LDS Wedding Receptions and Open Houses

an overview of LDS receptions
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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 Information about LDS receptions
Photo Courtesy of Amber Katrina Photography

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.

LDS reception
Photo Courtesy of Carly Daniel Photography

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.

Your Budget

LDS wedding reception
Photo Courtesy of Teresa K. Photography

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

LDS wedding reception
Photo Courtesy of Sindy Hand Photography

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, LDS receptions
Photo Courtesy of Doug Miranda Photography

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.

Personal Preference for Your LDS Wedding Reception<

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
Exclusively for
Copyright © All rights reserved.

LDS weddings, LDS reception, LDS open houses

11 Comments on LDS Wedding Receptions and Open Houses

  1. So you have suggestions for an older couple marrying in a Temple Ceremony in terms of a small reception? The groom wants one but the bride is worried about being pretentious. Can you request no gifts?

  2. Hi Marilyn,

    Congratulations on your wedding. And yes, you can request no gifts.
    It’s your reception. Make it yours.


  3. My son is getting married in Utah where he and his fiancé are going to school.
    They are having their reception there (she is from Utah) Is it OK to have an “open house” for them here about 3 weeks before the wedding? They can’t make it back home after the wedding for about 4 months. If so, would I call it an open house or something else? What does the bride and groom wear being they haven’t actually married yet?

  4. We are having 2 receptions because our daughter met her fiance at college out of state. They are getting married where he is from and then having a luncheon, then reception, then have a day of travel, then reception where we live. I have had many people that have done this tell me that we are only responsible for paying for the reception where we live, but the grooms parents don’t see it that way, they say the brides family is responsible for paying for both. We will have about 25 friends and family to the one in Utah to their 190, I am open for any suggestions. I have people here telling me I am being railroaded and it shouldn’t be our financial responsibility to pay for the reception there. Please help! I have tried to find this in writing somewhere online, but haven’t been so lucky yet. Thanks 🙂

  5. Hi Mom,

    I agree with your friends. Under the “Mother of the Bride” section of you can read about who pays for what:

    Here is the link to the entire article

    And here’s the answer to your question within that article:

    LDS Mother Of The Bride As Financial Support
    “As tradition would have it, the bride’s family pays for the majority of the wedding, while the groom’s family gets off easy and just paid for the rehearsal dinner and the honeymoon. But it’s a very different ball game today. Today, all kinds of financial arrangements are going on with wedding planning.

    So while your daughter may be chomping at the bit to go dress shopping, your first responsibility as a family is to sit down and figure out who will be paying for what. More importantly, set reasonable limits to what you will spend and what you can afford. Developing a budget is absolutely essential to sound wedding planning, and should involve the groom’s family as well as your daughter.”

    I hope this helps.


  6. Do you know who does draping for cultural halls in Utah? I’m not sure how to find them.

  7. Hi Alish, If you do a search for backdrops, Utah, LDS wedding you’ll find some of the companies you’re looking for. I found Moonlight Utah, they do ceilings and backdrops. However, you may want to consider doing your own. Not the whole cultural hall, but backdrops of sorts in certain areas. For example, behind the cake area you could “drop” sheer white yardage with Christmas lights behind them. Or put up lattice with silk ivy and flowers the color of your wedding. So when folks are standing at the cake table, they notice the cake with this beautiful background. Then, create another beautiful “room” area behind where the gifts will be collected, or just behind where the head table will be (if you are having a head table). And continue on. You’ll save lots of money that way. Yet, when someone takes a picture of the cake, for example, the picture will show the backdrop. Also, if you are having a cultural hall reception, remember to take the time to remove any chairs, tables, chalkboards, hymn books, or anything that is not needed for your reception so nothing detracts from your reception. Also, when you are draping the table, order another 2 to 4 matching tablecloths so you can cover the trashcans you’ll need. They won’t “stick out” and look so ugly. Also, consider placing items such as hand mirrors and pretty soaps and lotions and perhaps a matching centerpiece in the ladies room. It’s a nice unexpected touch that won’t break the bank. :0) Hope this helps Rose

  8. My daughter and fiancé are attending school in Provo, but getting married over Christmas in Dallas. The groom is from Idaho, but we cannot feasibly have an open house in Idaho over Christmas. Would it be too weird to have a wedding open house 4 months after the wedding, when the weather in Idaho is better, and the couple is finished with their semester at school? Or would it be better to skip the Idaho “open house” and just have a “couples shower” or “pre-wedding open house” in Idaho over Thanksgiving?

  9. Yes, Jill, it would be “too weird to have a wedding open house 4 months after the wedding.” A “a “couples shower” or “pre-wedding open house” in Idaho over Thanksgiving” is the best way to go. And btw-I also sent you an email. I have an offer for you. Rose

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