Post # 1
My best friend got married Saturday, and her ceremony was BEAUTIFUL and couldn’t have been more perfect. The reception, however, did not turn out as planned. It might have, if we were there for the majority of it. Here’s what happened…
Her ceremony was held at our church, which is in City A, South Carolina. Her reception was at the train depot in our town, City B, in Georgia. The locations are about 20 minutes apart. After the ceremony the guests departed to the reception site of course and the families and bridal party stayed for pictures. An hour and a half later, we showed up at the reception to find that a large percentage of guests had already left. Upon the bride and grooms arrival, many congratulated them and left as well. The remaining guests (about 40-50) didn’t get up to dance for a single song. About an hour after arriving at the reception, the music abruptly ended and her coordinator started cleaning up as most of the guests were gone by now. Only the bridal party and family remained. She didn’t get to do her bouquet toss or the garter toss.
Three things bummed her out:
1. The pictures took waaay too long…IMO. (And in the opinion of just about everyone else).
2. The 20 minute drive only added to the wait, and even though it isn’t very far, pairing a drive with an extra long picture session only added to peoples frustration.
3. No one danced.
I don’t think my friend thought the drive would be a big deal or that the pictures would take that long. She was extremely bummed out by the way her reception turned out and left with a case of the blues.
I am discouraged because I am afraid this same thing will happen at my wedding. Let me start off by saying that my ceremony and reception are in the same building so I will not have the problem of a 20 minute drive in between locations. However, I am afraid to put so much thought, time, effort, and MONEY into my reception for people to sit on their bums the entire time and not dance. I’ve really got a case of the blues now and have lost some of my drive to plan this wedding.
What did you guys do (or what are you doing) to ensure your reception will be fun? We can’t have alcohol at our venue so that isn’t an option. I know that I will be happy no matter what to be married to the man I love, but I still want the day to be fun. Any advice?
Post # 3
This is a huge part of why we’re doing all of our pics before the ceremony. After being a guest to several weddings, it’s boring and frustrating to wait for an hour or more for the wedding party to arrive to the reception. They’re kind of the main attraction, so without them, the reception seems pointless.
Post # 4
Alright honey, stop worrying, it’s going to be beautiful! But if an empty dancefloor plagues you, fear not, the solution is a simple one!
Booze + Music = Dancing!
And, just to hedge your bets, it is customary in polite society for the host and hostess to “open” the floor, a guest can’t dance according to the rules of etiquette until their hosts have the first dance…so those two things together, along with at least three really out going folks who are willing at any time to make asses of themselves, will greatly increase the odds that your reception will trip the light fantastic!
Post # 5
Well I really can’t imagine anyone leaving before the food!! Most people will stay at least until the cake cutting.
I think the amount of dancing will depend on your guests and your DJ. It is really important for the DJ to read the crowd and play pleasing music.
Post # 6
- Wedding: July 2012 - The Gables Inn, Santa Rosa, CA
Some people just aren’t dancers– we didn’t have anything beyond our first dance at our wedding– it just wasn’t that kind of crowd. But everyone had a wonderful time anyway, because they got to hand out and chat with friends and family, drink cold beer, and then head home after a few hours (our ceremony was at 11am and the reception was over between 3 & 4pm.
How long was the photo session? What was available to the guests in that time? Was there a plated meal or anything that the guests were waiting on? Was there confusion about when/how long the guests would be there? It sounds to me like this was a failing on the coordinator’s part in not keeping the guests entertained during the photo session.
Post # 7
We had a reception that was 20 minutes away and did pictures that took an hour, but it was during cocktail hour. Our guests waited outside during the hottest day of the year for us. No one left and we had a great reception! I’m sorry for your friend but unfortunately it might just be the people that she invited rather than the order of events, I wouldn’t let it get to you.
Post # 8
did they have refreshments for guests while they waited? im a bit baffled by the idea of guests leaving before the couple got there. unless they were out of towners who had a long drive back or something
to be honest, big gaps between ceremonies and receptions ARE a nightmare for guests. but i personally suck it up and deal with it. last wedding i went to had a 3 hour gap with nowhere to go andn othing to do….bleugh
this is why i think first look photos are better in terms of guests. yes, the walking down the aisle ‘big reveal of dress and bride’ moment is awesome…but people do hate standing around doing nothing while the bride and groom are taking photos
dancing – is out of your control. you can have best music in world, btu if people dont like dancing – they wont do it
edit – just saw its an alcohol free wedding. whether is has an effect depends on the people. where i live in mexico…people dance constantly, in the supermarket, in the street…any kind of music they dance (esp my fi). where im from in london – a lot less people dance. particularly sober.
Post # 9
Showing up to your own wedding 1.5 hours after the guests have is a sure fire way to make it seem like you don’t care about them as guests. Especially since I’m assuming all of your family were doing photo’s too, so NO one was there to represent. I recently went to a wedding where even though the ceremony and reception where in the same place, same room even, but the B&G where so often missing that a LOT of people left early and those of us that kept staying wondered the entire time why we were there when it clearly didn’t matter if we were there or not.
Don’t worry too much about this happening to you though, if you have planned your day well and have things to show your guests that you care about them having a good time then you will be fine. If you want to share your plan for the day we can help. I would definitely do pictures before the ceremony if at all possible, have hors d’ouevres and drinks, have good music, and show up.
I am sure everything will be just fine!
Post # 10
- Wedding: January 2013 - Harbourfront Grand Hall
WOW! I have never heard of something like that happening, usually people know that there will be some downtime between the ceremony and the reception if pictures haven’t been taken yet. Did your friend not clarify that by saying something like “reception will begin at ___time.” If there was a dinner being served that people had RSVP’d for I couldnt’ imagine them leaving before eating!
As for your wedding, all the more reason to do a first look! ESPECIALLY because your ceremony and reception are at the same place! That’s what we’re doing so immediately after the ceremony we can go into cocktails, followed closely by dinner and then dancing!
Post # 11
We had our ceremony and reception at the same venue like you did, and we took an hour for pictures. We had a cocktail hour to keep people from getting too bored while we took pictures – the venue went ahead and opened the salad bar, there were a couple of appetizera available, and the bar opened. Plus it gave people time to find their seats, sign the guestbook, mingle, etc. I think you’ll be fine!
Post # 12
She had food for the guests to enjoy while the pictures were being taken, but it wasn’t the main dishes, of course. When they arrived they had their first dance, and then her bridal party got out there to do the Apache dance (think Will and Carlton from Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), but after that – no dancers. They cut the cake and that was pretty much it. She was just so bummed out – it broke my heart. She said, “Well, I’ll get over it. We are married.”
I will definitely be sneaking a glass of wine or two at my reception but it isn’t something I can offer to very many people! And I do think a more lively DJ would have helped.
I’m sure this is a normal wedding fear, right?
Post # 13
We are definitely going to do all the pictures beforehand EXCEPT the ones with him and I. I have always wanted the big reveal to be as I am walking down the aisle.
But when you go to a wedding you expect there to be a gap in between the ceremony and reception. Some gaps are definitely longer than others, but to me it was still rude that people left. The ones that I know of that left lived in town so they probably just went home.
Post # 14
I definitly think that a good DJ can make all the difference! A good DJ will get a good feel for the crowd and entice them to keep coming back up to the dance floor! He/She will also keep the flow going, ensuring that you get to do your bouquet toss and such.
Also, having an hors’ doeuvres (or some kind of cocktail hour) inbetween ceremony and reception is key to keeping guests there while pictures are taking place, instead of getting board or feeling awkward while waiting for a prolonged period of time!
Good Luck 🙂
Post # 15
This is my biggest concern with the wedding — as I’ve been to several receptions where people left immediately after dinner. But these weddings were missing several things — alcohol, a good DJ, and a defined timeline/order of events — all of which we have made a priority.
Most people have wedding programs that show the order of the ceremony, but they don’t lay out the events of the rest of the evening. We are laying that out in the program — so people know there’s more to come (cake cutting, bouquet toss, late night snack, etc, bride and groom depature, etc.). I’ve been to weddings where dinner takes 2 hours and guests have no idea if that’s it or more is going to happen and they’re just left sitting for hours.
So that’s what we’re doing to ensure minimal departures before — communicated order of events, DJ who will keep the reception moving, and plenty of alcohol flowing. Plus, we have family who enjoy a good party and a lot of people who know each other but haven’t seen each other in awhile and will use the full five hours to catch up.
Post # 16
@kimberlyr22: That’s a really good idea! I never thought about making the timeline for the reception known to everyone else. I wish my venue (as well as my FI’s family…) allowed alcohol. It’s not that his family DOESN’T allow it, they just don’t like it, so out of respect for him and them I said fine…no alcohol. I’ll just have to be sneaky with mine that day. 🙂