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7 “Wedding Reception Only” Ideas and Tips

These wedding reception only ideas are the perfect inspiration for any couple who wanted (or had to have!) an intimate ceremony together. Whether you eloped (just because) or had a small ceremony because of the pandemic, this guide for planning the perfect wedding reception only and reception only ideas and tips can put your celebration over-the-top.

Have two separate guest lists.

This is a practical wedding planning tip: have two separate guests list for invites. When setting guest lists, always invite the same guests to the ceremony and reception. For reception only guests, create a wedding website with details about the wedding reception (i.e. venue address, parking details, and this other important wedding website information).

You can schedule the ceremony and reception as far apart as you want. When you word the invitation wording for the wedding reception only invites, consider phrases like “Celebrate with us” or “We’re married! Come join us.”

Decide on your wedding reception attire.

There are quite a few “you don’t have to…” tips associated with planning a wedding reception only. One of those is “you don’t have to wear your wedding dress or tux” to your wedding reception only. Instead, couples can opt for comfortable formal attire, such as a dancing gown or comfortable suit at an elegant wedding venue.

Don’t feel like you have to connect the dots…and the décor.

When holding a wedding ceremony and reception separately, don’t feel like you have to create the same atmosphere at both events. Your wedding ceremony can be as small and intimate as you want, while your wedding reception can be a big dance party, formal dinner party, or large picnic. If you need guidance, hire a wedding planner at your venue to bring your vision to life.

Include a special ceremony moment in your wedding reception.

If you want your guests to feel like they are part of your wedding ceremony, add a special moment to your wedding reception schedule of events. You can recite your vows together, sign your wedding license in front of your guests, or include other wedding reception only ideas that make your guests feel like they were there when you said, “I do.”

Find a creative way to share your ceremony.

At the top of the list of wedding reception only ideas is finding a way to tell your story (including your wedding ceremony). You can do so with photos or videos, either in one key area or scattered around your venue. This is your chance to give guests a glimpse of your wedding ceremony, and gives you the opportunity to relive your wonderful wedding day.  

Have fun with your menu.

A wedding reception only lends itself to creativity. It can be a gathering with light dishes, a sweet night of desserts, or a reception with delicious food stations with your favorite dishes. There are so many possibilities! You can plan a menu that coordinates with the theme or select dishes that surprise and delight guests (including non-traditional desserts). If you need inspiration, don’t hesitate to ask a venue event planner for ideas. As long as you’re having fun with your menu, don’t be afraid to choose unique seating arrangements and mingling areas.

Entertain your guests with trivia, speeches, and fun.

A full line-up of wedding reception entertainment is a ‘must’ on the list of wedding reception only ideas. Guests love to play table trivia about the couple (or the shoe game!), tour a beautiful venue during a scavenger hunt, hear fun speeches, take goofy photos in a photo booth, play yard games, and dance the night away!