(Closed) What Time Should We Serve Dinner At Reception?

posted 10 years ago in Beehive
Post # 3
286 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: October 2007

8:00pm to start eating cocktails or dinner?  If you have cocktails (which have hors d’ouvres) by 7pm, then dinner at 8pm is totally fine.  I’ve had to wait til 8pm or later before eating anything at all at a wedding (since guests don’t usually know the timeline) and I remember guests grumbling how they are starving. 

Post # 4
39 posts
  • Wedding: August 2008

I work at weddings so in my opinion time between activities is more important than actual clock time. It really depends on if you are serving hor’derves or not. If you are then it can be later no matter what time that might be because they will have the hor’derves to hold them over. But if there are no hor’derves during cocktail hour or very few hor’derves then you would probably need dinner earlier so people aren’t starving. Also with a night wedding you might actually be better off than an early wedding because people will be more likely to have had lunch as apposed to a 1:00 ceremony where not many people have lunch and therefore are starving by the time dinner is served at 4:30 or 5. Hope that helps!


Post # 5
388 posts
Helper bee
  • Wedding: July 2018

I think 8 p.m. is too late to start serving dinner.  Weddings have a tendency to run slightly off schedule, too, so if you’re running 30 minutes late, people will be cranke!  It’s better to err on the conservative side and start things earlier.

I’d suggest 5 p.m. ceremony, 6 p.m. cocktails, 7 p.m. dinner, knowing that you’ll have a slight cushion in between all of those things

We did the best man toast, and our welcome right before dinner started for 15 minutes, so we didn’t have to talk over people eating dinner (the clanking of silverware is tough to hold people’s attention).

Then we allotted 30 minutes for dinner, as we knew our caterer was very well-staffed and would get the courses out to the table quickly.  People don’t really eat that slowly normally, so 30 minutes was enough for us.

Then we lead into the mother/son, father/daughter dance thinking that if people were still eating, it was fine to do because there were no speeches.  Then we opened up for dancing, for the people who were done eating.

Post # 6
48 posts

As of right now, and this is subject to change, our wedding schedule looks like this:

5PM – Ceremony

5:30 – 6:30PM – Cocktail Hour/Photos

6:30 – 8PM – Dinner (this includes announcements, toasts, dinner, cake cutting)

8 – 10:30PM CELEBRATE GOOD TIMES! C’MON! (this will include first dance, parent dances, garter/bouquet toss & other fun things)

Post # 7
1061 posts
Bumble bee
  • Wedding: September 2008

mine looks exactly like nicole3381’s but it’s moved up an hour (ceremony is at 6). i think 8 is too late to start eating, but i think i’m biased bc i want to have as much time as possible for partying!!

Post # 8
236 posts
Helper bee

If you are sercing food during your cocktail hour starting at 7pm then a 8pm dinner is just fine.  It’s really the first course and since peopel are eating later and later these days they probably wouldn’t start at home until arouind 7 any way.  If you are worried about people needing a snack befor ethe ceremony you can include a timeline in the invites or welcome packages or you could include lemonade and cookies for guests as they arrive at the venue. It sounds like your gettine married somewhere other than a church so you could set up a table a bit away from the ceremony or outside the doors.

Post # 9
2292 posts
Buzzing bee
  • Wedding: July 2008

Fiance and I actually usually eat dinner about 8:00, and so I know that practically everybody eats way earlier (people are always stunned).  I think that around 6:30 is typical.  If you serve some pretty heavy hors d’ouevres, you might be okay to start dinner by 7:30.  Otherwise I think its probably too late, especially if you are serving alcohol.  You really don’t want people spending an hour drinking on empty stomachs, and if you just have light hors d’ouevres, they will disappear super fast.  (I know this because my sister made the same mistake – just cheese trays and cold shrimp and such, and they were gone in the first 15 minutes.  You should have seen the rush on the buffet table when they set the food out!)

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