1:30 ceremony, how to handle the reception or gap

vicki_77June 19, 2006

We reserved the church for a 1:30 ceremony in Oct 2007. It's the only time of day the priest does weddings.

We are just starting our search for a reception site, and I'd like your suggestions as to what to do. The wedding at the latest will end 2:30-3. I'm sure there will be some drive to the reception, but what kind of reception can we have at 3:00?

Or alternatively, if we have a gap, how can we occupy the guests' time? Most of the guests will be at least an hour from home. We're in Cleveland, and i'd love to send them to the art museum or something, but i can't afford it.

I appreciate your thoughts. I've been reading this forum for 6 years!

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If you ask your guests to go somewhere and then return, many of them will not return. To make your timing work, you might consider something like the following:

2:30-2:45 ceremony ends
3:00-3:20 guests arrive at the reception center, depending on the travel time. If you have a cocktail time for about 45 minutes, you can then transition into an early dinner or a buffet followed by dancing, if you want to dance.

Alternatively, you could omit serving a meal and have a cocktail-style reception and serve only tray-passed hors d'oeuvres and have dancing. This type of reception usually doesn't last as long as one where a meal is served. However, the cost is less.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 6:35PM
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It sounds like you really want to have an evening reception. But I would try to avoid a gap. Afternoon receptions can be lovely -- don't give up on that until you've thought creatively for a while! EVERYTHING doesn't have to be a dinner dance. For example, what about a reception in a gorgeous garden, conservatory, or park, which look so much nicer during the day? Sweet Pea gives you good advice about how to stretch it into early evening. You could have a longer cocktail period -- up to 90 minutes, I'd think, provided there are places to sit down, to stretch it more toward dinner time if you just must make it evening-y, although people aren't going to wear evening clothes for a 1:30 church wedding. But that makes for a very long day for your guests.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2006 at 7:00PM
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Good ideas. You're right gellchom, everything doesn't have to be a dinner dance. We will look into sweet pea's "cocktail-style" reception idea. Thanks!

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 8:44AM
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In my in-laws large family. weddings are often midafternoon, and nearly all receptions are evening.

What happens is that most people just don't show up at the church. I was appalled at first (well, still am, sort of), that people would skip the ceremony, but I can see that they didn't want to drive in from NJ at noon and get home later than midnight.

They don't worry about the gap when the schedule stuff; the closest people (emotionally and logistically) come to both, and the more distant people go to the reception (and refer to it in years to come as "your wedding" even though it wasn't really).

You could also "send them" to the art museum by suggesting stuff to do; you wouldn't be obligated to pay for it. You could put together a rochure of stuff that would be nice to do in the interim, and give it to people, and they can decide which they're interested in.

Also, if you have an afternoon wedding and an evening event, some people (esp. those traveling) might want to change clothes, but w/ only an hour of travel time....

Though, if the wedding is over at 2:30, and the reception is at 6, I could be home by 3:30, and have 1.5 hours to walk the dog.....

Good luck deciding! (one possible unintended bonus--an afternoon reception may easily be less expensive than an evening one!)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2006 at 11:40AM
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Sweet pea's got a good idea with the cocktail reception. I catered for 4 years, so I've seen tons of different things at wedding receptions.

I wouldn't have a cocktail period for much more than an hour, guests tend to get restless quickly and those that live a ways away won't want to spend 90 min standing around with drinks. I don't know what type (open, cash, beer/wine, none) bar you're having, but the longer cocktails last, the more people will drink and the more expensive (potentially) it gets.

Also, if you do an hors d'oeuvres reception, consider having only butlered trays for the cocktail period and then a mix of passed food and a more substantial "station" after the bridal party arrives. The station can have heartier food (with appetizer plates and forks) and can serve as a substitute early dinner. The station can change to dessert-type food (chocolate-covered strawberries, truffles, etc) and the passed trays can stop when you cut the cake. That will give the reception an easy timeline and stopping the trays means everyone can dance without knocking over servers! I've seen receptions with this set-up last as long and be as fun as dinner-dance receptions.

One thing to remember too if you go with hors d'oeuvres, get the caterer to make you and the groom separate plates with a sampling of all the appetizers and bring it to a table for you. You won't have to compete with your guests to get food and it will give the two of you a chance to sit down for a quick break during the reception.

Congratulations and good luck planning!

    Bookmark   June 22, 2006 at 2:47PM
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