Reception Ideas

Reception timing

Our venue has requested we put together a day-of schedule so that they know who is arriving when and what our general plans are. I went to a wedding last summer where all the dances, cake cutting, etc. were so spread out that it really left hardly any time for guests to dance and have fun before the bride and groom left. I know we can confirm details with our DJ and venue, but I wanted to run this timeline by some Knotties to see what you think as far as if this is too spread out, not spread out enough, etc.

5:30 p.m. - ceremony
6 p.m. - guests to reception (same venue)
6:30-7 p.m. (ish) - bride and groom/bridal party to reception (we are doing first looks so hoping to get the majority of photos done before the ceremony and just family pictures after), first dance follows after DJ announces bride and groom
7:30 p.m. - father/daughter and mother/groom dances
8 p.m. - cut the cake, best man and MOH make toasts
9 p.m. - bouquet and garter toss
10 p.m. - bride and groom leave
(guests must be out of venue by 11 p.m.)

My mom drafted this schedule, and my only worry is that the 9 p.m. bouquet toss seems late to me? I understand not doing everything right away, but like I said, I don't want everything so dragged out like they were at a wedding we attended recently. Any thoughts are appreciated!

Re: Reception timing

  • When are you serving dinner? 


  • Our venue has requested we put together a day-of schedule so that they know who is arriving when and what our general plans are. I went to a wedding last summer where all the dances, cake cutting, etc. were so spread out that it really left hardly any time for guests to dance and have fun before the bride and groom left. I know we can confirm details with our DJ and venue, but I wanted to run this timeline by some Knotties to see what you think as far as if this is too spread out, not spread out enough, etc.

    5:30 p.m. - ceremony
    6 p.m. - guests to reception (same venue)
    6:30-7 p.m. (ish) - bride and groom/bridal party to reception (we are doing first looks so hoping to get the majority of photos done before the ceremony and just family pictures after), first dance follows after DJ announces bride and groom
    7:30 p.m. - father/daughter and mother/groom dances
    8 p.m. - cut the cake, best man and MOH make toasts
    9 p.m. - bouquet and garter toss
    10 p.m. - bride and groom leave
    (guests must be out of venue by 11 p.m.)

    My mom drafted this schedule, and my only worry is that the 9 p.m. bouquet toss seems late to me? I understand not doing everything right away, but like I said, I don't want everything so dragged out like they were at a wedding we attended recently. Any thoughts are appreciated!

    Dinner is not on this schedule.  I assume you'll seat people as the bride/groom get introduced, and start serving dinner right after the first dance, yes?
  • Our venue has requested we put together a day-of schedule so that they know who is arriving when and what our general plans are. I went to a wedding last summer where all the dances, cake cutting, etc. were so spread out that it really left hardly any time for guests to dance and have fun before the bride and groom left. I know we can confirm details with our DJ and venue, but I wanted to run this timeline by some Knotties to see what you think as far as if this is too spread out, not spread out enough, etc.

    5:30 p.m. - ceremony
    6 p.m. - guests to reception (same venue)
    6:30-7 p.m. (ish) - bride and groom/bridal party to reception (we are doing first looks so hoping to get the majority of photos done before the ceremony and just family pictures after), first dance follows after DJ announces bride and groom
    7:30 p.m. - father/daughter and mother/groom dances
    8 p.m. - cut the cake, best man and MOH make toasts
    9 p.m. - bouquet and garter toss
    10 p.m. - bride and groom leave
    (guests must be out of venue by 11 p.m.)

    My mom drafted this schedule, and my only worry is that the 9 p.m. bouquet toss seems late to me? I understand not doing everything right away, but like I said, I don't want everything so dragged out like they were at a wedding we attended recently. Any thoughts are appreciated!

    I guess I don't understand some of your phrasing.  When you say 6 pm "guests to reception," does that mean guests will sit and start eating at 6 and you'll join them and eat at 6:30?  Or are they having cocktail time until 6:30 or 7 and then you all eat?  I think you should spell out explicitly what time is "meal time," since their servers/cooks will need to have the food out at the appropriate time.  So if you had cocktail hour 6-7pm, dinner starts at 7, make sure you have enough time for everyone to get their food and eat it (this will vary depending on if you're doing a plated dinner or buffet--buffets take time for everyone to get through).  Will you be doing table visits?  If you are, make sure there's enough time during dinner for you to eat AND visit each guest at their table.  

    If you're concerned about everything being too spread out, you could always do the garter/bouquet toss right after you cut the cake.  That way you have a few hours of uninterrupted dance-floor time.  

    We did our first dance right after dinner, then our parents' dance, then the floor was open to everyone and we only interrupted things to cut the cake (had our toasts prior to dinner).  That way, anyone who wanted/needed to leave early wouldn't miss much.  I have been to a wedding where everything was so structured, there was over an HOUR of "special" dances when we all had to just sit and watch them, so I understand your wanting to avoid that.  You don't have too many things going on at once, though, so I think as long as you leave enough time for people to eat, you'll be fine.  And if you want to keep the tosses for 9 pm, I don't see a problem with that.
  • 5:30 p.m. - ceremony
    6 p.m. - guests to reception (same venue) - cocktail hour
    6:30-7 p.m. (ish) - bride and groom/bridal party to reception (we are doing first looks so hoping to get the majority of photos done before the ceremony and just family pictures after)
    7pm - guests sit, DJ announces bride and groom, first dance, father/daughter and mother/groom dances
    7:15 - dinner is served, best man and MOH make toasts as guests eat salad
    8 p.m. - cut the cake, bouquet and garter toss
    8:05 - dancing
    10:30 p.m. - bride and groom leave
    (guests must be out of venue by 11 p.m.)
    OurWildKingdomMandyMost
  • adk19 said:
    5:30 p.m. - ceremony
    6 p.m. - guests to reception (same venue) - cocktail hour
    6:30-7 p.m. (ish) - bride and groom/bridal party to reception (we are doing first looks so hoping to get the majority of photos done before the ceremony and just family pictures after)
    7pm - guests sit, DJ announces bride and groom, first dance, father/daughter and mother/groom dances
    7:15 - dinner is served, best man and MOH make toasts as guests eat salad
    8 p.m. - cut the cake, bouquet and garter toss
    8:05 - dancing
    10:30 p.m. - bride and groom leave
    (guests must be out of venue by 11 p.m.)

    I like @adk19's suggestion with one change. I hate speeches that occur as I'm eating. Depending on chair placement, you may have guests with their backs to the podium. Those guests then either turn around (and not eat their salad) or continue to eat and then appear to not 'care' about the speeches. I would move the speeches to between dinner finishing and cutting the cake and tosses.
    OurWildKingdomcharlotte989875
  • According to a previous post, you initially planned on having "heavy apps" instead of a seated dinner.  As your wedding will be at dinner time, I would urge you to provide dinner, unless the "heavy apps" will provide the same amount or more food than dinner would, in which case I'm not really sure why you wouldn't just want to do dinner.  Whatever you call it, it's at mealtime, so people will want to sit to eat their meal.  Make sure there is ample time in your timeline for this eating to occur.  If you don't want to feed people, you need to move the ceremony way back--so it starts at 8 pm at the earliest.  This will give your guests a chance to eat prior to your ceremony.
    [Deleted User]InLoveInQueens
  • We are doing a buffet of heavy appetizers, but I am confident it is enough to constitute as a meal. We did it this way because we wanted to provide more of a variety of food. We are doing an antipasta platter, spinach dip, assorted chicken and steak kabobs, stuffed potatoes, smoked salmon crostinis and pesto crostinis, a mac and cheese bar/buffet, and a shrimp boil.

    Regarding timing of the buffet opening, we planned on opening that before we arrive to the reception and shortly after guests have gone upstairs for the reception (as well as the bar opening immediately) so that people aren't waiting around wishing they had food, and so that once we arrive things will move along more quickly since hopefully most people will have gone through the line by then. I definitely should have clarified it is not a seated dinner as that would have made a huge difference in our timeline planning.

    We did meet with the venue today and decided we will probably do most of it up front with smaller, 5-10 minute breaks between our dance, father/daughter dance and cutting the cake so that people can leave if they want to and still see all the "wedding activities" if they wish. Thank you all for the suggestions!
  • We are doing a buffet of heavy appetizers, but I am confident it is enough to constitute as a meal. We did it this way because we wanted to provide more of a variety of food. We are doing an antipasta platter, spinach dip, assorted chicken and steak kabobs, stuffed potatoes, smoked salmon crostinis and pesto crostinis, a mac and cheese bar/buffet, and a shrimp boil.

    Regarding timing of the buffet opening, we planned on opening that before we arrive to the reception and shortly after guests have gone upstairs for the reception (as well as the bar opening immediately) so that people aren't waiting around wishing they had food, and so that once we arrive things will move along more quickly since hopefully most people will have gone through the line by then. I definitely should have clarified it is not a seated dinner as that would have made a huge difference in our timeline planning.

    We did meet with the venue today and decided we will probably do most of it up front with smaller, 5-10 minute breaks between our dance, father/daughter dance and cutting the cake so that people can leave if they want to and still see all the "wedding activities" if they wish. Thank you all for the suggestions!
    As a guest, I might do one of two things ... eat the food thinking it is just appetizers and then be disappointed when I'm not provided with dinner OR not eat knowing that this is actually the dinner that will be served. I'm really not sure how this will work and I will echo PP with concern about the heavy appetizers substituting dinner.
    charlotte989875STARMOON44
  • ernursej said:
    We are doing a buffet of heavy appetizers, but I am confident it is enough to constitute as a meal. We did it this way because we wanted to provide more of a variety of food. We are doing an antipasta platter, spinach dip, assorted chicken and steak kabobs, stuffed potatoes, smoked salmon crostinis and pesto crostinis, a mac and cheese bar/buffet, and a shrimp boil.

    Regarding timing of the buffet opening, we planned on opening that before we arrive to the reception and shortly after guests have gone upstairs for the reception (as well as the bar opening immediately) so that people aren't waiting around wishing they had food, and so that once we arrive things will move along more quickly since hopefully most people will have gone through the line by then. I definitely should have clarified it is not a seated dinner as that would have made a huge difference in our timeline planning.

    We did meet with the venue today and decided we will probably do most of it up front with smaller, 5-10 minute breaks between our dance, father/daughter dance and cutting the cake so that people can leave if they want to and still see all the "wedding activities" if they wish. Thank you all for the suggestions!
    As a guest, I might do one of two things ... eat the food thinking it is just appetizers and then be disappointed when I'm not provided with dinner OR not eat knowing that this is actually the dinner that will be served. I'm really not sure how this will work and I will echo PP with concern about the heavy appetizers substituting dinner.
    Ditto the part about the food. Regarding the wedding-y things (first dance, dad dance, mom dance, bouquet toss, cake cutting) you can really do all of these at once. Just make sure your VIPS that are interested in these things are there (grandmas come to mind). 

    Otherwise 5-10 minutes breaks is awkward if your point is to try and get people on the dance floor, only to ask them to clear the dance floor after 2-3 songs, multiple times.


    ILoveBeachMusicSTARMOON44
  • SP29SP29
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    edited March 2016
    I'm fine with heavy apps as a meal, as long as there is enough food to constitute a meal.

    Will you have table and chairs for everyone?

    I think if people walk into a room with seating for a meal, see food stations set up everywhere with servers available, that is a good indication to eat. If I saw a server walking around with a small tray of small apps I would think "this is definitely an appetizer with more food to come" but if I see buffet type stations set up with ample food, I'm eating my heart out ;).

    When will you and your bridal party be eating? Sounds like you will arrive pretty much when the spot light dances will start, which is when most of the eating should be done.

    This is maybe just me, but I find it a bit odd to eat the meal without the B&G there... it feels like digging into dinner at someone's home without the hosts being seated as well.

    Other than that, I think the timeline is fine. Usually I would recommend toasts between courses, but since you are not having toasts, that is moot.
    charlotte989875InLoveInQueensMairePoppyMandyMost
  • I'm finding it hard to imagine the flow of this with the "wedding activities" broken up as they are with the breaks between them. I agree it would be strange to keep calling people off the dance floor every 5-10 minutes. I also don't get opening the dance floor before you sit down to eat. As a guest I'd feel strange getting up to dance while the bridal party is having their dinner.


    I'd rearrange the timeline to
    • 6:00 - guests arrive, start to mingle and eat
    • 7ish - bridal party arrives, is announced, starts to eat
    • 7:45 -  cake is cut and served, MOH & BM give toasts
    • 8:00 - all three spotlight dances are done back-to-back to open the floor
    • 9:45 - bouquet / garter tosses are done once folks are tipsy enough to lower the embarrassment level ;)
    • 10:00 - bride & groom leave

    SP29InLoveInQueens
  • There will be tables and chairs for everyone, and a buffet set up, not servers walking around with with trays.

    Our caterer has told us what he usually does is box us up some food to eat beforehand before we arrive at the reception, to avoid the stereotype we are always told - "you probably won't even get to eat at your wedding!" So we will have eaten and be ready to dance, mingle, etc. when we arrive.

    I have never been to a wedding with a seated dinner, just buffets (whether it be heavy apps or a meal), and from what I recall we have always eaten before the bride and groom arrived, so I just don't find it strange at all.

    I think we've decided to do everything when we arrive, or at least after giving the bridal party and our families time to eat before, without any awkward 5-10 minute breaks. Thank you all for the suggestions.
  • There will be tables and chairs for everyone, and a buffet set up, not servers walking around with with trays.

    Our caterer has told us what he usually does is box us up some food to eat beforehand before we arrive at the reception, to avoid the stereotype we are always told - "you probably won't even get to eat at your wedding!" So we will have eaten and be ready to dance, mingle, etc. when we arrive.

    I have never been to a wedding with a seated dinner, just buffets (whether it be heavy apps or a meal), and from what I recall we have always eaten before the bride and groom arrived, so I just don't find it strange at all.

    I think we've decided to do everything when we arrive, or at least after giving the bridal party and our families time to eat before, without any awkward 5-10 minute breaks. Thank you all for the suggestions.
    I think your caterer is out to lunch. That is rude to both you and your guests. You are paying good money for food and to not get to enjoy it with your guests is just not right. As a guest, I would feel very weird eating if I didn't see the bride and groom enjoying their food too. Push back on this. 
    InLoveInQueensSTARMOON44
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    member
    lnixon8 said:
    ernursej said:
    We are doing a buffet of heavy appetizers, but I am confident it is enough to constitute as a meal. We did it this way because we wanted to provide more of a variety of food. We are doing an antipasta platter, spinach dip, assorted chicken and steak kabobs, stuffed potatoes, smoked salmon crostinis and pesto crostinis, a mac and cheese bar/buffet, and a shrimp boil.

    Regarding timing of the buffet opening, we planned on opening that before we arrive to the reception and shortly after guests have gone upstairs for the reception (as well as the bar opening immediately) so that people aren't waiting around wishing they had food, and so that once we arrive things will move along more quickly since hopefully most people will have gone through the line by then. I definitely should have clarified it is not a seated dinner as that would have made a huge difference in our timeline planning.

    We did meet with the venue today and decided we will probably do most of it up front with smaller, 5-10 minute breaks between our dance, father/daughter dance and cutting the cake so that people can leave if they want to and still see all the "wedding activities" if they wish. Thank you all for the suggestions!
    As a guest, I might do one of two things ... eat the food thinking it is just appetizers and then be disappointed when I'm not provided with dinner OR not eat knowing that this is actually the dinner that will be served. I'm really not sure how this will work and I will echo PP with concern about the heavy appetizers substituting dinner.
    Ditto the part about the food. Regarding the wedding-y things (first dance, dad dance, mom dance, bouquet toss, cake cutting) you can really do all of these at once. Just make sure your VIPS that are interested in these things are there (grandmas come to mind). 

    Otherwise 5-10 minutes breaks is awkward if your point is to try and get people on the dance floor, only to ask them to clear the dance floor after 2-3 songs, multiple times.
    So much this!!!  I have been to a wedding like this and if your goal is to kill the party then proceed as planned because that is exactly what will happen.  There is nothing worse then getting out on the dance floor, start having a fun time with your friends, only to be told "hey, everyone needs to stop having fun and look over at the bride and groom while they dance slow circles in the middle of the dance floor."

    ernursej said:
    There will be tables and chairs for everyone, and a buffet set up, not servers walking around with with trays.

    Our caterer has told us what he usually does is box us up some food to eat beforehand before we arrive at the reception, to avoid the stereotype we are always told - "you probably won't even get to eat at your wedding!" So we will have eaten and be ready to dance, mingle, etc. when we arrive.

    I have never been to a wedding with a seated dinner, just buffets (whether it be heavy apps or a meal), and from what I recall we have always eaten before the bride and groom arrived, so I just don't find it strange at all.

    I think we've decided to do everything when we arrive, or at least after giving the bridal party and our families time to eat before, without any awkward 5-10 minute breaks. Thank you all for the suggestions.
    I think your caterer is out to lunch. That is rude to both you and your guests. You are paying good money for food and to not get to enjoy it with your guests is just not right. As a guest, I would feel very weird eating if I didn't see the bride and groom enjoying their food too. Push back on this. 
    I also agree with this.  H and I got to eat our yummy food at our wedding.  You want to know how?  By making it a point to sit the heck down and eat.  Yeah you will want to be up, going from table to table thanking your guests.  But you need to take 30 minutes to just sit down, eat some of the food that you are paying for and enjoy yourselves.  And as a guest seeing the couple actually sit, eat, and seemingly relax into their newly married glow is always so nice to see.

    MandyMostcharlotte989875STARMOON44SP29
  • Based on the new info, I would do the following. I agree with the others that is its both extremely awkward to eat the main meal without the guests of honor present, and it will not be clear that that is the full meal if it's served both immediately and without the guests of honor present. 

    5:30-6pm CERMONY
    6-6:30pm COCKTAIL HOUR
    6:30-8pm BUFFET OPEN
    8-11 DANCING/MINGLING

    Then you can start to add the details: 
    5:30-6pm CERMONY
    6-6:30pm COCKTAIL HOUR
    • guests arrive at 6pm, get a drink, and mingle
    • bridal party arrives as finishing photos, estimated 6:30pm
    6:30-8pm BUFFET OPENS
    • 6:30pm Bride and groom get announced into the space (if you want to do this)
    • 6:35pm People start to get their food
    • 6:45pm Bride and groom (or a wedding coordinator on behalf of bride and groom) get the bride and groom food for dinner.
    • 7:00pm--everyone has had a chance to get food; Toasts happen
    • 7:30pm--bride and groom cut the cake, then open up the dance floor with all of the spotlight dances
    8-11 DANCING/MINGLING
    • 8pm buffet is closed
    • 9:30pm--break in the dancing to do the bouquet and garter toss (I don't like these ever, but if you HAVE to do it, I think it's the later the better).

    charlotte989875STARMOON44ernursejSP29
  • Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Our thought in opening the buffet before we arrived was so people weren't waiting on us for a long time without food, but now that we are doing first look photos beforehand, that will the cut our picture time after by a lot (hopefully). I honestly can't even recall if the bride and groom ate with guests, or if food was open before they arrived, at other weddings I've been to... like I said, it's always been a buffet situation and not a formal sit-down so not everyone is necessarily eating at the same time. I will definitely think on everything though because I don't want anything to be awkward or people to be expecting more food or anything.
  • flantasticflantastic The Midwest
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Our thought in opening the buffet before we arrived was so people weren't waiting on us for a long time without food, but now that we are doing first look photos beforehand, that will the cut our picture time after by a lot (hopefully). I honestly can't even recall if the bride and groom ate with guests, or if food was open before they arrived, at other weddings I've been to... like I said, it's always been a buffet situation and not a formal sit-down so not everyone is necessarily eating at the same time. I will definitely think on everything though because I don't want anything to be awkward or people to be expecting more food or anything.
    I have never ever been to or heard of a wedding where dinner began before the bride and groom came to the reception, buffet or not. People will definitely be uncomfortable starting to eat their dinner without you, unless they think it's just the appetizers for cocktail hour.

    Anniversary

    charlotte989875redoryxspockforprezInLoveInQueens
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta
    Eighth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    member
    edited March 2016
     

    I have never been to a wedding with a seated dinner, just buffets (whether it be heavy apps or a meal), and from what I recall we have always eaten before the bride and groom arrived, so I just don't find it strange at all.


    Can I ask what part of the world you are in?

    I come from an area/circle where the majority of weddings are buffet as well, but I couldn't imagine guests eating before the B&G arrive.

    I remember being about 8 at a wedding with my parents. The church ladies were finishing putting out the food while we were waiting for the couple to arrive, and I wanted a sandwich. My mom chided me that you never eat until the B&G get their plates.
  • I went to a wedding once where food was set out as soon as the "cocktail" hour portion of the reception started. Heavy apps, drinks, etc. with no direction. People assumed it was apps and started eating. B and G show up after pictures and they go to eat and most everything was gone and the they starting calling up tables to the buffet. So awkward. In my experience if food is out people will eat, but then there might not be a seated dinner which is was the plan had been for this wedding. 

    It also went over a meal time but just had apps, everyone went out to eat somewhere after. 
  • Thanks everyone for the suggestions. Our thought in opening the buffet before we arrived was so people weren't waiting on us for a long time without food, but now that we are doing first look photos beforehand, that will the cut our picture time after by a lot (hopefully). I honestly can't even recall if the bride and groom ate with guests, or if food was open before they arrived, at other weddings I've been to... like I said, it's always been a buffet situation and not a formal sit-down so not everyone is necessarily eating at the same time. I will definitely think on everything though because I don't want anything to be awkward or people to be expecting more food or anything.
    Could you have the lighter apps put out for the cocktail hour and then have the heavier stations opened once you and the BP arrive? I agree that you should have some nibbles available as soon as the guests arrive so they aren't drinking on empty stomachs, but this way there would be a distinction between the two phases of the reception.

    [Deleted User]
  • I'm in Oklahoma. I mean, I can't say for sure that I have never waited until after the bride and groom arrived, but it has certainly never been made a big deal or anyone paid attention to the bride and groom eating if that makes sense...now I'm second guessing! Haha I know that the last wedding I was at we ate before they arrived and it was a BBQ buffet of sliders and sides, so pretty casual. And I remember at my cousin's wedding a few years ago they had the ceremony and reception in the same room, so we went out on the patio for drinks while they flipped the room, but pretty sure we ate right when we got inside and the bride and groom came back after pictures. (This one was in Texas, but my cousin is also from Oklahoma.)
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