(Closed) Reception Dinner at Restaurant—WHO PAYS???

posted 10 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
1395 posts
Bumble bee

It sounds like to me, that you guys just need to have your wedding and tell your family and friends through word of mouth that everyone is “meeting up for dinner at _________ restuarant” after the wedding.  Don’t call it a reception, because then they’ll expect their meals to be paid for.  Just make it seem like a casual meeting of loved ones at your favorite restuarant to celebrate.  My aunt and uncle did that.  They got married at the courthouse, and just told everyone they were going to a steakhouse afterwards, and said everyone was welcome to come and join them. 

But, do not put on your invitations, “Reception at _______ restaurant” because that will lead guests to believe this is a paid dinner.

For $500, I don’t think you would be able to have a DJ.   If everyone’s meal is $12.50 or less, you could afford to pay for all of them to eat at the restuarant, but I doubt it will be that cheap with drinks and tax.  You could probably have a barbecue or potluck dinner, or some other cheap meal, at someone’s home or a park for $500, but I don’t think a DJ will fit in that budget.  My cousin had a really cheap DJ and they paid like $475 for 4 hours.

Post # 4
17 posts
  • Wedding: March 2013

You’ll have to cut the guest list, or request that people do not give you a gift. It’s one thing to not provide alcohol, it’s a whole other thing to not provide food. If their gift to you is paying for their own food and drink, then I think it’s okay to go through with your current method.

Post # 5
1295 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2012

You can’t really call it a wedding reception if you don’t (can’t) plan on paying for it. 

I agree with Pinksapphire, you can tell people to join you but you cannot indicated in any way that you’re hosting this. 

I was invited to a wedding like this, had NO idea that I had to pay for my dinner and quite honestly I am still a little peeved about it. 

Another option is to host people at your home or backyard. Fourty guests is really not that many and it won’t cost you as much. 

Post # 6
3605 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: May 2010

i say dont do it.  i cant imagine a restaurant allowing 50 guess to split bills and pay seperately for meal/drinks, something will go wrong and you’ll be responsible for the bill plus, well its not polite to invite people to a reception and ask them to pay

something like Pink suggested above sounds nicer but have a ipod instead of dj

Post # 7
2153 posts
Buzzing bee

The purpose of the reception is to thank your guests for coming out and celebrating your wedding.  It is a hosted affair.  But that said, if your budget is so tight, you should consider a cake and punch reception. 

It would not be polite to ask your guests to pay to thank themselves for coming out.

Post # 8
3930 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

like other PPs have said, this would not be a reception dinner, and you can’t send out an invitation for something you aren’t hosting.  that would be misleading and inappropriate. 

i agree with the cake and punch idea.

as for a DJ- i think this has to be a secondary priority.  your guests being fed and comfortable is more important than what kind of music you provide. 

Post # 9
5229 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: March 2012 - Pelican Grand Beach Resort

I can’t imagine getting a DJ for less than your entire reception budget. Plus, wanting something like a DJ there means that you’d need to rent the entire restaurant, and I can’t imagine a restaurant closing for normal business for only $500. You’d be better off securing jsut enough space for your party, preparing a short menu, and losing all the traditional reception stuff other than the cake if you really want to keep to that budget and use a restaurant.

Post # 10
20 posts
  • Wedding: August 2012

We’re having a buffet style dinner. Our family is helping make salads and rolls and making roast beef sandwhichs. Also, I’m making lasgana. We figure that the most we’re going to be paying for food and non-alcoholic drinks (having tea in those big, pretty pitchers) no more than $200-$300. 

I wouldn’t have your reception at a resturant and have your guests pay. Just cut some corners and buy some bulk food and ask your family to help with a side.

Let us know what you decide to do!

Post # 11
20 posts
  • Wedding: August 2012

And for DJ – do you know anyone has some music equipment? My fiance’s cousin has some and is doing it for us for free. 

Post # 12
1335 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

If your budget is really tight, I’d suggest having punch and cake only (either at home or at a park or something) or rent out an Elks Lodge, VFW Hall or some other place like that and bring in your own food.  You could get $500 worth of food from Costco and it would feed more than 40 people!

Post # 13
1026 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2012

for $500 I would do a small hor dourves reception at someones house. It could be quite lovely I think. I just went to a wedding at someones home and though there was no dj, we had an ipod and had a FABulous time!


Post # 14
266 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: March 2012

WOW, glad we live where we do. One of the local bbq places that everyone likes is catering. $687 including delivery and tax will get us 110 quartered chickens= 220 pieces of chicken, 14 lbs sliced beef, 14 lbs sliced pork, 1 gallon 1 quart each potato salad, cole slaw and baked beans and 5 quarts bbq sauce. My fsil will make 2 trays of lasagna and I will make a couple trays of mac/cheese.

We have 100-120 people coming.

For less than 50 people it would have been about $250.

Post # 15
2623 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: April 2013

For Five hundred dollars for 40 people is more then enough to cater, or hire or order the food at a resonable rate. I think if you find a cheap venue or have friends or family with a space that can host you go for it. The resturant idea I think would only work for a smaller group.

Post # 16
9973 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I would find some way to cut costs, but absolutely not ask guests to pay for their own measls at a reception.  It comes across as very cheap and unwelcoming.  To be honest, if I were invited to a wedding then told I’d have to pay for my own meal, I’d have real second thoughts about attending the wedding, because it looks like you’re inviting people for the gifts and not being hospitable by offering any sort of food. 

Do you know someone with a sizeable house that you could use to host a reception?  You could go to CostCo or Sam’s Club and get big platters and drinks for your guests. 

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