Post # 1
Background: we are having an Indian/hindu wedding ceremony and then a black tie reception at a 5 star hotel in a major city. Family and bridal party are changing from Indian clothing to American black tie. We are a mixed race couple where one is Indian and one is white. Indian ceremony starts with a groom procession and then a long religious portion. It will take almost 2.5 hours from when guests arrive for groom procession to when the bride exits after ceremony.
The venue has 3 rooms: Grand ballroom, ballroom foyer, and basement ballroom
The room we want to do our ceremony in is the ballroom foyer. The foyer has lots of beautiful windows and interesting layout which is why we want the ceremony there. We want to avoid having the ceremony in the ballroom since we want to wow everyone when they walk into the reception, the ballroom has no windows, and we need to pay $1500 flip fee if we want to flip from ceremony to reception while we do the cocktail hour.
The venue has another ballroom in the basement that’s kind of dark with low ceiling/no windows that can be utalized for anything we want. It just requires ~250 guests to take elevators or walk down stairs. No one in our family is a huge fan of this room.
This complicates things since the foyer is the most obvious place to do the cocktail hour but we want to use it for the ceremony too. We discussed the possibility of taking a 2 -2.5 hour break after the ceremony so that the hotel staff can flip the foyer(no fee) and we can use the same space for the cocktail.
During the break we would use the basement ballroom for light Indian snacks if people didn’t have a hotel room to go back to and rest/change. The hotel also has a couple restaurants and bars that people could check out and is near a lot of site seeing but the wedding is in the winter and I’m assuming people will not want to roam the city in their formal attire. This break will also give bridal party and family time to change and take pictures in both outfits.
What are your thoughts on a 2.5 hour break? Is it too awkward? Is there anything else we can do during that break so that people who don’t have a hotel room have something to do/entertain them? Any other suggestions of how we layout the day? I understand doing the cocktail hour in the basement ballroom makes most sense logically but we aren’t sold on it yet since everyone has to move downstairs and then back up again and we don’t like that room very much.
Post # 2
In my opinion a 2.5-hour break is WAY too long. Anything more than an hour is inconvenient for all guests.
However, there are aspects that can make this stretch less awful. What time of day is it? Is this a stretch where people will DEFINITELY be hungry? How generous is your cocktail hour going to be? How many guests are there? Are there a lot of children? A lot of elderly? If you have a lot of people and a lot of children and elderly, I would really rethink this.
The rule of thumb with timeline planning is to foot the bill, no matter how high it is, so your guests are as comfortable as possible. And since your affair is black tie, people’s expectations will be very high. People will be thinking, “Well if they can afford a black tie, why are we sitting around bored for three hours instead of being taken care of somehow?”
Any sort of inconvenience is exacerbated by the fact it’s a black tie affair.
Just some things to keep in mind.
Post # 3
As a guest, I wouldn’t mind going down to the lower level after the ceremony- but my concern is that if you have a long 2.5 hour ceremony followed by 2 hours of downtime with Indian snacks provided- I love Indian food and would welcome this, but to have a cocktail hour afterward, I’m going to be full and tired by the time your reception starts. Could you combine the post-ceremony Indian snacks with the cocktail hour, even if it’s on the lower level instead of the foyer, and move the reception up an hour or so? Not sure if this is do-able? I agree that most guests won’t want to walk around- normally I love to go for a walk/ explore a new city, but only if I’m dressed for it- winter boots or running shoes and weather appropriate gear, not high heels and a fancy dress.
Post # 4
I agree that 2.5 hours is wayyyy too long, and if it’s an elaborate affair and people are spending a lot to be there (on their outfits, gifts, travelling costs) ESPECIALLY after quite a long ceremony, then it’s too much to ask of your guests.
If it was me, I would bite the bullet and spend the money to do the ceremony in the ballroom (which would make things really easy for you), find a way to make it special and pretty in there, and have them flip it during the cocktail hour.
Post # 5
Just to clarify, the ballroom flip fee isn’t really the issue. It’s that 1) we want the ceremony in the foyer since it’s beautiful and has windows and we want natural light during the ceremony and 2) we want to save the beauty of the ballroom for the reception.
$1500 fee was just added details but not really holding us back. Well probably spend that much money with Indian snacks fitting the break.
We do not have many children or elderly. I think around 80-100 out of the 250 guests will have a hotel room to go back to if they wanted to.
Post # 6
I’m not going to be “wow’ed” by a ballroom if I’m tired and cranky from spending over 5 hours in formal wear before cocktail hour even starts, the last 2.5 hours milling around eating snacks in the basement because you care more about a 10 second “wow” moment than you care about my time or comfort.
I’m a little confused by your logistics and am on break so I’m not going back to reread to make specific suggestions on how to accomplish it. Whatever you do, prioritize your guests’ time and comfort (which based on what I can make sense of in the post would likely mean just have cocktail hour in the reception ballroom immediately after the ceremony or have the cocktail hour in the basement immediately following the ceremony and then move up to the reception after cocktail hour).
Post # 7
Just use the lower room.
A set of stairs >>>>>>>>>>>>>>> 2.5h gap
eta – also how long is your cocktail hour? This is going to be a long day
-2.5 hr ceremony
-2.5 hr break
-1 (?) hr cocktail hour
Post # 8
You’ve mentioned two issues with the basement ballroom:
1) Everyone has to move up and downstairs; and
2) You just don’t like it that much.
I just want to say that #1 really shouldn’t be a consideration. When the alternative is to spend 2.5h sitting around doing nothing, all your guests would prefer to just take the stairs/elevator to a different floor. It’s not even a question. Plus you said you’d be sending people down there anyway for light snacks while they wait, so the concern *really* doesn’t make sense at all. Basically this is just an added justification for your real issue: you don’t like the basement space.
So, it’s a cocktail hour. You’re having a gorgeous ceremony and a gorgeous reception, and you just need someplace for people to pass a bit of time while they wait. You just need to suck it up and use the basement ballroom. You can put some decorations in there if you want. The guests are *really* not going to appreciate the fact that the cocktail hour is in a prettier room, if it means they have to wait 2.5h and still go down to the less appealing room anyway.
Post # 9
I think a 2.5 hour break is way too long, especially if the entire wedding is taking place at the same location.
Post # 10
I went to a wedding like this over the summer… There was an indian ceremony (guests wore indian clothing or normal smart outfits) and in the evening there was a black tie recpetion with a break in between the two. I think the break was about 3-3.5 hours and it was fine. During the break they had refreshments (including light alcohol) and snacks in another area of the venue but we ended up chatting with friends in the hotel lobby and went back to our room to change/re-fresh into formal wear. Although I have been really bothered by long gaps at other weddings, I wasn’t annoyed by this gap, as I understood that the bride and groom had to blend two cultures and traditions in their day. I think the fact that there was an outfit change required also helped add context (I would have been more bothered to wear formal wear ALL day opposed to a sundress then gown). Maybe on your website you can go into detail about that more.
Post # 12
“I’m not going to be “wow’ed” by a ballroom if I’m tired and cranky from spending over 5 hours in formal wear before cocktail hour even starts, the last 2.5 hours milling around eating snacks in the basement because you care more about a 10 second “wow” moment than you care about my time or comfort.”
Unfortunately OP, I think the above statement is how a good many of your guests will feel.
I too would cut the bride and groom some extra slack knowing they are trying to combine two cultures and doing a complete wardrobe change in between- but keep in mind that you had a hotel room to go back to chill in, many guests won’t and that can make the difference between a long gap being tolerable or incredibly tiring.
Post # 13
I just went to a wedding that had a 2.5 hour gap. It was awful. There was plenty of food, really good food and lots of drinks, but they didn’t provide enough seating for everyone. So a majority of the people were literally standing around for 2.5 hours. And it was a formal wedding so most women were in high heels. It also got boring after awhile and definitely affected the mood for the rest of the day.
Post # 14
Its very common for there to be a gap with Hindu weddings. Since they start so early in the morning, I think it is nice to have down time in between. For my own wedding, after having lunch post ceremony, I had to fully change my outfit, hair, makeup, and take a new set of photos so there was a similar gap in time. Most of our guests were staying at the hotel or nearby and went to their rooms to rest, change, etc. Most of your Indian guests will probably want to change in between too and if you’re planning to change in between, some amount of a gap will be necessary!
Post # 15
I was super anti-breaks, until I just went to a wedding that had about a two hour break. The church was in another location from the reception, so we had to drive there anyway. We ended up checking into our hotel room, freshening up, and having a snack before heading out to the reception. It was actually kind of nice to have some time to relax. I know a lot of people at the wedding either did what we did, or went to a bar before the cocktail hour. I think it will only be uncomfortable for guests who don’t know anyone and don’t have a hotel room. If there aren’t many in that category, I think it’s fine.