(Closed) small reception: cake and coffee? (with ranting)

posted 7 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
3 posts
  • Wedding: July 2011

I am hearing this loud and clear! I am having a very small legal ceremony in a public park – twenty one people, including the groom and myself – and I have fielded quite a bit of criticism. Good for us for sticking to our vision! 

In fact, the one reason that I wasn’t able to have a large wedding on my budget was because of the “what if it rains?” question. I kept saying to my friends who criticized my choice not to invite a hundred or more people: “If I lived in Arizona, I could do it. It’s just that making sure there’s a roof is the hardest part.” People all the time envision these beautiful outdoor weddings without ever acknowledging that a bride must plan for rain, if she lives outside of a desert!

My suggestion to you is to call a tent company. You are so very, very lucky to have family backyards at your disposal and I think you should go with that. They might try to upsell you into a tent with a floor and all kinds of extras, but I suggest that you keep your self-possession as you have so well and maintain that you just want to cover over their heads. If the ground is very uneven in these yards, you might consider putting the tent over the driveway. I had a friend who did this and it actually was very nice.  

Smaller receptions are absolutely fine. At one time, they were actually very chic and formal in the South. You can look at very old Emily Post etiquette books for research on that! But if anyone gives you a hard time, you can say that you’re just being “very traditional” or “a little old-fashioned.” My reception is dinner, but it’s also small-scale. It’s just going to a restaurant – no dancing, etc. 

Post # 4
699 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: November 1999

I think my only concern is that with either timing, you’re edging into lunch time, when people would expect to be fed more than coffee and cake. If it were a 2pm ceremony, for example, I think you’d be fine. And I think the previous suggestion of a tent sounds good, but what’s your backup for the ceremony if it rains?

Post # 5
211 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: May 2011

I suppose it does depend on the weather. Where I live it never rains May-September or so but if you live somewhere where it does rain then its hard to know. What my Mom’s best friend did last year was to have a low key outdoor ceremony and then rent out a room in a nearby restaurant and have a reception there. Their wedding was only about 30 people. I’ve looked into this as well as there are many restaurants where you can reserve a room and each person is served a sit down meal or you can have a buffet. I found this starting at around $25 a person. I don’t know where you live but I was looking in San Francisco so if anything it might be cheaper elsewhere.

Post # 6
46606 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

Aside from the weather,  your guests may be expecting a meal for either of those ceremony times.

If you want to serve coffee and cake, I would try to secure a 2pm slot so your menu would be a natural for mid-aftenoon.

Post # 7
1690 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2012

you can actually buy a cheap gazebo with sides  fro about $100  , big enough for that amount of people. then you can re-sell it or keep it for bar be ques in your own garden. 

i imagine a tent company might charge as much as the price of buying one. 

i too wanted tea and cakes straight afer,  with an evening reception,  to keep inline with my vintage theme,  but my partner and his friends are drinkers,   and not of tea!   and most people wouldnt understand it was because i WANTED it,  they would think i was cheaping out. 

i think a backyard wedding would be so much fun,

Post # 8
65 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

If you’re having an outdoor ceremony/reception, you should consider renting a tent.  Your family’s home may not be big enough to accommodate all the guests plus you need a backup plan in case of inclement weather.  Also, if you’re having a simple cake and coffee reception, do consider indicating so in the invitations so your guests aren’t expecting a full meal around lunchtime. If all else fails and if your budget allows, consider having a brunch reception at a cafe or restaurant.  Usually, a brunch reception is a lot cheaper than having a full course lunch or dinner.

Post # 9
1747 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2012

Are there any tea houses around you?

In PA, there are a few where it’s a small restaurant and they specialize in tea service, with scones, petit fours, and other sweets along with specialty teas.  They are super cute most times and might be an inexpensive option for the “cake and coffee” option.

Here is a website where you can find tea houses around you:


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