You’ve always dreamed of getting married on a white sandy beach in Mexico, but can’t imagine getting a whole mess of people south of the border to celebrate with you. Well go ahead and plan that Mexican fantasy, but also plan a post-wedding reception back home for all the people who couldn’t make the journey to witness your nuptials.
The guest list can include all the people who couldn’t make the destination wedding, in addition to guests like co-workers and friends that weren’t originally on the wedding guest list. "You shouldn’t include guests that made the trek to the wedding", says wedding planner Mindy Weiss, "except very close family and members of the wedding party." Don’t forget to consult with both sets of parents as they may have friends they would like to attend. Send out invitations about six weeks to one month in advance; and watch the wording—you’ll want to make it clear that the actual wedding already took place and that this is a celebration of that fact.
With an encore reception, there are no rules you have to follow, it’s really anything goes. It’s always nice to make your post-wedding party feel like a wedding by doing things like asking friends and family to offer toasts, wearing your wedding dress, having guests sign a guest book, reenacting your “first dance,” or showing photos or a video of the actual ceremony. Consider offering a few words as the bride and groom to welcome your guests and perhaps describe the wedding for everyone. Always consider your guests feelings so that they never feel as though they were left out of the original celebration.
If your mother always hoped you have the fancy country club reception, but supported your dream of a barefoot-on-the-beach deal, why not do a formal post-wedding reception to please her? Let her go nuts hiring the big band, doing place cards and all the traditional wedding reception stuff since you already had your way. There’s no rule book saying you can’t do a black tie affair after a casual destination wedding.
Casual parties are more the norm for an encore reception following a destination wedding. A fun idea is to theme your party around the location where you got married. Say you eloped to Hawaii, host a luau-themed party with tropical cocktails, Hawaiian barbecue and leis for all the guests. Or did you tie the knot in Italy or honeymoon there? Have an Italian party with a pasta bar, tiramisu for dessert and plenty of Italian wine. Making the post-wedding party theme centered on your wedding destination will help guests feel like they were part of your big day.