LDS Wedding Receptions and Open Houses
Virtually every LDS wedding involves some type of reception or open house. Regardless of the colors, theme, or tone of the wedding, the reception is an opportunity for friends and family to wish the happy couple well and celebrate the beginning of their journey together as husband and wife.
Even though Mormon wedding receptions are generally held right after the ceremony, some LDS couples postpone their open house until after they return from the honeymoon or even as long as two months after the wedding has passed. Many LDS couples, out of necessity or personal preference, also have more than one open house to celebrate with different groups of friends and family.
LDS Reception Planning
Name Your Ideal LDS Wedding Reception
The perfect wedding reception means a lot of different things to different couples. When you begin to plan your reception, draw up a list to help you determine what kind of reception you want. Will it be casual or formal? Afternoon or evening?
Name the types of services you’d like to include in the open house, as well. Would you like guests to have access to a dance floor? Do you want the elegance of a live band or will a DJ playing recorded music do? Providing some type of food is a given, but will it be a full meal or just a light selection of refreshments and appetizers? A sit-down dinner or a self-serve buffet?
You’ll soon find that planning the wedding ceremony was the easy part (especially if you are to be married in the temple, where so much of the planning is done for you.) Limitless choices await you when you plan the reception. Every single detail is up to you – which can be both a blessing and a curse.
Factors for LDS Open House Planning
Wedding receptions in general are widely varied, but Latter-day Saint receptions in particular have even more variability. In the Church of Latter-day Saints, receptions are held in the local chapel’s cultural hall just as often as they are held in a posh 5-star hotel ballroom. Mormon wedding receptions are sometimes catered and staffed by professionals, and sometimes handled completely by the families of the bride and groom.
All this just goes to show that when you’re talking about LDS wedding receptions, there is a wide range of “normal.” The type of reception that is right for you depends on:
• Your budget
• Location and accessibility for guests
• Formality of the ceremony and the time of day
• Size of the guest list
• Personal preference
Let’s take a look at each of these factors in turn.
The reception is where things can easily get expensive. Every napkin, every table centerpiece, and every decoration costs money. Costs rise exponentially with the guest list and the number of frills and extras brides decide to throw into the reception.
Hash out a reception budget first, and then work within your range of affordable. Traditionally, the father of the bride foots the bill for the wedding reception, but it’s important to communicate with everyone involved to decide who is paying for what. Tradition often goes right out the window when it comes wedding planning in the 21st century.
Also, be realistic in how much you can handle on your own and how much work needs to be done by a professional. DIY receptions generally cost less, but they require a lot more hard work and elbow grease on your part.
Location and Accessibility
Ideally your reception will be held near your wedding ceremony, or at least in a central location for all guests. How will members of the wedding party get from the ceremony location to the reception hall? Is the distance feasible for everyone?
Also, consider whether some reception guests will not be attending the ceremony (as is often the case with temple sealings.) In this case, how far will the most far-flung guest need to travel to attend? Will you need to arrange for accommodations for out-of-town guests who need to stay at a local hotel overnight?
LDS couples often struggle with finding the ideal reception location, as Mormon families are sometimes large and scattered all over the country (or the world.) A popular solution is to hold two receptions, one for each side of the family in their part of the country.
Formality and Time of Day
In general, a casual ceremony lends itself to a casual open house, and a formal ceremony is more suited to a formal reception. But with many ceremonies, including temple sealings, either a formal or a casual reception would be appropriate.
The time of day may lend a clue to the right formality of the wedding reception. Celebrations in the afternoon are often less formal, with appetizers rather than a meal and mingling rather than dancing. Evening receptions, especially those that fall over mealtime, usually include a full dinner as well as dancing.
Size of Guest List
Remember that all of your wedding guests must be invited to the reception, and that the more guests you invite the more expenses you will incur. Other than location, wanting to keep the reception small and intimate is another reason for LDS couples to break their reception up into two or more.
When you’ve nailed down your approximate guest list, you also need to evaluate each reception venue you have in mind as far as accommodating the number of guests you’ll have. A gaping reception hall is no good for an intimate celebration of 40 or 50 people, and a small backyard is not going to work if you’re inviting several hundred guests.
Lastly, don’t discount your own personal preferences. You may feel, as many brides do, that you’re obligated to invite casual acquaintances or distant relatives you’ve never met, or to go all-out on the reception décor even though it doesn’t really matter to you. But remember that if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s not worth it.
That said, if your parents are footing all or part of the bill, they’ll need to be key players in decision-making, too. You may have to make some compromises on the guest list or other factors that are important to the other people involved in paying for the reception.
When you have to compromise, work out the most acceptable solution for everyone involved and do your best to keep a sense of perspective. Having a fallout with your mother over the table centerpieces isn’t worth it. Remember that the purpose of a reception is to celebrate your marriage – the very reason that you’re doing all of this in the first place – and all the little details are secondary.
♥ Jenny Evans
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