(Closed) Having a "party" instead of a "reception"

posted 8 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
5472 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

Our reception was one hell of a party! Not sure what the difference is, in your mind…  


You can have a totally casual, laid back wedding and reception, or a fancy-schmancy party.  It’s kind of up to you!

Post # 4
9947 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Hi @CarterLove:  Ok need some more details on your vision first…

Will this even happen immediately after your Wedding, or will there be a sizeable gap (Hours, Days, Weeks, Months)


Post # 5
5949 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: April 2018

@CarterLove:  We did a super easy going BBQ the summer after we eloped, had yummy food, ice cold beer and our photographer doing free family portraits for the guests as a thank you.  If its winter, maybe you could rent out an ice skating rink?  Or arrange a sleigh ride?  I guess it depends on how many people and what they’re into, but something wintery would be really cool!

Post # 6
9120 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: August 2013 - Rocky Mountains USA

Ours was definitely a big party.  A few things that helped:

– overall casual and very festive atmosphere

– PRE-ceremony cocktail hour, followed by another hour after the ceremony

– keeping the “ceremonial” bits short n sweet.  Brief speeches, brief first dances, don’t do the whole “introduce each member of the bridal party in a long drawn out entrance”, etc.

– fun music

– lots of booze

– lots of little stations – kegs, photobooth, wine table, musc/dancing area, tables, etc

Post # 7
3567 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

Recpetion is basically a party.

You can have it anyways you want,

I been to cool cocktail receptions, last year went to swanky miami wedding with stations and food, again no first dances, no cake cutting, (which I assume is what you thinking of).

It’s possible to craft your reception in the same way if that is what you want. We also cut out a lot of things, did a few that were wedding reception-ish. The majority of ours was about good food, good drinks, and dancing which are the three connerstones I think to any good party.

Post # 8
9129 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

@CarterLove:  We planned our reception as if it was a backyard BBQ we were throwing.  It turned out great and casual and fun and it fit better with our small wedding budget.  We ordered trays of BBQ by the pound and set up a buffet using disposable heating trays we bought from the local aprty store.  We set out coolers of beer and soda and water.  We ordered poly-lined paper tablecloths which look nicer than plastic but were much cheaper than actual linens.  We used disposable plastic plates, utensils, and cups.  We ordered our small cake and cupcakes from a local grocer.  We set up a free playlist using spotify instead of a DJ (but you could also ask a friend to DJ.)

The best thing we did was to think about it as if we were throwing a regular party rather than a wedding.  A regular party only needs food, drinks, music/entertainment, and places for people to sit down.

Post # 9
10449 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: February 2014

We are calling it a reception but I hope it’s a big party! DJ + alcohol + fun crowd works at every other event I’ve been to. 

Post # 10
2836 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: October 2012

If it is right after your wedding, then it is still considered a reception, I think. Most receptions are parties – unless they’re just crazy boring, haha.  If it occurs a few months later, then I’d invite people to a “wedding celebration”.  Either way, it’s a party.

Post # 11
4695 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: September 2014

Ours is a party, but a formal one. The word reception just makes me think of the standard banquet hall wedding.

Post # 13
9947 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: December 2012

Etiquette Snob here… lol


View original reply
@CarterLove: Thanks for the UPDATE where you said:

We are having a small ceremony and then having dinner with our families then later on we will have our party/reception with about 120 people, at a hall. At least that’s the plan right now. We do not have a hall booked yet.

Ok from an Etiquette POV as another Bee pointed out… if it is the same Day of the Wedding it is usually know as a Reception… if it another Day / Date, then often known as a Wedding Celebration.

I take it from your UPDATE that this would be same day… correct ?

Based on your Description it sounds like you are planning to have a Tiered Reception… where your Wedding Ceremony will have fewer in Attendance than the Reception / Evening Party portion… correct ?

As other Bees have said, you can make your Reception however you like… emphasizing as much or as little of the Wedding Festivities as you like.

To get the ball rolling it would be helpful if you clarified some of that vision:

  • Will your send out Invites ?
  • What will You & Your Groom Wear ?
  • Will you still be in Your Wedding Gown… or will you have another outfit ?
  • Will you have an Announced Entrance ? … Mr & Mrs CarterLove
  • Will you have a First Dance with your Hubby ?
  • Will you have a Dance with Parents ? … Your Dad ?
  • Will there be Wedding Cake ?
  • Will there be a Toast to the Bride & Groom ?
  • Will there be any Speaches ?
  • Will there be a Bouquet or Garter Toss ?
  • Will you have a Guest Book ?

Once you know the Answers to all of those… then the rest will be easy.

Cause the rest will be like planning a regular party…

Hope this helps,

PS… The keys to a Tiered Reception are 2 fold:

1- The Rule of Etiquette is once you are there, you are there for the Duration.  So anyone you invite to the Wedding Ceremony need also be included for the Dinner – and the Party

Anyone who comes to the Dinner, needs to also be included for the Party.

2- And those who come out to just the Reception / Party must be treated with the utmost of respect… they have gathered not just to have a run-of-the-mill Party… they have come to CELEBRATE Your Wedding.  So that should be honoured and respected…

So altho you might not be in favour of a whole lot of “Wedding” Activities, you should be aware there is an element of that that your Guests will expect… so they too can “partake” in some meaningful way in YOUR BIG DAY.  You ommitted them out of the Wedding Ceremony itself… so please don’t refuse them a chance to revel a bit in the Wedding Magic.  You surely don’t have to have the full on list that I provided above (bullets) but your Guests would most likely be quite disappointed if they didn’t get to see something Wedding-like… in which case they could very much feel cheated… and come away that your inviting them to the Party was just a means to Gift Grab.

Stuff to consider / think about.


Post # 14
6109 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

A reception is to “receive” your guests and thank them for witnessing your wedding.

So if they did not see the wedding, I guess I put that in the party category – even if your party has matching linens, a DJ and open bar.


We had a very casual potluck party about one month after, but I did my best to not make it weddingy.  It was more it’s fall party – we got a new deck, I graudated, oh we got arried too.  A celebration of celebrations!  We provided all the alcohol, main dishes and dessert.  People brought sides.  It was very casual.  I did some fall decor just with my house as normal. 


We threw it together in one week.  So no family was invited, just local in town friends.

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