Why the Term 'Anniversary Reception' is Going to Be Huge After COVID

Here's what comes after a minimony or an elopement.
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Esther Lee - Deputy Editor, The Knot
Esther Lee
Deputy Editor
  • Esther is the Deputy Editor of The Knot. She currently leads all content on The Knot Wellness, focusing on financial, relationship, and mental wellbeing.
  • She oversees The Knot's travel vertical (honeymoons, destination weddings, bach parties), as well as overarching features and trends.
  • She proudly serves on the Advisory Council of VOW For Girls, focusing on ending the injustice of child marriage around the world.
Updated Jan 08, 2021

You've decided to get married amid COVID-19. While your wedding day may not have looked exactly the way you had originally envisioned it, your relationship is rock solid and something worth celebrating when all is said and done. There's just one thing that's missing from your overall wedding timeline: the anniversary reception, or a soiree with your original guest list to celebrate your newlywed status.

Following an overwhelming year of rescheduling and pivoting events, the shelf life for wedding festivities has certainly extended past the standard weekend format. With millions of couples making their marriages official with elopements or minimonies, the reception portion of weddings doesn't have to be lost in translation. It simply needs to be reinvented. In fact, you're encouraged to throw the party of a lifetime with a wedding anniversary reception.

What Is an Anniversary Reception?

The anniversary reception, yet another reason to commemorate a couple's marriage, is an event that occurs after a couple's original elopement or minimony. It typically honors the couple's original wedding plans with a celebratory reception-style event, including dinner, drinks and dancing (pending safety measures) with their guest list.

After COVID-19, the anniversary reception will serve as an extension of a couple's wedding day, whether it's a year, two years, or months out from when the newlyweds made it official. Most couples are reserving their anniversary receptions for when large group gatherings are deemed safe again, giving humanity yet another reason to celebrate love. In many cases, couples who've put down deposits for their original venues are emphasizing the anniversary reception as another form of celebration after a trying year.

How Does the Anniversary Reception Differ From a Sequel Wedding?

Not to be confused with a sequel wedding, which is another type of popular style of event we predict will become popular in 2021, the anniversary reception is more specific to only the reception leg of a couple's wedding day. This particular event includes all the details of a reception: the first dance, the toasts, the cake cutting and incredible catering, memories and more.

Find your kind of venue

From barns to ballrooms, discover reception venues that feel like you.

A sequel wedding, however, features all aspects of the wedding, including a ceremony and a reception—even after a minimony or elopement has taken place. Often, sequel weddings are held to honor a couple's cultural background, religious beliefs, among other formal traditions placed on a civil union. A prime example of a couple who went the route of a sequel wedding was Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin, who planned a faith-based wedding ceremony and reception after eloping at City Hall.

How to Throw an Anniversary Reception

Like you, your loved ones are clamoring to celebrate life's biggest moments—including your marriage. Anniversary receptions are yet another opportunity to honor your union based on your preferences as a couple. Here's exactly what to do to throw a memorable event. And remember: depending on timing and vaccine distribution, you'll want to enforce standard health and safety guidelines for all guests attending your anniversary reception.

If You've Secured Your Vendors Already

Congratulations! You're married, and you've separately set a reception date and location. What can't you do? Proceed with planning your anniversary reception with your chosen vendor team. As priorities can change quickly within a year, reevaluate what's most important to you for this event. Examples include the style of catering to entertainment options, even your anniversary reception outfit could be vastly different from what you had originally selected for your wedding ceremony.

With an anniversary reception or any event of this scale, you'll want guests' enjoyment to be front and center—think photobooth or video booth, cake, libations and so much more. Finally: Don't forget wedding favors and late-night snacks if you want to splurge.

Finally, we recommend leaving it to the professionals to help you along the way. The Knot Marketplace is an ideal spot to source vendors, read reviews from fellow couples, and throw an event with the best-in-class professionals in the country.

If You're Starting Fresh

Every great wedding reception begins with a vision. First, take The Knot Style Quiz to unlock your exact aesthetic, then find your reception venue. Whether it's a grand ballroom for hundreds of loved ones (caveat: when group gatherings are safe again) or a gorgeous sunset dinner overlooking the Pacific, the options are endless when you're ready.

If you've already secured a venue, but have yet to proceed further down the planning process, take the time to research new vendors who might specialize in what you're looking for (balloon garlands, tented events and more).

How to Invite Loved Ones

The anniversary reception is an incredibly important portion of your wedding because it's where you'll be surrounded by your greatest advocates, cheering you on in your marriage.

For that reason alone, couples should send formal invitations if they're hosting this leg of the wedding. We recommend starting with The Knot Invitations for a variety of reasons: we currently offer change-the-dates and free reprints. The design team also creates stationery that matches thematically from your save-the-dates to your wedding website; thank you cards too. By far, it's the easiest and most comprehensive service out there.

Here's the information to include:
Host Name(s)
Request [Guest Name Here]'s presence at the Anniversary Reception for
[Names of the couple]
On [date and time here]
At [reception location]
Dress Code: Black-tie optional, casual garden party, etc.
[Wedding website here] for more details and registry information.
Separate RSVP card

Finally, remember that despite the changes you've faced this year, life stages are always worth celebrating in a way that makes the most sense to you. The anniversary reception is yet another opportunity to gather your favorite loved ones in one space to honor the greatest gift that even COVID couldn't stop: your marriage.

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