While our wedding was in June in New York, there were a lot of people from my hometown of Phoenix who either couldn’t make it or we couldn’t invite because of size. So my parents hosted a second reception at their home last month. We had an absolute blast catching up with friends I’ve known my whole life. And we even had a signature cocktail, dubbed the J & J Cocktail, with vodka and watermelon puree. It was divine.

My mom and I really wanted to echo the wedding at the house. While we couldn’t be in the beautiful Hudson Valley, we reused the candles throughout the house on tables and mantles. My mom also bought luminarias that we put out by the pool and lit when the sun went down.

So the guests could see what our wedding day looked like, I ordered prints of some of our wedding photos and displayed them in the frames that had held the table numbers. It was also a great excuse to order some of my favorite pictures.

And my gown? Well, I wasn’t going to wear it in the hot, still-summer weather of Phoenix, so we displayed it on a mannequin with my veil and shoes.

It was a great chance to celebrate again. While a second reception is something that is really never seen, I think it’s a great way to celebrate with people that you really wanted to invite but couldn’t, whether it was because it was a destination, you wanted a small ceremony or a small venue. Our invitations were essentially the same, just without a response card and ribbon detail (RSVP info was listed on the invite). And with passed hors d’Oeuvres it didn’t cost as much as a full reception. I also got to use some of my DIY projects again.


What I Learned: I was definitely burned out when it came to planning this reception. I’d just gotten back from my honeymoon and moving across the country, so I definitely needed more help. My mom was a huge help in finding vendors and talking with them about the look of the reception. Our caterer, Benedict’s was a huge help. Dawn really shaped the menus and let us edit and pick what we wanted from there. It really eased my mind that I didn’t have to plan another menu basically from scratch. Just like the wedding, having vendors that really know their stuff helps! When it came to decorating the house my mom and I had the same ideas about using photos and the candles, but she one thought about adding the luminarias to the backyard. They really helped create more ambiance, and light, to the outside. Finally, I would have hired a photographer (or recruited a photo-savvy friend). I realize now that the only photos I have are of the set-up, not even of the delicious food, or more importantly, all of the guests. While it was a cocktail party with no DJ or dancing, it would have been great to get candid shots of everyone mingling.

Did you have a second reception? Or an after party? How are you reusing your wedding decor?