Dedicated July 2018

At home reception after a destination wedding

Getting Maui’d, on December 28, 2017 at 4:27 PM Posted in Wedding Reception 1 19
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We are getting married in Hawai‘i with family and close friends. We’re hosting a dinner reception afterward and a luau rehearsal dinner. I’m trying to figure out how to do the at home celebration. So far I’ve booked an indoor lodge at a local park. We planned on catering in bbq and liquor from a local place. My questions then are what “reception” stuff do you include? We want this to be a fairly laid back/casual party.

Wedding dress or no?
DJ? ( we thought karaoke might be fun? we also have friends that play music and sing and may want to do some songs but not all night)
Cake cutting?
is it boring and awkward if there’s not a “schedule” and DJ like a regular reception?
obviously I realize the options are open but just looking for suggestions! Maybe a photo booth ?
Also can I continue the Hawai‘i theme or is that inappropriate since some aren’t going to hawaii with us? If we do, any suggestions for fun Hawaiian wedding favors that aren’t a waste?
Looking for any suggestions just trying to gather ideas!


  • Amanda
    Super May 2018
    Amanda ·

    I think the popular opinion on WW is that if they're not invited to your actual wedding, than it's gift-grabby and rude to hold a "wedding reception" when you return. It's almost as if you're saying, you weren't good enough for us to invite to our actual wedding, but come give us money now that we're back.

    I would say keep it low key and just invite people over like any other normal party, but I wouldn't advertise this as a wedding celebration or reception and I wouldn't wear my dress, cut a cake, etc. Maybe just a luau themed BBQ and invite people over to have a good time with no expectations on gifts.

  • G
    Dedicated July 2018
    Getting Maui’d ·
    View Quoted Comment
    Yes we’re not trying to make it a “reception” and I don’t care about gifts at all, we are only doing this because the whole point of a destination wedding was for it to have small guest list, but our families wanted an additional event to invite extended out of town family members and those who cannot travel to Hawai‘i due to cost and distance.
  • Mrs.ChanandlerBong
    Dedicated January 2025
    Mrs.ChanandlerBong ·

    I did this in August after my May wedding on Maui. We had a cake (because my dad said its not a party without cake) and catered food/booze but other than that nothing special. We had pictures and dressed up a little bit but nothing too formal. No gifts were expected but we did get some and the general atmosphere was more of a get together than wedding reception so it was nice and relaxing.

  • WHO? Mrs. Jones
    VIP December 2016
    WHO? Mrs. Jones ·

    Our good friends had a destination wedding with their families and hosted a reception when they got home. They had a head table with their "would-be" bridal party (I guess? They had a head table with some of their close friends). The bride wore her wedding dress, they had a cake, catered food, etc. It was a reception! They just made an entrance and then the party started. The groom sang a song for the bride, and it was adorable.

  • C
    Master July 2018
    Cuoghi ·
    My friend did this after getting married in Ireland. They had a casual backyard reception with cupcakes and she wore a informal cream lace summery dress. She did not have any sort of entertainment but I don't think that would be a bad thing. I would not do more traditional wedding things i.e. bouquet toss, cake cutting, etc.
  • Nicole
    Expert September 2018
    Nicole ·
    View Quoted Comment

    This is not the case if she is married away - this is more for someone who has a wedding one day and wants to have the reception a few days later in the same place. In that situation it doesn't make sense. It's perfectly acceptable to want to celebrate with those who couldn't be there on your special day because of location. Where it is not a wedding reception, I would eliminate the wedding dress and cake cutting. You could also eliminate a DJ and sub in a playlist on your phone if you're comfortable with that sort of thing. I wouldn't have a bridal party as you are no longer a bride. All in all, just think of any other party you would throw and do what works.

  • stephanie
    Super October 2017
    stephanie ·

    I have been to multiple receptions where I wasn't invited to the destination wedding. Typically at the ones I've been to, they're semi-formal (no jeans) and at a the same type of venue as a typical reception (country club, rental hall, etc.). At the ones I've been to, the wedding party wore their outfits but they didn't do a cake cutting or any sort of vow exchange/"renewal." Just celebrated with dinner and/or apps and drinks. Typically it's a shorter thing - like 6-10, drinks and dancing.

    Make sure your wedding website or somewhere has your actual wedding date. Some people like to get stuff personalized with your names and the date, so they may accidentally get something engraved or otherwise marked with the wrong date if they don't realize that the celebration date isn't your wedding date. (I reached out to a cousin, who had a small private destination wedding and reception at home later, to confirm which one he and his wife would think of as their anniversary so that I could get them something personalized this way.)

  • Laura
    Devoted August 2018
    Laura ·
    I think you can continue the Luau theme if you like. That would be cute. I don’t think you should wear your wedding dress but maybe a cute white summer dress would be appropriate. I think kareoke could be fun, but I would suggest a DJ (or at the very least an amazing Playlist) so it feels like a party. As far as favors, I think something from Hawaii would be great with a little note about them all being with you in spirit and thank you for celebrating your marriage.
  • Going to the chapel
    Master July 2017
    Going to the chapel ·

    Having an at home reception after a destination wedding is perfectly fine. Wear your dress if you want. Have a cake. Hire a DJ (please don't do karaoke, it's usually cringe worthy). Have a first dance. Continue the luau theme. That will make your wedding so distinct from others. Think of fun ways to do this. A fun signature drink like a mai tai. Maybe a coconut layer on the cake. Fun leis for the guests. Make it fun and everyone will rave about your reception. Any favor should be edible otherwise they tend to get left behind.

  • Orchids
    Master March 2018
    Orchids ·

    Sounds like a lot of things have already been covered...wearing the dress or not it up to you, personally I'd jump at a legit excuse to wear mine more than once!

  • amandaaok
    VIP June 2018
    amandaaok ·
    You could always do a white hawaiian wedding dress...check out Hilo hatties they have beautiful white muu-muus (and not like your grants muumuu..haha)
    Depending on where you are could get a Hawaiian place to cater (lots of them in az/ca)...if you wanted entertainment there are plenty of troupes and Halaus on the mainland to hire for dance etc... there are SO MANY ways to have this and give people the feel of the islands at your home reception

    However, this all depends on your budget/How many people will be there/what do you actually want to spend etc.
  • G
    Dedicated July 2018
    Getting Maui’d ·
    Thank you everyone for the awesome ideas!
  • An
    Super September 2019
    An ·
    For people that have done this, did you invite everyone to your DW and this is for people that had to decline due to the location? If so, I totally get that. If not, I don't really understand the difference between this and a tiered wedding. Not trying to be rude, I just don't get it.

  • G
    Dedicated July 2018
    Getting Maui’d ·
    Don’t most people having destination weddings invite a small intimate group then a larger after party at home? I don’t know anyone who can afford a 200 person wedding in Hawai‘i but maybe some can. I think my family would feel it’s rude to not have something at home simply because I cannot afford to host so many people in Hawai‘i.
  • Erinn & Tom
    Just Said Yes November 2018
    Erinn & Tom ·

    We are getting married in November in the Florida Keys with a max guest list of 40 of our family members and closest friends (I am one of 6 kids, he is one of 4 so we have large families to start)... we will then be coming home and having a traditional reception in February of 2019 where we will leave directly for our honeymoon after. We wish everyone could come from Ohio and all of the US for our wedding, but it's not possible and we wanted a simple and intimate ceremony. Our reception we will probably dress up, not tux and wedding dress but maybe a simple ivory dress and and he will wear a shirt and tie. Probably no wedding cake, but cupcakes instead. Open bar, catered food and DJ or band... it's a party and we still want to enjoy our nuptials with all of our friends!

  • C
    Just Said Yes July 2020
    Caroline ·

    Advice wanted! I am doing a similar wedding- intimate ceremony/dinner in Chicago, and then a celebration back East a few weeks later. For the brides who have done this, did you have a bridal shower? I feel a little weird inviting people to a shower when they would not be invited to the actual ceremony. If you can let me know how you navigated this, that would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

  • G
    Dedicated July 2018
    Getting Maui’d ·
    I decided not to do a shower but mostly because I just don’t like them. I don’t think people should have to buy me new towels and kitchen items when we already lived together 🤷‍♀️ Also they are often overdone and I was slightly scarred from dishing out a lot of money for wedding showers I had no say in. Also I didn’t register anywhere. People brought money to the reception and a few gifts. I didn’t expect a gift from anyone who traveled to the wedding and none of them really got me anything except a few cards and small items. I think (but I’m not sure) that the etiquette says shower guests should be people who are invited to the wedding too.
  • C
    April 2020
    Carol ·
    Need advise...We are having a DW w 34 guests. Upon my return home we plan to have a party celebration w 150 people. Is it proper to have a shower with those from my hometown who r invited to the celebration but not to the DW?
  • A
    Just Said Yes August 2020
    Amanda ·
    View Quoted Comment

    Thank you, this was well stated. I just want a gathering for my friends and family that couldn't or did make it to our wedding in Hawaii. My mom has said, we can state the invitation as meet and greet the newly weds, Alex and Amanda. Also indicating no gifts. Love your favors idea about something from Hawaii and a note about them all being in spirt and thank you for celebrating our marriage. I will have a video and photos of our ceremony in Hawaii as well. You should consider writing down some of your thoughts on paper or a book. Myself I would just like to have my small destination wedding in Hawaii and be done. However, I love my extended family and want them to feel a part of our marriage celebration. I am getting married in Hawaii in January and having this after party in the summer as I told my parents I would like it at a park setting (option to have indoors) or we have a beautiful lake home.

    Thank you, Amanda

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