Post Wedding Protocol: Hosting a reception after returning from a destination ceremony

by epi on November 7, 2012

Q: My fiance and I are both 31 and we want an intimate wedding ceremony but a fairly large wedding reception. We have decided to have a ‘weddingmoon’ at a Sandals resort and have a post wedding reception five days after we return. We have been dating for four years, this is his first marriage and my second and neither of us have any children. How do we word our invitations? Do we register for gifts? Is it proper to have a wedding cake at the reception?

A: It would be fine for you and your fiance to host a belated reception to share your happiness with friends and relatives, who did not attend the wedding.  Usually, because a belated reception is often several weeks after the wedding and is therefore really a party celebrating a happy event, guests are not expected to bring gifts but only their best wishes. However, many of your guests will want to give you a gift as they would have had the reception followed the wedding on the same day.  It would be helpful for those guests who do want to give a gift for you to register.

Also, it is entirely up to you whether or not you have a traditional wedding cake.  While some couples choose not to have one at their belated reception, it is perfectly acceptable for you to have one if you wish. Enjoy your reception either way!

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

T. McMillan December 27, 2012 at 12:24 pm

A family member of mine, and member of my wedding party has recently eloped without the blessing of their parents.
They left for tropical destination with a group of friends and wedded while there.
The couple decided to invite local family and friends to a reception to celebrate their nuptials.
They have only informed the public of their wedded status by this invitation; including parents and grandparents.
I learned that if you eloped you forego gifts and registry, yet they are registered.
I also learned that if the parents desire to throw a party for their child, they can and were to invite family and friends; yet this relative has invited all the family friends and relatives to this reception.

How do I respond?


Jerry December 27, 2012 at 1:35 pm

Adults may throw themselves a party to celebrate their wedding without their parents’ permission. If you want to attend, you RSVP in the affirmative. If you do not want to attend, you RSVP in the negative. You may give a gift if you so desire.

The rest of the facts — that they got married without their parents’ blessing — are irrelevant to the calculus.


Country Girl December 27, 2012 at 3:49 pm

While I agree it is odd to inform one’s family this way, there is nothing wrong with hosting one’s own reception after eloping. It actually eliminates the burden of payment from the parents or someone else. There is also nothing wrong with the couple being registered, so long as they don’t give that information to guests unsolicited. Most family and friends, though not required, will still want to give them a gift.

You respond by RSVPing yes or no as you are able. Use your discretion, budget, and love for the couple in selecting a gift or just expressing your well wishes in a card.


Winifred Rosenburg December 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Respond the same way you would respond to any invitation, by saying “yes, I will attend” or “no, I will not attend.”


Jody December 27, 2012 at 6:40 pm

I’m assuming that you did in fact receive an invitation to this reception, but it sounds like you don’t approve of the way the wedding/reception was carried out (apologies if I’m misreading something). If you can’t graciously (or cheerfully) attend you’d be wise to decline. You don’t have to go into exact reasons, just say that you’re unable to attend due to other commitments for that date.


Brockwest December 27, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Things are as rigid these days and there can be many reasons….stress of wedding planning comes to mind, to induce one to elope. I say so what that they eloped, good for them.
Now a relative who cares for them wants to celebrate the union. Bravo for the relative. If you care for the person, attend.
As to the gift, even a traditional wedding invite does not REQUIRE a gift, though it is standard. You give a gift to honor the couple, not because a book requires it. I would absolutely attend and absolutely give a gift.
Perhaps I’m jaded. I eloped. It was wonderful. I gave my own dinner at a nice restaurant on my return and paid for it. No gifts were given, which was fine by me.
I had two wonderful times….eloping meant saying vows with the one I loved without the constraints of wedding planning. I still got to celebrate with family.
So, you respond by how you care for this person. If you don’t care for them, don’t go. If you care for them, go, and send a gift. You aren’t required to give a gift, but by all means do so.


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