Ceremony but no reception?

Page 1 of 2 (21 items) 12Next >
Sort Posts:
  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 1:43

    Ceremony but no reception?

    Hello all! 

    This may sound unusual, but please bear with me while I explain my reasonings. I really want to hear all opinions on this though, although I suspect they may not be what I want to hear haha.

    Me and my OH have been sitting down over Christmas and seriously looking at our finances. We are currently saving to buy a house, but also want to get married- particularly as it's important to us that this happens before we start a family and time is ticking on!! 

    The more we look at it, the more it seems impossible that we can afford a wedding. We discussed getting married in a registry office but it would really upset me not to get married in a church. A throwaway comment was made "why don't we get married but then not have a reception, cos that's the expensive bit", which we laughed off, then started to seriously consider it.... We could have all our family and friends there with us, I could have my dress (weirdly important to OH), him his suit, we could get a photographer cheaper at only half a day- but still get some photos to remember our day, I could even have hair and make up if I wanted! Then afterwards I guess is the question, would it be really awkward? I envisage going off and doing something as a couple in the afternoon, then maybe a posh meal and a night at a hotel. But what would you think if you were invited to a church wedding and afterwards it was just over?! A thanks for coming, see you soon type of affair?! I'm torn between thinking that's not a great end to our wedding day and thinking 'sod it, it's our day, we're married which is the main thing, and why should we work ourselves stupid, and delay buying a house to pay for others to eat a meal and have a party?!' (Eek that last bit sounds really selfish 😁) 

    So what is everyone's thoughts?! Has anyone ever known this to happen?! And what would you think if you were invited to this as a guest?? 



  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 8:21

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    I think it's a lovely idea. If the guests know your situation, I think they would understand, it is, after all your day.  If you explained, along with your invites maybe that money is tight and you can't afford to fund a celebration afterwards, what's the problem? I'd be happy to celebrate with you for just the ceremony. Like you say, it's the fact that you're getting married that is important, not the big party afterwards. I'm guilty of it myself, it becomes too much of an issue that there be a big celebration afterwards, and not about the joining of two people who love each other.

    If you did want a celebration afterwards, perhaps you could meet at the pub, with everyone funding themselves, providing I knew in advance and knowing your situation I would love to do this with you.


    Hope that makes sense, I just typed what came into my head!

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 9:30

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    As long as everyone knows in advance not a problem, however on the day you might not want it to end as its great to see everyone. Why not discuss going to the pub and everyone paying for themselves. I would be up for that if a friend asked me

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 9:37

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    My sister did something similar to this, she did get married in a registry office though not a church, and had afternoon tea at a nice hotel after where her & OH stayed for the wedding night, and we all left! We were home and chilling by about 5pm!!! 

    It was lovely, do whatever you want, it's your day and the important thing like you say is that you'll be married and happy! Xxxx

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 9:50

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    I do think its a bit strange but it depends on your plans, I know a few people that have run off and done it quickly with no guests just a simple cheap option ceremony and people who have had a ceremony then just a meal in a pub/resteraunt/hotel before to keep costs down but no one that had a ceremony with guests that just stopped abruptly.


    I understand your reasoning for wanting to save money but reception's dont HAVE to be expensive, some places round here do reception packages for £500 (including hire, decor, food, dj, wedding planner etc...) and the couple dont really have to do anything except pick a colour scheme but even if that seems too much or not personal enough there are cheaper options such as garden parties. picnic in the park and bbqs.


    doing something like a bbq or picnic could keep costs really low and allow families to mingle and celebrate, they dont have to last all night like conventional parties and could instead last maybe 2 hours as they are usually outdoors and open to the eliments and a picturesq park could make a beautiful beackdrop to get the most out of your photographer without having to splash out for full day coverage.


    there are also some nice venues that offer free room hire or room hire for a refundable deposit if you can find them, you could instead invite people to mingle at a casual cocktail party. you could have a cash bar (usually the reason room hire if free) and then just put on some small snacks or canapes and maybe get a cake to cut (asda do wedding cakes from £35) all in all it could be done for under £100 as the guest would buy their own drinks, you could leave at anytime if you dont want a long reception and it gives guest that want to celebrate the opitunity of somewhere to stay and drink together in one place.


    as a guest I probably wouldnt be able to justify just going to a ceremony alone, especially if it involved travel or time off work (like many do) on top of outfits and gifts.


    however if you only want a small wedding with immediate family who you know will come regardless then you could just explain it to them though, and maybe see if theres any affordable pubs/buffets/resteraunts in the area and go for a close family meal to celebrate afterwards.

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 10:03

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    I know what you mean!  We had a big buffet for all our guests afterwards and didn't have an evening do.  We had about 150-170 guests though.

    In practical terms, I think you need to offer something after the ceremony.  Could you book the church hall and do a buffet? The other brilliant budget idea I came across was a bride who booked her wedding near to a pub that had a carvery.  She took everyone to the carvery afterwards and got full roast dinners for about £6 a head!  As she was taking so many people they even gave her a private area and let them decorate it!  

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 10:50

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    I went to a friend's wedding a few years ago where they did something similar. 

    They wanted to get married, that was their main priority, to be married, which is definitely fair enough. So they had the church ceremony and then organised tea and wedding cake in the church hall for an hour afterwards, to give everyone a chance to speak to them, have photos, see the wedding cake being cut etc.. Then they went off to a spa and hotel, just the two of them.

    I think it was her parents who felt it would be nice to have some sort of reception for the guests, particularly as some of us had travelled over 200 miles (myself included) to be there, so we all went out for tea (minus the bride and groom) and paid for ourselves. I think some of the older generation weren't too happy, but personally I was just pleased to be able to see them get married, after all that's what it is all about!

    I would definitely suggest doing something after the ceremony, even if it small, before you go.

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 11:49

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    I think that you have your priorities right that is easy to forget (myself included). I would be more then happy as a guest to be invited to any wedding. I do however think it would be nice to do something afterwards, but not something that needs to cost you more then going out fir dinner. Like afternoon tea or a meal out where everyone pays for themselves and as suggested above, you can try and get a special area in the place you are going so it is just you and your guests. Afternoon tea sounds lush! Then those that do want a party afterwards can do and you can enjoy your first evening together as a married couple :) sounds perfect!

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 12:38

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    I would be fine if there was just a ceremony. As a guest, I'd go to s ceremony only. I would not offer an explanation as to why there isn't a celebration afterwards. It's not a requirement to have a meal or party afterwards.

    I would not invite people to a pub after and let them pay for their own meal. 

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 13:43

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    One of my colleagues got married in a church, and she didn't want a fuss, so she arranged for some tea and cakes in the church hall afterwards so people could chat and mingle, rather than a full-on reception.  She said she had so many positive comments about it because it was so relaxed, people had a really good time.  I would mention it in the invitations so people are aware of your plans before the big day.  I would be happy to attend a wedding like this if it was what my friends wanted.

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 14:54

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    As Ash has said – I wouldn’t invite people and ask them to pay for their own meal – purely because it’s not something I’d feel comfortable doing.


    I think what AK has said is a nice idea – having tea and cake in a village hall afterwards. I don’t think it’s an issue not having a reception afterwards but people may be a lot less likely to travel or take time off work just for a ceremony.

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 15:26

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    Thank you so much for everyone's responses! I think you'e all summed up my misgivings about the idea, although I am encouraged by the fact that not everyone has said it's a terrible idea and I'm a terrible person!

    Sorbet, I think you're totally right about travelling for a ceremony only - a lot of my family would be coming quite a long way and although I had thought to plan something for the day after, and we live close to 3 major cities, that may not be ok for some of them. I would just like to say costs wise, we definitely wouldn't be asking for gifts!

    I also agree with all the points that we might want to spend more time with our guests and regret having to leave them, something else we had considered. I like the afternoon tea idea and taking everyone somewhere, although I completely agree that I wouldn't feel comfortable asking people to pay for their own meal so that would have to be taken into consideration. Paula and others who suggested it- I like your idea of the church hall, it's possible that we could rent the adjoining church hall and get some cakes and sandwiches (I had wanted a hog roast initially) and hang out there for a bit. I was worried that would seem a bit naff when people expect a full on sit down meal these days. Maybe I was a bit hasty with the all or nothing reaction haha. Plus then I can show of my dress for a bit longer! 

    Thank you so much everyone, you've calmed some of my worries and given me some things to think about :) 

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 15:35

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?


     I was worried that would seem a bit naff when people expect a full on sit down meal these days. 

    I think as long as you make it clear on the invitation "We would love you to join us afterwards for some tea and cake" it would be fine.

  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 15:40

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    church halls aren't naff they are very shabby chic and fashionable right now Smile just get lots of cheap bunting to string up and some table cloths/tables/chairs for people to sit at - google has lots of church hall picture 

    and any excuse to show off your dress more is a good one Stick out tongue



  • Posted: 7 Jan 2016 19:30

    Re: Ceremony but no reception?

    In a certain part of my country where people tend to be very religious (the Bilbe Belt) it's very common to do a cake and punch reception after the wedding rather than a full reception. A PP mentioned a tea and cake reception which is probably very similar. It's not common where I live, but I think the reasoning behind it is 1. the marriage ceremony is the important bit, rather than the party afterward, and that is what the guests should care about attending and 2. they tend to invite their entire congregation so it would be very expensive to feed all of those guests. 

    Does your church have a function room you could use after the ceremony, just to cut the cake, take a few photos and mingle with your guests? Then you could always go out to a fancy dinner later in the day just the two of you or with close family. Since you're not paying for a full reception you could serve champagne with the cake, but if the church doesn't allow that then I'm sure tea would be very nice too.

Return to: Wedding Planning
Page 1 of 2 (21 items) 12Next >