How Can We Tell Guests About Our Alternative Wedding Reception?

Updated 07/23/16

Harwell Photography

From a brunch wedding to cocktail-style small bites and food stations, the options when it comes to the style of your wedding reception are nearly endless. Chances are, however, that even if your plans lean toward the non-traditional, guests will assume you're hosting a more traditional event (ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing). So how can you spread the word that your celebration will be a break from the norm? Our experts have a few ideas.

Announcing your alternative wedding reception plans all begins with the invitation. Hosting a brunch instead of a sit-down dinner? Opt for an invitation design that's a little more casual, as a black-tie style invitation will imply that the event is formal and in the evening. When it comes to wording, request your guests' presence at your marriage and, below the time, date, and address, include "Brunch Reception to Follow" or "Please Join Us for Cocktails, Hors D'oeuvres, and Cake Following the Ceremony." This will start to let guests know about the style of reception you've planned, and of course if you've selected a non-traditional time, that will start to clue them in, as well! You could also have the invitation solely address your ceremony, and include an insert with the reception details where you can more fully invite guests to join you for a luncheon celebrating your City Hall union at a different venue, for example.

This is also a great use for your wedding website. If you're having an afternoon ceremony followed by drinks and appetizers (but won't be offering a full dinner), include suggestions for spots in the area where guests can head to dinner still dolled up after your reception ends. Planning an evening ceremony followed by just champagne and cake? Let guests know here that they should head to dinner before joining you for your wedding.

A big trend in wedding receptions is a standing reception with heavy hors d'oeuvres, drinks, and dancing. These events usually have more than enough food to satisfy as dinner, but the flow is a significant change from the usual seated dinner. While you don't necessarily need to let guests know that you're having food stations instead of a plated meal, you will want to make sure you have some seating available, particularly for older guests. Mix a few small tables with chairs amongst the cocktail tables and lounge furniture so guests who would rather eat with a fork and knife than pop mini-quiches intp their mouths on their way to the dance floor will be comfortable.

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