(Closed) Reception Immediately following Ceremony

posted 9 years ago in Etiquette
Post # 3
599 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: September 2009

We did some of the photos before the ceremony. We did NOT want to see each other the day of, so no first looks or anything like that. But we did: Groom alone, with his family, with his groomsmen, detail shots of the reception site. Bride alone, with family, with bridesmaids, detail shots of dress and getting ready.

After the ceremony all the guests went to the reception and had cocktails and appetizers and relaxed while we took some photos. This took between 1-1.5 hours, but I think people just expect it! The cocktail hour gives them a chance to catch up with relatives, meet new people, see new babies, etc. It worked out really well for us, my two friends even got us a plate of apps so we wouldn’t miss out!

Post # 4
1514 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: August 2009

That’s what a lot of people are doing now, cocktail hour for their guests while they take pictures.  My SIL did this and yes, it did take longer than an hour, but if you’re organized enough they can get it done in an hour. 

For us, we opted to do a first look.  This got the majority of the pictures out of the way and we only spent about 5 minutes after the ceremony taking the other posed pictures.  This way we got to spend the time with our guests and enjoy the yummy food we ordered.

Post # 5
1093 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: Private home

One of my favorite weddings (and the one I’m basing my wedding after!) had a lovely short ceremony and then a cocktail hour while they took pictures.  I chatted with the bride afterward and apparently they had all the individual shots taken before the ceremony, so that all they had to do was take the big group shots during the cocktail hour.

Unless you’re planning on having your pictures taken in a specific location away from your ceremony/reception site, it should be easy to take your photos during the cocktail hour.  Good luck!

Post # 6
6661 posts
Bee Keeper
  • Wedding: May 2010

I asked my photographer this exact question b/c we wanted to do reception immediately after. He suggested a “first look” photo shoot where we get all the photojournalistic pictures taken care of, and they usually take up the most time. That way after the ceremony we’d just be doing family pix in the church.

I’m still not 100% sold on it – but I’m going to try to keep an open mind.

Post # 7
2408 posts
Buzzing bee

i agree with mskalinin, if you don’t want to see each other prior, just take pictures seperately before the ceremony and then do the big group ones afterward the ceremony. this will cut down on the time it takes for pictures and won’t keep your guests waiting for too long. this is something i’d talk to your photog about as they’re the best person. just make sure you have some food for your guests to nibble on. it’ll make the time while you’re off taking pictures not drag on. good luck!

Post # 8
2365 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: October 2009

You have a cocktail hour … which solves this.

Post # 9
50 posts
Worker bee

We did something similar too.  our venue was a golf course/resort, the wedding ceremony was held at a gazebo (10 min walk) on the property and the reception was upstairs in one of the ballrooms.  the key is to be very organized and know what pictures you absolutely want.  we had a 4:30 ceremony and 6:00 reception.  I was worried about time too and our photographer said the most important thing is to have an organized list of who you want pictures of and to make sure everyone’s there so you’re not hearding people up.  We did 2:30 first look and bridal party pictures, then went and freshened up while everyone made their way up to the ceremony.  After the ceremony, we had about an hour to take pictures with all our family …. I had a list made up and asked my brother and Maid/Matron of Honor to have people ready to hop into the pictures.  We ended up with about 40-45 pictures with different groups of family members, and then 20 or so with just us two.  Some of our favorite pics game from this set! 

oh, and guests made their way to the ballroom….we had cocktails, but no hors d’oeuvres.  We had planned on showing a slideshow of our e-pics that the photographer had put together as background prior to the reception starting, but that didn’t end up happening because they couldn’t find the dvd (my hubby had it, but he was taking pic w/ us)  oh well!  It was a HOT day, so i no one minded going back to the nice air-conditioned ballroom!

good luck….it can be done…..just needs lots of careful planning….remember to delegate to others!

Post # 10
7174 posts
Busy Beekeeper

Ditto on the ‘during cocktail hour’.  That’s what we are doing.  Ceremony and Reception are at the same site – so, no driving to be had.  

Your photographer should be able to use that time to get the shots you want.  

I’d definitely have drinks and nibbles for people, so they aren’t starving before dinner.  I’ve also played around with having a dance lesson in a specific genre (like swing/salsa) for folks to kill time – but I’m not sure how that will go over with my guest list.

Post # 11
3979 posts
Honey bee
  • Wedding: January 2012

We’re doing this too…

I’m debating whether to do a “first look” shot. The mood of the pictures are usually so calm, sweet & sooo romantic. This will also get a lot of the pictures out of the way…

As for the traditionals, like everyone said above: you have a cocktail hour that will keep all your guests occupied 🙂

Post # 12
418 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: December 2009

An example timeline:


noon – 1:30pm family and bridal party photos

2:30pm – 3:30pm ceremony

3:30pm – 4:30pm cocktails and appetizers while you and your hubby take pics

4:30pm – ?? dinner and dancing


How does that work? If a cocktail hour doesn’t work, then do all your photos beforehand! Just arrange a “first look” with your fiance.

Post # 13
883 posts
Busy bee
  • Wedding: April 2009

2 hours for photos is a looong time. Almost every wedding I’ve been to is ceremony, cocktail hour, then reception.  I’ve only been to one where there was a several hour break and it was incredibly awkward and very much a mood killer when the reception finally started.

Post # 14
1104 posts
Bumble bee

Ours are in the same venue too. 4pm ceremony, dinner to start at 6.30. We’ll be doing photos during the cocktail “hour” too – one of FH’s friends is in a jazz band and they will be playing before and after the ceremony until about 6pm. After that there will be half an hour for people to either go to the reception early (bar will be open), or they can freshen up in their rooms (we’re at a resort) before dinner. I’m hoping this will work ok, providing live music makes me feel better about the gap though!

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