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Lauren
Curious July 2021 Ontario

Backyard Wedding Now, Reception Later?

Lauren, on May 17, 2021 at 10:14 Posted in Plan a wedding 1 17

Hi Everyone,

July 24 2021 bride here. Last week I found out that my venue thinks it is unlikely they will be able to open for our current booked date, given the extended lockdown. As a result, we've decided to get married at my parent's house in July with immediate family & wedding party! We're locked into a contract with the venue, so we will postpone the reception at the venue until September 2021.

I'm struggling with the logistics of having two weddings and would love some advice from any of you who have already done this, are planning on doing it, etc!

In July, we're going to try to do everything under the assumption that the September date may be cancelled still.

For September, I'm not really sure what to do with it. Should we have a mock ceremony in September, so that all the guests can enjoy a ceremony? It wouldn't be legal since we'd already be married, so we would make it short and sweet. But then the question is, if we do a little mock ceremony in September, do I still need to get a bridal bouquet, bouquets for my wedding party, flowers for the archway, etc? Or should we just scrap the ceremony altogether and have the event start at a cocktail hour? And do some sort of grand entrance thing? I feel weird just hanging out at the venue in my dress as guests arrive.. It's also of course a huge question mark if things will be up and running in September, too!

I'm just having a hard time wrapping my head around the second date! Is it just a reception? Do we do a ceremony? If anyone has advice on how to do this, please let me know!

17 Comments

Latest activity by Vinod, on May 25, 2021 at 14:05
  • Vinod
    Top August 2017 Ontario
    Vinod
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    A simple wedding for now works as you do want to have the special date take place along with your marriage license before expiring. Reception celebration for later is okay to do since you won't have to worry much about decorating for a full wedding and wear the dress for the guests to see you then as most won't be present at the small ceremony.
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  • A
    Ontario
    Ann
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    July 2021 bride here as well. I totally understand the whirlwind of emotions you may be going through right now. I've been constantly changing my mind from postponing the wedding to having a backyard ceremony and the reception later to then feeling tired of it all and wanting to get married and with no celebration. Its such crazy times and your being uncertain what to do is valid.

    At this time we have decided to have our ceremony and a small dinner with the our immediate family. We will be doing our first dance and parent dances because we are nervous that we may not have the reception we are hoping for and want to include the pieces of the reception that are important to us.

    Hoping things are better next year we will be doing a ceremony and reception in May. The ceremony would be considered a blessing of the marriage. Many of our elder family members have expressed their desire to see us walk down the aisle and virtually just doesn't cut it for them. Speak with to those that you really want present but may not be able to be there due to the restrictions and see what their preference is. It did provide clarity for me and that is why we decided on recreating the ceremony.

    Hope this helps. Good luck with planning and Im sure whichever route you choose will be special regardless!

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  • Tunisha
    Super October 2021 Ontario
    Tunisha
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    Backyard wedding gal here!
    Congratulations 馃コ to you and your fianc茅!!
    I am planning to do both ceremony and reception in a backyard. It will definitely be small of course, due to Covid. However, we鈥檙e planning to add the virtual aspect apart of it. In this case, virtually over Zoom or live stream it on IG can assist with others witnessing your vows and ceremony, instead of having to do it all over again? And also, if you want to celebrate with others at a later date, you can do the reception part of it. I wish you good luck in your choice and whatever you choose, you鈥檒l have a splendid time! Cheers 馃
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  • Marie
    Beginner June 2021 Ontario
    Marie
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    There's no right or wrong answers in covid times, this is all uncharted territory for you and your guests, so you and your fiance should just follow your hearts on this one.
    If you want to repeat your ceremony to share your vows in person with your guests and they seem excited for that, go for it. I doubt anyone would judge you, it seems like the typical rulebooks have been thrown out thanks to covid and we've all got the short end of the stick with wedding days not going as we dreamed. If you feel it would be inauthentic and guests think it's weird to have another ceremony, just have a nice reception and keep it simple. You could certainly still do a nice entrance and speeches, have nicely dressed dinner tables with centerpieces and the whole shebang of a normal reception.. kind of just picking up where you left off with the original ceremony day. Either way, guests will probably just be thrilled to see each other again and have a happy occasion to celebrate after such a long time. If you're feeling unsure, perhaps it could help to ask your parents and/or a close friend or relative representative... but sometimes outside opinions make things harder so take that suggestion with a grain of salt.
    These are such confusing and stressful times and although the idea of the rulebook being thrown out can be liberating, I totally feel you that it can leave many unanswered questions and anxiety too. Wishing you the best for special and memorable wedding events either way.
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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
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    I'm a sucker for classic formal wear so unless your budget is reaaaally stretched out, with boutonnieres costing pretty much nothing (they're usually less than $10 a piece), I'd keep them Smiley smile

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  • Lauren
    Curious July 2021 Ontario
    Lauren
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    I think that's great advice, thank you. I was struggling with a way to make the reception guests feel like they got to be a part of our special day, and I think doing the first dance for them is a nice way to let them enjoy a special moment without having to put on a show for them. And speeches would make it feel like a typical reception too which is nice. Definitely if we don't do the ceremony we would omit the flowers too.. Maybe just for the tables. Do you think it would good to have the groomsmen get boutineers, to kind of differentiate them? Or is just all being in the same suit enough?

    And thank you so much. TBH your post sent me in a downward spiral but I'm also overly sensitive because there's so much going on. My apologies for overreacting.

    For the venue, we get it for the whole weekend.. So we could save on decor, but we'd still have to feed everyone at night haha since it's a hotel too. And I do want to party with my friends! Although I also love a good boozy brunch! It's all paid for too, we just have to actually use it now! I think cutting out the ceremony will save a lot though since so much in terms of decor is set up just for that.

    I appreciate your advice, it was quite helpful and well thought out. Thank you!

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
    Hank
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    Gotcha on the July date. If I were in your shoes, I'd just have whatever full wedding you can have in your backyard with an intimate group and when the time comes for the Sept reception, have a dinner at the venue and do a first dance. I wouldn't have a second ceremony but I would have speeches from the couple, parents, and Best Man/Maid of Honour respectively (or whoever else you wanted to have a speech) that typically take place at the reception instead of a ceremony. I personally would omit the flowers for the bouquets and arches to save costs but I can see why people would want to keep them.

    And my apologies, I wasn't trying to make you feel bad. I just meant everyone have different reasons for doing whatever they want with their wedding. In our case, we wouldn't have a second ceremony for the reasons I mentioned but if you wanted to have a second ceremony for whatever reason, then go for it. Hence the "You do you." It was not meant to be disrespectful so I'm sorry it came off that way.

    Also, are you allowed to switch the event at the venue to a different type? Maybe a brunch instead of a dinner? Depending on what type of space it is, having natural daylight might mean you don't need to decorate as much with lighting and save you some cash.

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  • Lauren
    Curious July 2021 Ontario
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    Thanks for your help Charlotte! I think if I could just do a backyard thing this year I would too. Unfortunately we can't get out of our venue contract and it's too much money to walk away from so we're kind of being forced into a reception. I think you'll have an amazing day and it will be incredibly special!

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  • Charlotte
    Frequent user July 2021 Ontario
    Charlotte
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    I鈥檓 also a July 24th bride! We went through changing the plans a couple months ago. We always wanted to keep our original date. We talked with the venue about what they expect rules to be and all the what if colour zones (back in March before this lockdown). We at first decided to do a backyard thing this year and do a reception next year (one year later, a vow renewal). But we ultimately decided just to make the most of this year and embrace that (nothing next year).


    Sorry I cannot provide more helpful insight, but here to chat if you want!
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  • Lauren
    Curious July 2021 Ontario
    Lauren
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    Yes, the July date is our anniversary. We would drop the second half of the celebration in September altogether but we would be losing over 20 grand if we did that so we do not have a choice. We don't want to wait because we don't feel confident things will be good to go in September, and then we will be stuck having to wait until 2022 or later for our wedding. We cannot and will not wait another year.

    I was obviously asking peoples' opinions on their thoughts about a second ceremony because I'm confused and don't know what to do. Thanks for making me feel bad when I'm just trying to make the best of a bad situation. So kind of you.

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  • Lauren
    Curious July 2021 Ontario
    Lauren
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    Sounds like you're in a pretty good position to be able to shift things to next year, that's great! Thanks so much for your reply, it's so helpful to see what other people are doing!

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  • Lauren
    Curious July 2021 Ontario
    Lauren
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    I'm so sorry to hear that your dad can't be there to walk you down the aisle! I'm sure he and you both will really enjoy doing another ceremony the next year! Sounds like it will be a really nice day both times!!

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  • Lauren
    Curious July 2021 Ontario
    Lauren
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    Hi Christiana,

    Thanks for your reply! Yeah I definitely get it feeling like a show for the guests.. That's kind of all it would be. I too was nervous to have the ceremony in front of so many! And yes you're definitely right, if there's no ceremony you definitely don't need the florals. I don't really care too much about the bouquet toss.. I don't think I was planning it even before Covid happend!

    That seems like a good idea, do a bit of a mini entrance after everyone arrives. It would be nice to do a little welcome speech too. Thank you for your help, it's nice to see what other people are thinking!

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  • Hank
    Featured September 2021 Ontario
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    Does the July date hold significant meaning for you or do you need to get married now for a specific reason? If not, why not have the actual wedding in September? I get wanting to be married if you're pushing the reception much further down the line but September is only two months away.

    Are you broadcasting your ceremony virtually? We are doing that so if we postpone our reception and choose to have a make up party, we're not going to re-enact a ceremony since everyone we want to see it would have seen it (albeit not in-person). Having another one just for show feels weird for everyone involved, especially when everyone at the event will know we're already married. But you do you.

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  • Erin
    Curious May 2022 Ontario
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    We are doing a backyard wedding this June on the 26th and pushed our reception to next year in May because everything was already paid for. We are doing like a vow renewal kind of thing and then the ceremony next year because we are only going to have like 20 people this year and next year over 200. I鈥檓 going to maybe make bouquets next year because I鈥檓 using the ones I paid for this year. Luckily I have all my table flowers for next year since I鈥檓 doing fake ones, and we made our arch so we can reuse it next year. I think we鈥檒l still do the entrance and everything because this year we will do our vows, take photos and then change into something comfy and eat and drink with some background music, I don鈥檛 think anyone will dance.
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  • Kristen
    Devoted May 2021 British Columbia
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    Ultimately its what you guys want to do!


    Personally my Fiance and I were going to scrap the reception later idea but now since my dad is unable to travel to be here for my wedding this weekend and cant walk me down the aisle we decided we are doing a little ceremony and reception next year. I will be selling my dress and getting a new one, getting new arbor decor, and use my bouquet from the original ceremony (its fake haha) also my stepdad is walking me down the aisle this time so he will be our "Officiant" cause like you pointed out its not a legal thing at that point.

    We could have lived without the big celebration but my dad missing out on walking me down the aisle at some point was not an option for me. So thats my reasoning for doing it all over again.

    We have changed the feeling of the reception from having all tables decorated and a sit down meal to just having a big lunch time BBQ outside in the summer with the bar service and our caterer. Something laid back, easy and fun!

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  • Christiana
    Super November 2020 British Columbia
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    I think you should do whatever you want. There aren't really rules for this sort of thing so you can totally make it your own.

    We're tentatively planning a reception but we aren't setting a date until we know we'll be in the clear of 99% of covid restrictions. If I can have it my way we will not do a renewal or a mock ceremony because it will feel like we're just putting on a show for our guests as we'll have been married for well over a year at that point. I was also sort of dreading our ceremony when it was going to be in front of 100 people - I'm pretty happy that we had it with only 10 guests lol. If you really wanted everyone to be there for it then I think a renewal or a mock ceremony could be nice.

    As for decor and florals, I think we'll still buy greenery for centrepieces as planned, but I wasn't planning on having a bouquet anyway so obviously wouldn't get one for the reception. I think bouquets would also be sort of pointless if you skip the ceremony because you're not going to want to carry one around with you all night and in a normal wedding you'd put it down after the ceremony and that would be it. I guess if you were wanting to do a bouquet toss you'd want one though.

    I imagine we'll do some sort of entrance but nothing too crazy. What I'm thinking now is that our guests will arrive for a cocktail hour and maybe 10 minutes or so after the advertised start time we'll do a mini entrance and a speech to welcome our guests and get the night started. Then we can enjoy cocktail hour with our guests before we get into dinner and the rest of the reception.

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