Although Howard and I will not be getting married until March/April 2012, we've started to do general planning so that we can have a better idea of what the wedding day will include. One of the things that needed to be done was put together a guest list. The size of the guest list would determine what exactly we would do after the wedding since we're not really into the whole reception idea.
It seems strange that we wouldn't have a reception, but I've read about how it's more common for couples not to do that; some just have a cake or dessert right after the ceremony. I also talked to my aunt after the engagement, and she said that she didn't have a reception either. Instead of having a sit down meal, she had a cocktail hour type deal with hor d'ouvres on passed trays. That sounded enticing right away. It would cost a lot less! Plus, a reception situation would just feel awkward for us because we wouldn't want to have dancing, and it'd be uncomfortable, in my opinion, to just make the rounds and mingle for a bit before moving on to the next table.
Well, since we knew we were going to have appetizers and dessert after the ceremony, we tried to decide what to do. We could get it catered by a restaurant or just order trays of food from our favorite places, especially things we like to eat like southwestern eggrolls from Chili's! Yum. It'd definitely be more fitting for us because we're a rather laidback couple who likes eating getting "To Go" orders from chain restaurants and relaxing with some Travel Channel at home!
The guest list affects this though. We started wondering if the family members would have an issue that we were having such a casual event instead of sitting down to have a meal. Also, I have many students (including students who have graduated) who are expecting an invite (or saying they'll crash the wedding if they're not invited because they really want to be there). Would that mean we'd have to get that much more food? How do we tell them, "No, you can't come eat the food."
This led us to the idea to have our reception an hour away at the nearest Cracker Barrel! If you followed the beginning of our April 2010 trip report on DISboards, you would have seen just how much I was obsessing over Cracker Barrel! We ate there on the way down to Florida and on our way back home. It's a restaurant that fits our personality especially since we'd actually love to move down South to Georgia! I could definitely be a southerner, and I wouldn't mind getting an annual pass to WDW, but that's a whole different story!
The cost of a CB "reception" would be very minimal. Think about it for a minute. Going to a fancy place might cost a good $80-$120 per person. Um, hold up ... that better be a buffet of food for each person then! However, even if everyone ordered whatever they wanted from the CB menu, it could average about $20 per person. Score! Howard and I were very into the idea for quite some time, and neither of us could think of anything negative. Of course, this was before it was mentioned to my parents.
My mom understood why we wanted to do that, and she said that she'd be okay with it. However, family members might not understand it in the same way. She didn't want us to feel uncomfortable by that. We wouldn't be uncomfortable by that because we have the "if-this-bothers-you-don't-come" mentality. As we began thinking more and more about the CB idea, we started leaning towards having a few things to eat after the ceremony and a smaller group at CB with us (not even including the whole family, more of our cousins and church friends that are our age). So then it brought us back to the post-ceremony cocktail hour idea.
Seriously, we came full circle! As we compiled the guest list, we realized we already had about 150 people. That's extremely funny since we both say we don't have many friends! Compared to my cousins, for example, I don't know that many people. But family members already make up almost 75 of that number! Whoa. I just talked to my high school friend's mom (she helped us find the engagement ring!) who said that my friend's wedding was only 75 people total! That wouldn't be possible for us because we can't cut out family.
On top of blood family, there's our church family. Then after church family, Howard has a few co-workers he knows he wants to invite, and I have more than a few. I have 15. I work at a small private Christian school, so it's not possible not to invite all the people who work there. And the thing is, it's not even out of obligation. I really WANT them to be there. My co-workers being at the wedding was one of the reasons why I actually didn't want a destination wedding. They've supported me so much over the past 3 years as I learned how to be a teacher. They've supported me when our family dealt with financial issues with the loss of jobs and health issues when my dad had cancer. I leaned on some of them almost on a daily basis. I cried to many of them as well, and so many of them prayed over me. How could they not be at one of the happiest days of my life?
Of course, something I would love is to have my good DISboards friends there too. Too bad everyone lives all over the place!
With all these people, do we really want to worry about having to get trays of food from this place and that place? Probably not. Plus, we could make it a bit fancier if we had it catered, right? Oh wait! We know caterers! We realized that we could have 2 of the members of our church cater our wedding. That's why the guest list was important; we wanted to see if we could get a general price for a certain amount of people. We would enjoy having them make everything from Chinese to "American" (yes, I call all non-Chinese food American food!). We could have different dumplings, fish balls in curry, curry puffs, chicken salad, mini-sandwiches in brioche buns, etc. They even make their own madeleines and marshmallows! Even if it cost more than ordering trays from restaurants, the food would be much more "acceptable" for a wedding. Plus, we'd be more comfortable working with people we know and not having to haggle. We'd like knowing that our money was going towards sisters in Christ and their business!
Basically that's where we are now. Wedding planning is really not as fun as I thought it would be! Of course, as a high school student or a college girl, I always thought it'd be at Russo's on the Bay, but I know I'm not that kind of girl anymore. This is more our style even besides the whole money issue. So what do you think? Would you be disappointed if you didn't have a sit-down traditional reception to attend after a wedding? Or would you be happy that a wedding wasn't taking up your entire Saturday (wedding in the morning, food around lunch time or early afternoon)? Would you rather have a meal of your own that you chose or would you rather taste a little bit of everything?