Post # 1
We’re having our wedding ceremony and reception at the same location. The ceremony begins at 3:00 and the reception starts at 6:00. Assuming the ceremony takes about an hour, that leaves a 2 hour gap between the ceremony and the reception for us to greet our guests, have pictures taken, etc.
Future Mother-In-Law is stressing out because we’re not providing any food or refreshments for guests during the gap between the ceremony and reception. She’s even offered to pay for it herself. I just don’t see why it’s necessary to feed people when the wait is only a couple hours and they’re going to be eating again at 6:00 (and it’s a buffet!). There will be quite a few kids there and I’d rather not let them into the reception area early because I don’t want it to get destroyed before the dinner even begins. We’re also having a candy buffet that I want to keep closed until after dinner. I already think having kids at weddings is a bad idea (it was FI’s idea to invite them) and the last thing I need is for them to load up on sugar before the reception begins.
The location where we’re having our wedding is close to a lot of coffee shops, restaurants and shopping so it’s not like there aren’t places for people to go between the ceremony and reception. Do you think it’s rude of me not to provide food/drinks for guests to keep them occupied till dinner? What do people usually do in this circumstance?
Post # 3
@As_You_Wish: We had an hour and half gap between the end of the ceremony and dinner. We provided appetizers and drinks on the lawn outside the tent/building where dinner and dancing would be.
Cocktail hours I believe are fairly common to fill the gap between the ceremony and reception.
The guests had to go right by a bunch of restaurants/coffee shops between the ceremony and reception, but we wanted to host them for the whole evening so they were welcomed to the reception location with drinks and food immediately following the ceremony.
All the weddings I’ve been to have had some sort of cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception, so as a guest I would expect it.
Post # 4
Some form of refreshment is needed or you may risk losing your guests to a nearby cafe or bar and they won’t come back or will stroll in late and not want to eat dinner because they ate too much out. We went to a wedding with a roughly 1H30M break between and we were provided appetizers and the bar was open (cash once the reception started). It was much nicer to mingle and wait with something to munch and sip on.
I went to another wedding with a two hour wait with only the hershey kiss favors as a snack and it was horrible! The cash bar wasn’t even open. It made for a lot of grumpy guests.
We plan on having little munchie snacks on the tables (we’re having a laid back theme), like cashews, cookies, candies, etc.
Post # 5
I think either way is okay. You can host people to an event or dismiss them between ceremony and reception and let them do whatever. Since you are having the ceremony and reception at the same place it might be a bit awkward to kick your guests out for a couple hours in between. But, if there are pleny of things to do, close by, then that could be okay. Just be very explicit that the guests will have to fill their own time for a couple hours, so that they’re prepared. I, personally, prefer a hosted “cocktail hour” so that there is more time to socialize with your guests, espeically since you’re staying at the same site. It could be very low key: lemonade, iced tea, water, punch if you want to throw in an alcoholic option, with cheeese, crackers, and some fruit/veggies. Very simple but something to nosh on. What I think would be a bad idea, is to have people hang around the site for a couple hours with nothing to eat or drink. So don’t go half way, either let people know that they need to leave after the ceremony and when they need to be back for the reception OR host some time at the location with at least some food/drink. Good luck!
Post # 6
I think light refreshments and cocktails would be perfectly nice. It will give your guests something to do while you finish up photos, which is kinda the point of cocktail hour.
Post # 7
This could be a regional difference, but in Southern California the time between the ceremony and reception (especially when at the same location) is filled with cocktail hour. Where food and drinks are provided. So as a guest I would be very confused as I’ve never attended a wedding that did not have a cocktail hour even when the ceremony and reception were at different locations.
I would agree with PP that if you dismiss people to wander over to local shops you may lose them or they will come back late.
Post # 8
I think you should be providing some sort of food and drink for your guests. Even if it’s something simple, like hors d’ouerves in a stand-alone display and not passed by servers. Honestly, I’m not a fan of the 2 hour gap, and if you don’t feed people, you may end up losing guests before receptions because people will be hungry/thirsty/want to relax. Are you having chairs and tables for people to sit at and hang out at, rather than just awkwardly standing around waiting for the reception to start?
Post # 9
We’ve already paid the caterer for cheese/pickle and fruit trays which were going to have them at the dinner…I guess we could serve them before dinner instead. Do you guys think that’s enough for people to eat? We’re not having any alcohol at the wedding but we could do coffee, tea and juice.
Now that I hear your opinions, I’m starting to think it’s a good idea to provide food and drinks to guests during the break. I guess when Future Mother-In-Law suggested it, I took it as her just being critical again.
Post # 10
I would move your cheese and fruit trays to this period and maybe add some more day time drinks like lemonade or ice tea. Maybe have some music playing so it would foster some mingling.
Post # 11
- Wedding: July 2012 - Baltimore Museum of Industry
We’re having ceremony/reception at the same location, and are having a 45-minute cocktail “hour” (then we start herding everyone for first dance). Like yellowshoe, I’ve never attended a reception that didn’t have something for the guests.
You can keep it simple: punch, cheese/crackers, fruit and veggie plates. I agree with PPs that if guests leave, they may not be punctual returning.
Is there another space in your venue, you could set up for guests? We’re having cocktails separate from the dining area.
edit: just saw your reply- yes, I think those trays should be used in the gap. Also- if you can do passed appetizers, that’s always a nice touch (and if Future Mother-In-Law is willing to pay, go for it!)
Post # 12
I wouldn’t take food away from the reception menu to serve during the “social hour” (if you’re not having cocktails, you can’t quite call it “cocktail hour”). A small selection of light nibbles should supplement what’s on the dinner menu and give guests a little nosh; that will also encourage mingling and mixing.
If you’re not serving alcohol, I’d recommend selecting one or to specialty N/A drinks like a raspberry lemondade or some variation of a regional favorite. It’s nice to offer something “special”, in honor of the special day.
Post # 13
I second the notion for punch/lemonade and light hors d’oeurves (think, 3-4 small bites per person).
Post # 14
I’ve never been to a wedding that didn’t have a cocktail hour with hors d’oeuvres between the ceremony & reception, so I do think that it would be awkward especially since your ceremony and reception are at the same location. I would definitely take Future Mother-In-Law up on her offer and also try to get some seating for them, 2 hours is a long time to stand.
Post # 15
Both the ceremony and reception are being held at a church so there’s not a lot of extra space for people to hang out (other than outside of course).
The only sitting area is in the room where we’re having the dinner. That means there will be tables set up with an assigned seating chart. Should i let people go in and find their assigned seats ahead of time then? Won’t they get bored just sitting there until it’s time to eat dinner?
Sorry if these are silly questions but I seemed to have forgotten this whole gap between ceremony and reception when making wedding plans! 🙁
Post # 16
@As_You_Wish: Referring back to the two weddings I referenced —
The 1H30M wedding that had appetizers and an open bar had us standing outside in a courtyard. Not the best situtation, but the bride didn’t want us sitting at our tables. There were little benches, but not enough for over 100 people. Ladies in heels standing on concrete…no amount of booze could help that – lol! But, it didn’t appear to make anyone feel put out. It was just tough because we were able to see the room for the reception through glass windows and those chairs looked mighty nice!
The 2H wedding with no munchies had us sitting at our assigned tables (with people we didn’t know – such poor planning). I liked sitting, but missed having something to snack on (aside from about 10 hershey kisses), and because the DJ wasn’t there yet and there wasn’t much mingling, the room was pretty quiet and…boring.
Anyway, I see no problem having them go into where the dinner will be. As long as the food can’t be seen for dinner (what a tease if it were to be!), then I don’t see a problem. If it’s finger food appetizers, then it can encourage mingling and wandering, but allows guests the option to sit and have a place to put their belongings.