(Closed) UK Bees, please explain this

posted 4 years ago in Traditions
Post # 16
1886 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: April 2016 - Gorse Hill, Surrey, UK

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socalgirl1689:  you could have a later ceremony and just roll straight into the reception, I just think people expect there to be a proper sit down meal at some point as thats whats been done for a number of years. I think the reason it started to get split is due to cost, and most people like a good evening party 🙂

I think another reason we dont just go stright to the reception is that people would expect the drinking to go on late into the evening, which would mean having a later ceremony, and we dont get that many hours of daylight/good weather to allow for that lol

Post # 17
488 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: November 2016

Yes like many other’s have said your day guests come to the ceremony, welcom drinks, sit down meal (wedding breakfast) and evening reception with disco and buffet. These are your family and close friends.

Evening guests arrive normally at 7:30 and they come for the disco and buffet. This can vary from a finger buffet, hog roast, chip butties and you have a slice of the wedding cake. These are your not as close friends and collegues generally.

It is considered the norm here and people are not offended to be invited to go to the evening reception only, but actually more pleased that they can still be part of the day! People understand that they are not the closest people to the couple but still friends enough to get an invite to the whole day and we are okay about that. That and also it would be so expensive if everyone came to the whole day!! 

My day is not set in stone yet but will be something like…

1:30pm Wedding Ceremony

2:30om Arrive at Reception/Welcome Drinks/Photos

4pm Recieving line and announced into Function room as Mr and Mrs!

4:30pm Wedding Breakfast and speeches

6:30pm Comfort Break (while they rearrange room for the evening, guests can check into their rooms or drink in lounge bar)

7:30pm Evening reception starts and Evening guests arrive. Cutting of cake/first dance to follow and party time!!

8:30pm- Buffet served

1am- Finish

Now I’m doing a 2 course sit down meal (main and dessert) and I do feel a bit nervous about it as most people have a 3 course meal. I hope no one turns their nose up about it? Just it saved us a load of money to take the starter off. What do you all think?



Post # 18
1411 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: May 2016

Hi. All my fellow UK bees have been on the ball so I won’t add too much!

Just to add that our weddings are not always as small as 50 people. Most of the weddings I’ve been to have had closer to 80-110 daytime guests, and maybe 10-20 extras in the evening. Parents’ friends are generally invited all day but I agree work colleagues tend to get relegated to the evening.

And the evening buffet in my experience is often a cheese board and french bread affair rather than anything too elaborate.

I was surprised that American weddings start so late when they seem to be quite big events.

Post # 19
6262 posts
Bee Keeper

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Debsy:  I think it’s fine but if you’re worried could you do some canapé/nibbles with your welcome drinks?

Post # 21
82 posts
Worker bee
  • Wedding: August 2016

I’ve been mostly to Irish weddings but it’s a very long day so being invited to the afters (what we call the bit after the meal, when evening guest arrive) is actually a brilliant option as you don’t have to take any time off work or sit in a draughty church but you can still enjoy the festivities and celebrate with the couple all evening. Also you give a much smaller gift so it’s good if you’re not able to absorb the cost of a full day at a wedding. By inviting people to the afters the couple get to see more people that they like but wouldn’t necessarily be able to pay for a full day for, or maybe thier venue has a limit on numbers and they couldn’t invite everyone they wanted for the full day. 

A typical Irish church wedding format is:

12.30pm – Ceremony

1.30pm – After the ceremony the bride and groom stand at the door of the church and greet everyone as they leave so that can take some time.

2-4pm – You’re generally on your own while the couple are getting photos, maybe go to the pub for a drink? Or else you have to spend an hour or so driving to the reception venue, stopping for some lunch on the way.

4-6pm – Guests are greeted at the reception venue with drinks, tea, coffee and biscuits and generally chat.

6-8pm – Formal sit down three/four course dinner and speeches.

8.00pm onwards – After dinner people leave the reception room so they can set it up for dancing by removing some tables and the band or DJ set up. Then the evening guests start to arrive and the couple cut the cake, do the first dance and everyone gets on the dance floor.

11pm – The afters buffet is served, generally sandwiches, sausages, chicken wings  etc.. and the wedding cake cut up for everyone to eat. It’s really handy as by that stage you’ve been dancing and drinking for hours so it gives people a chance to sit down and regroup.

1.30am-6am – The wedding itself generally winds down about 1.30ish depending on the bar extension but a good lot of guests will go into the hotel’s residence bar and could be there all night! The bride and groom tend to stay up till 2am or so too. 

So, even if you’re only an evening guest, you can still be there for at least six hours. This is also why, although wine is provided with dinner, Irish weddings have cash bars after the dinner otherwise you’d be bankrupt! 

We’re getting married this august and will do things a little differently:

2pm – Ceremony in Dublin City Hall 

2.30-3.30pm – Drinks reception in Dublin City Hall

3.30pm – The wedding bus will bring the guests back to the reception venue.

4pm onwards – same as a normal wedding. 

Post # 22
173 posts
Blushing bee
  • Wedding: April 2017

We are doing a late ceremony(4.30pm ish), drinks and canapes, photos, lanterns then into the evening reception. With the extra evening guests arriving for cake cutting, first dance and the band. Then a BBQ for food.

I didnt realise it was becoming a thing here. All other weddings i have been to have followed the similar 2pm ish start time and included the 3 course dinner. We chose this way to help our budget. cutting out the wedding breakfast meant we could afford our dream venue. We will definately be telling our day guests to have lunch before they come as only the evening BBQ will be hapening – and sweet table and cake!

Post # 23
14 posts

I recently went to my boyfriends cousins wedding, her ceremony was at around 1pm x it was about 40 people all family 

Then photographs, then the sit down meal. 

At 7pm the evening do started and she had about 200 people with a hog roast van later on 

We are in scotland. I am from england and this is how many weddings have been done where I have been to

Post # 24
968 posts
Busy bee

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Day Guests

– go to the ceremony

– go to the wedding breakfast (meal & speeches)

– go to the evening reception (cutting the cake, first dance, disco, bacon butties)

and are usually made up of the bridal party, family and close friends


Evening Guests

– go to the evening reception (cutting the cake, first dance, disco, bacon butties)

and are usually made up of friends and work colleagues


So for us, it’s probably gonna be:

12:00 Day guests arrive & Ceremony

12:45 Service finished, everyone comes out of the church, do a few photos outside, say hello to guests

13:30 Everyone hoofs off to the Reception venue which is a 15 minute drive

14:00 Most people should be at Reception venue now. We go off and do photos while canapes & welcome drinks are served to guests

15:30 Wedding breakfast starts

18:00 Wedding breakfast ends

18:30 DJ arrives & room is set up for evening

19:00 Evening guests arrive

19:01 Party!!!

20:00 Sometime around now will be cake cutting & first dance

21:00 Sometime around now a tray of bacon butties will appear

00:00 Throwing out time – the end of a very long day!

Post # 25
6360 posts
Bee Keeper

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socalgirl1689:  Basically what everyone else has said: day guests, typically made up of close family and friends, come to the ceremony, drinks reception, and then sit-down meal, and then the evening guests (usually colleagues, acquaintances, more distant relatives) arrive after the sit-down meal for the evening reception which typically begins with the cake-cutting and first dance.

Food-wise, day guests will usually be served canapes during the drinks reception, and then a 3-4 course plated meal. In the evening, the buffet usually comprises finger food (sandwiches, sausage rolls, that type of thing) and the wedding cake.

Weddings are generally much longer here, with the average ceremony time being somewhere between 12-2pm, and going on until midnight or later. This is probably how the split started to come about. Obviously costs can be cut by moving the ceremony time and skipping either the sit-down meal or the later buffet, but I’ve not personally heard of anyone who’s done this.

Post # 26
6360 posts
Bee Keeper

Our timings, and food choices (to give you an idea) were as follows:

1-1.30pm: ceremony

1.30pm: guests walked to the reception venue (about 3 minutes away)

1.45pm: drinks reception started. Canapes (pesto and marguerita croute; baked figs wrapped in bacon; smoked haddock and mustard fishcakes; beef and horseradish truffles; crispy belly pork and black pudding skewers) and drinks (1 x mimosa, 1 x sparkling wine pp) were served; string trio played. Some photos were also taken during this time inc a group shot.

3.30pm: guests were seated for the wedding breakfast (meal). Speeches (FOB; groom; BM; Maid/Matron of Honor (in that order)) and toasts (w/champagne)

4pm: meal (3 choices for the starter and dessert, 4 for the main course (slamon, steak, chicken, vegetarian lasagne), 1/2 bottle of wine or 3 beers pp plus water on the table).

5.45-6pm: meal ended. Slide-show of images from our relationship in the cinema for guests who wanted to see them.

6.30pm: acoustic guitarist/singer started playing, bar tab starts.

7pm: evening reception officially started (we wanted to allow a gap so guests could freshen up/change (most were staying at the venue)).

7.45pm: bouquet toss, followed by cake-cutting.

8pm: first dance to the live band.

9pm: evening buffet (selection of open baguettes (to include V options) with toppings inc brie and chilli jam, cheddar cheese ploughmans, and tuna mayo; jacket potato station (GF) with grated cheese, chilli con carne, and sour cream; croque monseiur; cheese and onion quiche; lamb kofta and chicken tikka skewers (GF); plaice goujons; steak and red onion marmalade ciabatta sandwiches) and the cake (4 flavours plus 12 Girlfriend cupcakes in 2 flavours) served.

11pm: band finished, DJ started.

1.30am: DJ finished, most guests have left.

2.30am: bar tab ended (to get rid of H’s uncle..), re-opens around 3am.

3.30am: all but 5 of us have retired to bed.


While it is common to have a day/evening split, I didn’t want our evening guests to feel like ‘second class citizens’ which is why we put just as much thought into the evening (from the entertainment to the open bar to the food, which was much more substantial than a typical UK evening buffet). As you can probably see, we provided a lot of food, but, IMO that is necessary as it’s a LONG day.

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