The single biggest thing we changed about the traditional wedding schedule was throwing the typical reception out the window.
I have been to a few excellent weddings, where the reception was a hell of a party, but most of the time, things tend to get out of control. But that I mean that the reception gets overwhelmingly complicated, though I have been to one where I decided to leave before something happened that I didn’t want to be a part of.
Instead, we are broke our wedding extravaganza into three different events. By doing this, we kept things less complicated, and were able to spend time with all of the people we care about.
The first was our tiny, tiny ceremony. We had mostly just family there. Our thought was that some of them came from 2000 miles away to see us, so it’s only fair that we do our best to give them our time. The only thing big enough to dislodge some of our relatives is a wedding, so we really wanted to spend time with them. We had our ceremony, followed by a short brunch/lunch, then the rest of day the was free. As it is, there are a lot of moving parts to manage for the ceremony alone, so we were still in need of a nap that afternoon.
After we returned from our honeymoon, my parents hosted a dinner reception in my hometown of Grand Junction, Colorado. It’s was a lot easier for the two of us to travel to GJ, than it was for the 25-odd people we would have invited to attend a traditional reception in Denver.
Plus they got way more attention from us. I can’t think of a single wedding that I have attended, including ones I have been a part of, where I spent more than two minutes of the reception with the couple. We only have so much attention, and we wanted to give it to everyone we can, even if that meant we had to break our celebrations up.
We decided to hold the reception at a restaurant so that no one was in charge of setting up, cooking, tearing down or cleaning. We didn’t want to ask anyone to do so much for us. We were throwing the party for everyone to celebrate with us, not work for us.
Our grand finale was here in Denver, and was the event that we invited all of our friends to attend. Neither of us really want to have to draw a line on what people are close enough to invite, and which ones to exclude, so we chose to find away to make our budget stretch as far as we could.
We rented a large picnic shelter at Ruby Hill Park, in Denver. The standard picnic permit fee in Denver is $97. I reserved things a few months in advance, gave them my credit card and printed off the permit. We had more options of venues, since it we were in the warmer months, but most cities have some spaces that are available for rent for comparable prices that are indoors. Denver has several historic sites that are owned by the city that will even allow you to rent the kitchen. (Be prepared for a cleaning deposit if you do that though).
We had food catered (again, so no one is cooking) from one of the restaurants that we frequent. We knew their food is good, and they are not as likely to have strict catering policies and minimum orders and whatnot. That’s no always the case, but we found that by working with a family-owned restaurant, people were more accomodating.
Since we didn’t rent a large reception hall, DJ, dance floor, chairs or speakers, we had a lot more to spend on tasty food.