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How to Plan a Reception After a Destination Wedding

You’ve just decided on the perfect destination for your dream wedding: a beautiful beach, a stunning vineyard, or maybe even a romantic European city. 

The excitement is overwhelming, and you can’t wait to share this unforgettable experience with your closest friends and family. 

But, like many couples, you find yourself facing a dilemma: what about those who won’t be able to make it to your far-off nuptials? How do you ensure that they can still celebrate your love and commitment?

The solution: plan a reception after your destination wedding! 

This gives everyone who couldn’t attend your wedding the opportunity to join in the festivities and share in your joy. 

But where do you start? How do you plan a reception that captures the essence of your destination wedding and provides an engaging and memorable experience for your guests?

Join me as I recount my journey with my husband Jeremy as we navigated through the planning process for our own destination wedding and the subsequent reception. 

We’ll share valuable insights, tips, and lessons learned along the way to help you plan the perfect reception after your destination wedding.

How to Plan a Reception After a Destination Wedding

Start Planning Early

As with any event, planning is key. And when it comes to a reception after a destination wedding, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to make all the necessary arrangements.

Jeremy and I started our planning process as soon as we decided on a destination wedding.

We knew that not everyone could make it to the wedding itself, so it was important to celebrate with those who couldn’t join us at the ceremony.

Choose the Perfect Venue

Selecting the right venue for your reception is crucial. Consider the size of your guest list, budget, and style.

Jeremy and I visited several local venues to get a feel for each space and discuss our requirements with the event coordinators.

We wanted a venue that would accommodate our guests comfortably and provide a beautiful backdrop for our reception.

Set the Date

Timing is everything. When deciding on the date for your at-home reception, consider how much time you’ll need to recover from the destination wedding and to finalize all the details.

We decided on a date that was two months after our destination wedding.

This allowed us ample time to recuperate, send out invitations, and ensure that everything was in place for a memorable reception.

Create a Budget

Budgeting is crucial when planning any event; a reception after a destination wedding is no exception.

Determine how much you’re willing to spend on the reception and allocate funds to various aspects such as venue, catering, entertainment, and decorations.

Jeremy and I created a detailed budget spreadsheet to help us track our expenses and ensure we stayed within our financial means.

Send Out Invitations

Once you’ve set the date and chosen the venue, it’s time to send out invitations to your guests.

Remember that your invitations should convey the theme and tone of your reception and include essential information such as date, time, and location.

You may also want to include RSVP cards or provide an online RSVP option for guests to confirm their attendance.

We decided to send out electronic invitations to make the process more efficient and environmentally friendly.

Plan Your Reception Menu

The food and drink served at your reception play a significant role in the overall experience for your guests.

Work closely with your caterer to develop a menu that reflects your tastes and the theme of your reception.

You may want to include dishes inspired by your destination wedding location or offer a variety of options to cater to different dietary preferences.

Jeremy and I opted for a buffet-style dinner, which allowed our guests to sample a diverse range of dishes from our wedding destination.

Arrange for Entertainment

Entertainment is a crucial aspect of any reception, and you’ll want to ensure that your guests have a great time celebrating with you.

Consider hiring a DJ or live band, or even booking a special performer that ties in with your wedding theme.

In our case, we planned to hire a steel drum band to bring the tropical vibes of our destination wedding to our at-home reception.

Organize Transportation and Accommodation

If you have out-of-town guests attending your reception, it’s a thoughtful gesture to help them with transportation and accommodation options.

Research nearby hotels and provide a list of recommendations, or consider arranging a group rate for your guests.

You may also want to organize transportation to and from the reception venue, particularly if alcohol will be served.

Jeremy and I planned to have a shuttle service available for our guests to ensure their safety and convenience.

What Do You Do At A Reception After a Destination Wedding?

The purpose of a reception after a destination wedding is to celebrate your marriage with friends and family who could not attend the ceremony.

Here are some ideas for activities and entertainment to keep your guests engaged and entertained:

Share Your Wedding Experience

One of the most important aspects of a reception after a destination wedding is sharing the experience with your guests.

Consider creating a photo slideshow or video montage of your wedding ceremony, and display it during the reception.

Jeremy and I worked with our photographer to create a beautiful slideshow that captured the magic of our destination wedding.

We also planned to have a live video call with some friends who couldn’t make it to the reception, allowing them to feel included in the celebration.

Plan Fun and Engaging Activities

To keep your guests entertained, plan some fun and engaging activities.

These can include a photo booth, games, or even a dance floor with a DJ or live band.

Jeremy and I loved the idea of a photo booth with props representing our destination wedding location, so our guests could take fun and memorable pictures as keepsakes.

Incorporate Elements from Your Destination Wedding

Bring the essence of your destination wedding to your at-home reception by incorporating elements from your wedding location.

This can include themed decorations, food, and drinks representing your destination’s culture or unique features.

In our case, we decided to serve delicious tropical cocktails and have a live steel drum band to transport our guests to the sun-soaked beach where we tied the knot.

Include Personal Touches

Your reception is a celebration of your love story, so be sure to add personal touches that reflect your journey as a couple.

For Jeremy and me, this meant including elements that showcased our love for travel and adventure.

We decided to incorporate travel-themed table settings and decorations and a guestbook where guests could write their well-wishes on vintage postcards.

When Should I Have an At-Home Reception After a Destination Wedding?

You’ll want to strike a balance between giving yourself enough time to recover and plan, while also ensuring that the event is close enough to the wedding to keep the excitement and joy fresh in everyone’s minds.

As mentioned earlier, Jeremy and I chose a date two months after our destination wedding. 

This worked well for us, but the ideal timeline may vary depending on your circumstances. 

Here are some factors to consider when determining the best time for your reception:

Factors To Consider When Planning A Reception Date After A Destination Wedding

Recovery Time

Consider how much time you’ll need to recover from the wedding festivities and honeymoon.

You’ll want to feel refreshed and relaxed when hosting your at-home reception, so make sure to give yourself enough time to unwind and recharge.

Availability of Guests

Keep in mind the availability of your guests, especially if they need to travel to attend your reception.

Provide them with ample notice by sending out invitations well in advance.

It’s also good to consider the time of year and any potential scheduling conflicts, such as major holidays or popular vacation times.

Venue Availability

The availability of your chosen venue may also dictate the timing of your reception.

Popular venues can book up quickly, so securing your desired date as early as possible is essential.

Working closely with the venue coordinator and being flexible with your dates can help ensure you secure the perfect location for your reception.

Seasonal Considerations

Consider the season and weather when planning your at-home reception.

If you’re hoping for an outdoor event, you’ll want to choose a date when the weather is likely to cooperate.

Likewise, if you’re planning an indoor reception, be mindful of any seasonal factors that could impact the comfort of your guests.


By researching early and seeking insights into planning a reception after a destination wedding, you’re already taking the right steps towards a successful celebration.

Your proactive approach, combined with thorough planning and organization, will help ensure that your reception is well-executed and memorable.

Embrace this journey, knowing that you’re doing everything possible to create an unforgettable experience for your friends and family who couldn’t join you at your destination wedding.


Can you have a wedding reception months after the wedding?

Yes, you can have a wedding reception months after the wedding. In fact, it will be somewhat expected – for it allows both you and your guests time to to plan and recoup.

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