It is not always practical or desirable to have a reception immediately following the wedding ceremony. That does not mean that you can’t have a party to celebrate your union – it is entirely appropriate to have a reception at a later date. These are some of the things to keep in mind when planning a delayed wedding reception.
There are a variety of reasons why a couple might choose to have their wedding ceremony and reception on two different dates. One of the most common reasons is in the case of an elopement. Other couples might choose to have a very intimate marriage ceremony with only immediate family, and then to have a big party later. Another reason that you might separate the two events is for geography. If most of your family and friends live in California, but you and your fiance plan to be married in New York, a delayed reception in your hometown would make a lot of sense.
When you are planning a delayed reception, the first question is one of timing. Ideally, you would like to schedule the two events as close together as is practical. This way, you are still in the spirit of the wedding, before real life starts to creep back in and take the edge off of your bridal glow. It also makes the party more exciting for your friends and family, if they are getting to see you for the first time after your ceremony at the party. If you have been married for months and months, it might feel more like a regular party than a wedding reception.
If you are planning to have a delayed reception, you will want to be sure to word the invitations carefully. It needs to be clear that this is a party in honor of the newlyweds, not an invitation to actually witness the marriage ceremony itself. The wording can be tricky, especially when you are issuing the reception invitations before the nuptials take place. It is much easier when the invitations are sent out after the fact. All you have to say is something like, “Please join us for a reception in honor of the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. David Smith (Julie Frank), who were wed in a private ceremony on March 1st.” Then go on to provide the details of the date, location, and R.s.v.p. information for the party.
Most brides will choose to wear their bridal gown and wedding jewelry for the reception. You may want to also wear a veil for part of the event, especially if you are doing a ceremonial first dance.(It looks so pretty in the pictures.) Your guests will be delighted to get a glimpse of you in your wedding dress and jewelry. It would be somewhat anti-climactic for the bride to appear wearing regular party clothes. If your ceremony was an elopement and you did not wear a wedding gown, the delayed reception can be your chance to wear a fancy bridal ensemble. You do not want to feel as though you are wearing a costume, but a simple A-line gown could be very nice (you can skip the veil if you did not wear one for your ceremony).
The delayed wedding reception can really be exactly like one that follows directly after the vows, other than the timing. It can be a very practical solution for many situations, and is no less special for being slightly delayed. In fact, you may even find that having a little time between the wedding ceremony and the reception makes you feel more relaxed for the party, and that you will enjoy it even more.