Top 10 Tips: How To Plan An Anniversary Reception
Pre-COVID-19, a one year anniversary reception was almost unheard of. Most couples who got married had their ceremony and reception back-to-back. For those who eloped, a reception was planned as soon as they returned home.
Today, many couples are choosing a small virtual elopement with the idea that the reception they really want will be planned at a later date when large gatherings are safe again. Unlike low-key anniversary receptions of the past, a reception one year after the wedding due to COVID is more likely to be a more extravagant affair.
But, exactly what should your anniversary reception look like? Should you send invitations? How much should it cost? We’re here to help answer your questions so you can have the one year anniversary reception you want, even if your original wedding didn’t go according to plan.
Agree on a Budget
No matter what kind of reception, gathering, or party you are planning, it’s always important to agree on a budget. Making sure you’re clear with your partner about how much you’re willing to spend will ensure there are no hurt feelings or frustrations.
Don’t think you have to pay for the reception yourself! If you didn't get to have a regular wedding reception, your one year anniversary reception should be treated the same, which means you can bring up costs with both the bride’s and the groom’s family.
Decide on a Date
It makes sense that a one year anniversary reception would take place on your first anniversary, but don’t get stuck on that date. Because it’s not your actual wedding, you have a lot more flexibility. Talk with vendors about available dates and special deals. It’s okay to have your reception the weekend before or after your actual anniversary. You can even have it months before or after your anniversary if it means you get the venue you want at the price you want!
Consider a Vow Renewal
Just because you technically exchanged vows at your small ceremony doesn’t mean you can’t exchange vows at your wedding reception a year later! If COVID kept friends and family members away from your ceremony, they would likely love to hear you and your partner exchange vows. It gives you a chance to say things that you left out the first time around, and because you’re already legally married, there’s no reason to hire an officiant if you don’t want to.
Have Fun With the Theme
Every wedding reception deserves a theme, whether you’re planning a traditional reception or a one year anniversary reception.
Because it’s not a traditional reception, you can have some fun with the theme. Do something quirky and plan a luau, decorate tables for an English tea party, or plan a circus-themed reception. If you want to keep things classic, go with paper décor and flower arrangements as a nod to the classic first anniversary gift.
Send Out Invitations
It’s a good idea to treat your reception like you would any other, which means you should definitely send out post elopement reception invitations.
Invitations should include the same kinds of information as a regular wedding invitation, like location, time, and a response card. You may also want to clarify things that may be confusing to guests, like whether there will be a vow renewal ceremony and whether or not there is a dress code.
Plan a Traditional Wedding Reception—or Not!
Missed having your first dance, cutting the cake, and hearing toasts from your family and friends on your actual wedding day? Plan a reception with all the traditional wedding events! Hire a DJ, toss your bouquet, and cut the cake if those are things you want to do.
Just don’t feel like you have to. The nice thing about having an anniversary party instead of a wedding is the fact that you can do whatever you want. If you’re more comfortable with a casual gathering at a pub or your favorite restaurant, that’s okay too.
Decide What To Wear
If you decide to have your wedding now and your reception later, figuring out what to wear and when to wear it can be difficult. A big ball gown may seem inappropriate at a virtual elopement, but it may seem like too much at a reception party a year later too.
Don’t box yourself into following certain rules—because there aren’t any! If you didn’t get to wear the gorgeous dress of your dreams at your elopement, wear it at your reception. If you want to keep things casual, go with a less formal reception dress. If you want to save money, wear the same dress to your reception that you wore the year before during your ceremony.
Hire a Photographer
Hiring a photographer can be pricy, but you should make room in your budget for one at your one year anniversary reception. Although it may seem unnecessary, especially if you have professional images of your actual wedding day, you’ll be glad you got quality shots of you celebrating with your family and friends.
Consider Hiring a Wedding Planner
Just because you’re scheduling your wedding reception 1 year later doesn’t mean there’s any less to plan than if you had your ceremony and reception back-to-back. Consider hiring a wedding planner to make it easier. They can coordinate vendors, help you schedule the day’s events, and make sure everything goes smoothly so both you and your guests can enjoy yourselves.
Schedule a Mini-Moon
Whether you were able to schedule a vacation after your initial ceremony or not, you should consider scheduling a mini-moon after your reception. It gives you the chance to feel like you truly got the full wedding experience. Not to mention, it gives you a chance to relax and unwind. Planning an anniversary reception can be just as stressful as planning a traditional wedding reception.