Is it ever appropriate to host an “open house” type of reception? My daughter is looking at having a reception at a park with a lodge and pavillion that can be rented. The problem is, it only holds about 60 people. Both sides of the family alone are large so that limits us. My question is, can you invite people to this kind of a reception? And if so, should they NOT be invited to the wedding? I am assuming etiquette suggests a FAMILY ONLY wedding and then it would be OK to invite others to this kind of a reception. Your ideas please? 

Etiquette Now

You are in luck. Yes, to all of the above (almost). As long as your reception is informal, it could be just about any type of party. The guests do not have to be guests of the wedding. This is just a party to celebrate the couple’s marriage. The wedding doesn’t have to be family only. The couple may want a few of their friends to be with them. This is not a problem.

The reception is not considered a gift giving event, but some may bring gifts anyway. So, it is best to have a safe place for them. Guests can come and go all day. The guests who attended the wedding would just be the first ones to arrive. The fact that she wants a DJ doesn’t make this any more formal. Just make sure that there is a steady stream of food.

Typically the earlier in the day the more informal. This is not always the case, but is a ‘rule of thumb’–not withstanding Catholic weddings that are usually formal. If you are not providing a meal, it is best to begin this (this is an open house with people coming and going) early. If you had the wedding around 1 pm and began the reception directly after (you could list 2 on the reception invitations), then no one would be expecting a meal. You could party all day. Of course this doesn’t seem like a ‘dancing’ time of day.

If you began the reception after 7, you wouldn’t have as much of a come and go atmosphere and may have too many guests at one time. There is nothing wrong with this though. Just make sure that your guests know that this is informal. I’m sure you don’t want them showing up in tuxes.

Open House Reception Invitation Wording

MY daughter is having a cocktail reception. The wedding is at 7:30PM and the invitation states cocktail reception following in the parish hall. I just did invitations for a friends second marriage and she is also having a cocktail reception for 400 people 9pm to 1am. She is getting married in a private ceremony early with just family. Here is the wording that I used for her invitations.

In the presence of our family
We exchanged vows of marriage
and pledge to live our tomorrows
together in Christ’s love.
Her name
his name
request the pleasure of your company
at the marriage reception
to be held
on September, 17, 2005
9:00 PM – 1:00 AM
then the hotel information.

Wedding Reception Open House Ideas

Venue: We love the idea of having an open house wedding reception at home. It is comforting and fun to host your friends and family for this type of reception. If you can’t make it work at home or in somebody’s backyard, consider a local church or favorite local restaurant.

open house wedding ideas
The Knot

Decorations: Open house receptions are the chance to really get creative. Trolling DIY sites and Pinterest to find all the coolest and freshest ideas for decorating. Rather than going the traditional wedding reception route, try to push it a little. Vintage and antique wedding decorations work well as do textured or white table linen. Display pictures of the wedding and the bridal couple, including the engagement picture of the couple on a guest book table.

open house wedding decorations

Reception Food: Serve finger foods and other easily eaten foods at an open house reception.

open reception food