Post # 1
I’m trying to build our reception timeline and I’m freaking out because the actual entree part of dinner will be late.
My church offered us two times for our ceremony: 2:00pm or 5:30pm. I picked the 5:30 time so there wouldn’t be a gap. No mass, so the ceremony will be over by 6:15, and the reception is about 20 – 30 minutes from the church. The bar opens at 6:30 in case guests arrive early, and cocktail hour starts at 7:00 with passed hors d’oeuvres & 3 stations (asian, cheese & charcuterie, sliders). The reception starts at 8:00 and ends at midnight.
Our dinner has an appetizer course, entree, & cake. Appetizers are served right after our first dance. Should there be a gap in between appetizers & entree? We’re in NYC where late dinners are common, but I’m worried guests will be annoyed to wait awhile for their entree (even though there is a ton of food at cocktail hour)
8:00 – MC asks guest to be seated
8:15 – Bridal party intro; Bride & groom first dance
8:25 – Bride’s father welcome toast; Appetizers served
8:45 – Best Man toast
???? – What next? Should the band play a short dance set or should we serve the entree? I would ideally like to space things out a little and serve the entree at 9:15, but I’m not sure if that’s too late.
10:30ish – Cake cutting
Post # 3
What time are you planning on having dinner at, exactly?
My only thing is that I don’t think open bar should open BEFORE dinner. Having maybe 1 cocktail drink or wine during cocktail hour is fine, but I don’t think the open bar is a good idea…. You don’t want people to be drinking on [almost] empty stomachs, they will get wasted WAY too fast… you don’t want drunk people giving you toasts and what not!
Everything else seems fine. I would warn your guests that dinner will be later in the evening so they can choose to eat a snack/lunch around 2:00 or so.
Post # 4
If your guests are used to a later dinner, I think that’s okay. For example, DH’s culture always has events that start late with late meals and we’ve been to weddings where there was a cocktail reception but dinner wasn’t served until 10 or something. The guests that are used to it were prepared but the ones that were not were a little confused and hungry (assuming they only had light apps). Since you have heavy appetizer stations, I think you will be fine.
Something to consider though would be how long your guests expect to stay. The guests that are used to the late events, like DH’s family, know to get babysitters to cover until early A.M. the next day, but some of the other ones that are used to wrapping up by 11 or midnight (latest), often left right after dessert because of the sitter issue.
There may need to be a gap between appetizer and entree depending on how many servers you have. We had whole tables plated at one time, so we could only do one table at a time. So while table 1 was done eating, table 10, for example, was still getting their food. That’s something to consider.
Post # 5
Should we put a note on our wedding website with the approximate time of dinner so people know to eat a late lunch? Or do you think that’s implied when the cocktail hour starts at 7pm?
@jenilynevette: Entree would be served at 9:15pm. The bars will be open during cocktail hour and before dinner, but there is a lot of food at cocktail hour so people will not be drinking without food available. We will have professional bartenders, so they won’t serve anyone who is intoxicated.
@lilbluebird: Good point about the servers, I’ll have to check with the caterer on that! Half of our guests are Out of Town and will be staying overnight in a nearby hotel, but I’m definitely expecting some of the older guests to leave after cake. That’s fine with me!
Post # 6
Move the first dance and the best man toast to after dinner/during dinner. I think 9:15 is too late.
Post # 7
@CityBearBride: I would put something on your website about when each part of your reception begins.
I actually added a general timeline for guests to our website, including rehearsal dinner, ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, open bar, dances, cake cutting & tosses. That way everyone is informed ahead of time and they can schedule their day/meals appropriately.
Post # 8
I think it’s fine. If the ceremony doesn’t start until 5:30 I wouldn’t expect to be eating until 7 or so as a guest. I think as long as there is food at 7 (cocktail hour) then I can last until a later dinner.
If it said cocktail hour at 7 on the invites I would think it is implied that food will be a little bit later. I don’t think all the guests need a detailed play-by-play of the night.
But I wouldn’t put any huge gaps between apps and entrees on purpose. I would just let the caterer do their thing in a flowing order. It would annoy me if I had to wait 45 min between my appetizer and entree. Because…it seems there is no real reason to put these gaps in there. I’d serve the entree at 8:50 or so if it was me! I’d rather have more time to eat my entree than appetizer.
I think you could do the best man toast towards the end of the meal rather than before entrees.
Open bar at 6:30 is good for people who show up early.
Our ceremony is at 5:30 too but I’m thinking of having dinner started by about 6:45 since it’s all in one location and I am getting almost all of my pictures out of the way beforehand. Our reception techincally starts at 6pm so that is when our bar is opening.
Post # 9
Thanks! great suggestions!