Post # 1
Our ceremony is at 2:30. If the ceremony should end between 3:30 and 4 (Catholic mass – typically 1 hour 15 to 1.5 hours), what time should the reception (e.g. cocktail hour) start? We are having a receiving line leaving the ceremony, and guests who came from out of town will need time to drive back to the hotel and take the shuttle. It is about a 25 minute drive from the ceremony to the reception site, and a 10 minute drive from the ceremony site back to the hotel.
I was thinking cocktail hour should therefore start around 5? Is this right? How long does a receiving line typically take with about 250 guests? Should cocktail hour start as soon as anyone could potentially arrive? Or should it start at a time when most guests will be able to arrive at the beginning? What time should shuttles leave? I get 2 trips there but I think they are on the same shuttle? I have never been to a cocktail hour, so I am struggling with how it usually goes.
Post # 2
Honestly I would ditch the receiving line and just talk to and thank your guests during the reception. I’ve seen receiving lines half that size take close to an hour depending on how chatty your guests are. If possible I would try to have the cocktail hour ready to go at 4:30, so the guests that drive there straight from the ceremony aren’t just standing around awkwardly. What time is your dinner scheduled to start?
Post # 3
courtja : Thanks for the feedback! Dinner is flexible. The venue usually does it an hour and a half after cocktail hour usually.
Post # 4
If you think of each person taking 1 minute each….250 people=250 minutes/60 minutes in an hour=4 hours, roughly. 30 seconds is probably more accurate, but still puts you around 2 hours and doesn’t account for gabby second aunt who wants to tell you all about her day/trip….
thats a lot of time. I would skip the recieving line.
Post # 5
1- skip the receiving line. It takes forever and after a 90 minute ceremony, people aren’t going to want to stand in like for an hour just to say “Hi! you look pretty!”.
2- How long is it from the hotel to the reception?
3- Can the shuttle take people from Hotel to Ceremony to Reception? I think it will waste a lot of time for people to drive from ceremony to hotel (if it ends at 4, people won’t be back to the hotel until 4:20/4:30 by the time they get out of the church, walk to the car). If it then takes them 25 minutes (guessing?) to go from hotel to reception, they won’t be there until close to 5:00. Meanwhile, the guests who went straight from the ceremony will be there around 4:35 ish.
For that reason, I’d start the cocktail hour at 4:30 so that your guests who are going straight from the ceremony to the reception have something to do. Unfortunately, that just means your guests taking the shuttle will miss 1/2 of it, which isn’t the worst thing in the world.
Post # 6
ilspflz123 : I am interested at the people that say to skip the line. It is the traditional etiquette to have the line when there is more than 50 guests. Other wise, with so many, how can you be sure to greet every one?
In a line you do not spend 30 seconds to talk to a person. It is maybe 10 seconds, you say hello and thank you for coming and shake a hand, and a way they go. Say ” one one thousand two one thousand three one thousand” and you will see it is plenty. Sometimes I have seen it they have a butler giving champagne at the end of the line, so the guest can drink while they wait and go through it.
I have seen a line with all the bridal party and the parents as well. I am doing mine with just a bride and groom, because it goes faster with this. With speed it helps to have it end in something for them to go to. So, like the line is over with them going into the reception room. It makes them say goodbye. Or, if you have one that talks too long, you can say “let us talk more at the reception” or come get me at the reception and continue.
For 250 guests, I budget an hour for this. if it is done at the reception, this is traditionally cocktail hour. You can also get very beautiful pictures: (scroll down) http://www.katebentleyphoto.com/receiving-lines-why-your-parents-are-right/
I am doing it for my wedding (170 guest) In honesty, if it took 30 seconds I still do it, because it is the tradition with a large wedding.
Post # 7
Yup I agree with mrsnyctola. Receiving lines are traditional and quicker than trying to go table to table at the reception. You’re guaranteed face time with every guest and you don’t have to give up your dinner hour to do it. Spend 10 seconds or less on each guest and have a friend (bridal party member) on hand to help guide people who are taking too much time.
Cocktail hour should start when the first guest arrives, so 5 might be a bit late. If your ceremony ends at 4 and it’s a half hour to the reception venue, your first guests may arrive by 4:30 so that’s probably when cocktail hour should start.
Post # 8
My mom is pushing for a receiving line but I’m really nervous about it because of not being able to control how long it takes and the fact that I know I’ll get more and more anxious the longer it goes on about how much it’s cutting into my picture line. I’m thinking (as sort of a compromise) that we’ll stand to the right side of the breezeway outside the chapel so that the people who have already seen/talked to us (bridal party, family who attended the rehearsal dinner) can head out the left way.
I’m also having a full Catholic mass, it will start at 4 PM and we have cocktail hour beginning at 6. It’s 10 minutes between ceremony and reception locations. There may be a small gap for some of our guests but we’re having the reception at a hotel where several of them will be staying, plus there is a bar there and we’ll have a hospitality room with snacks and drinks available at the hotel as well to bridge the gap.
Post # 9
bayoubee : is the cocktail part and the dinner in the same room? My venue has them in different rooms. So, after marriage I head off with the new husband and family straight off to take pictures. We go to the reception just at end of cocktail hour and wait by the door to the dinner. As a guest walk by on the way to the dinner they pick up their “escort card” and say hello. I hug and say “let us know if you can not find your seat!” And shove them to the door! Ha!
Where I am from you would not do a line at the church, because it is open to the public and any one from town may be there. Like, thanking someone to go to church, it is just not a thing we do. The reception is where we must thank the invited guest. However I know it is different here.
Post # 10
mrsnyctola : Cocktail hour and dinner are not in the same room- cocktail hour is in the foyer of the ballroom where the rest of the reception will be held. I’m just worried that with 200+ people having a “receiving line” at the reception will create a bottleneck for people to get into the room. I remember my cousin having one at her wedding when people entered the reception and we were waiting in line to get in for what seemed like forever.
We’re also not having our ceremony at an actual church- it will be held in the chapel at the Catholic school that I attended. So no worries about any members of the public attending! We might have a few of the nuns who live on the property attend but I have no problem thanking them for coming to my wedding!