Do we have to pay for dinner after wedding if we are planning a reception at a later date?

May 4th, 2011

So we are getting married on April 1 because we like that date :o) at the courthouse.

Some of the people attending would like to go out for dinner afterward. Do we have to pay for dinner if we are already planning a reception for August? We picked August for the reception because that is when his parents and mine will be able to come up (they all live out of state).

I did a lot of research and there just is not an answer fitting this situation. Please advise!!

Thank you for all of your suggestions. I have change the August event title. I did not realize that calling it a “reception” was a party to only receive gifts. Since that was not our intent at all, we are no longer having one. We will just be having a party that happens to resemble a wedding..sort of.

The reason I was asking this question in the first place was that originally, we were just going to get married at the court house,just me and him and two witnesses. Then everyone kept saying when is the wedding, where is the wedding, why are we not invited to the wedding…so I felt bad. I set up a Facebook event page and just told people the time and date and where so that they will know. Then people started asking about dinner plans!

We did not send out actual invitations. We were going to invite everyone to the August event as our introduction as a married couple event because all our family lives out of state and August was the best time for that. We wanted April first because i

13 Responses to “Do we have to pay for dinner after wedding if we are planning a reception at a later date?”

  1. Because I Said So says:

    You have to pay to feed any and all of your wedding guests. The definition of wedding guest is anyone who attends your ceremony OR reception. So yes, you have to provide dinner for those who join you at the ceremony, because they are probably bringing you gifts. They may or may not also give a gift at the reception you’re having later, but the idea is to repay the guests for the gifts they may be bringing you by providing a nice meal.

  2. seamstress says:

    This is indeed a tricky situation, but not impossible to handle.

    I understand completely. I would let everyone know that you had not intended to go out to dinner with family and friends but like the their idea and are interested if everyone wants to pay their own way. I think that is the only real candid way to answer their request. It shows that you are willing to deviate from a plan but do not want to be financially responsible for it all. Also, a key factor here is that this was not your suggestion, but you were basically invited to go out to dinner, yes??

    Given these circumstances, as one of those people attending, I would not be one single bit offended in any way. As a matter of fact, I would be the one to ask the others to chip in to buy the bride and groom’s meals!! After all, this is not your official reception, and everyone knows it.

  3. Perse says:

    If the ceremony and dinner are by invite, you have to pay. If the ceremony and invite are optional and not by invite, you pay. Really, this would be the only time you can have a reception so maybe make the most of it. A party later is not a reception. Alternatively, move your wedding date to match with the date you’re planning the party.

  4. dreamingaboutyouto says:

    that is the dumbest idea I have heard, you don’t have a reception 4 months after the actual ceremony. a month two at the most.

  5. Nox says:

    You pay for your wedding guests or you do not invite them. It also is not called a “reception” if you’re waiting until August for it, it is just a party. The reception must be the same day (or following day in some cultures) so that the couple can be “received” as newlyweds. In August you will no longer really be newlyweds so it is inappropriate. In addition to that it looks like a gift grab.

  6. fizzy stuff says:

    How about you have the wedding before the reception so that your families can share in this important day? To marry on April 1 just because you like that day is childish.

    But to answer your question if you are going to be ridiculous and do your wedding this way… OF COURSE you pay! They are your guests and they have come to support you. Why WOULDN’T you pay?

    Sheesh. Some people are so entitled to do things their way and get out of picking up the tab.

  7. Messykatt says:

    A party months or even weeks after a wedding isn’t a reception. You can call it whatever you want, but by August you’ll be a married couple throwing a party. Wedding receptions are to receive you for the first time as a married couple and also to thank your guests for being part of your wedding. None of this applies to your August event.

    So the answer to your question is that your August party shouldn’t impact what you do. However, if you’ve invited people to be there at your ceremony, then yes….you do need to provide some sort of refreshment. It doesn’t have to be a restaurant, but whatever it ends up as, THIS is your wedding reception.

  8. SugarCat says:

    Oh, my GOSH!! The reason behind the bride and groom hosting the reception is NOT to cover the cost of whatever gifts they receive as a previous poster said! What a gauche notion. That’s just as bad as people who say that the gift one gives the bride and groom should cover the cost of the plate served at the reception. Both of those ideas reduce the relationship between bride and groom and guest to one of commerce and that is distasteful.

    The reception is your thank you to your guests for taking the time out of their lives to come to your wedding. That’s all. It has nothing to do with whatever gift you might receive.

    So, to answer your question, YES, if you and your guests go out for a meal after your wedding, YOU pay. You are thanking them for coming to see you get married and it is your responsibility to pay.

    Your “reception” you are planning in August is irrelevant to what occurs on the day you get married. Technically, what you are planning in August is not your “reception”, anyway. A wedding reception IMMEDIATELY follows the wedding. You are having a party to celebrate your marriage in August.

    Whomever goes with you to eat after you wedding goes as your guest and you pay.

  9. NinaPina says:

    The dinner you have after the ceremony will be the true reception, so, yes, you should pick up the tab. The party you are holding in August will be just a party. It will not be part of the wedding. Why not wait for the entire gang to be in town to exchange your vows? Have your ceremony with the party as the reception to follow. Best wishes!

  10. Shannon says:

    Yes, you do. Courthouse marriage or not, you invited them, therefore they are YOUR guests and YOU need to provide the food.

    Also, a reception four months after the wedding is not a reception. It’s just a party. Sorry.

  11. Ashley D says:

    If they are guests at your wedding, then you pay for their meals. End of story.

    And if it does not happen til four months later, it is not a reception, because you are no longer newlyweds. It is simply just a party.

  12. CJ Baby's says:

    If you are having any kind of guest weather it be at the courthouse or anyother place. You have them, you feed them.

  13. BloopieBlooper says:

    It sounds like people invited themselves to your wedding, but then you caved to pressure and invited more. Had you just agreed to let the “wedding crashers” come along, I would say you don’t need to invite them to dinner, or pay. But since you have started inviting people, I don’t know, you aren’t formally inviting them, but I still think it would be in good taste to provide some sort of “thank you” for them coming, even if the whole thing started out because peopled started imposing their ideas on your wedding day.

    I would consider having something at your home/apartment afterward and call it an “Open House Reception.” If you really want to go out to dinner with the new hubby then I would give the “Open House” an definitive ending time. “Open House Reception to follow at our Home from 4 to 5 p.m.” You can serve simple snacks, appetizers, champagne, wine and beer, coffee. Keep it simple and affordable. Or inviting everyone to Cocktail Hour at a Restaurant if your home is not big enough and paying for their drinks, then having dinner privately with your spouse afterward.

    As for the reception, I am not sure who told you it is called “Reception” to receive gifts. That is false. Reception means to “receive” your guests after an event/ceremony, be it a baptism, funeral, graduation or art show opening. It is your way to make the rounds to say “thank you for coming” and provide them a refreshment while they mingle with other guests. If it is during dinnertime, you must provide a meal. So the party you are having in August needs to be retitled like you said, to “Celebration” or “Dinner Party to Celebrate our Recent Marriage” or “Marriage Celebration.” It need not be called a reception, because the guests are not being received from anything.

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