Ceremony first, party later: couples redefining wedding celebrations
Ceremony first, party later: couples redefining wedding celebrations
Ceremony first, party later: couples redefining wedding celebrations
Ceremony first, party later: couples redefining wedding celebrations

Ceremony first, party later: couples redefining wedding celebrations

Photo: Two of a Kind


Does the thought of standing up in front of your friends and family and making super personal promises absolutely freak you out? Trust us; you’re not alone. For many couples, the stress of being in the spotlight or publicly sharing their personal feelings can be overwhelming. So, many are choosing to hold an intimate ceremony first, followed by a celebration later.

Sound intriguing? Read on for all the details.

Low stress, max celebration – enjoy the best of both.

A huge advantage of breaking up your day into two separate parts (ceremony and reception) is that you can schedule the individual celebrations in whatever way suits you best.

One couple we spoke to chose to get married in the redwood forest in the Otways with just their parents and best friends. The ceremony took place after lunch, which gave the couple time for photos afterwards, making the most of the beautiful surrounds. They then headed to their reception venue, where they partied the evening away with a huge group of loved ones. For them, the speeches become the starting point of the reception, getting formalities out the way early but still giving their guests a chance to toast, cheer and officially celebrate the newlyweds. And – they got to make an epic entrance into the venue together – replacing the aisle walk and all the nerves that can overshadow the ceremony for some people.

For another couple, eloping the day before and then celebrating their wedding at their “engagement” party felt so right. This way, they got the intimate, meaningful time together they always wanted, avoided the wedding planning stress and pressure, and also got to soak up the love with their friends and family in a fab celebration.

An overseas wedding can also offer the opportunity for a separate ceremony. Love the idea of getting married in your dream destination? Do it! Then celebrate with friends and family when you arrive home.


Photo: Bianca Virtue


Unforeseen advantages

What are some of the advantages of holding a separate, smaller ceremony?

First up, the venue choices become almost unlimited. Want to say your I Dos over a Negroni at your favourite bar? Exchange vows in front of a striking artwork at a gallery? Formalise your commitment in a gorgeous park, on the beach or by a waterfall? The options are endless, and the ability to work around the weather also makes things super simple.

The opportunity for incredible photos in a range of locations is much easier when you’re not worrying about how much time you’re spending away from your guests. Include some city spots, a little greenery or even see a show afterwards and make a whole night of it, like our friends Laura and Josh.

You’ve also got the opportunity to go all out with your outfit without feeling bound to tradition. Love the idea of a separate party dress for the celebration and a more traditional gown for the ceremony? Do it! Without the pressure of being “on display” for the ceremony, you can wear exactly what makes you feel your absolute best – whatever that is.


Photo: Two of a Kind


The perfect way to word it

Settled on the idea of an intimate, earlier ceremony and a separate invite list for the reception? Nice work!

If you’re unsure how to let your guests know, our advice would be to keep things simple. Something like:

We’ll be holding a private ceremony earlier and would love to invite you to celebrate with us afterwards.

Remember, it’s important to be clear, but you don’t need to disclose all the details as to who is invited to which part of the wedding. It’s your day, and setting boundaries so you can enjoy it is important.


How to handle the OPINIONS

It is undeniable that weddings are one of those situations where people often feel they can voice their opinion about how things “should” be done. This is where it’s important to take a deep breath, remember why you are making the decisions you have chosen, and lean on your partner for support!

If it helps, here are some words of wisdom from recent real wedding couples.

Please note that so many couples repeat the same thing: it’s your day, don’t be afraid to do it your way! You won’t regret it, and we firmly believe you will look back and be glad you created a celebration that felt comfortable for you and your partner.

Sidebar: Did you know that it is traditional in England to invite more people to the reception, and to keep the ceremony to only those closest to you? True fact!


Of course you can’t be legally married without a fabulous celebrant, and we have many we highly endorse to give you the intimate and sincere ceremony you deserve, check them out

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