No Reception: Finding the Balance Between a Reception and a Formal Dinner

Usually, when it comes to weddings, one of the favorite events of the night is the party afterward. Most people celebrate with cake and alcohol and dance the night away. This is the time the guests can break out those amazing, and sometimes not so amazing, dance moves they’ve stowed away. And hey, that free meal and the booze for days is pretty darn cool too!

Like I’ve said before, Mr. SM and I just aren’t big on the party scene, nor do we like to be in the spotlight. The thought of us doing a bouquet or garter toss makes me cringe. As a guest, whenever I hear the words “All the single ladies to the floor,” it is my cue to find the restroom. Ladies can be pretty vicious when it comes to flowers determining whether or not they would be getting married anytime soon.

Image via funnyhub

Image via funnyhub

We also aren’t big on dancing. Not only am I not big on dancing, but we also have a mostly older crowd. Not that the older ladies don’t like to get down (ahem, Mom), but for the most part, I know our guests, and they would be sitting around at the tables conversing. As wedding guests, Mr. SM and I definitely would stay in the back taking selfies and catching up with old friends instead of busting a sweat on the dance floor. Trust me, you DON’T want to see me attempting to do that. It can’t be unseen.

Bring in the dry aspect of our wedding and take out everything we don’t want to do, and all you have left is cake, family, and food. Not much of a traditional reception, eh? Actually, that sounds pretty perfect to us. We still plan on cutting the cake and having food, but we just won’t have the party atmosphere surrounding it. We just want to use the time to spend with the loved ones who traveled so far to come and see us.

So, technically, we aren’t having a real “reception.” It’ll be more of a formal dinner with a wedding vibe to it. We’ve worked with the coordinator to set it up like a reception, because we do want the wedding feel. We will have a sweetheart table for Mr. SM and me, and then we plan to have four tables for our guests. I made a seating chart, because it made it feel more wedding oriented. Each table will seat six guests, so I broke that down into age brackets. I tried to do a mixture and give each guest people they know and people they don’t, so that our families can use this time to get to know each other more. For example, Mr. SM’s parents and his aunt and uncle are around the same age as my grandparents. Mr. SM, after having met my grandma, knew she would get along well with his aunt. His parents already got along great with my grandparents, so we sat those six at the same table. I knew they would enjoy each other’s company.

seating chart

Our seating chart / Made by me, via WeddingWire

At one point, we had a banquet-style table for all of us to sit around. Since our guest list was so small, it was thrown out as a suggestion, and we thought it would be nice to gather around one table, so it would be a little more intimate. I had never really been to a wedding that had this style of table, and it sounded very intriguing. Definitely brought the “family style” to the table. Ha!

The Ocean Room via Soleontheocean

Image via Soleontheocean

In the end, we decided to nix the banquet-style table. I feel like it would feel a little crowded and people would have to talk over each other for conversation. We still plan on going around to every table and spending time with each guest over the course of the dinner, and we felt like this would make that awkward. Sure we would all be at the same table, but who would get to sit next to us? Going around the table and standing behind each guest to talk would be a bit awkward, as well. Although we decided this wasn’t for us, I wanted to throw this style out there for any bride stuck on seating. They can also set up multiple banquet tables up for larger crowds.

Despite not going the traditional route, I still think that the reception will be beautiful and that everyone will have a good time. I love that we get to actually spend time at each table and we won’t feel rushed off. I also love that we will be spending the evening looking over the beautiful sunset in the West Room of the hotel.

west wing via Soleontheocean

West Wing via Soleontheocean

Anyone else going away from a traditional reception? What are your plans?


Mrs. Sea Monkey

Sunny Isles Beach
Wedding Date:
June 2015
Someone to Do the Deed: Finding Our Officiant
Gallery of the Day: June 2, 2015
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  1. puffer Bee
    Mrs. Puffer 144 posts, Blushing bee @ 12:25 pm

    Ha! You had me at finding the restroom. I told Mr. Puffer that there was no way we’d be doing the garter dance or bouquet toss. We will have dancing, but I’m trying to limit my time in the spotlight.

  2. msseamonkey Bee
    Mrs. Sea Monkey 12 posts, Newbee @ 12:48 pm

    Yes! Haha. If we had a bigger list, we would’ve had dancing, but no tosses. I feel like they are way too awkward. One wedding I went to, a teen caught the bouquet and an older man caught the garter and the dj, not knowing, called them to the floor for him to put the garter on her….it was so awkward to watch. Lol

  3. Member
    whitemochi622 686 posts, Busy bee @ 1:26 pm

    We had this kind of reception! It went really well, and guests have told us they really enjoyed the relaxed family-style dinner. (We had 150 guests, so it can work with a larger group too!)

  4. msseamonkey Bee
    Mrs. Sea Monkey 12 posts, Newbee @ 1:45 pm

    I’m glad to hear it worked out! I was a little worried about it, so it’s great to hear positivity. Lol

  5. tractor Bee
    Mrs. Tractor 32 posts, Newbee @ 6:42 am

    For us, we couldn’t imagine our reception without dancing! But I’m a firm believer that a wedding (including the reception!) should reflect the couple, so if you guys aren’t dancers, skip it! Our reception was mostly dancing, we eliminated all the other “stuff” (cake cutting, bouquet/garter toss, etc). I will say though, I was pretty shocked to see that our older crowd stayed on the dance floor just as long as our twenty-something friends!

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