Post # 1
I’m pretty early in the wedding planning, but I haven’t been able to find great answers to my question about having an extended cocktail hour and reception. Thanks for your help!
We are having a Catholic ceremony at 1 pm (nothing later is offered in the area) which makes the rest of the reception planning difficult. We’ve been dating for 9 1/2 years and have a large guest list (280 plus) and most people that we’re inviting are big partiers. One of my friends had a 10 hour reception (until 2 am, and we had about 75 people still there at the end!)
Here is our proposed timeline:
Ceremony: 1:00-2:00 (10 minute walk to the reception venue)
Cocktail Hour: 2:30-4:30
Dinner: 4:30 (Plated)
Reception End: 10:30
I’m concerned that the cocktail hour is going to be too long, but we don’t want a gap in between the ceremony and the reception/cocktail hour. Also, I don’t want all of our guests to be completely trashed by dinner time. We do plan to have hors d’oeuvres during the cocktail hour, along with potentially late night snacks at 10 pm.
Our cocktail hour space is a billiards room, with 7 different pool tables, 5 dart boards and tvs, which should give guests plenty to do during the cocktail hour. It could also give guests a chance to explore the area a bit (we will have about 130 guests be out of town) if they don’t want to head to the cocktail hour until a little bit later. It’s in downtown Portland, which is a great place for people to head somewhere else for lunch if they wanted.
Let me know your thoughts
Post # 2
megdurso : your proposed timeline is pretty normal for the UK. So long as there is something to eat (guests may have skipped lunch) I wouldn’t worry.
Eta: if you’re doing a receiving line you’ll probably need the extra time too.
Post # 3
I’m guessing the ceremony is at a church since it’s a Catholic wedding. How far is the reception venue from the church?
Post # 4
ladyartichoke : Thanks! That is helpful. I hate being hungry at weddings, so we’ll definitely have enough appetizers for everyone. We are getting married right in downtown Portland, so I was going to put information about recommended places to get lunch in the area if people wanted to have more of a sit-down lunch (and get to try a new spot in Portland)!
Also… I love artichokes too! How funny!
Post # 5
bear123 : Great question… it’s about a 10 minute walk, .3 miles. So people could walk or drive.
Post # 6
Looks great but late night snacks could probably come out at 9:30 rather than 10 if it’s to end at 10:30 and dinner will be starting earlyish
Post # 7
megdurso : honestly it sounds like a REALLY long day to me. i’m a US bee, and recently attended a scottish wedding….and by god, i just wanted it to end about 4 hours before it did (and frankly, it seems so do most of the guests…it was a lot of start and stop partying, rather than a hot party for a couple of hours). i was SO happy by the time it was over.
2 hours seems like a LONG cocktail hour to me – as in, twice as long as it should be. 90 mins is really the max if you don’t want guests sloshed (even if there is food, many guests will want to nibble rather than eat since dinner is coming). i’d move everything up at least 30 mins (so 4pm dinner, meaning 280 guests probably won’t all get their food until 4:30 anyway), with a 10pm end time. 10pm is still plenty of “party” time and will feel like a late night (and it gives you an opportunity to have an after party if you want to).
Post # 8
That is a long day, but the cocktails room sounds good!
Is there maybe some speeches and such that can fill in some of the time between cocktails and dinner? and what about the wedding party and newlyweds entrance? im guessing that won’t take too long unless you drag it out though.
Post # 9
Some would be fine with a 2 hour cocktail hour, it would be too long for me but I’m not someone who really enjoys that kind of thing. If I knew what the plan was though I would be able to go a cafe for part it or something I suppose.
Dinner at 4pm would confuse me, it’s not a bad thing in itself by any means but I would like to know so that I didn’t go and have a big lunch during cocktail hour and then an hour later be served dinner!
Alternatively you could actually make the gap larger so people can go chill in their hotels. I’d rather go home than to a 2 hour cocktail hour.
Post # 10
megdurso : 2 hours is a really long time for cocktail hour. Darling Husband is in the wedding industry so I’ve seen plenty of guests getting antsy with just the standard 1 hour cocktail hour. With that being said, the rest of the plan sounds great!
Post # 11
I think the long cocktail hour is probably OK with it being in a room with stuff to do. I would definitely do late night snacks since dinner so early, and I would do them at nine or 930.
Are you 100% sure you aren’t OK with a gap? I know that some people hate gaps, but I don’t know, some people might like to look around the area and relax before the next structured activity. 4:30 is awfully early for dinner, and 1030 seems too early for the party to end.
Post # 12
I think the 2 hour cocktail hour is fine (ours was that long), but a 4:30pm dinner seems extremely early to me! And do you not have the reception venue past 10:30? We had a 3:30pm ceremony, served dinner at 6:30 and partied until 1am.
Post # 13
megdurso : I’m thinking about having them in my bouquet.
I found the timeline my venue suggested (we’re having a church ceremony 30 minute drive from the reception venue). We’re actually doing things differently because we are having a morning wedding but this timeline is pretty usual when speaking to venues and looking online.
12.00: Wedding Ceremony
1.30pm: Arrival at the Reception venue
1.30 – 3.00pm: Cocktail “hour” (Photos, Canapes & Drinks)
3.00 – 5.30pm: Wedding Breakfast
5.30pm – 6.00pm: Speeches and Cutting of the Cake
6.00pm – 6.30pm: Tea & Coffee
7.30pm: Evening party begins
9.00pm: Evening food
In the UK it’s quite usual for extra guests to turn up for the dancing in the evening which is why there is extra food (usually a buffet or similar). We have decided against the extra guests but I thought I would just mention it for clarity. If we were getting married at the hotel they would advise a 1pm ceremony. Church weddings in the UK take 45-60 minutes (unless having nuptial mass which is extremely rare) and civil weddings take 15-25 minutes.
ETA: My brother is getting married at 230pm (also church wedding but less than 10 minutes to reception site) and eating at 530pm. They want to leave at 10pm and my mum got upset that they wouldn’t be able to have a “full” day. It’s really interesting hearing about the differing cultures. I went to a Pakistani wedding (just the brides wedding not all three days) and it lasted less than 2 hours – we literally ate during the ceremony. Up until 2012 UK brides (with the exception of Scotland maybe) weren’t able to get married after 6pm and until 2015 you couldn’t get married outside (and even now it has to be a permanently licensed). My parents wedding was just the ceremony and the wedding breakfast but we, as a culture, seem to have adopted dancing until the early hours without moving the day on. Anyway, it’s interesting to me…
ETA: I found the more info on it, it used to be that you had to get married before noon. https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-measures-allow-couples-to-tie-the-knot-at-any-time. https://www.confetti.co.uk/wedding-receptions/venues/why-you-cant-get-married-where-you-want.
Post # 14
This is a completely normal timeline in the UK, so I wouldn’t have a problem with it. My best friend’s wedding had exact same timeline as your’s and people were still partying at midnight. As long as you provide refreshments and something light to snack on during the cocktail hour then it will be fine.
Post # 14
I appreciate what you’re doing to avoid unhosted gaps! I think this is the best way with the timing available to you. It’s a bit of a long day, but ome peopple love to party! I get tired easily so I probably wouldnt stay the whole time, but lots of others would. I think you’re totally fine.