(Closed) Ceremony Timing on Saturday Night

posted 10 years ago in Jewish
Post # 3
1061 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

You’re reform, and presumably your guests know that. If you have very observant guests, you’re probably going to upset them because you’re having a reform ceremony, not just because your ceremony is before sundown. If the rabbi, the two of you, and your parents are okay with it, I really think it’s fine. You’re always going to make someone upset with a wedding planning decision; they key is to make the fewest people upset as possible. Sounds like this is what you’ve done in this case.

Just a thought — I’ve heard of some couples do the cocktail hour, then the wedding, then the reception. Is that an option for you? It may soften the blow of not eating until later because your guests have already eaten. Then again, some people might not want their guests to drink until after the wedding. Something to think about! 

Post # 4
129 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: May 2009

I’m not Jewish, but I was in a reform wedding on a Saturday night in April of this year (in Baltimore, if you feel like looking up old sunset records). The ketubah signing was at 7 pm, and the ceremony started at 7:30. The sun was definitely not set at 7, it probably set somewhere around 7:30 or so, but the ceremony was in a hotel ballroom so there were no windows. However, the ketubah signing room had windows. The bride and her family (who were reform; the groom’s family wasn’t Jewish) were OK with the non-sunset start, and the rabbi was also. The rabbi cleared his throat, indicated that it was time to start, and everyone gathered around. Just then, the bride’s grandmother blurted out, "But the sun hasn’t set yet!" Everyone just kind of ignored her, and the rabbi said something diplomatically that it was OK, and she didn’t say anything else about it — she’s too classy to put up a big fuss in front of people. My understanding of it, from hearing about it from the bride ahead of time, was that the rabbi was OK with it, so it was fine, and they weren’t too worried about pissing off relatives. (And I don’t know if there were too many non-reform Jewish guests, either.)

After the ceremony, the guests had cocktail hour and the bridal party had more pictures (I just looked at the schedule she emailed us, and pictures were from 8-8:30 or so) and then the reception officially started at 9 pm. I think they served the first course immediately, which was good, but dinner still took a long time (although the guests had eaten a lot during cocktail hour). I remember thinking it was a late party, but we danced until the end which was probably 1 am or so. 


Post # 5
2695 posts
Sugar bee
  • Wedding: February 2008

If your rabbi is ok with it, then you should feel free to do it! I went to a summer Jewish wedding where we ended up eating aroudn 11:30!! It was crazy late and although we stayed and danced, I think a lot of others left right after dinner. 

Let those 6 people know what you have decided and let them know they will still be able to enjoy the dinner etc. if they decide to come after the ceremony.  Everyone else will appreciate the earlier start time – so you have 194 people (likely) happier and 6 who might not be.  Seems like good math if it is what YOU want!

Post # 6
293 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2008

I think you just have to draw the line in the sand–either you are going to please your observant guests or you are not.  Maybe you could try to convince them that Shabbas is already over in Israel 🙂   

Post # 7
599 posts
Busy bee

I’d say you should make the ceremony revolve around you and not your guests. Do whatever you (and your rabbi) find acceptable. There will always be people who disagree. For us we have a few friends who keep kosher. But there is no way in hell I am spending extra money on kosher food since we and the majority of our friends and family don’t. Plus it’s just an extra expense we can’t afford.

Post # 8
23 posts
  • Wedding: December 2010

For our wedding, we’re having it Saturday night at sunset with the cocktail hour before (7 pm) and the ceremony at 8ish. Being that the ceremony will only be 20 minutes or less, we’re then going to have the first course served at 8:45 pm. It’s late, but since our guests will be noshing at 7 pm, I’m not concerned. We’re reform, but we do want this to be traditional and respect the wishes of the few guests who observe shabbat.


Good luck!

Post # 9
2058 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2010

Its already been posted a few times – its your day. You and your FH get to call the shots!  I vote having the cocktail hour then the ceremony.  Its very common.  Good luck Wink

Post # 10
1676 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: July 2010

We went to a Jewish wedding in September, and they served drinks and appetizers before the ceremony.  That worked out really well, since we weren’t sitting down and eating dinner until after 10 PM.  If they hadn’t fed us before the ceremony I think they would have ended up with some very cranky guests. 

During their before-the-wedding cocktail hour we also participated in some Jewish traditions that I hadn’t seen at other weddings before.  The women were supposed to go chat with the bride and congratulate her while she sat in a fancy chair.  The men were supposed to entertain (and distract) the groom while he tried to recite the Torah portion for the week.  Both of those traditions have names, but I can’t remember them.  It was actually really fun. 

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