Wedding planning

Your Rockin’ Two-Tier Wedding

What on earth is a two-tier wedding?

I read a report about Pippa Middleton’s wedding which followed this rising trend  – to have a ‘low key’ wedding breakfast after the ceremony, followed later in the evening by a sit-down dinner and terrific party.  (Did I really use  ‘low key’ and ‘Pippa Middleton’ on the same sentence?  Her wedding looked fabulous! Didn’t you love the beautiful elegance and simplicity of her dress?)

How does this differ from the traditional wedding reception?

Well, the idea is that the post-ceremony wedding breakfast is of limited time, canapes only, champagne for toasts, and tea, and might include children and elderly relatives.  Everyone goes home after a couple of hours to change and rest – and then guests, minus children and seniors, return to have a party, with, perhaps, additional guests who had not been invited to, or couldn’t attend, the ceremony.
Advantages – everyone gets to wear charming ‘afternoon’ dresses/suits/morning dress, and then can change and dress up glamorously for the evening.  The bride can have two gorgeous dresses!
Disadvantages – double the organisation and possibly even more cost.  Guests with children may have to miss the party if baby sitting is a problem – but at least they would have done some celebrating with the happy couple, and you can’t please everyone, right?
If we look away from the fabulous luxury wedding – and, let’s face it, most of us would not be in that bracket anyway – having a two-tier wedding, especially with a modest budget, actually can make a lot of sense.
A couple I know, on a very tight budget, had only their closest friends and family to their post-ceremony celebration – no more than about 20 people.  Their wider circle of friends knew, of course, that they were getting married and knew, too, that the main reception was to be delayed; they were delighted to be invited to dinner and dancing at a local restaurant, about 3 months later to toast the happy couple and celebrate.
I’ve also heard of one couple who had their first celebration with their friends at their first anniversary, when they had saved enough to enable them to throw a great party – and their friends loved it and got involved to make it a really magical evening.

And this is what this blog is about – how to make YOUR two-tier wedding magical!

So here’s a couple of ideas for you…
A morning wedding ceremony, followed by
  1. Sit down lunch with immediate family and closest friends or
  2. Canapes and champagne at a local venue, such as your village hall, local hotel, pub ……
At a later time – this can be the evening on the same day or at another time altogether …..
  1. Finger buffet and DJ/band at local venue or
  2. Dinner and dancing at a local venue …… OR ……
A party at home – yours or family/friends ….
You might simply choose to have a barbecue or hog roast and music at a home venue – great food, informal and fun with the people who matter most to you.  What’s not to like!   All that is needed is good friends and good will!


  • Outside catering: check your local caterers for prices and variety – it may save you a lot of time and trouble without breaking the bank!
  • Buy festive fairy lights in the pre-Christmas or post-Christmas sales and decorate your home venue, inside and outside


  •  Save jam jars then – decorate the table with pillar candles and jam jars or mason jars filled with white sand and shells, and finished with hessian twine, for a lovely rustic look.

  • If your party is in autumn or winter, take some walks in woods and gather pine cones – fill bowls or mason jars with them, sprinkle gold glitter and hey presto!  Fab, free (pretty much) autumn décor.

(By the way, all these images are on Pinterest – click and you will go straight there)

  • Supermarkets lease glassware.
  • Disposable plates and napkins mean easy clearing up! (Don’t forget large black plastic bags for rubbish)
  • Sparkling and other wines offered by some supermarkets are excellent quality and affordable.  Wholesalers are also worth investigating.
  • Ask your guests to bring a bottle!
  • Use iTunes or Spotify (or other similar app) to create your own play lists, hit the replay button – and dance!

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Let’s do this!