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Just Said Yes November 2022

Cake and Punch Reception / Private Dinner / After Party

Pamela, on August 13, 2021 at 2:56 PM Posted in Wedding Reception 0 20
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My guest list is 200 people. I was thinking about having a 2-3 hour "Cake and Punch" Reception after the ceremony serving appetizers, desserts, and drinks and then have a private dinner (no dancing/DJ) at a different venue/restaurant with a smaller group (75 people) of just family and closest friends. I plan to have entertainment for both events using live solo or small group musicians.

But then I want to have an after party later in the evening 9p-12a to include the entire guest list again and serve appetizers and drinks/alcohol but with an actual DJ and dancing. I was wondering if anyone thinks that's bad etiquette.

I think I want it this way to save on costs on dinner. Also, if there are people that don't want to stay up late for drinking and dancing, they can still celebrate with me earlier in the day.

20 Comments

Latest activity by Gc, on August 15, 2021 at 5:32 PM
  • Jessi
    Super October 2022
    Jessi ·
    • Flag

    Yeah, I'd personally say that's bad etiquette. If the 75 people mention anything to the other 125 about their dinner then you're going to have some problems. Not to mention that the 75 people might feel weird that they've been invited to a dinner when no one else has. If you want to have separate events like this then at least make them separate days so some people aren't stuck with a weird gap after a cake and punch reception wondering what they're going to do before they're allowed to see you again at 9.

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  • B
    Super July 2017
    Becky ·
    • Flag

    This is what's known as a (very complicated) tiered reception and yes, it's bad etiquette.

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  • Kristen
    Dedicated February 2023
    Kristen ·
    • Flag
    There are usually options to have a cocktail reception (basically the cake & punch idea with more). Honestly, people typically fill up on cocktail hour at full dinner receptions anyway, so why not just have a cocktail reception for everyone? I do think it could be seen as bad form to leave people out of the dinner. It would be different if it was maybe 10 people, but the dinner is for almost half of your guests. There is a high risk of someone having hard feelings about it.
    • Reply
  • Lisa
    Rockstar July 2022
    Lisa ·
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    I agree with this. I could see maybe if you had just immediate family and wedding party only at the dinner, though even then, there's still a risk of someone else feeling left out. I would either provide dinner for everyone, or provide just appetizers and/or dessert for everyone (during a non-meal time). It'd also be slightly awkward for guests who aren't invited to the dinner to have to find something to go do until the after party.
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  • Hanna
    VIP June 2019
    Hanna ·
    • Flag

    Yikes. What you're proposing is a tiered wedding and this falls under the category of the worst etiquette I can think of... Guests who don't make the cut for the dinner will likely be offended. I would rethink your plan and have either the whole event be a cake and punch style reception or invite all guests to all portions

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  • Stacey
    Super May 2021
    Stacey ·
    • Flag

    What are your guests (esp. those from out of town) supposed to do in between events? By the time they get home, it will be time to come back again? It's kind of a "know your crowd" thing; it will be obvious they are being asked to leave during dinner, and only you will know best how your guests will react to that. It also actually kind of sounds more expensive to me to have three separate events - have you priced this all out already?

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  • P
    Just Said Yes November 2022
    Pamela ·
    • Flag

    The private dinner would be for immediate family, extended family, out of town guests, and closest friends. Everyone else falls under other local friends and co-workers. The after party would be more of an optional event, so people don't have to come back later in the day. I wouldn't want them to feel obligated to stick around if they don't want to.

    Almost all my family and my fiance's family are out-of-town, so that's why I want to have a private dinner for them, but I don't think they're going to drink or dance too much. We also have a lot of local friends and co-workers that want to attend the ceremony, but I just feel it would be too much to host a full dinner for everyone. And I think my local friends and co-workers would likely participate in late-night partying.

    I've looked at pricing and it is roughly the same between just serving apps vs dinner buffet when I consider the number of appetizers and desserts I am serving. But I feel with cocktail-style receptions, I might be able to save on costs in other areas like table decorations.

    Do you think I should just have the private dinner on a separate day? That way I know my entire guest list can attend the ceremony and I can have a cocktail-style reception with DJ and dancing? I just feel it might be inconvenient for our families if they have to fly back home the next day.

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  • Candace
    Devoted March 2022
    Candace ·
    • Flag
    Aside from guests maybe thinking it's rude, you're basically planning 4 different events in one night including the ceremony. You may think you're saving money on dinner, but you'll end up spending even more overall. That's alot of venues, vendors, deposits, logistics, and you and the groom will be physically stretched having to go from place to place.
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  • Candace
    Devoted March 2022
    Candace ·
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    What about the rehearsal dinner? Immediate family, out of town guests, and bridal party are usually invited. You could have entertainment and make it for those 75 people you had on mind for the dinner.
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  • V
    Champion July 2019
    Veronica ·
    • Flag

    I think this would be incredibly rude especially if the guests you didn't invite to dinner find out that others received a full meal, but they were also invited.

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  • M
    VIP January 2019
    Maggie ·
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    I agree with all of this. It sounds so needlessly complicated, stressful, and more expensive than any of several other more reasonable options. I would rethink the whole thing.

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  • W
    Super September 2020
    Willow ·
    • Flag
    Super rude and more trouble and expense than it's worth. You're telling 125 people that they didn't make the cut for dinner, go feed themselves and come back for the cheaper half of the party


    A cake and punch reception is acceptable etiquette wise. For 200 people, it probably wouldn't save you much money and you'd probably get a lot of grumbling guests. 200 is a party vibe
    I'd cut your guest list to 75 and have a cake and punch reception
    • Reply
  • Michelle
    Rockstar October 2022
    Michelle ·
    • Flag
    That is a tiered reception which is rude. Feed all your guests equally or don’t invite any. Only invite those you are willing and able to afford to feed dinner. No one is going to come back for the dance portion who was invited for cake only. And this will be talked about in a bad light afterwards though no one will tell you.
    • Reply
  • Josie
    Dedicated October 2022
    Josie ·
    • Flag

    It sounds complicated, which is not what I would want my wedding to be described as. Maybe pair down the guest list so everyone is included throughout the day?

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  • S
    Expert September 2022
    Sarah ·
    • Flag
    I agree with everyone else. This is not only rude but seems very complicated and like added stress to you. Do what Candace suggested and invite the 75 to the rehearsal dinner. Then have an appetizer/cake reception, but if your do this you have to warn guests beforehand there won’t be a full dinner
    • Reply
  • KH479
    Beginner April 2022
    KH479 ·
    • Flag

    Hey Pamela!

    I like that you want to do something intimate with your closest family and friends. I would recommend having a formal rehearsal dinner the day (or a couple of days) before your ceremony so that you can have all of them together for a nice dinner.

    On your wedding day, I like the idea of doing the ceremony and then a reception that consists of a cake & cocktail hour reception with some entertainment if you're looking to save some money on the price per guest.

    If you would like to get your closest family and friends back together after the wedding for another meal-- I would recommend a post-wedding brunch the following day to close out the events of the weekend.

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  • Jacks
    Master November 2054
    Jacks ·
    • Flag

    Yep that's rude. You can't separate your guests into groups and treat some people better than others. Have the guests you can afford to host fully, with everyone hosted equally.

    • Reply
  • Sav
    Dedicated November 2021
    Sav ·
    • Flag
    I agree that this plan is way too complicated. You’re planning 4 events instead of just 1. Not to mention people who are not invited to the dinner would probably be upset. For those 125 guest you are kind of asking a lot of them… you’re saying please come celebrate with us, but only watch us get married, figure something else out for a few hours, then come back. I personally would probably question coming at all if I saw a few hour gap in events on an invite due to the inconvenience of it. And if I did attend the ceremony, I most likely would not return for the after party at all. I agree with previous people who suggested doing the dinner a day before as a rehearsal dinner or even a brunch the next morning.
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  • MrsMcK
    VIP September 2017
    MrsMcK ·
    • Flag
    Wow yeah that’s bad etiquette, plus seems really complicated.
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  • G
    Savvy April 2022
    Gc ·
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    View Quoted Comment
    Agreed. This is incredibly rude. I was just invited to an event like this and was invited to the whole wedding, and I’m still offended for everyone else that is only invited to the second part. It’s rude to tell half your guests they aren’t important enough to get to partake in the whole celebration. Either have an appropriate wedding for all 200 of your guests or for just the 75, but do not do this!
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