How to Host a Welcome Dinner

I'm a small crowd kind of person, so the very idea of welcome dinners makes my heart happy. Casual and fun, welcome dinners are the perfect time and place to not only stylize something more small-scale than a wedding, but to also kickstart the wedding weekend with your out-of-town guests. It's summertime, and that means a good majority of all Hampton Roads weddings will play host to lots of vacationing guests!

With welcome dinners, not only do you not have to worry about huge amounts of favors or decor, you can find unique elements that you might not have been able to execute on your wedding day (like vintage bakingware shown in these photos accompanying today's Tuesday Tidbits!).

I have wedding coordinator and vendor fam Antonia of Antonia Christianson Events here today, sharing some insight on her most recent welcome dinner with her couple Kristin and Mark and tips on how to hosting your very own welcome dinner.


As your budget allows, we have always loved the idea of a welcome event so you can spend as much time with your loved ones on this overwhelmingly exciting weekend. In the case of Kristin and Mark, we loved having both the rehearsal dinner and welcome dinner because of the amount of guests in attendance. Their rehearsal dinner was small and intimate as it simply included the bridal party, their dates, and the closest family.

The welcome dinner accommodated all of the wedding guests and was hosted at the bride's parents' home-- which was a very relaxing environment right on the water where people could enjoy themselves. Kristin and Mark were very hands-on with their wedding planning, and they wanted to make sure the welcome dinner revolved around the bride's love for cooking.

All of the centerpieces were potted herbs in vintage metallic cooking and bakingware set on modern coral and navy color linens. Our clients also gave back to the community through One Hope Wine, a "wine meets social impact" commerce organization.

Because of their love of food, Kristin and Mark chose to use different caterers throughout the entire weekend, and so Sweetwater Cuisine catered their welcome dinner while they had another caterer for the wedding reception. This was a great way to get an awesome variety of foods from around coastal Virginia.


Get-togethers can be at any price point. If you love the idea of a welcome dinner but the full blown affair isn't necessarily in your budget, here are some alternative examples that we love:

* Dessert and champagne reception at the hotel where you made a room block for your guests
* S'mores and hot cocoa bonfire at your favorite local park or backyard
* Casual dinner meetup at a favorite local restaurant

The key is communication and getting the word out. Since welcome dinners are generally open to more people, letting people know can happen many different ways:

* Insert an extra postcard with welcome dinner details in your wedding invitation suite.
* Email a Paperless Post invitation. While we and Emily Post would never suggest it for the actual wedding day, an informal, casual dinner is completely acceptable and can help set the tone for a low-key get-together!

Consider hiring unconventional vendors for personal touches. At a wedding, you have to think quantity, but at smaller wedding-related gatherings, you can really get creative and bring in unique touches that would be more budget-friendly.

* For summery shindigs, a smoothie bar or liquid nitrogen ice cream bar would be a fun treat.
* For wintery dinners, consider a local coffee company to set up a specialized coffee bar.

Want to see how Kristin and Mark's whole wedding weekend panned out? You'll definitely want to take a peek at Jeremy Mitchell Cinema's film. It seamlessly shows how one welcome dinner can bring together an entire weekend of nuptial festivities!

Photography: Jen + Ashley // Event Coordination: Antonia Christianson Events // Videography: Jeremy Mitchell Cinema // Florals: Isha Foss Events // Custom Napkins: Helen Price // Catering: Sweetwater Cuisine // DJ: Astro Entertainment // Hair and Makeup: Dupres // Linens: La Tavola Linens // Furniture Rentals: Distinctive Event Rentals // Custom Cornhole Boards: Virginia Beach Cornhole // Stationery: RSVP Stationery // Wine: One Hope Wine // Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Bar Custom Ice: Ice Art