What time should I start my reception? Help please!

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Tasha8182 Posts : 2 Registered: 12/26/08
What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 6, 2009 9:56 PM

I need some advice for my wedding. I am going to have a 1 pm Saturday wedding in July. The full catholic mass is scheduled to start at 1 pm and according to the priest it should take 45-50 minutes. The reception site is about 20 minutes away. I'm not sure what time to start the cocktail hour. We only have 5 hours at the site, and I don't want to use up all of it on cocktails. However, I also don't want to keep people waiting too long before the reception starts or have to rush my church and reception pictures. I am trying to balance everything the best that I can. I don't know what to do. What time do I start the reception?

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 2:31 AM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

Hello,

Your timetable leaves you the potential for a lot of time between the ceremony and the reception. The big timing concern is only 5 hours at the reception hall. Here'e how I would recommend my clients plan their afternoon with a 1:00 ceremony.

  • 1:00-2:00 Wedding Ceremony
  • 2:00-2:30 Church Photos (could be longer if you have a large bridal party, large families or slow photographer)
  • 3:00-3:15 Limo Getaway
  • 3:15-3:30 Drive to park for outside photos
  • 3:30-4:00 Outside photos
  • 4:00-4:30 Drive to reception site
  • 5:00-6:00 Cocktail hour
  • 6:00- ? Reception

I understand you may not want a lot of time between the ceremony and reception because you are afraid your guests will not know what to do with themselves. But in reality there are many people who unfortunately skip the ceremony and show up at just the reception. Those that go to both, are typically close friends or family members. Those folks will typically be needed for the church photos so they will not be leaving immediately after the ceremony. If you do have a gap of time between your events, it will also allow some of your local friends time to run home to let the dog out.

On the other hand, if you could start your reception by 4:30, with seating and dinner at 5:30. That means your five hours will end at 9:30. IMHO, that is too early for the party to end. People will be left at the end of the night wondering what to do.

Honestly, I don't see a big problem with having a 2-3 hours between the end of the ceremony and your reception. You could also ask the Father to provide a long homily (lol). The best person to speak to about you timeline would be your photographer. Please feel free to contact me should you have additional questions.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography

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Toast Posts : 480 Registered: 9/10/08
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 9:00 AM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

I have been to weddings where there was a 2- 3 hour gap of time between the ceremony and the reception and it SUCKED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It was an out of town wedding, and it was my fiances brother's wedding. Even though I was part of the family, I was not really around for most of the pictures. It was really only the wedding party that hung around the church for pictures, then they went to a local park and to see an elderly family member, then to the reception hall so they could take more pictures outside too.

The rest of the guests had no where to go or nothing to do! We ended up going back to our hotel and hanging out for a little while. By that time, we were so hungry that we ate some appetizers at the bar before heading to the cocktail hour. And, since we ate, by the time we got to the cocktail hour, we were not all that hungry, so they paid for food that did not get eaten.

Also, with such a long gap like that, we sort of fell out of the excited happy wedding mood. We were all more annoyed and tired than anything.

It just made for a really, really, really long day!

Yes, people who are local can go let their dog out, etc....but most people who are planning on attending a wedding make other arrangements for their pets anyway. So, its a nice gesture to think of them, but I would not inconvenince everyone else just for one person. If they needed to stop home quickly, there is no reason why they cant show up to the cocktail hour a few minutes late. Besides, if you have to travel from the church to a reception venue, not everyone will get there at the same time either.

Also consider...do you really need to or want to be at the cocktail hour for the whole time? Most venues will bring appetizers and drinks to you and your wedding party as you are taking pictures outside of the venue. If yours will, then plan on doing most pictures with your wedding party and family during the cocktail hour. That is really what the cocktail hour time is for. To keep your guests busy, feed, and occupied while everyone drives to the venue, and pictures are taken. Most brides and grooms are not even at the cocktail hour. They just get introduced at the end of the cocktail hour.

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ArtBride Posts : 4,838 Registered: 5/9/07
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 9:46 AM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

I would plan for the cocktail hour to start at 2:15 or 2:30. If your ceremony ends at 1:45 or 1:50, the first guests through the receiving line (assuming you're having one at the church) will be leaving for the reception at about 2, which means they'll arrive around 2:20. I would want the room to be ready when the first guest arrives, so I'd plan for the cocktail hour to start at 2:15.

Typically, if you choose to do your photos after the ceremony, you will do them during the cocktail hour. Alternatively, you could do the photos before the ceremony. Even if you don't want to see each other before the ceremony, you could get all the photos done EXCEPT those with both of you in them. That minimizes the amount of time you need to spend on photos after the ceremony. Of course, if you choose to do all your photos after the ceremony, a good photographer should be able to work quickly. Ask your photographer how long he/she normally takes to do photos. Ours took about 40 minutes, and we had TONS.

If you choose to do your photos after the ceremony, your arrival will signal the end of the cocktail hour and the beginning of the rest of the reception. If you do your photos before the ceremony, you can go directly to the cocktail hour at the same time as the guests. Don't try to delay the start of the cocktail hour until after you've done your photos - that gives your guests nothing to do, which is inconsiderate.


DaisypathWedding Ticker

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auntofthebride Posts : 9,354 Registered: 4/2/06
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 10:08 AM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

Dear Tasha,

Are you planning a full plated meal for your reception? Or, will you serve finger foods and drinks?

If you plan a full meal, then your reception should be held around dinner time. That means you could have a "gap" between the end of the ceremony and the beginning of the reception. Some people are OK with that; others are not. (Personally, I don't like a "gap". I don't enjoy driving around aimlessly, killing time, burning gas, in "nice" clothes.)

If you plan only on light refreshments, then a mid to late afternoon reception would be great. Figure on the ceremony/Mass being over at 2:00, then the reception going from 2:30 to 7:30. Arrange to have all the refreshments out and available for guests from 2:30 on. That way you can take your post-ceremony photos, then make your way to the reception, arriving around 3- 3:30.

Your guests will be entertained and occupied during that time, and you can make a "grand" entrance.

If you go all the way to 7:30, it might be good to arrange to have a light buffet (ie more substantial than finger food) presented around 5:30 or so. People won't be all that hungry after snacking all afternoon, but that does give them an option of a meal around dinner time.

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MsDenuninani Posts : 3,962 Registered: 3/16/07
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 10:20 AM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

I think starting cocktail hour at 5, with the reception at 6, is fine. Yes, it's a long gap, but I think that's to be expected with Catholic weddings. You can't eally help it.

When I'm out of town for a Catholic wedding, I appreciate the opportunity to go home and hang out at the hotel for a bit. If I'm hungry, I'll grab something small to eat -- which is what I probably should do anyway, because if cocktail hour includes cocktails, I should have something in my stomach. If I know other people at the hotel who are also attending the wedding, then sometimes we'll all meet at the bar and catch up. It's no biggie.

I wouldn't stess about it. For a Catholic ceremony, this is pretty normal.

__________________________________________
My new favorite website: www.poptimal.com

"I'd hate to advocate drugs, alcohol, or insanity, but they've always worked for me." Hunter S. Thompson

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Tasha8182 Posts : 2 Registered: 12/26/08
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 10:51 AM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

I am trying to avoid the 4 hour catholic gap and keep it as short as I can. I do plan on taking my pictures during the cocktail hour, but with pictures at the church and reception site I could imagine that it would take more than an hour. I don't have my photographer yet, so I can't really ask him about the timeline. I am planning to serve a full meal, even though it will be a little on the early side.

So more opinions please. If my ceremony is at 1 and the reception hall is 20 minutes away, what time should I start the cocktail hour prior to my grand entrance and dinner? 3:00? 3:30? or 4:00?

Edited by: Tasha8182 on Jan 7, 2009 10:53 AM

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karebeartg Posts : 831 Registered: 6/25/08
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 11:24 AM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

I would start it at 2:15 or 2:30. Alternatively, I'd start it at 5 or 5:30.

I'm not a fan of the big gaps between the wedding and the ceremony, but I'd rather have 3 hours than one or two. If it's one or two hours (particularly one hour), then I really have no idea what I'd do with myself inbetween the ceremony and reception.

I went to four weddings in a row this year and two were Catholic. All of them had the reception directly follow the ceremony (I don't think I actually knew before this website that people did anything else). Whether the reception was in the same place or 20 minutes away, the bridal party made it in for the tail end of the cocktail hour every time.

I think you'd be fine leaving yourself from 1:50 (end of wedding) until 3:15 (end of cocktail hour) for pictures and getting yourself to the site.

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MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 12:05 PM Go to message in response to: Tasha8182

Hello Tasha,

As you mentioned that you don't have a photographer yet, I would be willing to answer your scheduling questions. We can do it via this forum, e-mails ) or feel free to give me a call. Due to forums rules, I am not supposed to place my contact information in a post. However, you can find my contact information from my listing under Chicago Photographers in the local vendors portion of Brides.com. Please let me know how I might best assist you.


Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


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Toast Posts : 480 Registered: 9/10/08
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 2:07 PM Go to message in response to: karebeartg

If your ceremony starts at 1pm...it will be over around 2pm.

Then, you will have your receiving line....say 15 to 30 minutes. Now your at 2:30pm

It will take people 20-30 minutes to get to their cars, and drive to the reception....

so, starting the cocktail hour at 3:00 pm should work fine.
You will make your entrance at 4pm, and then do all the traditional dances and introductions and such, so you wont get served dinner until 5- 5:30pm anyway. So that should work out.


I am planning on having the photographer get shots of me and my girls and my mothers, etc before the ceremony. Same for the guys. So, all those photos will be done before hand. Then, after the ceremony can be all the ones of me and my hubby, the families, etc.

You dont really need more than an hour for photos...heck, thats why its a cocktail hour! That is the time it is suppossed to take to have the pictures taken, and instead of everyone being bored and watching you, you serve them appetizers.


One wedding I went to, they did the receiving line, then as everyone mingled and went outside they did their inside shots at the altar. Then they exited the church and we all thru birdseed. Then, they did more pictures in front of the car, then with the champagne toast between them, and then the bride and groom left in the car. This signaled everyone else that it was time to head to the reception. The bridal party immediately followed, and once the guests arrive the cocktail hour had begun, and the bridal party was out back in the garden taking pictures.

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tinka79 Posts : 24 Registered: 9/8/08
Re: What time should I start my reception? Help please!
Posted: Jan 7, 2009 3:12 PM Go to message in response to: Toast

I completly agree with Toast, she took the words out of my mouth... 3 or even 3:30 would work out just fine to start the cocktail hour!!

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