Reception Meal Is A Must….Particularly For A Noon Wedding

by admin on July 29, 2013

I have a question about wedding receptions. My fiance and I want to get married next Spring. Unfortunately, I am a student and unemployed. My fiance has a very good job, and we live comfortably, but we simply cannot afford a lavish event. Any plans we have tried to make have spiraled out of control into a huge, expensive ordeal that we simply cannot afford.

The ceremony itself is going to be small and intimate, with 30 people, just family. Originally we had decided to have a big outdoor BBQ/family reunion style reception, but were essentially shouted down as it would be “tacky”. Our budget is less than three thousand dollars. I am not one to care for large parties, and this day should be about our love and commitment to each other, not about spending the down payment on a house for a party with people we don’t talk to.

My question is this: Would it be considered a faux-pas if we just don’t have a reception? I would be happy with our small ceremony and then maybe going out for drinks later, but no dinner or dancing. Our wedding is at noon, and everyone who is invited is over 40 with families and would probably be grateful for an early night, but there will be some people coming in from out-of-town and out-of-province, and I am wondering if it would be “worth it” I guess if there was no reception.    0725-13

If you invite people to come witness a wedding, particularly one scheduled right at lunch time, you are obligated to feed them.     There are no caveats to this whatsoever. You are choosing the nuclear option of not having any reception when faced with opposition to your reception meal plans.
First, grow a polite spine.   If what you can afford is a casual BBQ, that is what your reception will be and no guest should have the audacity to complain that it is not acceptable.    You simply don’t tell them what the menu will be unless asked by people with known food allergies.    People actually like casual receptions and BBQs are often some of the best receptions.  If someone has a hissy fit over your BBQ reception plans, simply say, “I’m so sorry you won’t be eating BBQ with us.  We’ll miss you during lunch but there are several local restaurants that might meet your approval. Just be sure to come before we cut the cake!”
Check out this wedding on the site:    The entire wedding was done in the backyard for 110 guests.  Total cost was $3,000.00 for *everything*.   This wedding was a blast and people danced on the  lawn well into the evening.
My own daughter’s wedding cost $5,500.00 for 104 guests for everything (dress, flowers, decor, etc.) and we served a catered dinner of pork BBQ, fried chicken,  cole slaw, fruit salad, candied yams, green beans, rolls, sweet tea, lemonade and various pies for dessert.   It was a lovely casual wedding that guests enjoyed.    I should get around to posting photos of that wedding.   There was no dancing but I had alerted guests weeks earlier that if they wanted the newlyweds to kiss during the reception, they needed to sing a song with either the words “love” or “kiss” in the lyrics.   Guests outdid themselves with creative interpretations of songs and funny renditions.    Lots of newlywed kissing during that reception!
It is quite doable for you to have a lovely wedding for 30 people on a $3,000.00 budget.
Btw, OP, you were not referring to a “potluck” type of family reunion BBQ, were you?  If so, it is no mystery why your guests think this is tacky.

{ 72 comments… read them below or add one }

Wild Irish Rose July 29, 2013 at 10:25 am

I agree with Admin. that you must feed your guests if you insist on having the wedding at a mealtime. If you don’t want a reception, then change the time of your ceremony. The last thing you want is for someone to get sick from not eating.

Otherwise, there is absolutely nothing wrong with a casual reception. It’s YOUR reception. If all you serve is deli food and the cake, so what? And do NOT feel obligated to provide alcohol. If you can’t afford to serve alcohol and not charge for it (seriously, don’t do a cash bar), then serve punch, coffee, lemonade, and/or ice water and be done with it. An outdoor BBQ reception actually sounds like a lot of fun to me. I’ve been to some of the most lavish receptions imaginable, and most of those were boring–too many people and food I had no clue how to eat. Just remember what your wedding is actually about, don’t make your guests uncomfortable, and have a good time.


summershere July 29, 2013 at 11:06 am

Change the time! Change the time! Change the time!! :-)


No Wedding July 29, 2013 at 10:42 am

They do mean catered BBQ and not “everyone bring a dish” right? Because when I read “outdoor BBQ/family reunion style reception” I immediately thought of family potluck BBQs, like hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill where everyone brings a dish.


B July 29, 2013 at 10:52 am

Don’t let yourself or your fiance get “shouted down” by ANYONE. It is your day that you are paying for. No matter what, if those that are shouting can’t get it through their skulls, then maybe they can just stay home and not contribute any more negativity to what is going to be one of the most important days in you and your fiance’s lives. On a side note, my fiance and I are also paying for our own wedding, and our budget is extremely tight. We told people from the get-go that it was going to be very small, family-only with a dinner afterward. We have yet to hear any shouting or other backlash. Sometimes the best defense is a pre-emptive strike on the offense… In other words, prevent the “shouting” by making the facts clearly known. And a BBQ sounds AWESOME and RELAXED, which are the two words you want to remember about your big day, right?
I wish you all the best of luck!


carol July 29, 2013 at 10:54 am

It’s YOUR wedding, and YOUR reception. If people think it’s tacky to have a backyard BBQ (which I think sounds charming, honestly) then they should save their breath to cool their porridge, as it were, and just enjoy the fact you are marrying the person you love.

During my brief stint as a catering waitress, I saw some weddings I might consider ‘tackly’, but I still noted that any tackiness was overwhelmed by the happiness of the couple who were celebrating with the people who mean the most to them, in a way they feel the most comfortable. That’s what makes a good wedding.

In short, stick to your guns. Have a small wedding and an affordable reception in your own backyard. Feed the people hot dogs and burgers and whatever you can afford, and be happy for the rest of your life.


grumpy_otter July 29, 2013 at 11:11 am

I’m with admin on this one–any future guest who has the nerve to suggest that the wedding reception you want will be tacky should be invited to eat elsewhere. And that includes family. If you are paying for this yourself, as your phrasing suggest, you have every right to have the wedding reception you want. (If your parents are paying, you may have to do some negotiation with the family politics, but a BBQ is certainly not “tacky”)

The only suggestion I would make is to match the clothing to the event–don’t wear a Princess Diana-style dress to a BBQ reception. And indicate the style on the invitations so guests can plan accordingly.

For my son and daughter-in-law, their wedding was outdoors, everybody barefoot, and a casual reception, and it was beautiful.



nayberry July 29, 2013 at 11:13 am

we had a backyard bbq reception, it was wonderful :) hog roast, mixed breads, home made salads, cake! just scrummy

ignore the naysayers and have the wedding you and your fiance want.


Marozia July 29, 2013 at 4:35 pm

Sounds good to me, especially if you’re on a small budget.


The Elf July 31, 2013 at 10:17 am

I love backyard weddings of all sorts, and you just can’t go wrong with BBQ. Go for it, OP! How is it tacky? I’m guessing your extended family was horrified by the idea that you might look like you’re going cheap by not arranging for a huge, catered, super-fancy blowout. But unless they’re paying for it, their opinion doesn’t matter much.

It’s hard to throw a wedding on a small budget, but it can be done. One way is to dismiss the idea that “inexpensive” is “tacky”.


mpk August 17, 2013 at 3:14 pm

We also did the backyard wedding. Everyone was in shorts, they were playing volleyball and horseshoes. Actually, the main reason we did it that way was because we had been living together for 9 years and didn’t want any gifts. And there is no acceptable way to really tell people that.
It was a family picnic that my dh’s family had every year. We asked his parents permission, of course, and the only people that were told that a wedding was going to take place were the people in my family that might not have shown up otherwise.
So, most of the people there didn’t know about it until it was announced to go to the back porch.
That was so much fun and exactly what we wanted. And, I think that’s the most important thing about a wedding, it has to be what the two of you want to do, whether it’s a bbq or a big bash.


Mae July 29, 2013 at 11:26 am

If the ceremony is at noon, I would say yes, you have to feed your guests. Take Admin’s excellent advice and do what you can afford. If anyone chooses not to come because you are not doing a seven course meal and open bar, oh well. They are the ones who will miss some of the special moments of the reception.

Years ago, a friend of mine had her reception at her new husband’s family farm. They laid down some wood flooring, all the food was homemade and people ate and danced until the wee hours. One of the best receptions ever, and no alcohol was provided.


Daisy July 29, 2013 at 11:30 am

When my lovely daughter was a bride, her wedding was at 10:30 a.m. It was a full Anglican do, included communion, and finished at 11:45 a.m. At 12:30 we provided a wonderful brunch buffet of both English and Scandinavian dishes. One thing we did NOT provide was an open bar. Instead, we provided sparkling white wine spritzers as well as a beautiful fresh strawberry, non-alcoholic punch. If anyone needed cocktails at noon, they were gracious enough not to mention it. The festivities were over by 3 p.m. We had no drunks vomiting in the parking lot, no alcohol-fueled rehashing of ancient quarrels – just a lot of happy, well-fed guests waving goodbye to the new Mr. and Mrs. The cost for the entire wedding, dress, flowers, attendant fripperies and finery, musicians, and photography was less than that quoted to us for just a catered dinner meal with open bar. I don’t know why more couples don’t explore the option of a morning wedding followed by a wedding breakfast.


Carrie July 29, 2013 at 11:36 am

A friend of mine had her wedding between lunch and dinner, I think around 2pm, and had a very lovely hors d’evours/appetizer/cocktail reception that lasted about 2 hours. It was great because it was cheaper then serving a full meal, and the guests weren’t too hungry because they already ate lunch before the ceremony and weren’t yet hungry for dinner. There was no dancing, either, people just mingled, the couple cut the cake, tossed the bouquet and garter, and thanked everyone for coming. It was one of the best weddings I had ever been too.

I’ve also been to a few BBQ receptions, too, and those are so much fun! BBQ is always yummy and the added bonus for having an outdoor reception is that if there are young kids present they can go off and play while still being watched from a distance without driving the adults nuts.


Debbie July 31, 2013 at 8:17 am

Your first paragraph describes our wedding and reception exactly, and it was wonderful. The venue was a private club, with lots of casual seating and some tables as well. Everyone had so much fun that when it was over at about 5 p.m. they ALL ended up spending the evening at my parent’s place (50+ people!)


PrincessButtercup July 29, 2013 at 11:43 am

I would have loved to have 3000.00 dollars for our wedding! 0.0 We spent under a thousand for wedding and reception with about 30ish guests. And even the wedding stuff that was gifted to us was under 500.00. We held the wedding at 2pm so the reception was about 3-3:30 and we served mixed nuts and fruits along with grape juice and cake that we made (and was yummy) and everyone had their fill of snack foods.
A big meal is not required if you have the wedding between meal times.


Cat July 29, 2013 at 11:50 am

If you are a friend of mine and you want to celebrate your wedding, I will be happy to show up to your reception and have a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with you and your beloved. Have what you can afford and anyone who is so offended that they won’t come can stay home and order out.


Angel July 29, 2013 at 11:56 am

Let me get this straight–you and your fiancé are paying for everything yourselves–yet you are letting other people dictate what your reception will be like–to the point where now you are not even having a reception??

That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. And hopefully seeing it in print, will not make a lot of sense to the OP either. Have the wedding you can afford. We have a deli nearby that does great trays–perfect for side dishes and can easily feed 40 people. I can’t imagine most towns wouldn’t have some kind of catering place that will provide trays, deliver them for a nominal fee. You are only having 40 people for heavens sake–you should easily be able to pull off a nice party for under 3 grand!


AthenaC July 29, 2013 at 12:16 pm

The stars and planets must be aligned because I completely agree with Admin. Too often, “tacky” is a word that gets thrown out by snooty people at things that don’t rise to their preferred level of opulence. Those people should be ignored.

I do want to add, though, that you want your guests to be dressed comfortably for an outside BBQ (i.e. no long, satin dresses with spiky heels). If the ceremony is going to be outside (and they know it), most people should be dressed accordingly. But you may want to consider letting people know that the entire event (including reception) will be outside so they can plan their attire appropriately to be comfortable enough to celebrate for several hours.


LovleAnjel July 29, 2013 at 12:25 pm

My friends had an outdoor BBQ reception, and it was fantastic! Don’t let anyone talk you down from that.

At our wedding we did the “sing a love song for a kiss” thing, and we got “Love Shack” and Oscar the Grouch’s “I Love Trash”, among other tunes. It was hilarious.


Lakey July 29, 2013 at 2:16 pm

I’ve been to some lovely backyard receptions. Have you ever been to a Dollar Store? Some of them have party supplies, serving items, and decorations. Some cities have food broker stores that are open to the public. They are similar to Costco or Sam’s Club, there is no fee to belong and they are great for self-catering. These are businesses that supply food and supplies to restaurants, schools, etc. If you feel that the word barbecue makes it seem to casual, call it a reception. You can have sliced ham and/or roast beef, pasta salad, other salads, rolls, vegetable and fruit platters. An aunt of mine made up vases of flowers for her son’s wedding reception by going into a field and picking Queen Ann’s Lace.

I agree with you. Save the big bucks for a down payment on a house.


ladycrim July 29, 2013 at 3:58 pm

I attended a wedding where the reception food was barbecued chicken and pitchers of lemonade. It wasn’t tacky at all; it was lovely!

Meanwhile: I have friends who are planning an eight-hour evening reception, have announced that no full meal will be served, and are asking for pot luck donations. Yeesh.


Yasuragi July 29, 2013 at 8:11 pm

Goodness. Eight hours and no meal? What do they expect folks to do? Nibble energy bars during intermission? Are any children attending?


ladycrim July 30, 2013 at 6:07 pm

From what I can tell, they’re hoping hors d’ oeuvres – what they provide and whatever guests bring – will be enough to sate people. I know they’re struggling financially, which is why I’m keeping my mouth shut (and at least they announced it in advance), but I’m cringing. No idea if kids will be there or not.


Yasuragi July 31, 2013 at 7:13 am

Financial issues I can empathize with. But with an eight hour reception I’m guessing they’re skrimping on food in order to put money towards something extravagant and unnecessary. Please correct me if I’m wrong, though.
Eights hour reception. Goodness. What do they have planned?


Catherine August 1, 2013 at 6:02 pm

Hors d’ oeuvres will cost as much as a full dinner because they are so fiddly to make. I work as a chef at a country club that hosts events, and when we get the menu sheets and it says “Hors d’ oeuvres for 400″ I just want to go cry in the walkin cooler, lol.


NostalgicGal August 10, 2013 at 11:36 pm

8 hours for reception? That makes me want to run the other way anyways. For that long I’d have to pack two meals and a snack if they’re not going to serve food… and I don’t think whipping out my Tupperware would get me endeared to anyone. “I’m sorry but I find I won’t be able to attend your event” would be offered and if I had to I’d schedule a dentist apt during that time as an excuse! 8 hours???????


Cat July 31, 2013 at 1:25 pm

I have to know-what do they expect their guests to do for eight hours? Unless they are planning to play all of the “Harry Potter” movies, dance and eat hors o’oeuvres, what can you do for eight hours that everyone would want to stay that long to accomplish?
It will certainly keep anyone with children from attending with the kids.


Carrie August 1, 2013 at 1:06 pm

Eight hours? What do they plan on doing that lasts eight hours?


ladycrim August 1, 2013 at 7:02 pm

Dancing and lots of it. Don’t know if they expect everyone to stay the entire time, but that’s how long it’s scheduled for on their website.


Yasuragi August 2, 2013 at 11:56 pm

Eight hours of dancing??

Is the reception being held in an underground kingdom with trees made of silver, gold and glittering diamonds?


Allie September 3, 2013 at 5:10 pm

I got that reference!!! You are so cool, Yasuragi!

In other news, when I got married, a friend of mine made a cake and brought chips and soda. It was just us, our parents, and our five closest friends in Dad’s living room. One of my friends put on music from her laptop for atmosphere. Budget- $0. Memories- Priceless.

Michelle C. Young August 3, 2013 at 12:12 am

Eight hours of dancing? Are they from a show-biz family, where people dance 8 hours a day, for a full-time job? Seriously? EIGHT HOURS of DANCING?!

I love to dance, but a little variety, please! And food, to fuel the body. I mean 8 hours of physical activity, without food? Or you only eat if you bring it yourself, pot luck?

My mind is completely boggled at this. I thought it was bad, in the first place, but 8 hours of dancing? Egadzooks in a Handbasket!


Michelle C. Young August 1, 2013 at 11:57 pm

An eight hour reception? With or without food, this is at least a low-level of Hell. Geez!

My idea wedding would last about 2 hours, start to finish, including the ceremony and the celebration. There would be cake, because CAKE! There would be punch, because YUM. There would also be a variety of sandwiches (Subway and/or Schlotzky, because they are really tasty), milk (CAKE!!!), ice water, and maybe some nuts or other small nibblies. There would be several tables with board or card games, there would be Twister, there would be helium balloons (squeaky voices!), and there would be a portable stereo with a mix CD or two, and a snowball dance, to get the ball rolling. Cake would be cut immediately after the (brief) ceremony, and there would be no hassle about throwing a bouquet or garter. Just party until the time is up, and then clean up and leave.

For those who don’t know – a snowball dance is where the lead couple dances for 20-30 seconds, then shout “SNOWBALL!” and separate. Each then chooses a new partner (4 on the floor now), and after 20-30 seconds, they all shout “SNOWBALL!” and separate again, choosing a new partner (8 on the floor now). This continues until the end of the song. It is a good idea to choose a fairly long song, and have one person who does not care to dance to be in charge of pausing the music when it is time to snowball. It’s a lot of fun, and it quickly runs through all those tedious bride/groom, bride & father/groom & mother, bride & best man/groom & maid of honor, and other various wedding party permutations that guests have to sit through before they are allowed to join the dancing. It’s even better when you don’t care who your next partner is – the rule is that you just grab the person closest to you, wherever you happen to be on the dance floor when the music pauses. It’s like musical chairs, only more people participate as it goes on, rather than the reverse. By the end of the song, lots of people are dancing, the ice is broken, and the party is in full swing.


NostalgicGal August 10, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Gods I can’t STAND ‘Snowball’ dances. I’ll step over an ankle and leave in an ambulance. Those should be outlawed. I went on a river cruise once, and stood out on the rail and froze my rear off in fog because there was nothing to see or do after the food was served and the fog rolled in suddenly to pea soup… rather than have this schitzoid gal with the microphone from the cruise ship crew that was trying to rope everyone in the place into doing the SNOWBALL dance, and when I refused to get up, she tried to drag me out chair and all. I went out on the rail and FROZE. (and just one instance of several where someone had to start that one up, and trying to duck being drug out when I didn’t want to dance at that time)

Oh, do anything else, even the HokeyPokey! I find that snowball dances. to be a major intrusion on my choice whether or not I want to be on the dance floor.


AIP August 7, 2013 at 2:31 pm

Maybe it’s because I’m Irish but 8 hours sounds about right. Usually you’ll fed (full 3 course dinner) between 6 and 7 with speeches. Then there’ll be the live band and then the disco which will go until at least 2pm. Then there’s the chatting – after all, we are Irish ;) Many weddings will have “afters” where additional guests will come. There is usually snack food around 11pm or midnight. Between it all the time isn’t long going :)


Agania August 9, 2013 at 2:44 am

AIP, read the original description. There is NO FOOD being served. They are asking for pot luck donations! People are happy to hang for 8 hours if there is plenty of food (and since you’re Irish plenty of alcohol!).


AIP August 9, 2013 at 4:14 pm

I do understand that, I was making an observation on the comments on the length of the reception, not on the content (or lack thereof). As for alcohol, other than wine at the dinner, and a cocktail if they’re feeling generous, it’s cash bar all the way. Not that all of us drink, but it’s nice to be reminded of the stereotype.


Sarah Jane July 29, 2013 at 4:55 pm

First of all, a BBQ sounds delightful, as long as you don’t expect your guests to provide food…agreeing with admin on this.

Why not schedule an afternoon wedding and simply have cake and punch? This used to be quite the norm when I was a kid. If you want to splurge a bit more, have a dessert buffet with coffee or lemonade. You have lots of creative options.

Cute idea: I once saw on a website where a couple had a cookout reception. They provided the BBQ cooks ( family members) with white aprons that read, “You may now kiss the cook”. I thought that was a nice touch :)


AIP July 29, 2013 at 5:42 pm

Somehow I don’t think that the persons complaining were what they considered “guests”, rather “The Mammies”.

Althoigh it would be highly unusual where I’m from, I think that reception idea sounds lovely. (So long as it’s not pot luck – weddings are enough work without trying to figure out what to cook as well)


Cady July 29, 2013 at 5:55 pm

We served pizza from a local pizza restaurant that delivered huge, party-size pizzas in a variety of wacky flavors (Thai with cilantro and peanut sauce, potato and bacon, etc.), and every guest that commented on it commented how awesome it was. It cost less than $500 with tip for a 200-person wedding. I baked my own simple but lovely Guinness cake for cutting and had a bakery provide sheet cakes in two flavors for guests. That was maybe $250. Public parks (at least in my area) charge about $150 for city residents to rent out the larger picnic/barbecue areas. Rent long tables (cheaper than round) and plain chairs, and you can find disposable white tablecloths online for very cheap (or spring for the rental place’s cheapest linens). Plan WHATEVER fits in your budget that doesn’t require your guests to bring anything, and pay no attention to people who grumble. Some people just like to complain; you wouldn’t satisfy those people if you spent a million dollars, so don’t bother trying.


mechtilde August 4, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Another option is that instead of hiring linens, buy sheets or sheeting fabric – singles should work on long tables, doubles on round tables. It might cost a little more than hiring, but y0u’ll never run out of sheets again…


Decimus July 29, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I too am wondering if this was supposed to be a “potluck” – which would be tacky – or if the family just assumed any outdoor BBQ event would be tacky?

You are obligated to feed guests, but what you are obligated to feed them is simply “food” not “high cuisine.” If need be, order pizzas – that will certainly keep your budget in line!


Agania July 30, 2013 at 12:02 am

This absolutely infuriates me. If the naysayers aren’t forking out the money they can shut the hell up! You are paying for it so you get the final say. If people insist that you ‘simply must have ……’ then ask them how much money they are going to contribute. That should give them pause.

A casual BBQ sounds great. But it CANNOT be pot luck. That would be tacky. There are many wonderful suggestions given already that shouldn’t break the budget. As someone else suggested, ensure the invitations reflect the reception so people can dress accordingly. Nothing worse than high heels sinking into grass!

If all else fails, change the time!


ddwwylm July 30, 2013 at 3:29 am

My brother had probably one of the cheapest weddings I’ve ever been too. They got married at a local lake, served Costco cake and had party trays from the grocery store. It’s been a long time, but I think it was sandwich type foods. My mom paid for all the food and I’m pretty sure she said it was around $500. It was essentially a picnic in the park after they got married I went to another wedding where they had sub sandwiches wrapped up and placed in pretty baskets. That was a more traditional church wedding with the reception in a hall with dancing. I thought the food choice and presentation was very unique. There’s lots of stuff you can do that is fairly cheap if you just get creative with your thinking. Both Mexican and Italian are usually inexpensive dishes to have catered. There’s a bomb Italian restaurant around here that does catering for around $10 per person, or they sell their huge trays full of raviolis for around $40. Not sit down catered meal fancy, but good food. Otherwise, you’re just going to have to change your wedding time if possible. If you had a 2pm wedding with cake afterwards, no one would think twice about not having a meal.


Lo July 30, 2013 at 7:54 am

We had a low-budget fancy dress wedding with a catered BBQ buffet from a local inexpensive place famous for it’s BBQ. It was not tacky, it was delicious. The whole industry is a racket anyway, I’d rather cheap well-made comfort food over an overpriced plate of bland chicken drenched in sauce any day.

You do have to feed people depending on the time of day but as others have said, you do NOT have to let people dictate what that entails.


Lisa Marie July 30, 2013 at 8:13 am

I see nothing wrong with a dessert only reception right at the church if they have the room. Most people come for the cake anyways.


Amy July 30, 2013 at 8:14 am

When my son and my now DIL got married, they did almost everything themselves. They had a small wedding and came to us and asked if we would mind hosting a backyard barbecue reception. We were more than happy to do so. We invited people back to our house for a cookout. We had lots of picnic type foods, and told people that they were free to bring casual attire to change into at our house. It was a roaring success. People had a wonderful time chatting, eating, mingling…people still tell me how fun and relaxing it was. This was the kind of event the bride and groom preferred, as neither one of them were all that comfortable with the idea of the typical formal reception. I say, do what makes you happy and quit worrying about folks who want to mold your wedding day into their idea of what it should be. If they love you, they will have fun, no matter what you chose to do.


Jay July 30, 2013 at 9:29 am

My wedding was about $3000 for 30 people (for everything, including the rings). Dinner was catered by a restaurant (but at my house), and cost about $1000.. by far the largest expense. And we got leftovers out of it too :)


Harley Granny July 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

I say move the time.

I purposely picked 2pm so that I didn’t have to provide a meal. I had gone to Sam’s and got easy snacks…meatballs, wings, fruit trays that kind of things.

We did it all under $5k that included all decorations and clothing.

In our circle it’s the wedding that’s the most important not the fancy trimmings….we’ve been to and happily contributed to many potluck receptions. Sorry folks….I don’t think they’re tacky I think it’s a way to show your love to the couple.


Sarah Jane July 31, 2013 at 1:52 pm

” Sorry folks….I don’t think they’re tacky I think it’s a way to show your love to the couple.”

I do agree with this to an extent. I’ve been to small-town weddings where extended family or even fellow church members prepared their own special dishes for the reception, because they offered and wanted to, NOT because they were asked or were expected to. It was always heart-warming.


Michelle C. Young August 3, 2013 at 12:14 am

Offered vs. asked. Offered always wins.


startruck July 30, 2013 at 12:25 pm

a BBQ sounds fun and relaxing! i think thats a great idea. and by the way, the same people that might tell you thats tacky , would happily come and eat BBQ lol


Library Diva July 30, 2013 at 1:03 pm

I don’t think a potluck is necessarily tacky if that’s what the family tradition is. That is the case in my husband’s family. His mother comes from a family of 16. His grandmother has built a picnic shelter in her backyard and has a fire pit. She frequently hosts outdoor get-togethers, where everyone contributes food and drinks, and weddings have often taken a similar shape in that family, although ours didn’t.

I agree with the admin and commentors who said that OP should stick to her guns. More pertinent than even the money is the fact that OP doesn’t like big parties. To use the Bridezilla cliche, “it’s your day,” and it should be what you want. I’ve been to weddings at the region’s fanciest hotel, and ones hosted in backyards, and everywhere in between. What makes a wedding good isn’t the amount of money you spend, it’s the overall tenor of the day. The best ones were the ones where I was seated with friends or family, where the couple seemed happy and in love, and where they circulated and spent time with all of the guests. The worst ones were when I was relegated to the “kids table” at 19, where the couple barely said hello (or just didn’t say hello), where the music was cranked up so loud you couldn’t even think, and (incredibly) where you were allowed to smoke in the hall and everyone was doing so.

Have the BBQ do that you want, OP. Anyone who feels it’s beneath them doesn’t have to attend.


JSchoolJunkette July 30, 2013 at 1:34 pm

My grandmother got married 70+ years ago in the afternoon. As she had no living parents, Grandma and Grandpa opted to have a small afternoon tea and cookie reception at her aunt’s house. It was a tremendous success and people loved it! How do I know? My great aunts and uncles have been talking about it for the better part of a century!

Go with what reflects you and what makes you happy. As long as you go into it intending to share the joy of the day with your guests (Not to show off) any wedding, from the $50,000 fete to the City Hall ceremony and brunch, will be fun and memorable.


Allie July 30, 2013 at 5:35 pm

There is nothing inherently tacky about a backyard BBQ wedding reception provided, as others have pointed out, guests are not being asked to bring food. What is tacky is planning a wedding beyond your means and expecting your guests to foot the bill. If you have a 2 or 3 pm wedding you could do a cake and punch reception, but as Admin has pointed out, it is quite possible to do a full and enjoyable meal on your budget. Congratulations, by the way. I hope your day is special : )


La July 30, 2013 at 8:43 pm

As long as you use good quality paper plates and make the garden look as pretty as possible, I don’t see why a non-potluck BBQ reception isn’t awesome. :D

Just make sure you have alternate arrangements in case of rain (speaking as a British person – “you know, a BBQ sounds nice on this lovely day” *heavens open*) and that you have plenty of seating for guests.


Nikki July 31, 2013 at 2:18 pm

I would just like to throw in my two cents here and second (or third) the suggestion to have the wedding at an off-hour and have a cake/dessert and punch menu. A lovely party hosted at home or in a park would be charming, IMHO.
Not to mention, you’d still get to have a occasion to sit down with your new spouse, still be able to do the traditional cake cutting (if that matters to you), etc.

Please, if a reception is important to you, find a way to host everyone that fits in your budget. Don’t let anyone pressure you out of it or encourage you to spend more than you are comfortable with.


Michelle C. Young August 1, 2013 at 11:41 pm

Subway Party Platter at the wedding venue. There. Done.

*dusts off hands and walks away*


Michelle C. Young August 2, 2013 at 12:02 am

Ideally, for such a wedding, the dress code should be “Sunday Dress.” Almost everyone already has a basic “Sunday” outfit, even if they don’t go to church, and even if they did have to buy something to wear, the cost would not be prohibitive.


sv August 2, 2013 at 10:52 am

Your wedding and reception is just that – YOUR wedding and reception. Don’t let anyone else tell you how to do it!! My hubby & I were on a very tight budget ( less than $2000 for everything….dress, decorations, rings, food, etc ) and so we planned an evening ceremony at my parents beautiful house, outside, with lovely white lights and all our family and friends. Afterwards we had tons of delicious finger foods, served simple wine and beer ( no hard spirits) and had a wonderful time. My FMIL was positive it was a mistake….she is quite traditional and this did not fit her idea of a fitting wedding and reception. However, it was beautiful and exactly what we wanted, and when it was over even she admitted that it was a great night :) Do what you want, OP!!


Possibly rude bride? August 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm

Oh no! I may be doing something rude. Admin and others are saying that it’s rude to have a noon wedding without serving lunch. I’d appreciate feedback on my wedding plans: we’re getting married at noon (the only available time) at our university’s chapel in a couple of weeks. We wanted to plan a late-lunch reception, but the event halls in town were not very amenable to that – they’re set up to rent for a morning-mid afternoon event and then for an evening event, so they make the first one end by 4 PM or so to leave turnaround for a 5:30 or 6 PM event. With our ceremony (a full mass) that would’ve left less than 3 hours for the reception, hardly enough to provide for our guests, most of whom are traveling from states away. And since we’re not getting married at a typical church, there’s no parish hall to rent with more flexibility, and no family in town with backyards or homes to spare. So we’re having a several-hour gap after the ceremony until a dinner reception, leaving guests some time to go back to their hotels, grab a late lunch and explore town, nap, what have you.
What do y’all think? Am I (or rather, my parents, who are the hosts) being inconsiderate? What would make this better if you were our guest?


Carol August 2, 2013 at 7:04 pm

You’re feeding them eventually, so that’s fine.


Michelle C. Young August 3, 2013 at 12:24 am

Well, you are providing dinner at the dinner reception, right? Just how long is this full mass, anyway?

I think, if you want to be really gracious, and you can swing it, have some sort of brunch buffet right before the mass, as well as the dinner reception. It could be simple snacks, muffins, fruit, yogurt, and the like, but would leave the guests feeling less-than-peckish as they sit through the ceremony, at least, and then they can look forward to the good dinner.

Alternately, try renting a park, and have an outdoor wedding and picnic, rather than struggling to get a hall, which leaves you stretched for time.

I think 3 hours is plenty of time for a reception, so long as there is food, and some form of entertainment. I know I can’t last much longer than that, and I’m sure many other people would feel the same way. It is just as rude to make your guests hang around for a long event as it is to fail to provide for them. So, cut the cake early and then let those who want to stay, stay, and those who want to go, go. After all, if most of them are traveling a long distance, they are more likely to be tired, anyway.

If you possibly can, add some form of food to the time period just before the service. People will be milling about, anyway, so they might as well nibble a bit, and that will help to tide them over and make them feel as if you are not taking them for granted.


kingsrings August 5, 2013 at 2:31 pm

The outdoor wedding and picnic wouldn’t work since this is a full mass. They can only do that in a church. I think the before-mass buffet is a good idea.


The Elf August 6, 2013 at 12:50 pm

You’re cool. A several hour gap is not ideal, IMHO, but it’s much better than doing a noon wedding and not feeding people lunch.


ArtK August 2, 2013 at 1:17 pm

Just because someone else says that a backyard BBQ is “tacky,” doesn’t make it so. Grow a spine and have the reception that *you* want and *you* can afford. Anyone who says “you must have a big blow-out reception,” can be, politely, invited to fund it. Otherwise, they can be, politely, invited to shut up.

Backyard BBQs are not tacky, in-and-of themselves. They can be done in a tacky manner, but so can a catered sit-down meal in a hired hall.

Some criteria: 1) Do people have a place to sit that is comfortable? (That includes the availability of shade); 2) Is there enough food? 3) Is there enough to drink? 4) Are the utensils and napkins, etc. appropriate for the meal?


NostalgicGal August 5, 2013 at 11:43 pm

If you’re paying for it, do what you want and can afford.

Someone naysays and ‘shouts you down’ tell them fine, if they are PAYING for it, then let them go ahead and do what THEY want for the entire headcount. Otherwise the ‘I’m sorry you will not be attending’ phrase and leave them at that.

I would have loved to have had $3k for my wedding; but my mom’s fantasy plan and my reality pricing was not going to converge. There was no way in h*** what she had planned would have gone down for $45k or so; yet alone $3k. Anyways. It’s your bash, OP, do what you want and the shouters can put up or not attend.


Sara August 6, 2013 at 10:22 am

One of the best reception dinners I have ever had served pizza from a local pizza place known for having amazing pizza. The groom told me at a party at a later date that when they started looking at catering companies in the area, and knowing the food wasn’t as good as the pizza place and would cost four times as much per person they decided to go the pizza route. They brought in salad, pizza and breadsticks and everyone loved it.


sasha b August 8, 2013 at 12:28 pm

One of the best receptions I’ve EVER been to (and I’ve been to a lot of weddings) was in an unconditioned, converted church in the middle of summer where they had kegs of beer on the lawn, BBQ buffet – dinner was on folding tables and folding chairs and we were treated to a bluegrass band while we ate and danced.
I’m a big believer in – it’s your wedding and you’re paying for it, if you want to have a BBQ, if you want to have it in a circus tent, if you want to have peanut butter and jelly sandwiches – it’s your wedding and you get to make the decisions on what to eat


Jennifer August 25, 2013 at 8:31 pm

The one thing I would say is that you should pay some attention to how the meal matches with the formality of the clothing.

If people are showing up in their wedding best, having an eat off your lap (or while wandering the backyard) BBQ with corn on the cob, sauce laden ribs and watermelon is a disaster waiting to happen.

You can give people time to change before a very casual reception, or you can make sure that the food provided can be eaten with reasonable tidyness under the circumstances (some tables and chairs make a huge difference).


cicero September 2, 2013 at 6:32 am

I think it’s a lovely idea,not tacky.

What is /could be tacky is making your friends/family contribute food and/or do the work. If what you want is a backyard BBQ, then by all means, have a BBQ. buy everything yourselves, and hire a couple of students to set up, replenish, cook, clean up.

Or buy ready made trays at a deli/restaurant – you can do cold cuts and /or roast chicken parts/lasagna (pasta dishes usually are cheap and filling)/subs/wraps/veggie trays etc.


Kathleen September 10, 2013 at 11:35 pm

We did a BBQ reception, and it kept the budget in line. My in-laws had a beautiful yard, and as we were having an early fall wedding, my MIL, bless her, had the best-looking lawn and flower beds that year, even pinching back the flowers so they would bloom later. We rented tables, chairs and linens and a NICE white canopy-style tent. We indicated on the invitations that casual attire was welcome. One of our wedding gifts was a pig, and another wedding gift was from a close friend who had the big rotisserie and did pig roasts as a sideline. Another friend donated bartending duties. So many friends and family pitched in. The one catch: Our baker, also a friend of the family who had recently opened her own bakery, wrote down our wedding date wrong, and we ended up with no cake for the reception. Oh my! I don’t know which of us felt worse about that. We survived (so did the friendship) and it was still a great time. Don’t underestimate how fun a casual wedding can be.


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