I need ideas for ceremony timing

sunshine4376June 27, 2004

We went today to look at a beach (grassy park overlooking an inlet) for the ceremony (the reception will be in a backyard). It's a fairly crowded beach but the grassy area that we would use is much less crowded. Our plan was to have the ceremony at around 2pm and then have a dinner (buffet) reception. It will be about a half hour drive to the reception and probabaly about a half hour or so for pictures (which the ceremony site will be great for). We would like to keep the reception as a dinner thing because afterwards most of the guests will stay and pretty much party all night (which is why we like the backyard idea).

The problem is that the beach will be too busy by 2pm and we would prefer to have it a little earlier so we aren't drowned out by people around us. I was thinking that we could do an early dinner (perhaps around 4pm-ish) so my question is how early do you think we could get away with having the ceremony (keeping in mind travel time and picture time) without making it too much of an incovenience for our guests? I'm thinking around 11am would be kind of ideal.

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My wedding was at 11am and had the reception immediately following. Granted, the ceremony and reception were at the same place, but it was nice.

Personally, I think 11am is way too early for a 4pm reception. Your guests will need to occupy themselves for a good few hours before the reception starts. As a guest at a wedding, I probably wouldn't like that.

Any chance you can have a lunch reception then just keep the party going for whoever wants to stay?

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 12:16AM
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I would think the answer depends on how many people are coming from out of town. If almost everyone lives nearby, it would be much simpler than if people are driving in for the day.

Nonetheless, my preference is always for a wedding followed immediately by a reception.

Besides, wouldn't the beach be crowded at 11:00, too? Here in Massachusetts, it stays crowded from morning until around 4:00 p.m.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 12:15PM
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I think it really matters where the wedding and reception are going to be. Will there be a place for people to go inbetween the wedding and reception? People from out of town can go back to their rooms for a little while, relax, get something to eat...people who are from nearby, but not as close to drive back home and then come back would be most inconvenienced.

Our wedding was at 2 p.m. and the reception didn't start until 5:30 p.m. Our wedding was in San Francisco, so people who came from the Bay Area just stayed in the city and either went shopping or got a drink and snack. My Dad took his friends for a drink to toast his last child getting married! :-) People from out of town went back to their hotels and rested - which was great for my husband's grandparents.

One note of caution - some people will take that time inbetween to drink, and they may show up drunk at the reception (that happened with two of our guests, but they were probably going to get drunk regardless of the time lag). Also, some people may just show up for the reception and not attend the wedding - or vice versa. Overall, we had a lot of positive responses about the lag time. When it starts to be more annoying is huge breaks in time - My cousin got married at 11 a.m. and the reception was at 6 or 7 p.m. - people complained about how long the day was and most people with small children came to one event and not the other - many people left the reception early.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 5:48PM
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As a coordinator, I would discourage you from having an 11 a.m. ceremony followed by a 4 p.m. reception. That is way too long of a gap between the two events. When you do that, guests choose to attend either the ceremony or the reception, but not both.

Have you considered having a small ceremony for only family and very close friends followed by a larger reception at 4 p.m? If you look at the logistics of things, the ceremony will last maybe 20 minutes, tops. Guests would leave the ceremony location and drive to the reception where they would find beverages waiting for them and perhaps a plate of hors d'oeuvres while you finish pictures. That is less than one hour, so a 3 p.m. ceremony time would be logical if you want to start the reception at 4 p.m. (You would arrive late and be announced when you arrive.)

With an 11 a.m. ceremony, a noon reception is more reasonable. However, your guests won't stay around beyond mid-afternoon. It looks like you will need to decide between the early ceremony or the later reception, but not both with the times you have in mind unless you can figure out a way to entertain your guests for 4 hours.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2004 at 6:52PM
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People could go to the reception right away...they would only really have to wait for dinner. I'm still looking into whether or not we will be able to have it there anyway, so it all might be a moot point. Thank you all for your opinions and feedback.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2004 at 2:07PM
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