Help with Timeline for wedding with no dinner

posted 3 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
323 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@MrsPhilly:  Honestly, that is a really long time to wait for a poutine bar to be served. Poutine is a really heavy food, and there are many guests that would probably opt out at that hour. Also, most of the weddings I go to, guests start to leave around 9:30/10:00, so you might want to push up the Poutine Bar by a bit. Maybe when you stop the music to do your bouquet/garter tosses you can serve it then? (I figure you’ll do that around 9:15? So maybe have the Poutine bar open at 9:30?)

I don’t care about you not having a dinner as long as you’re serving ample hors d’oeuvres. Not every wedding HAS to have a sit down dinner, but I think every wedding that is in the evening needs to have ample food.

But let me tell you, it won’t take 45 minutes to an hour to do first dances, speeches, and toasts. You’re going to have guests just lingering around waiting for food. Are you planning on passing the hors d’oeuvres around during the dances, speeches, and toasts? If so, that might be very distracting as a guest. So you might want to rethink that part. However,  you don’t really need a set “cocktail hour” if you’re doing an hors d’oeuvres reception. Serve some drinks/passed hors d’oeuvres while you’re taking pictures, but continue it as the reception maybe? Pause it for the dances, toasts, etc. then pick it up again? 2 hours is a REALLY long time to expect guests to mingle without having a sit down dinner.

Post # 4
3280 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: June 2014

As long as you let everyone know that there is no dinner it should be fine. I would still expect a 6pm wedding to have dinner but would be totally fine with it if I knew there wouldn’t be and would eat before hand. It would just suck if your guests were starving by 7 expecting full dinner

Post # 6
323 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@MrsPhilly:  I think as long as you don’t make your reception too “clubby” in atmosphere, your older guests are going to stick around and dance. Lots of parent/grandparent aged people don’t want to dance to Nikki Menagie (or w/e), LMFAO, etc. So, if you’re wanting people to stay till the end, try to play a mix of music everyone will enjoy! (The weddings that last until the very end have had this type of attmosphere, and are the ones I enjoy the most too! If I wanted to hit the clubs I would have!)

Consider maybe having your ceremony at 6:30, and just push it back by 30 minutes.

6:30 ceremony
6:30-7:30 pictures/start of cocktails and food
7:30-8:00 toasts, speeches, welcome, first dances
8:00 – hot hors d’eouvres start being served (use this time to greet guests, mingle, take pictures with guests)
8:30 dessert served/dances start
9:15 bouquet/garter toss, immediately following tosses, serve the Poutine Bar
9:** til 11:00 dancing and eating
11:00 bride and groom send off
11:15 last call
11:30 wedding ends.


A 5 hour wedding/reception is plenty long! You could even do 11:30 send off, 11:45 last call, 12:00 wedding ends if you wanted to extend it to 5 1/2 hours.

Post # 9
323 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@MrsPhilly:  How does clean up work? Do you just leave it all there and they take care of it? If not, you really need to give yourself at LEAST an hour to clean up, or plan to pay for extra hours.

Also, I couldn’t imagine staying at a wedding until 1am! That is way too late for me, especially if I need to get up and drive the next morning! I don’t see any of your older crowd staying much past 10:00-10:30 even with good music. 1am is just really late.

The bride and groom, at least around here, leave the wedding about 30 minutes early, then last call is usually 15 minutes after that. The send off signals to your guests that the party is about to end.

How old is the majority of your group going to be? And will most of them be local? That will really determine just how many will stick it out until 1am.

Post # 10
10384 posts
Sugar Beekeeper
  • Wedding: September 2010

I’d be pretty upset if a wedding started at 6pm and didnt include dinner. I’d have to eat dinner at 4pm or earlier to have time to get ready for the wedding. Also, when are YOU going to eat dinner?!

Post # 11
42166 posts
Honey Beekeeper
  • Wedding: November 1999

I would be expecting dinner if a wedding was scheduled to start anywhere between 6 and 7:30 pm.

Make sure you indicate clearly to your guests that you are not serving dinner.

cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception to follow ?

Post # 12
689 posts
Busy bee

I would make sure that it is well understood that there will be no sit down dinner and that there will be more than enough hors d’oeuvres to go around for guests to feel satisfied…from your timeline it feels like you are wanting the whole shebang of a reception without the formal seated eating part…and that could backfire on you. I’ll be the first to admit that if I’m really hungry at a party and there’s no food in sight, I’ll leave to go eat. I’m not the happiest hungry person. I’d hate for your wedding to wind down sooner than you expect bc guests are leaving to get a bite to eat elsewhere. 

Post # 13
863 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: October 2014

@MrsPhilly:  It’s rude to start a wedding at dinner time if you’re not giving your guests any dinner. If you start at 7:30 then it’s more clear to your guests that no meal will be served and it gives them a chance to get something to eat before coming. I don’t think you need to designate a time for dancing because if your DJ is still playing music then people are probably going to keep dancing, especially if they’re drunk.

I think that your timetable should be this.

7:30pm – ceremony

8:00-9:00 cocktail hour

9:00-10:00 speeches and first dances

10:00-10:30 dancing/dessert bar (dessert bar should be served at 10) 

10:30 poutine bar served. 

This way there is always food available to people. 

I really don’t think you could get away with a start time earlier than 7:30 and not feed people. If you choose to go with 6 anyway then expect a lot of your guests to leave early.  


Post # 15
323 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@Ruby-Redshoes:  9:00-10:00 is WAAAAY to long for speeches and dances. Speeches take MAYBE 10 minutes, and dances take MAYBE 15 minutes if you’re doing all 3.

Actually, you DO need to designate a TIME for the dance floor to be OPEN. You do NOT want people out on the floor dancing when you’re giving speeches, or cutting your cake, or doing the tosses. Usually the DJ will announce when the dance floor opens, and wiill announce when to clear the dance floor. It is of UTMOST importance to give these times to your DJ so he knows when he is to make these announcements and it gives him time to plan out how much music he needs for each set. You’re in for a rough night if you dismiss this important part of the reception.

Post # 16
323 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@MrsPhilly:  Seriously… I’ve never understood why people give 30 minutes for speeches! No one wants to sit through 30 minutes of TALKING and I’ve never been to a wedding where the speeches last more than 10 minutes (maybe 15 if there are some long-winded speakers…)

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