Dedicated May 2020

"Traditional" ceremony with informal "reception" aka low key party afterwards?

Elizabeth, on November 3, 2019 at 9:56 PM Posted in Planning 0 4
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My fiance have decided we want to keep costs low (saving for a new home) but still want to have the wedding experience so... we came up with the idea of doing a ceremony with only the closest family and friends, where I walk down the aisle in a white dress (he really wants this) and then invite everyone to a low key "party" afterwards where we'll hang out at a resort by the pool for drinks and informal dinner. Guests would basically do their own thing lol. This would be a destination wedding in FL where most of the guests live. We're able to book a few condos at a resort for all guests for 3 nights so they would just need to show up at their expense. Has anyone done something similar? How did it work out? Did you feel like you were missing out without a formal reception? We're really excited about this idea but what do we need to know to make this work?


  • Jennifer
    Super August 2020
    Jennifer ·
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    I think as long as everyone invited to the ceremony is invited to the reception and you provide some food, this is fine! Not every reception needs DJs and photobooths and if this is more your style, go for it! Just make sure you feed them as a way to thank them for coming!

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  • L
    Lady ·
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    Just make sure everyone is hosted (aka, they don't have to pay for food/drinks/resort entrance fees/etc) and this is fine. Sounds like you just want a chill and informal reception which is absolutely fine, as long as guests aren't on the hook for paying for it.

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  • MrsD
    Legend July 2019
    MrsD ·
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    Typically the ceremony is not the expensive part. For us, it was the same cost for the ceremony whether we had 10 guests or 100 guests. The reception is the expensive part since you are hosting food and drinks. I'd probably just host a normal ceremony & reception vs. paying for guest lodging, guests can typically pay for their own lodging. I think guests are less likely to travel unless they are going to both a ceremony & reception rather than just a low key reception.

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  • Alexis
    Beginner October 2019
    Alexis ·
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    We just had our intimate wedding two weeks ago in Orlando! It was a destination wedding with 26 attending (including us) that was held at one of the resorts. We live in South Florida, so it was still a 2 hour trip for us to get to the venue, as well as some of the guests in attendance that lived in Florida. Our family that flew in from out of country and out of state actually stayed with us at our house leading up to the wedding and we all left as a group to go up to Orlando for the wedding weekend.

    Once in Orlando, all guests stayed wherever they wanted and were responsible for their hotel costs. The people that came up with us stayed at the same hotel we stayed at the day before the weekend and were able to keep costs low for themselves since we stayed at a place that only has 2 and 3 bedroom suites vs single rooms and they were able to split the cost with other friends in attendance. We stayed at this resort one night, and then the night of our wedding, we had a one night's stay at the resort that we had booked our wedding package at, so we gave our original room to my husband's parents for that night so they would not have to drive an hour back to their home in the dark.

    Our wedding itself was at a different resort than where stayed the first night in Orlando. We had purchased an intimate wedding package specifically for smaller affairs from this resort, and it came with basic floral, chairs, photography, officiant, champagne toast, water station, and sound system for the ceremony (with option to upgrade any parts through those vendors or use your own vendors if desired). Instead of doing a full reception following the ceremony since we were only having less than 30 guests, we just had dinner at one of the on-property restaurant's private dining rooms. I selected a 5 course prix fixe menu where guests had several options for each course and we had the restaurant charge us based on consumption for beverages since half of our guests don’t drink alcohol (so we didn’t buy a drink package). There were other menu options for family style menus that would have been a little bit cheaper, but since I knew I wasn’t having a big elaborate reception with dancing and live entertainment, I splurged on the prix fixe menu so my guests would have a meal they liked/wanted/enjoyed. The day of was just the wedding ceremony then dinner, and then everyone was free to do what they wanted after, and enjoy their visit to Orlando.

    Our guests loved it, and some even said it was the best wedding they'd ever been to because it was a low key event. I didn't feel as though I was missing out on a reception, as we knew from Day 1 we wanted to keep it small guest-wise (and our budget was also smaller at $10k). Since it was so small and intimate, there wasn't much to it. Super stress free planning process!

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