(Closed) 2 o’clock wedding – serve a meal??

posted 10 years ago in Food
Post # 3
4485 posts
Honey bee

I wouldn’t. 3:30 isn’t a meal time. But if you do that, then be prepared to have a short reception. People have receptions without full meals during a non-meal time all the time. It’s not a novel concept since full dinners are a fairly new idea. But either way, you two need to come to a compromise on what works best.

No matter what you decide, meal or not, it needs to be listed on the reception card so guests know what is going on. Honestly, as a guest, if I received an invite that didn’t say anything about dinner, I would never assume that dinner was being served regardless of the time, so I would probably eat a snack to tide me over before going. Obviously everyone is different though.


Post # 4
6 posts
  • Wedding: January 2020

Are you having a cocktail hour? That will help you to schedule the meal…  We got married at 2:30 and then had an hour and half cocktail, so the reception didnt really start until 5.  Guests will def be expecting a meal, so I don’t think they will care what time it is! 

Post # 5
162 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

I think whether or not you should have dinner is more dependent on how long you want the reception to last, rather than what time it starts.

If you want the reception to last several hours, then it encompasses a meal time and you should serve one.  If you only want the reception to be a couple hours at the most, then just have cake and snacks/appetizers. 

Whatever you do, you should indicate what is planned so people don’t expect a meal that isn’t provided or come already full when you have a 5-course meal planned.  Make some sort of note on your wedding website, on the reception card you include with the invite (ie. please join us after the ceremony for appetizers and cake), or by word of mouth.  It’s hard to predict what people will expect as it is largely based on what other weddings they’ve been to (or seen in the media).  Lots of people were surprised that we had a full meal at our reception, even though our reception was from ~4:30-midnight!!



Post # 7
1080 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: March 2010

We are in a similar boat. Our ceremony starts at 2 and will most likely last for an hour and a half. So it will be over at around 3:30. Then we will have a 2 hour time in between. Begining at 5:30 we will have a cocktail hour with beer and wine and light apps.

beer/wine/margaritas def qualify for a cocktail hour

Post # 8
715 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: February 2010

Why not to a tea party type thing. It can be very elegant. Little tea sandwiches, scones, salads, etc

Post # 9
37 posts
  • Wedding: February 2020

Having a cocktail hour, tea party or whatnot is a great idea…as long as you let people know, yes. Your guests will have more opportunities to mingle, you may save on catering costs, and you may not need to dress as many tables, hire chair covers or make as many centrepieces. Of course, this depends on your venue. Please keep us posted on your plans!

Post # 10
619 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: August 2010

Mine is at 2 also, but we are going ahead and serving first an hour of hoerdervs and then a sit down meal. It doesn’t matter if it’s “meal time” or not. The guest will plan their day accordingly if they know that it’s kind of between lunch and dinner. In fact, isn’t it dunch?

Post # 12
599 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

Our wedding was at one o’clock, reception cocktail hour started at 2. By 4:30pm we were calling tables to get their food. Nobody minded that it was an early dinner, we all went to the bar afterward and had chicken wings and beer. Some family went to my parents’ house and brought supplies for sandwiches.

I definitely think a meal is appropriate.

Post # 13
3979 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

Guests, unless told otherwise, will always expect a meal!! I love the above suggestions of just extending your cocktail hour. 🙂

Post # 14
521 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: July 2009

3:30 isn’t a traditional meal time, so I think you’d be fine to just do cake and appetizers!

Post # 15
2344 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: June 2010

I think it depends on your guests. In my region, guests only expect a meal at a meal time. Even at a lunch time wedding, the expectation isn’t a full meal but heavy hor’s d’eourves. But where you are from or where most of your guests are from, there could be a cultural expectation of a meal no matter what, like Recessionista said. I think that should help you decide if you want to make your cocktail hour from 3:30 – 5, and serve dinner at 5, or if you would rather just have finger foods. I would say another factor is budget! A 2 o’clock wedding is a great excuse to have lighter fare and avoid paying for an hour and a half of drinks and appetizers AND a full dinner, in my opinion, but if you have it in the budget and that’s what you want, go for it! Just be sure to tastefully indicate either way on your invitations. Oh, and – beer, wine and margaritas are just fine for your cocktail hour! I would say you could even go to just beer and wine after the cocktail hour if you’d like to save a little money.

Post # 16
78 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: July 2013

@nurseamanda:  I’m in the same boat. Our reception will be from 4-8. We’re just doing hot and cold hor d’ourves. Neither of us are big drinkers and we’re on a very tight budget, so we’re not having alcohol at the reception, which means no cocktail hour. Most of the hor d’ourves are pretty heavy, though, and it gives us and our guests more options instead of being limited to chicken, beef, or fish with a plated dinner.

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