Ceremony and Reception at different locations?


Hey all, I'm new here, and kind of lost as to what to do about my wedding planning! My husband-to-be and I are from two different areas of Texas, and some of his family have gone as far as illinois. We both have VERY large families. Some from all over are planning to attend, while others, due to travel, cannot.

So as not to cut anyone out entirely, we considered having the ceremony at one location, and a reception at another. The ceremony location is about an hour from most of his family, and four hours from my own. We considered having a reception a day or two later, near my home town (but that's four hours off!) -- with all the guests still invited. Would this be too much hassle for the out of state guests who had to come so far for a pitstop (wedding) and then continue travelling (for the reception)?

Or should I merely hold two receptions? I know a lot of my family cannot afford to drive hours away and put themselves up for a night for the ceremony, but I want to still include them. We are on a budget though! So if two receptions is the proper thing, would it be tacky to do a backyard barbeque sort of thing after the elaborate wedding in the grooms hometown, and then have an elaborate reception back in my hometown so that those unable to attend my wedding can attend a reception?

I just feel like my family is getting kind of left out. Far off relations of his are out of state, but these are my siblings and aunts and grandparents that are unable to travel. Would it be hateful to have different levels of "snazz" for different receptions? Afterall, I'm not exactly sure how to invite his family to "their" reception, and my family to "ours"! What would I do with my family that came to the wedding? Would they merely attend both or be left out of the later reception?

arg! Any suggestions, whether stated here or of your own thoughts, are really, really appreciated! Thank you.


Comments (5)
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I am sure someone can help you. I just want to sympathize with you for such a complicated set of events. I would try to simplify for sure. You are going to stress yourselves out. I don't know the family or cultural circumstances of your area weddings, but let me try to suggest what might help you.

We had mostly out of town guests at our wedding in 2005. As a result, we did the wedding and reception at the same location in the hopes of not stressing our guests trying to find their way around a congested area that is new to them. The rehearsal dinner the night before included transportation on rented busses to the location several miles away.

Typically, the rehearsal dinner the night before, the wedding and the reception are held in the bride's home town or close by. I see no reason not to continue with that tradition as most people expect that.

Have you two or his family planned a rehearsal dinner the night before the wedding? This can be less fancy, even a BBQ or a beach party. Around here, we invite the wedding party, their significant others, immediate family of the bride and groom, and all out of town guests who have arrived early. Some keep the event smaller and less expensive and limit it to the wedding party, their dates, and the family.

Then the wedding is the next day, and the reception follows it that day.

If you want to have a party later in a distant town, it does not have to be another wedding reception. It could be an Open House to meet the new Mr. and Mrs. James Smith and it could be held or hosted at someone's home or at a restaurant/country club/hotel. It can be fancy or a backyard or park BBQ. I do not think I would call it another reception.

So you see, you have lots of opportunities to host or be honored at events. I sure hope you can call on someone in his family to host an event for you later to meet everyone but have a traditional wedding and reception in the bride's home town to which everyone is invited. If the wedding is early enough in the day, guests can plan to return home that night after the reception and avoid the trouble and expense of hotel stays.

Good luck. Congratulations.

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Why did you chose the particular location that you did? It isn't near either family, really. I would agree with the PP that moving the wedding closer to your family would be an ideal solution.

If I were a wedding guest traveling from out of town, the distance between the two locations, ceremony near the groom's family, reception near the bride's 4 hours away, would probably cause some transportation issues. I would definitely have to rent a car. And splitting the ceremony and reception over two days would probably require me to take more time off from work. Usually, I leave work Friday afternoon, fly to wedding location, spend Saturday at wedding/reception and fly home on Sunday.

In my book, close relations, siblings, aunts and grandparents, trump far-off relations. So I would suggest planning a wedding that allows more immediate family members, on both sides, to attend. The far-off relations can be invited and they can come or not as they please. Somehow, not having siblings at your wedding unless there is no way possible for them to come just seems sad, to me. (I missed one brother's wedding because it was in a different country and we only had three weeks notice. DB completely understands, but I still feel a bit bad about it. So that's where I'm coming from.)

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It sounds like you are trying to include too many people and too many locations to make things work for the majority of your guests. From an etiquette perspective, if you invite guests to a wedding ceremony, you should follow it immediately or within a couple of hours with a reception at or near the ceremony location. It would not be appropriate to invite guests to a ceremony only then ask them to drive 4 hours to attend a reception the following day.

I would suggest that you have the ceremony and a reception either where your family lives or where his family lives and then have a second reception at the other location.

Another option, if you really want to have the ceremony at the location you have chosen, which is an hour from his family, is to invite only immediate family to the ceremony and inivte his friends and extended family to a reception that same day in his home town. Your family who attend the ceremony would also attend this reception.

Then have a second reception where your family lives. If you have a private ceremony first, then either or both of the receptions could be a casual BBQ, an open house, or anything else that you prefer.

When you have two receptions, you do not need to invite all of the guests to both receptions. The only ones you would invite to both receptions are parents and siblings and possibly grandparents, depending on their ages and ability to travel.

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I would try very hard to have one ceremony and one reception, and to do them at the same time, in one city. If your families lived across the country, it would make more sense to me to have a party in whichever city you didn't choose for the wedding. But you are making yourself nuts trying to accommodate every single person. That cannot happen at any wedding.

4 hours is just not that far. Schedule everything in the middle of the day, say, ceremony at 1 pm, reception immediately following, so that people driving 4 hours will be able to make it there and back without staying over, if you really feel that is too much of a burden. The people to whom you are closest will certainly not be dissuaded from attending because of that distance, and as for anyone who finds it too inconvenient -- well, as Talley Sue puts it, EVERY wedding is a destination wedding for SOMEONE. Whether 4 hours or 4 time zones away, the guests will decide for themselves whether they can make the trip. For distance or any other reason, not everyone you invite (and who really would like to attend) will be able to be there. That's just the way it is, for any wedding. You don't have to give a separate event in order to accommodate those who cannot make it.

I definitely wouldn't require everyone to travel twice, and I absolutely wouldn't give one reception for your family and one for his! Almost defeats the point of a wedding, doesn't it? If you simply must give two events, invite everyone to both, and let them sort it out.

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I agree that ceremony and reception should take place near each other, both in geography and in time.

And I agree w/ gellchom that it would be greatly considerate of you to try to plan the wedding and reception so that people from 4 hours away have a chance of driving back the same day if they'd like to.

(here's an example: my friend's bday party for her kids is 4 hours from us; it starts at 5. I realized, after we'd said we would go, that this means we *have* to leave at 8pm, to get home by midnight, bcs I have to play organ for church at 8:15 the next morning. But we'll be doing it--and we would certainly do it for a *wedding*. You might try to have your reception start early; you might be sure to have the meal served promptly, and cut down on the number of courses--I've been to weddings where we had cocktails at 5pm, but didn't get to eat until something like 8, and there were hours between courses, it felt like--a simpler menu, and a prompt serving of it, would let those guests who had to leave at 8 or 9 feel like they weren't really missing much of the party.)

If you lived a LOT farther away than 4 hours, or perhaps if you find that almost no one from your family can afford to come to the ceremony and reception, then it would be acceptable to have a second reception in the far-away town (that's classic--and the second reception is not a wedding reception, just a party in your honor).

But I wouldn't start there.

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