Hosting a Second Wedding Reception

[Editor's Note: This week, real bride guest blogger Jessica Lubin Hall explains why she and her husband James decided to have a second wedding reception. We thought her story was fascinating—she makes a compelling case. Take it away, Jess!]

While our wedding took place this past June in New York, there were a lot of people from my hometown of Phoenix who either couldn’t make it or we weren't able to invite because of size. So my parents hosted a second reception at their home last month. We had an absolute blast catching up with friends I’ve known my whole life. And we even had a signature cocktail, dubbed the J & J Cocktail, with vodka and watermelon puree. It was divine.

We put out a copy of the invitation that my cousin-in-law's mom painted for us and the guest book for everyone to sign. Our invitations were essentially the same, just without a response card and ribbon detail (RSVP info was listed on the invite). 

My mom and I really wanted to echo the wedding at the house. While we couldn’t be in the beautiful Hudson Valley, we reused my wedding candles throughout the house on tables and mantles. My mom also bought luminarias that we put out by the pool and lit when the sun went down. They really helped create more ambiance, and light, to the outside.

So the guests could see what our wedding day looked like, I ordered prints of some of our wedding photos and displayed them in the frames that had held the table numbers. It was also a great excuse to order some of my favorite pictures.

And my gown? Well, I wasn’t going to wear it in the hot, still-summer weather of Phoenix, so we displayed it on a mannequin with my veil and shoes.

It was a great chance to celebrate again. I think that second receptions are a great way to celebrate with people that you really wanted to invite but couldn’t. And with passed hors d’oeuvres, it didn’t cost as much as a full reception. I also got to use some of my DIY projects again.

What I Learned:

How gorgeous is this photo of Jessica and James?
Check out more of their wedding photos on her blog!

Photo Credit: Casey Fatchett Photography

I was definitely burnt-out when it came to planning this reception. I’d just gotten back from my honeymoon and moving across the country, so I definitely needed more help. My mom was a huge help in finding vendors and talking with them about the look of the reception. Our caterer, Benedict’s was also a huge help. Dawn really shaped the menus and let us edit and pick what we wanted from there. It really eased my mind that I didn’t have to plan another menu basically from scratch. Just like the wedding, having vendors that really know their stuff helps!

I wish I would have hired a photographer (or recruited a photo-savvy friend). I realize now that the only photos I have are of the set-up, not even of the delicious food, or more importantly, all of the guests. While it was a cocktail party with no DJ or dancing, it would have been great to get candid shots of everyone mingling.

BG brides, tell us: Did you have a second reception? Or an after party? How are you reusing your wedding decor?


— Jessica Lubin Hall