Post # 1
So I’m in a bit of a dilemma. Our ceremony will start at 2pm, and should last about an hour (Catholic weddings, what can I say?), and our cocktail hour will start at 3:30. When I was first planning the reception, I thought that 4:30 was too early to be serving dinner. I thought of doing heavy hors d’oeuvres instead. But then someone mentioned that if the reception went until 8pm, people would get hungry without a full dinner. So now I’m not sure what to do. Any thoughts? What would you prefer as a guest?
Post # 3
How far is your venue from your church?
Is having dinner an option?
I think the only problem is that since you are having the ceremony in the afternoon then the people will be pretty hungry all night.
Could you not have cocktails and put that towards a dinner?
Post # 4
if your reception ends at 8, you could get by with heavy hors d’oeuvres plus stations. if you don’t serve dinner though, be aware that people might start leaving early if they get hungry.
Post # 5
How long do you expect your reception to be? If you want to have all the fanfare – first dances, toasts, cake cutting, bouquet toss, dancing, etc. – you will probably need to serve dinner somewhere in there. People will start getting hungry around 6-7.
Post # 6
You can do stations plus hors d’eurves just make sure there is enough for people to eat it as dinner. Make sure one of the stations at least is protein focused so not only say your mashed potato station, but a stirfry or roast station
EDIT: I would also make sure its available for most of the reception for at least 2-3 hours. Think of it more like a “small plate buffet”
Post # 7
if you have cocktail hour starting at 3:30 (is this enough time for a full mass, travel time & photos?) then intro’s could start around 4:30-4:45 and dinner at 5-5:30 depending on if you do your first dance & toasts first. That’s basically what we did. If you’re concerned about price talk to your caterer – buffet or stations are usually cheaper.
Post # 8
Honestly, I’d want a full dinner. Your ceremony starts at 2, so depending how far people have to travel, the latest they’ll eat is 12:30. So, by 5, I’d be starving. While the heavy hors d’oeuvres and stations may hold me over, I’d still be wanting more.
With that said, I agree with original PPs, that don’t be surprised if people start leaving early. If you do decide to only do the heavy hors d’oeuvres with stations, be sure to point this out your guests ahead of time so that they are prepared.
Post # 9
Is there any way you can start your reception a bit later? We had a 2:00 ceremony and 5:00 reception time. We felt like hardly had any time between for the pictures. I thought 2 hours was plenty of time, but it’s a lot of coordination. If you start the reception a tad later, you can serve a full dinner without it being a weird time. If you can’t push the reception back, I say you still serve dinner. Who cares if it’s at 4:30, people will still eat it and be happy they were fed.
Post # 10
If dinner is feasible for your budget, I would try to have it served around five. You could move the bouquet toss, first dance and speeches up to fill the half-hour gap between cocktail hour and dinner.
If it’s not in the budget, I think the stations would be great too.
Post # 11
I voted Heavy hors d’oeuvres. The menus for hors d’ oeuvres are very nice – I also think cocktail and hors d’ oeuvres is so classy. I don’t know about everyone else, but there’s something about potatoes that makes me want a piece of meat! So I don’t like the station idea – or at least the ideas you have for the stations. Unless you did a baked potato bar? That might be fun…although it depends on your wedding theme and style and venue.
How long did you want people to stay? They might want to go home by 7ish and grab a bite to eat on the way home – but who cares? Do what YOU want and what YOU can afford. People shouldn’t be coming for a meal. They should come to see their loved one exchange vows with the one she loves 🙂
Post # 12
I’m generally not a fan of gaps between ceremonies and receptions, but I do agree with @magilnyc: would it be possible to shift your reception later? I went to a Catholic wedding where they did the reception right after the ceremony rather than doing the Catholic Gap, and it was really awkward. They served the full dinner at 4:30. The guests had to go out afterwards and eat again at night since dinner was so early!