Reception Ideas

Can you check over my evening reception timeline?

Hey everyone! 

I'm getting into the final stages of the reception planning, and want to make sure I'm not missing anything/make sure this all looks good. If you don't mind giving it a look over and an aye or nay (or suggestions to improve!) that would be great!

4:30-5:00 : Pre ceremony cocktails + appetizers offered (rooftop venue, so figured it would give people a chance to enjoy it if they choose)
5:00-5:30 : Ceremony
5:30-6:00 : ("buffer time" for receiving line, group photo, congratulations and travel to reception site)
6:00-7:00 : Cocktail Hour. Groom and I take photos. 
7:00 : Bride and groom enter, first dance and father/daughter, mother/son dances
7:30-9:00 : Dinner is served, toasts between the 4 courses. 
9:00-11:00 : Serve wedding cupcakes, fondue bar opens. Post meal coffee, tea, bar, and beach bonfire with music set up in front of the restaurant. 
11:00 - 1:00 : After party for any of the younger people coming who still happen to feel like celebrating. Bar is within walking distance from the reception venue. 

My biggest concern is with the cocktail hour. We have paid the reception venue to open at 5:30 in case the ceremony finishes early or people don't hang around after the ceremony. If people end up getting to the reception closer to 5:30/5:45, is 1 1/2 hours too long to expect them to hang around, or am I worrying over nothing? 5:30-7:00 is hosted with an open bar and appetizers.  

Anything else I've missed?

Thank you!!

Re: Can you check over my evening reception timeline?

  • As long as there is food and drinks (alcoholic or non-alcoholic) I wouldn't be too concerned about happy hour starting earlier. This is so much better than if the ceremony finished early and there was nothing for your guests to eat and drink. How long is your officiant expecting the ceremony to take and how far is the travel time between ceremony and reception venues?

    How long are you planning the toasts to be? I would put them all together as the salads or first course is being served. When you spread them out throughout the meal it interrupts conversation and the flow of dinner. I was at a wedding once where the "toasts" were actually more like speeches in between courses and it took forever, friends still talk about how painful that was to sit through. If you move them to the beginning of dinner (after dances during first course) I think dinner will flow better. 

    Also, not just younger people like to after party. At my wedding H'a uncle and his dad's best friend were the last to leave (and the most hungover the next day) and they're in their late 50s!
    OurWildKingdom
  • Thanks for taking the time to look over it and give your feedback! The travel time between the ceremony and reception is maybe 10 min.? They're very close to each other. The officiant gave us a 20 min. estimate on the actual ceremony time. 

    That's a great point about the toasts, and thanks for the suggestion! I was worried about those giving toasts not being at the table in time for their first course, but I'll see if I can re-jig it because I think you're right about the flow of convo etc.

    Fair point about the younger people partying - I should know better! I fully expect my mom and aunt to be the ones doing shots at the bar late into the night haha!
    [Deleted User]charlotte989875
  • It all sounds about right, and very considerate of your guests.  I like @charlotte989875 's suggestions about the toasts.  After special dances, official (short) welcome if you are doing that (often parent or bride and groom), blessing (if you are doing that) then first course served, then toasts.  

    The only other i noticed, your entrance to you reception, first dance, father.daughter dance and mother/son dance will not take half hour.  3- 4 minutes for each of those things.  So, there is some cushion room there.  
    charlotte989875
  • jenna8984jenna8984 clam bakes & patriots
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
    member
    donethat said:


    The only other i noticed, your entrance to you reception, first dance, father.daughter dance and mother/son dance will not take half hour.  3- 4 minutes for each of those things.  So, there is some cushion room there.  


    Agree with this. I was first thinking to have some bread on the tables or something to tide people over until dinner, but if they just got some food at cocktail hour then I guess that's fine. I don't think I've ever been a wedding where dinner was served the second the reception started. It usually takes a half hour until it comes out so that should be ok. You could even use that time for a few table visits before you start eating.

    My only other note is to make sure your invitations say 5:00. The people who naturally show up early for things will enjoy the cocktails and snacks before the ceremony. Don't write 4:30 or those punctual people will arrive at 4:10 and be annoyed lol.

                                                                     

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    SP29
  • great, thanks everyone! You're awesome!

    I'll make sure to fit in some of my visiting-table rounds during that 7-7:30 gap after the dances, and start the speeches at the tail end of that, so that no one is missing food while its hot. That should fill up the cushion, and free up the dinner portion for chatting and eating. 

    The time on the invites is definitely 5:00! I've just spread via word of mouth that there will be cocktails, snacks and music for anyone who wants to pop by early! :)
    SP29
  • I will mention that depending on how people will be seated at tables, speeches while people eat could be difficult. Certain chair positions mean that those guests may end up eating with their back to the podium (and then it seems like they are not paying attention) or turn around and then don't get to eat. I avoid those seats like the plague.
  • SP29SP29
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    I like your timeline. I agree that you can fill small bits of time with table visits.

    I am fine with spreading out toasts between the courses. Or depending on how many you have, 2 at a time, between courses (and between, not during).
  • The #1 thing is "What if it rains" do you have a backup for ALL outdoor events/activities? 

    The next thing is, before the ceremony, I'd recommend NA cocktails for the simple reason you're expecting guests to travel between venues, it's just a way to cut your liability a little bit...

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    InLoveInQueens
  • ashmo1 said:
    Thanks for taking the time to look over it and give your feedback! The travel time between the ceremony and reception is maybe 10 min.? They're very close to each other. The officiant gave us a 20 min. estimate on the actual ceremony time. 

    That's a great point about the toasts, and thanks for the suggestion! I was worried about those giving toasts not being at the table in time for their first course, but I'll see if I can re-jig it because I think you're right about the flow of convo etc.

    Fair point about the younger people partying - I should know better! I fully expect my mom and aunt to be the ones doing shots at the bar late into the night haha!
    Do you have a venue coordinator? At our wedding we had given them our seating chart so they knew where the people giving the toasts were seated and the servers waited until they sat down to serve them. They're toasts were really short so our parents tables were served first, then to where my MOH and his BM were sitting. Worked great.
  • Thanks for all the feedback, ladies! I really appreciate it. I'll take away your suggestions and tweak the timeline a bit :) 
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