Wedding Reception in Melbourne

What can I do instead of the reception?

There are several reasons one can have a wedding without a reception. And trust me, weddings without receptions can be a wonderful experience for those looking for ways to cut costs. You can still have a great wedding celebration even without a reception, provided you have a small guest list, really very small guest list.

Of course, even when you don’t plan to host a reception, you will need to feed your guests. Believe you me, and there are myriads of ways to have a unique wedding that doesn’t have to break the bank. For instance, you have to head out to a restaurant after the ceremony and can enjoy along with your guests or cutting it completely out, and save your money for a great honeymoon after the wedding. Well, if you are also looking for a wedding without a reception, then you need to read this post for sure. Here we are sharing with you some wonderful few ideas to have an alternative to the reception or to host a completely no-reception wedding.

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But why wouldn’t you want a reception?

Probably the most common time for couples to not have reception is if they elope. You might love the traditionalist values of marriage but dread the concept of being the centre of attention. As such, foreign nuptials make the perfect excuse for skipping out on reception. Running off to a sunny beach destination to say your vows sounds perfect to us.

Moreover, if we’re completely honest, large family affairs are not always a dreamy occasion. A family feud or friend groups that don’t get on could make anyone want to avoid the whole thing! If you’re not a fan of family events in general, or particularly a party that is solely dedicated to you, these are certainly reasons to skip the reception.

Furthermore, let’s not forget, weddings are notoriously expensive events. And, it’s the reception that uses the majority of the budget, so skipping it will save lots of money! Take into consideration food, entertainment and decorations, on top of the cost for venue hire, and you can see why!

Why should you have reception anyway?

With that being said, consider your guests. Yes, it may be that you and your partner desperately want to have the legal side of a wedding and then call it quits. However, you cannot expect tens of people to dress up for your wedding and travel to your venue for just half an hour of vows. A reception is typically a thank you to your guests as much as anything. If you genuinely want the only family, this might be okay. If you have a small guest list, you can invite everyone to a restaurant afterwards, perhaps, or have a BBQ in your garden. But, if you intend to have a lavish ceremony without a reception, your guests might start to feel hard-done-by.

Remember that your guests will bring you gifts. This means that they are paying (in some way) for your wedding and life afterwards. Even if you request no presents, many guests will feel the need to bring them anyway. Furthermore, think about how much money each person has spent individually. They want to dress up and look nice for you and may have to pay for travel or accommodation, so don’t be rude and leave them out of any party afterwards.

If you really do not want a reception, don’t invite any guests. By law, you must have at least two witnesses, but these could be people at the registry office. Otherwise, you could elope and marry with just the two of you and a registrar. As soon as you invite people, their needs are part of your big day.

There are three things every bride and groom simply must do at their wedding reception – according to tradition, of course! But what if cutting the cake, performing the first dance or tossing the garter and bouquet just isn’t your thing? You can still create a great party atmosphere with these fun alternatives.

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Cutting the Cake

Wedding Reception Idea in Melbourne

What it Means

Let’s take a moment to appreciate that convention has moved on from breaking the wedding cake over the bride’s head to merely…cutting it. Considered the first task of a couple’s married life, the cake cutting is a sweet tradition (pun intended!) where feeding each other a piece is a way to show your dedication to providing for one another.

The Alternatives

For a perfect nod to this custom, choose any activity that involves you, your partner and some food or drink. If you’re a sweet tooth like us, you can celebrate with a sugar hit of stacked doughnuts, macarons, cookies, profiteroles, pies or even a chocolate fountain! If you want to do away with desserts altogether, why not consider mixing a signature cocktail to serve to your guests, or get the party started with a champagne tower poured by you and your beloved.

Fresh Idea

What about a cake-shaped piñata? It’s instant entertainment and a unique way to say thank you to your guests with some take-home sweets!

The Bouquet & Garter Toss

What it Means

As the tradition goes, unmarried guests wanting to share in the good fortune of the bride need to get their hands on either her bouquet or a piece of her clothing.

The Bouquet

If you don’t know any single ladies, or just don’t want to single anyone out, you can present your bouquet to the oldest married couple, the person who introduced you to your partner or the couple next to be married. If you do still want to do a toss, you could throw a small posy and reward the catcher with a pampering gift or release a breakaway bouquet, so everyone receives a flower!

The Garter

Not keen on showing some leg for the garter removal? Your groom can throw his boutonniere instead, which the catcher can exchange for a bottle of alcohol. A ‘Little Black Book’ containing lottery tickets or a gift card is also a fun (and cheeky!) option for the guys.

Fresh Idea

If you want to get all of your guests involved, consider a lucky door ‘gift bouquet’ of flowers, chocolates and movie pass. And, so no one is left out, you can also organise a lolly toss for the kids!

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The First Dance

What it Means

Performed at formal balls for hundreds of years, the guests of honour complete the first dance to encourage others to join them on the dance floor. Now it’s an opportunity to share a special moment with your partner, taking the first of many steps as a married couple.

The Alternatives

There’s no need to choreograph a showstopping routine, but if you’re not a fan of the spotlight, a live band, DJ, comedian or karaoke station are great ways to kick off the post-dinner party instead. You can also reverse the order of events and hold an official ‘Last Dance’, where all of your family and friends are invited to the floor for one final song before your getaway. All anyone will be thinking about is enjoying the moment with you!

Fresh Idea

To make sure you don’t miss out on some one-on-one time, consider organising a private room for some drinks and canapés which you and your partner can enjoy before the reception.

For some, a wedding isn’t a wedding without these traditions, and for others, they are just a sample of the many great activities you can plan for your reception. So what’s the only thing you must do? Have the confidence to do your day differently!

Traditional weddings usually stick to the classic sit-down dinner, with set meal options chosen by guests when they RSVP. There’s nothing wrong with an individually plated and served meal at a wedding reception, but many couples now opt for alternative catering options instead.

Formal dinners can be expensive, so choosing a less traditional food option can help cut costs without leaving guests hungry. Cutting out the formal dinner can also lead to a more relaxed atmosphere, allowing guests to mingle freely away from their tables for more of the night. Whatever your reason to move away from a seated formal dinner, these alternative catering options will be a hit at any wedding.

Food Stations

Food stations have become a popular alternative to seated, formal dinners at weddings. This option gives guests the freedom to eat what and when they want and allows for more movement and mingling since no one is tethered to their assigned seats. Food stations with different cuisine can be set up around the reception so that guests can wander and try the food as they please.

For more upscale food stations, you can have chefs cooking and serving at each station. A unique option that many couples opt for is international food stations, with featured food from countries around the world. Food stations can be what you make them, however, so you can choose to go casual with comfort food stations or chic with high-end tapas and small plates.


Many receptions have a cocktail hour to begin, but choosing to serve all the food and snacks cocktail-style instead of serving a sit-down dinner is a great alternative. This method allows for guests to mingle freely and eat on their own time, with extra time for dancing or other activities.

Some worry that guests will not be satisfied without a full meal, but as long as you provide enough food throughout the night, this should not be an issue. Smaller hors d’oeuvres can lead to more filling snacks offered by servers depending on what food you decide on. Be sure to have enough seating still, as people will choose to sit, but a cocktail-style reception allows the guests to wander and sit as they please.

Food Trucks

Food trucks are a trendy new theme for wedding catering. These work well for outdoor receptions, as the trucks can pull right up to your venue. Food trucks make for a fun, interactive wedding option where you can feature a variety of interesting foods.

Food trucks serve everything from crepes to burgers so that you can offer guests different food options depending on the style of your wedding and your tastes. This option also allows for guests to eat and mingle on their own schedule. Keep in mind that guests will not be able to be served simultaneously or as quickly.


Buffet-style is a cheaper alternative to individual meals at a formal dinner and gives guests more options in terms of what food they want to eat when to eat, and how much they want to eat. With buffet style, you can still assign seats at tables and have a sit-down dinner, although the serving process is slower since each table has to get up and wait at the buffet.


Family-style catering works just like sitting around your family table at dinner – enough food is served on a platter for the whole table, and guests help themselves. This option also allows for assigned seating and a sit-down dinner without the formality of individually plated and served meals. Guests can serve themselves quickly since they are already seated, and the food is right in front of them, making for an efficient meal and time for other activities.

Alternatives to the Reception

Host a party at a restaurant

Couples looking to cut cost can always plan an intricate wedding with just a few guests. As with less people, it becomes really easy to manage the whole event, and the necessity for the reception can also be ruled out easily. You can call your guests to some restaurant and have a great post-wedding celebration instead of having a reception at some expensive venue. Also, if you want you can even organise your party at some bar or disc or pub or club anywhere, you want to. See how beautiful the whole thing could be, especially for couples looking for some quirky celebrations.

Organising party at some restaurant or bar will come out to be an easy-going, cheap, fun, and relaxed alternative no reception wedding. The whole experience will be more like hanging out with friends rather than a typical wedding reception.

DIY your party at the backyard

Another alternative to reception is to organise a party at your backyard. Actually, with less guests, you can go to any extent of quirkiness. It won’t be wrong if we say that it gives you the privilege to plan an outside the box wedding party. Backyard parties have always been popular if you want, you can organise your wedding party in your backyard or someone else’s backyard. Believe you me, it will not only save a lot of money but also it will come out to be a great event for all you and your guests. You can always DIY a party in the backyard. All you will need to arrange is – décor, food, drinks, music, wedding guests’ favours, etc. And all these can easily be arranged by your family and close friends.

Believe it or not, a celebration just with your close people can make it really happening and a great event to cherish all your life. You and your guests will have a lot of fun at the event organised in your backyard.

Organise your party at some club

Another alternative to a no reception wedding is to organise it in some club. Club parties are similar to restaurant parties, wherein all you and your guests will need to do is – HAVE A LOT OF FUN, all in all. Club parties are also unique, inexpensive, fun, and relaxed alternatives. Your guests will have a lot of fun in the club. Also, music and everything will already be there, and you don’t need to pay for it separately. Isn’t it a great idea to have a lot of fun and enjoyment in just a small amount? I know you agree to it!!

Do you legally need a reception?

Think of reception, including food, music and entertainment, as an after-party. Once you leave your ceremony, you are legally married. Because of this, there are no laws regarding what you can and cannot include. As a result, you certainly are able to skip out on the reception altogether!

That being said, individual venues will have their own set of rules. For example, some may ban fireworks or marquees, while others won’t allow certain types of decorations. Most importantly, keep an eye out for venues that charge you to hire for an entire day. While you don’t have to resort to a registry office, many licensed venues may restrict you if you choose not to have a reception, and may charge you anyway!

A reception needn’t be a big affair. Originally, the wedding breakfast was for the wedding party, while the bride and groom left at midday on holiday. An evening reception wasn’t a common thing until much later. Therefore, you could have a really low-key reception instead of ignoring one completely. Have a picnic with your closest friends and family after the ceremony, or go back to your house and turn up the music. You could do something completely original and go to the cinema to watch a film. There are no rules as to what your reception has to include, so do what you want to, and enjoy it.

Frequently Asked Questions

Cheap wedding reception alternatives you should consider:
  • Cocktail reception. Skip the expensive linens and complicated place settings. ...
  • Wedding brunch or tea. For many, brunch is the most important meal of the day! ...
  • Onsite food truck. ...
  • Specialty stations. ...
  • Serve Bar Snacks.

Whether you call, text, or email, your message should be clear and direct. Say something like, "I hope you received my wedding invitation a few weeks ago, because I haven't heard whether or not you'll be attending. I need to get a final head count by Friday, so please let me know by tomorrow at the latest."

There are several reasons one can have a wedding without a reception. ... You can still have a great wedding celebration even without a reception, provided you have a small guest list, really very small guest list. Of course, even when you don't plan to host a reception, you will need to feed your guests.

Whether your ceremony venue is tiny or you're a shy couple trying not to make a spectacle of your vows, if you're not inviting a large portion of guests to the service, then you should truly keep it intimate. That means including, at most, your immediate family, wedding party and/or closest VIP friends only.

Ideally, guests should schedule time to arrive 30 minutes before the invitation start time of the ceremony (expect to carve in extra time for larger wedding guest lists). If you've arrived after the ceremony commences, slip into the back row or wait for the coordinator or usher to guide you to the seat.

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