Reception Ideas After a Wedding at the Justice of the Peace

cocktails image by Bruno Bernier from

Traditional weddings aren't for everyone, and if you're looking for something more intimate and personal, exchanging vows for the Justice of the Peace may be just what you need. Whether you're eschewing tradition for something smaller and more private or you just don't want a religious ceremony, a civil ceremony conducted by a Justice of the Peace keeps things simple. Even if your only wedding guest is a witness, you can still live it up afterward with a reception.

Restaurant Dinner

Use the money you saved by not having a wedding to treat your friends and family to a fabulous post-ceremony dinner. Book a private room at your favorite place to ensure privacy and space to mingle. If the restaurant isn't already sufficiently decorated, bring a few balloons or flowers to liven up the atmosphere. A dinner date like this for one or two dozen people keeps the festivities as personal as your ceremony, so invite your closest friends and immediate family members to celebrate with a night of food, wine and lively conversation.

Cocktail Party

A simple cocktail reception takes a load off because you don't need to plan — or pay for — an extravagant meal. Cocktail receptions are generally shorter and fall between meals, so plan for an early afternoon or mid-evening wedding — that way, your guests can arrive fed and happy. You can serve a few light appetizers and hors d'oeuvres if you wish, but take advantage of this opportunity to simply relax, reflect on the ceremony and enjoy a few drinks with your loved ones.

Night Out With Friends

If you're getting married over the weekend, invite your friends out for a night on the town after your civil ceremony. Arrange a time and place for everyone to meet up after the wedding, then enjoy a no-stress night of dancing, drinks and celebration. If you don't want to spend your wedding night hailing cabs or running around town in your heels, arrange for a limousine to take you, your new spouse and your closest friends from one venue to the next — there are no rules and no limits.

Post-Honeymoon Party

Nobody ever said that your reception has to take place immediately after your ceremony, so consider giving yourself some time to relax before celebrating with friends and family. You may get married one weekend, enjoy a romantic honeymoon and hold a reception when you and your spouse return. This gives you the opportunity to enjoy the privacy and intimacy of your ceremony for just a little longer before joining up and celebrating with everyone else.