Early ceremony, late reception

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abarre4 Posts : 1 Registered: 12/30/11
Early ceremony, late reception
Posted: Feb 16, 2012 3:34 PM

My wedding ceremony is at 2pm, it cannot be any later but we cannot get into the venue until 5pm but thats when the vendors arrive. I am planning on my cocktail hour for 6pm. 90% of our guests will be from out of town, how do I ensure our guests will come to the ceremony not just the reception?


MagicalMomentsP... Posts : 742 Registered: 3/6/06
Re: Early ceremony, late reception
Posted: Feb 16, 2012 4:55 PM Go to message in response to: abarre4


Congratulations on your engagement and upcoming wedding. To answer your question, quite frankly you can't. There is no way to guarantee anybody will show up for both the ceremony and the reception. However, you will discover the out of town folks are actually the ones most likely to show up at both the ceremony and reception because they will not have other distractions such as work, kids and other responsibilities. Since this is something which you can't control, don't worry about it. There are plenty of other things to worry about besides who shows up to share various parts of your wedding day.

Howard Kier, Certified Professional Wedding Photographer

Magical Moments Photography


Aunt Posts : 794 Registered: 12/31/10
Re: Early ceremony, late reception
Posted: Feb 16, 2012 9:18 PM Go to message in response to: abarre4

Dear Abarre,

Short answer, you cannot "ensure" that anyone will attend both events. The guests are not your captive prisoners.

Your situation is common when churches have Saturday evening worship services. I've seen that in a lot of Catholic churches. Lots of people have this very same issue.

Your ceremony will be from 2-3. Then from 3 to 6, the guests have "nothing" planned by way of wedding events. They will have to hang around somewhere for three hours, presumably dressed in party clothes.

Those who live in town will most likely go home. Those who live out of town will have to go back to their hotel.

OK... why not see if one of your close friends (or parents' close friends) can host some kind of casual event at either their home or the hotel where many guests are staying?

There's no need for a heap 'o' food, since you will be serving food at the reception and the wedding ceremony starts well after lunch. The hosts of the casual party need only serve very light snacks and drinks, such as veggies, chips, etc. Have the current ball game on TV for sports fans and simple games for the kids.

Better yet, make the party an Open House where folks can drop in and drop out as they like. That way, for example, out of town guests can go back to their hotel following the ceremony, change their kids' clothes, freshen up a bit, then mosey on over to the party when they feel like it, and stay as long or as short as they like. It all wraps up around 5:30, giving all enough time to transport to the reception venue.

Note: The happy couple would not be at the casual party open house. They "receive" their guests for the first time as a married couple at the reception.

If you or your parents have friends who have said "If there is anything I can do to help..." and if that person is good at party planning, why not suggest that this would be, indeed, a help?


Syringa Posts : 115 Registered: 1/18/12
Re: Early ceremony, late reception
Posted: Feb 18, 2012 1:49 PM Go to message in response to: abarre4

As others mentioned, you cannot guarantee that guests will attend both the ceremony and reception, particularly the local guests. Have you considered having a smaller ceremony with close family, friends and out of town guests, then having a larger reception? That is what you are most likely to have whether you plan it that way or not. Therefore, if you plan it that way, you are less likely to be disappointed at the small turnout for the ceremony.


AprilTwentyFive Posts : 5 Registered: 6/28/07
Re: Early ceremony, late reception
Posted: Feb 19, 2012 10:50 PM Go to message in response to: abarre4

You can't make them come to both event BUT I would suggest having the option to RSVP for both the Ceremony and Reception so you'd know how many people to expect.

OR is it possible for you to have the cocktails earlier? Maybe if you're having a Photo session somewhere you could set up a cocktail table so the guests could stick around maybe watch while they take your pics?


wzq103 Posts : 1,190 Registered: 9/11/12
Re: Early ceremony, late reception
Posted: Sep 27, 2012 5:53 AM Go to message in response to: MagicalMomentsP...

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