These days, more and more couples are eschewing the traditional wedding in favor of smaller, more intimate affairs. Destination weddings with close family members are becoming more popular, as well as the ultra-intimate elopement. I have to admit, I can see the appeal: when you elope, you and your sweetheart can go anywhere in the world, do anything you want, and start your married life completely separate from the rest of the world. How romantic!
But of course, eventually you both will have to rejoin the rest of us here on Earth. There’s work to do, bills to pay, and family to contend with…many of whom will want to celebrate your wedding with you! How can you have the intimate elopement of your dreams and still celebrate with the family? The best way is to have a party! Here are a few tips to help you plan the perfect post-elopement party.
Explain the Event in the Invite
While elopements are growing in popularity, they’re still far less common than a traditional wedding. Because of this, some of your guests may think you’re inviting them to the big day—and they may be confused (or even offended) when they discover that they were only invited to the after-party. To avoid this issue, it’s important that you explain what kind of party you’re having (and that you’re already married) right on your invitation.
Use phrases in your invitation like “You’re invited to celebrate the marriage of…” or “A party in honor of the new Mr. and Mrs.” If you want to be even more clear, you could say something like, “We already said I do, now let’s party!” By clearly stating that this is a post-wedding event on your invite, you’ll be able to set your guests expectations and avoid any confusion on the day of the party.
Plan Your Party Soon(ish)
You might be wondering when you’re expected to throw your post-elopement party. Immediately after your elopement or honeymoon? A few weeks later? A few months? The answer is pretty simple: have the party whenever you want! There’s no need to rush into party planning. If you want to take some time to get used to married life or if you want to save up a little money, you have every right to hold off on your celebration. After all, you’re already married—you have the rest of your lives to celebrate!
That said, there are some folks who believe that you can’t wait indefinitely for your post-elopement party. Martha Stewart says you should have your party within the first few months (ideally the first few weeks) after getting married, or else it may seem like more of a first-anniversary celebration. I’d say you should wait as long as you feel is necessary; your loved ones will want to celebrate you whenever you’re ready.
Don’t Expect Gifts
When you throw a post-elopement party, it’s natural that some of your guests may want to bring you a wedding gift. It’s also natural that others will assume that since they’re not attending a wedding, they don’t have to bring a gift. Which answer is correct? Both! A post-elopement party isn’t the kind of event that traditionally requires a gift (like a birthday party or wedding), but if your friends and family want to be generous, that’s their prerogative.
If you want to set up a registry for your post-elopement party, that’s OK. In fact, it can be very useful; as you and your spouse are already married, you may not need all the traditional homemaking accouterment that couples receive for their wedding day. However, it’s important to remember that gifts are not expected for this kind of event, so don’t be hurt or surprised if some folks show up empty-handed. Just thank them for their presence and keep on partying—and if someone DOES bring a gift, make sure to write a thank you note!
Have the Party You and Your Partner Want
This is probably the most important tip on the list. Post-elopement parties are a unique animal and are the kind of event that doesn’t really have a rule book. For that reason, it’s so important that you and your partner plan the kind of event that makes you both happy! Don’t worry about traditions or about what other people want. It’s your party, so plan it your way.
Do you want to have a casual, laid back event? Go for it! Do you want to have a glamorous soiree with champagne and live music? Sounds great! Do you want to have a small “wedding ceremony” at the party to reiterate your commitment to one another? Do it! Wear what you want, serve the kind of food you want, and just make sure that you (and your sweetheart) have a wonderful time. At the end of the day, this celebration is only for two people, so make sure you both remember it fondly.