Giving a post-wedding celebration party that special wedding feeling
June 18, 2018 8:21 AM   Subscribe

My sister getting married in Colorado where she and her husband’s family live and then having another reception a month later for our friends and family in Illinois (their venue is too small to invite everybody, not everyone can travel, etc) What can we do to give this 2nd party that special wedding feeling?

We have been to a few of these non-wedding wedding celebrations and in our experience they are way less fun then an actual wedding reception. We want to do something more spectacular with a vibe that is something like Wedding 2: the next Hurrah!

what are some fun ideas to give everyone a shared experience that gives all our guests that special wedding feeling. Should we make them walk down the aisle again and throw rose petals or something??? Confetti cannons??? We are feeling like this will be a little looser than the actual wedding so we can have a bit more fun with it. Sister and fiancé are down to do such things as make a grand entrance, Recite their vows again or give us updated ones, have more folks make speeches, etc.

200 people invited, setting is a hotel ballroom with big round dinner tables, that we can arrange however we want to.
posted by wowenthusiast to Human Relations (10 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
I feel like at least part of "that wedding feeling" is the cocktail hour, where guests start arriving and the party is very low key until, suddenly, the bridal party shows up! They make a big entrance and it kicks off the actual party.

Another part of wedding receptions that feel singular are toasts and the cutting of the cake. Also first dance and the dances with respective parents.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:46 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I was just at a wedding celebration of a couple who got married 6 months ago but didn't have a reception. The party started with a "ceremony" where the couple walked in to a live song, a friend of the couple gave a speech, and then there was another musical performance. The friend had chatted with the couple beforehand about how they met, why they got married and why they love each other etc. (I believe he asked a priest friend for a list of questions that couples get asked before church weddings). The speech was informal and funny and sweet and we all cried. There was more speeches (both grooms, a sister, a best friend) and performances later on, after dinner, but this first non-wedding ceremony started the event.
posted by hannala at 9:04 AM on June 18, 2018 [2 favorites]

Have a really great band and a really great list of dance-able songs. If anybody is sufficiently talented, do a choreographed dance to some catchy pop music.
Cake, champagne, party poppers, little cups of rice/ bird seed/ confetti to fling, matches that say Terry and Leslie "A perfect match", imprinted sunglasses, photo booth, banners. No such thing as too many candles and fairy lights.
Hotel ballrooms usually have a strong colored carpet and giant chandeliers. If you can get miles of netting to mix with fairy lights, you can give more of a wedding vibe. Check craigslist, I see wedding stuff advertised frequently, recycling is good. Pinterest is your friend.
I would not replicate the wedding, but they could enter through a flowery arch.
Instead of a bouquet toss, ?

Let the families and wedding party quietly tell 1 or 2 friends Terry and Leslie want the reception at home to be as special as the one in Colorado. I hope people will dress up/ be ready to dance/ have a blast.

Wedding receptions have a bunch of events - entrance, dance with parent, 1st dance with spouse, cake, photos, etc. Try to have some similar events to give it that feel. if religious, ask someone to say a prayer.

Group pictures. Everybody you love is there, cleaned up, dressed up. get a group shot. get as many family combinations as possible. My ex- is a wedding photographer. He got a great shot of 3 brothers with their Dad at friend's wedding. The Dad died a while after - all 3 brothers have that photo framed in their home, even after many years.
posted by theora55 at 9:17 AM on June 18, 2018

I feel like I've read other posts on this subject at A Practical Wedding, so you might try poking around some more there as well, but this one about a vow renewal might be a good place to start.
posted by ldthomps at 9:30 AM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went to a "wedding party" that was a few days after the event. Here are some things that made it feel special:

- They wore the same outfits they'd worn for the ceremony
- If I remember rightly, someone announced them when they arrived ("Jane and John, everyone!!" or whatever) so that people could give them a bit of an applause
- There was a cake
- There was a photographer

Also, though, ask your sister to dig into what the point of it is . Is the main thing, for them, the celebration? If so, focus on making that the best it can be (eg. not making things too formal). Is it having people witness their commitment and the start of their new life? If so, prioritise that (eg. repeating their vows).
posted by greenish at 10:10 AM on June 18, 2018

My cousin had 2 weddings because her grandmother was too frail to travel. Wedding 1.1 was held in grandma's back yard in LA with local relatives and hors d'oeuvres, then dinner for those who chose to come a few hours later at a Mexican restaurant at which guests paid their own way.
Wedding 1.2 (the one originally planned) was at a reception hall in the Bay area with catered food. The same officiant presided at both.
posted by brujita at 11:13 AM on June 18, 2018

I did this for my first wedding. Neither event had a ceremony, but both felt just like your regular wedding party. We wore "wedding clothes" (no attendants, but bride and groom wore traditional wedding clothes and all the guests dressed in finery), had a cake and photographer and dancing. We sent a formal invitation which said "join us in celebrating the marriage of X & Y at a dinner reception at time, place, date".

We had folks arrive at 6:00 for drinks. The caterer handed around champagne at 7:05. Then someone did the "Introducing the Couple" toast; then we thanked everyone for joining us to celebrate our marriage. You can have the couple do a walk through the room with confetti or soap bubbles and applause at that moment (we did not, but it's fun!). Then it was just a big party, like weddings are.
posted by crush at 12:48 PM on June 18, 2018

Note: we did not join the 6:00-7:05 reception, but came out with the announcement. That gives people the "wedding dress reveal" moment that folks really enjoy.
posted by crush at 12:50 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

Is she wearing her dress? Friends of mine were married abroad and then had follow up parties in other overseas location and then back at home and they dressed in their wedding outfits each time and it was fab. Though the hem of her dress got progressively grubbier so that might be an issue if she wants to keep it. But for us it was fab. They even did a a super speedy re-do of the vows (speed because it was a popular outdoor location for weddings and we didn't want to get busted by rangers for not having a licence)

I totally felt like I was at the 'real' wedding.
posted by kitten magic at 7:02 PM on June 18, 2018 [1 favorite]

I went to one of these before with a similar context (They had a simple courtroom wedding but the reception was months later with over 200 guests, ballroom, bride&groom willing to go the distance), I would suggest that you do what my friends did and just treat it like a reception that happens right after the wedding ceremony.

- Have the bride & groom's wedding party and/or parents greet guests as they arrive
- "Debut" the wedding couple with an MC announcing their arrival.
- Wear the wedding outfits, even down to hair, makeup, flowers.
- Have a first dance.
- Organise toasts. You could even break tradition here a bit and the bride and groom could do a join toast and acknowledge how the ceremony already happened but how today is just as important to them.
- Have great music and dancing.
- Organise wedding favours.
- Cut a cake if you're into that sort of thing
- Throw a bouquet if you're into that sort of thing.
- Circulate a guestbook
- "Name" the tables
- Have a Top Table with the wedding party (if they had one) or immediate family who are also dressed as if it was the wedding day
- Hire a photographer (I love my reception pictures as much as the ceremony and staged pictures)

The one I went to also had a slideshow of pictures taken at the wedding that happened earlier playing on a screen throughout the night, which was cute.

I personally remember people's receptions more than the wedding ceremony (they're either long church ceremonies or really short exchanges of vows) so I think if you just treat it as a second reception it'll still be fun and impactful. I think it's so fun that the couple get to celebrate twice!

Congratulations to the happy couple!
posted by like_neon at 8:50 AM on June 19, 2018 [1 favorite]

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