July 2010 Weddings

Question from a July 2011 Knottie

Hello Ladies,

You ladies have been so wonderful to come over and share advice with us that I was hoping you wouldn't mind me posting a question here.

FI and I are trying to figure out the timing of our reception. At your wedding, if your invite said the reception began at 5:00pm - what time did your guest begin arriving? We are trying to figure out whether or not we need to plan a cocktail hour as well to accomodate our guest and also what time we should serve dinner.
Feel free to share your reception timelines!

Thanks for any advice!

Re: Question from a July 2011 Knottie

  • What time is your ceremony? And how far is your ceremony location from your reception location?
  • We are having a Catholic ceremony at 2:00pm. The ceremony should take about 45 minutes or so and we plan to do a receiving line at the church. The ceremony location is about 15 minutes from the reception location. I know we will probably have a gap no matter what unless we begin the reception at 3:30ish. And I'm worried we won't have time for photos between the ceremony and reception if we begin the reception early with an hour cocktail hour.

    How long did you ladies do pictures after? We are planning to do the first look and family photos before the ceremony so we will only have wedding party photos to take after the ceremony.
  • our ceremony was at 3 and our reception (cocktail hour) started at 4:30 (about 1/2 hour drive after our hour ceremony). we planned to do pictures in between and arrive at the reception between 5:30 and 6 but due to pictures taking longer and unexpected traffic, we got to our reception at 6:30.

    did you want to attend your own cocktail hour? if so, then keep the timing at 6. if not, bump up cocktail hour to about 5 or even 4:30 and you should be able to get the reception by 6 if your ceremonys done at 3. if you get there earlier, it will be even better.


    it would be nice to provide your guests with places in the area they can stop at between the ceremony and the reception so they arent bored waiting in the parkinglot of the reception until it opens up.


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  • I don't really care if we attend our cocktail hour or not. In fact, I hadn't really planned on attending it because I figured we would be busy with photos. If we got back early and were able to start things a little earlier that would be great. I assume our receving line will take about 30 minutes meaning we won't head out for pictures till after 3:00, probably closer to 3:30.
  • I had the full Catholic deal -- Mass at 2 ended by 3. My parents hosted an "open house" for anyone who wanted something to do in between. A few people went there and then a few people showed up at the hall right away. We had a cocktail hour start at 5 and we showed up right at five so pictures took 2 hours. We only had 2 locations for pictures though that were within walking distance of eachother. Looking back I wish we would have taken a bit more time for pictures to make sure we got all of the shots we wanted. We also didn't do a receiving line, instead we walked around to all of the tables.

    Hope this helps.
  • I say your timing is fine as is. I'd make 5-6 cocktail hour and then have the reception/dinner begin around 6. That would give you 2.5 hours of photos (if you didn't go to cocktail hour) which would be plenty of time for just bridal party pictures.
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  • We had a Friday wedding- and did a first look and   bridal party pics before the mass at 4:30.   We left my parents house a little after 1pm,  took pictures until a little after 3,  got to the church around 3:45, and took pictures with family/bridal party in the church afterwards.  I'm not sure what time the mass was over (lots of music during mass)-  but we were done with pictures after at 6pm (family and more bridal party). We left the church at 6:05 and got to  the the venue at 6:35 (limo bus driver headed southeast instead of northwest!!) 

    Happy planning!




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  • Thanks for the tips and timelines! I think FI and I will look into the prices for a small cocktail hour to be hosted from 4 to 5. Hopefully, that will help out those guest who don't have hotel rooms to return too.
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