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Sarah
Beginner March 2021

Small Ceremony/reception

Sarah, on March 11, 2020 at 4:57 PM Posted in Planning 0 16
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Hello! Our wedding is next year and we are planning to invite 30 people (I assume less will actually attend). Our ceremony will be in the late morning at a garden venue and we were going to have a sandwich type lunch reception at our house. Has anyone else done something similar? In my planning process I haven't really found a lot of tips and such for such a small wedding. Most of the at home reception information I have come across is people trying to have larger weddings at home and people advising against it (understandably so). We just liked the idea of having an intimate, relaxed reception (no worries about time constraints of a venue) in our new home (we are buying a house this year) and then I can decorate to my little heart's content a day or two before the wedding. I guess since I haven't been able to really find other people who have done something similar, it is making me paranoid I am making a horrible planning mistake. Smiley sad

16 Comments

  • M
    Expert October 2021
    Megan ·
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    It's completely do-able. You're right in that many people wanting to host a "backyard" (or, in your case, "in house") reception are trying to have a "normal" wedding size and hosting at home to cut costs. The biggest thing to note is that having a wedding at home can be more expensive than you think.

    I think the closest wedding type you'd be looking for would be a "brunch wedding." It's not quite cake-and-punch since you're having it over a mealtime (lunch), but it will likely have a much more relaxed feel to it. It'd say the biggest thing to think about would be to get a reputable caterer. You have virtually all the freedom in the world for decor, so that's nice. There's also a tendency for at-home weddings like this to rely heavily (read: too heavily) on friends and family for decorating, providing food (please don't do this), and beyond, when everyone--including you and your new spouse--should be relaxing and enjoying themselves.

    You can absolutely do this--I think I'd look into "brunch wedding at home" types of articles and advice!

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  • Samantha
    Rockstar October 2020
    Samantha ·
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    Doesn’t sound like a mistake at all! People do advise against it for larger events because they don’t want you forcing more people into a space than it can comfortably hold but people host 30 person events in their homes all the time so those concerns don’t apply. Our wedding is a bit bigger with around 65 people but I agree that intimate is the way to go!
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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    Brunch wedding at home is one search combination I had not come up with (and I have tried so many to try and find articles and posts similar to what we are trying to do). Thank you!

    There is a sandwich place I love that does catering so that is who we plan to use. I will be doing all the decorating beforehand (I am actually making our flowers and also some of the decorations). I would never expect family or friends to help with those things (they are our guests!). I figured I might just pick up the catering the evening before since sandwiches should keep fine in the fridge. That way they are already on platters and ready to be set out when we return to the house from the ceremony. I've been concerned that trying to time a delivery would be more tricky (and the set up time would probably be more involved). I basically want to have everything done by the day before so we can come back, take a few minutes to set the food out, and then, as you said, everyone can be relaxing and enjoying themselves.

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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    Thank you for your very reassuring reply! Megan and you have already helped in easing my mind. I have been to quite a few 30 people home events so I know it is absolutely doable but I have never hosted one so I just keep worrying!

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  • Jennifer
    Super March 2020
    Jennifer ·
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    We aren't having a wedding at home but we did rent a condo along a creekside at a resort. This allows us to have full run of the house, a gorgeous patio and a creek behind the ceremony and reception. We opted for less guests (17 only!) And a more luxurious dining experience. We have all the bells and whistles without the heavy loaded guest list. I would look up microweddings and you may get some better ideas. Even with just sandwiches you could still have a gorgeous reception.
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  • Margaret
    Super October 2020
    Margaret ·
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    We’re having a small (25) intimate Destination wedding in October. It’s actually a sunrise beach ceremony followed by a brunch reception with made to order omelettes, French toast bar, fresh pastries and fruit. With it it also included a mimosa / Bloody Mary bar.


    We’re having a small cake surrounded by cupcakes for our guests.
    As some have noted it may actually be more or at least as expensive to do it yourself as having it done. But, I think you need to do what you want.

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  • Rebecca
    Beginner June 2019
    Rebecca ·
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    This is a great idea! We had our wedding reception (cocktails and a "floating dinner") at my house on my deck and we had about 105 guests there plus our vendors! Yes, it was a lot of work to plan but it was so worth it. We also wanted to do things our own way, have it feel personal, intimate, and not be tied down by a venue's rules. It was a lot of work ahead of time but on the day of, I think it eliminated a lot of stressful elements like having to work around someone else's rules. The result was amazing and we are so happy. If I could make it happen for 105 guests, you DEFINITELY HAVE GOT THIS!

    Here are a few tips:

    - You might not need this for a smaller event but I treated myself to a "day of" coordinator to be the "venue manager" on the day of our wedding. She ended up decorating and taking care of so many little "gaps" that I hadn't considered. Having a coordinator also gave me a lot of confidence that I wasn't 'missing' key elements or details (for example a friend of mine who hosted her own wedding forgot to buy water and it was a hot day in August).

    - You can add "event insurance" and "liquor liability insurance" to your home owners or renter's insurance policy and I think we paid about $100 for our much bigger wedding (cost is partially based on number of guests)

    - Look for rentals for your special day but also consider buying certain elements. Renting plates and cups can cost almost as much (if not more) than buying things off Craigslist. My mom and I had so much fun collecting vintage champagne coupes (for about 50 cents each) that we used for our toasts and now we get to keep them and use them for future parties

    - Rent a tent. No matter where you live or what climate or season, it's a good bet and will give people coverage from more than just rain, think sun, wind etc.

    Hope this helps!

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  • M
    Expert October 2021
    Megan ·
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    Fabulous! You have a great mindset. If you can fit the sandwiches in the fridge (I'd also do some sides and/or apps for a lunch wedding) then picking them up before could work, though if you coordinate directly with the caterers about the wedding, I'm sure you won't have anything to worry about.

    Happy to help!

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  • Kristen
    Rockstar November 2020
    Kristen ·
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    Small weddings I feel are less stress. You can do party trays too and earlier in the day is totally doable. Could the garden host your reception?

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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    That sounds lovely! We are also attempting to have all the bells and whistles but without the huge guest list. Honestly, when we put together the list of our immediate family and close friends, we only came up with 30 people (it helps we both have small families). We didn't want random people we don't know very well there.

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  • W-K
    Super October 2019
    W-K ·
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    No, it's not a bad idea at all. I had a small wedding with an afternoon tea type reception after but at a restaurant. It went really well and wasn't stressful at all. I would suggest a day of coordinator if you're going to use your home. That way you can get things set up and then just relax and let it all be taken care of. The less vendors you use the less stressful it will be, by the way. So pick a few that will deliver quality and keep it simple Smiley smile

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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    Oh, I bet your ceremony will be absolutely gorgeous and your brunch reception sounds wonderful.

    I could see an at home receptions potentially being more expensive with a larger guest list since you would have to potentially rent additional chairs, bathrooms, tents etc. In our case, it looks like it should be considerably less expensive. If we were to use the garden for both the ceremony and reception, it would be about 3K more. I haven't been able to come up with anything additional we would need to rent to have it at home (we will have plenty of seating and bathrooms for the number of people; I already have a couple of folding tables we can use for additional table space) and my DIY decor will be super low cost. Our wedding in general is on the more casual end and with a sandwich reception, there won't be fancy table settings or anything like that. Hopefully I am not forgetting something glaringly obvious that will cost a bundle!

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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    Wow! That is awesome you did an at home reception with 105 guests! All the reasons you listed for doing it at home is exactly why we want to do it. Especially since we are having our ceremony in the morning, it will be nice to not be restricted to the 8 am-12 pm time limit we would have at the venue. We can just relax and enjoy ourselves at the reception without being on the clock. Thank you for your reassurances I can do this!

    We will actually have a coordinator provided by the venue for the ceremony at the garden. Our officiant also offers coordination services so I may check with them to see the cost of doing just the reception since the ceremony is covered. May ease my worries about catering and cake deliveries.

    I have actually found decently priced packs of sparkly disposable plates/cups/flatware (they are on the fancier end of disposable), napkins with sparkly stars, and surprisingly affordable table cloths so my intention is to just buy these. We have a galaxy/space/celestial theme with some Batman thrown in. I realize some people may think having disposable plates and such at a wedding is tacky but our wedding is on the casual end of the spectrum. We are getting married in a garden. I am wearing a tea length dress. We are having a sandwich lunch reception. We are not formal people and have simple tastes. But everything should be sparkly and celestial so we are happy with these plans. Smiley smile

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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    The garden does do both ceremony and receptions but it would cost about 3K more and we would be restricted to 8 am-12 pm. Honestly, since beginning to plan, I have already had several moments of maybe it is pointless to spend so much money on such a small wedding and we should just go to the courthouse. But I really do want a proper ceremony and reception so I have tried to minimize costs. We both like the idea of a small wedding (and we only came up with 30 people anyways when making our guest list). Like you said, it will likely be less stress and our hope is we can also properly celebrate and spend time with our close loved ones. At the bigger weddings I have been to, they just don't have the time to spend with each guest because they have to make the rounds through a 100+ people. We want our day to be more focused, intimate, and of course as relaxed as possible.

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  • Sarah
    Beginner March 2021
    Sarah ·
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    We will have a coordinator at the venue for the ceremony but I may check with our officiant since they offer coordinator services as well. See if they would do reception only and what the cost would be. I agree about having as few vendors as possible. My aim is to make this reception as simple as possible while still being delightful. Smiley smile

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  • Kristen
    Rockstar November 2020
    Kristen ·
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    I understand you as my FH wanted to go to the courthouse but I wanted a ceremony where I can wear a dress and we can have beautiful pics. We are eloping with our two friends but I still wanna do it big. I will get a two tier cake (6 in and 8 in) and I would like to treat our friends do a nice dinner maybe at a rooftop bar. Do it big regardless of the size.

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