Are only drinks & hors d' oeuvres ok even if it approaches meal time?

posted 3 years ago in Reception
Post # 3
5460 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: August 2012

A 2:30 reception is not really a meal time so you should be ok.  People will probably wind things down and head out in time for dinner, so if you want an all-night party you’ll need to have a later wedding.  You can always go out later for an informal ‘after party’ if you want to keep it going til the wee hours though!

Post # 4
2395 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2011

I’m not sure you can expect people to stay 4+ hours at a reception with no dinner.  I think your timing is great for a “snacks and cake” reception – it’s not at a mealtime at all.  I’m not sure how much dancing is going to happen on Sunday afternoon – I think people will probably stay for an hour or so after you guys get there, maybe a little longer.  

I’d also be really careful how late you get there, because if there’s nothing to wait around for, people may enjoy some food and drink and then start leaving.

Post # 5
2076 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2014

I think so.  It isn’t completely unreasonable to eat at 7 or 8 after the wedding, and most people will eat lunch before and not be hungry for a meal at 2:30.  Just make sure you have enough food.  Even if it isn’t in your budget to up the hot hors d’oeuvres, make sure you have plenty of cheese and crackers just so people aren’t encouraged to leave early 

Post # 6
8510 posts
Bumble Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2013

If the reception lasts until 7, most people will not stay until the end.  They will probably leave before your slotted end time to go eat dinner so I think that’s okay to just do appetizers. 

Post # 7
511 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2014

I think that timing sounds fine. People may start filtering out around 6ish to grab dinner… but even if things go until 7, having snacks that afternoon will tide people over long enough that they can have a late meal. I think you’re good!

Post # 8
3217 posts
Sugar bee

@amyeb25:  You are pretty much spanning the full dinner hours, 5-7 is prime dinner time. 

I think you need to either wrap up earlier or serve enough to fully satisfy a grown adult.

I would also see if there is a way to drop the amount of time after the ceremony.  Or at least ensure that it is accurate.  You will not be able to leave immediately after the “i now pronounce you….”.  You will get roped into at least a little bit of chatting. Then wrangle the bridal party/family/groom into getting even to the photos.

Post # 9
1231 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: April 2012 - Chateau Briand

@oneofthesethings:  “I’d also be really careful how late you get there, because if there’s nothing to wait around for, people may enjoy some food and drink and then start leaving.” this exactly.

That being said, I don’t see anything wrong with just the hors d’ oeuvres as long as you realize most people will start heading our around 6 or so

Post # 10
307 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

That would be enough food for me for dinner anyhow! But I think that by the time I might possibly be hungry, I could easily just leave to get food.

My cousin’s wedding had a similar timeline and served a meal–which is gracious, but honestly I found it confusing. I could not wrap my head around a huge buffet at 3 pm–what meal is that?! I would have preferred what you’re describing.

Post # 11
9137 posts
Buzzing Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 2013 - St. Augustine Beach, FL

Apps are fine since you’re starting and ended early.  However, definitely expect guests to start heading out early (starting around 5 or 6) since they will be heading out to get dinner afterwards.

Post # 12
3668 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: August 2013

I would expect a lot of people would be leaving around 5pm. I’d bump up the number of appetizers you’re planning each person will eat.

Post # 13
2372 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: September 2013 - B&B

I vote you will be ok, but you are going to have some people leave early. I know I myself can certainly hold out until 7 to eat dinner, especially if I was snacking through the afternoon.  And that’s what I would do, stay and then just get dinner afterwards.

Post # 14
5968 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: September 2017

As a guest I would probably be leaving around 5 or 530 given that it’s a sunday and I would only be able to drink and dance so much at that time. I would stay for some drinks and visiting and dancing and then head out for dinner. So I don’t think your time is off I just think that you need to be more realistic as to how long the reception festivities will last. If you are really trying for a 7 pm ending then you need to plan for more food.

Post # 15
1168 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

@amyeb25: I would increase the amount of food your serving or cut your reception to only 2 hours long. Increase the hot/cooked food. Every hour of passed hot food I would have at least 4 different selections, and minimum 2-3 of each per guest. I would not pass the same exact selection around for 4 hours. I would try to stagger it out. Having crowd favorites released all the time and then sprinkle in a few exotic or different options. 

Personally I skip fruit, cheese and cold offerings for hot ones- and I know many that would do the same. If many or even 1/4 of your guests did that. 


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