if they have cake cutting fee.

Regarding the music, not sure if the restaurant you’ll choose can accommodate a DJ. If not, I have read other bees here use iPods for music so guests can dance. If your groom is up to it since you say he doesn’t like attention, you can also do a short first dance. Get a photographer/videographer also. 

And there you go, you have all the elements of a traditional wedding with a casual reception!

Post # 11
580 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2017

We had a ceremony with just grandparents, parents, siblings, and aunts and uncles. The ceremony took place at a small chapel that had a reception venue attached. Then we took time for pics and then invited more people for reception and cake cutting and such. I have stage fright and absolutely did not want to stand in front of 100 people for the ceremony. 

Post # 12
144 posts
Blushing bee

Don’t do a backyard ceremony; it will end up costing you more. 

Restaurant is a great idea. Fewer than 50 people, great idea. 

Post # 13
507 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2017 - Orange County, CA

We had our ceremony and reception at a restaurant.  It had a private garden and greenhouse area, and was already very pretty.  We had about 30 guests, and it was low-key and fun!

Post # 14
336 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2018

I am your SO.  I wanted as close to nothing as possible.  Elopement or something super minimal.  However, my fiance has a big family and they’ve all done the traditional thing.  He wants the party and I don’t blame him for that.  I love them too and a part of me does want the party.  I just can’t rationalize the spending and the whole “song and dance” feel of it.  I don’t like the kind of undivided attention that comes with getting literal Disney princess dressed up for an hours long theatrical show starring yourself.  It feels bizarre and uncomfortable to me, not to mention the actual labor that goes into planning such an event.  I often feel like I’m barely managing my day to day life.  Cooking myself a hot dinner is a big effort – forget organizing a three course meal for 100+ people.

Our compromise is:

courthouse ceremony with immediate family only,

dinner with immediate family only,

then cake and drinks in the backyard with extended friends and family (about 75 people).

We will be spending some money on our outfits and mostly lights for decorations.  Alcohol and the cake will take up most of the budget.  But beyond that we aren’t hiring a photographer, or a DJ, or any of the usual wedding components that people typically deem necessary.  We’re not having a bridal party or doing first dances.  But I will be doing my version of “dressed up”.  We’ll do a toast and a cake cutting or something and I expect to pose for a lot of pictures.  But otherwise, I’m attempting to make the whole thing as casual and fun as possible.  My fiance is fine with this because we both agree that fundamentally, the wedding is really all about spending time with all the people we love with some bubbly mixed in.  So that’s what we’re doing.

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