Reception Ideas

Yet another thread for reception timing!

kylexokylexo Finger Lakes, NY
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We are just starting to plan out the timing of the day and would love some advice.

The ceremony and reception are being held at the same venue in different spaces. We're having a quick (probably no more than 15 minute) ceremony and then getting to partying! Invites say that the ceremony is at 4, but due to both our families being habitually late for things we will probably get that rolling around 4:30. We're doing first look and family photos before the ceremony so we should be able to all participate in cocktail hour, we are then serving a buffet dinner followed by dancing and karaoke. We have to be out of the venue at 11:30. How do ya'll suggest we break everything up?

Re: Yet another thread for reception timing!

  • kylexokylexo Finger Lakes, NY
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    adk19 said:
    kylexo said:
    We are just starting to plan out the timing of the day and would love some advice.

    The ceremony and reception are being held at the same venue in different spaces. We're having a quick (probably no more than 15 minute) ceremony and then getting to partying! Invites say that the ceremony is at 4, but due to both our families being habitually late for things we will probably get that rolling around 4:30. We're doing first look and family photos before the ceremony so we should be able to all participate in cocktail hour, we are then serving a buffet dinner followed by dancing and karaoke. We have to be out of the venue at 11:30. How do ya'll suggest we break everything up?
     No, you do not put the wrong time on your invitation.  If people can't manage to show up on time, they miss it.  Tough.  I will be getting there at 3:30 or 3:45 for a 4pm start time.  If you don't ACTUALLY start until 4:30, not only am I going to be PISSED about sitting around twiddling my thumbs for an HOUR, I'm going to assume someone got cold feet and maybe that the wedding isn't happening at all.  If you have 4pm on your invitations, you better be in back room ready to hit the aisle at 3:59.  Make your lazy ass family members completely aware that this is the one time in their life that they better be on time or they'll have to experience it by photos only.
    That totally makes sense, didn't even think about that. That said, any thoughts about my question?
  • Yah definitely don't put the wrong start time on there bid be pissed if I'm sitting 45 minutes or longer because of a few late family members who can't bothered to get to a wedding on time.

    As to your actually question, why are you planning to do at the reception that you need to break up? a suggested timeline. 

    4pm ceremony (receiving line if you're having one. 
    Move to reception location. 
    4:30ish/as soon as guests arrive: cocktail hour begins and finish any pictures you want after the ceremony. 
    5:25 introductions (if you're doing them), although if you're not doing pictures after the ceremony you can do introductions before cocktail hour. 
    5:30: Dinner service begins+ any toasts (if you're doing them) 
    7:00: Cutting the cake, first dances+any spotlight dances. 
    7-11:30: Party time. If you're planning bouquet tosses or anything else you can spread it throughout the night. You can also cut the cake later, however if you're planning more of a dance/party vibe I would do it earlier. Stopping the flow of the music to cut cake can be a downer. Also, you don't want to make people wait too long for cake. 


    kylexo
  • kylexokylexo Finger Lakes, NY
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    scribe95 said:
    I find a seven hour reception to be very long. 
    So leave when you're bored? No one is forcing anyone to stay there for the length of the reception, but I'm fairly certain many of our friends would rather hang out at a cool venue with karaoke and dancing and free drinks and snacks than the bar that an after party would be at.
    poodledoodleooo
  • kylexo said:
    scribe95 said:
    I find a seven hour reception to be very long. 
    So leave when you're bored? No one is forcing anyone to stay there for the length of the reception, but I'm fairly certain many of our friends would rather hang out at a cool venue with karaoke and dancing and free drinks and snacks than the bar that an after party would be at.
    Fine, but the host needs to be hosting for that entire time.  This means drinks need to continue to be courtesy of the host.  The hosts can't decide that they're done with the party a couple hours early and leave.  It's the equivalent of going up to bed while people are still in your living room at your dinner party.  The guests might have more fun, but if the host is ready to collapse, maybe the party should end or move venues.  I might be willing to keep partying after changing out of a dress and into yoga pants and hanging out at the hotel bar.
    crowsgirl15levioosa
  • kylexokylexo Finger Lakes, NY
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     adk19 said:
    kylexo said:
    scribe95 said:
    I find a seven hour reception to be very long. 
    So leave when you're bored? No one is forcing anyone to stay there for the length of the reception, but I'm fairly certain many of our friends would rather hang out at a cool venue with karaoke and dancing and free drinks and snacks than the bar that an after party would be at.
    Fine, but the host needs to be hosting for that entire time.  This means drinks need to continue to be courtesy of the host.  The hosts can't decide that they're done with the party a couple hours early and leave.  It's the equivalent of going up to bed while people are still in your living room at your dinner party.  The guests might have more fun, but if the host is ready to collapse, maybe the party should end or move venues.  I might be willing to keep partying after changing out of a dress and into yoga pants and hanging out at the hotel bar.
    since we're hosting, are paying a bartender to continue to serve drinks (which we are continuing to pay for, hence my saying they were free) and we're having late night snacks to supplement to meal since it's being served so early, i don't really understand why this is still being talked about. if we thought we wouldn't want to continue the event, we'd have it end at an earlier time. we have a shuttle running people from the venue to the hotel that will be making trips every half hour as needed once the cake is cut so guests can leave whenever they want to. FI and i are hosts, we live far away from most of our guests and want to party with them for as long as the venue allows us to.
    SP29
  • kylexo said:
     adk19 said:
    kylexo said:
    scribe95 said:
    I find a seven hour reception to be very long. 
    So leave when you're bored? No one is forcing anyone to stay there for the length of the reception, but I'm fairly certain many of our friends would rather hang out at a cool venue with karaoke and dancing and free drinks and snacks than the bar that an after party would be at.
    Fine, but the host needs to be hosting for that entire time.  This means drinks need to continue to be courtesy of the host.  The hosts can't decide that they're done with the party a couple hours early and leave.  It's the equivalent of going up to bed while people are still in your living room at your dinner party.  The guests might have more fun, but if the host is ready to collapse, maybe the party should end or move venues.  I might be willing to keep partying after changing out of a dress and into yoga pants and hanging out at the hotel bar.
    since we're hosting, are paying a bartender to continue to serve drinks (which we are continuing to pay for, hence my saying they were free) and we're having late night snacks to supplement to meal since it's being served so early, i don't really understand why this is still being talked about. if we thought we wouldn't want to continue the event, we'd have it end at an earlier time. we have a shuttle running people from the venue to the hotel that will be making trips every half hour as needed once the cake is cut so guests can leave whenever they want to. FI and i are hosts, we live far away from most of our guests and want to party with them for as long as the venue allows us to.
    In that case you're fine to have a 7 hour reception.  Someone just said they thought it was long.  I just said you could do it if you fulfilled these requirements.  No biggie.

    At this point I need a specific question to help more.  "We're starting at 4 and ending at 11:30, what do we do in the middle?" just isn't enough information to help.
  • kylexokylexo Finger Lakes, NY
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    adk19 said:
    kylexo said:
     adk19 said:
    kylexo said:
    scribe95 said:
    I find a seven hour reception to be very long. 
    So leave when you're bored? No one is forcing anyone to stay there for the length of the reception, but I'm fairly certain many of our friends would rather hang out at a cool venue with karaoke and dancing and free drinks and snacks than the bar that an after party would be at.
    Fine, but the host needs to be hosting for that entire time.  This means drinks need to continue to be courtesy of the host.  The hosts can't decide that they're done with the party a couple hours early and leave.  It's the equivalent of going up to bed while people are still in your living room at your dinner party.  The guests might have more fun, but if the host is ready to collapse, maybe the party should end or move venues.  I might be willing to keep partying after changing out of a dress and into yoga pants and hanging out at the hotel bar.
    since we're hosting, are paying a bartender to continue to serve drinks (which we are continuing to pay for, hence my saying they were free) and we're having late night snacks to supplement to meal since it's being served so early, i don't really understand why this is still being talked about. if we thought we wouldn't want to continue the event, we'd have it end at an earlier time. we have a shuttle running people from the venue to the hotel that will be making trips every half hour as needed once the cake is cut so guests can leave whenever they want to. FI and i are hosts, we live far away from most of our guests and want to party with them for as long as the venue allows us to.
    In that case you're fine to have a 7 hour reception.  Someone just said they thought it was long.  I just said you could do it if you fulfilled these requirements.  No biggie.

    At this point I need a specific question to help more.  "We're starting at 4 and ending at 11:30, what do we do in the middle?" just isn't enough information to help.
    Things that are happening:
    Ceremony, Cocktail hour/lawn games, Dinner, Toasts, Cake cutting, First dance, karaoke, dancing, late night snacks. 

    What I'm looking for is more an an approximate timeline for things to happen at (ex, approx 6:30 dinner is served, etc). We have invited 150 people, so I imagine serving dinner will take a while.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's
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    @charlotte989878 gave you a great timeline for your event.

    As for the karaoke, I would keep that till the end of the night.  That is really one of those love it or hate it type of things, so I would start that more towards the end of the evening when pretty much the party crowd is still hanging around.

    MyNameIsNotcharlotte989875
  • kylexokylexo Finger Lakes, NY
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    @charlotte989878 gave you a great timeline for your event.

    As for the karaoke, I would keep that till the end of the night.  That is really one of those love it or hate it type of things, so I would start that more towards the end of the evening when pretty much the party crowd is still hanging around.
    you are so right, i didn't even see it there and was reacting to the other posts. Thanks @charlotte989878, that is super helpful!
    ShesSoColdcharlotte989875
  • SP29SP29
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    Ask your venue/caterer about dinner- whoever is in charge will be able to tell you based on the meal you are serving (buffet? plated? family style? how many courses?) how long dinner will take.

    If you are doing courses, I personally like toasts given in between courses.

    Keep cocktail hour to an hour. IME, any longer and people start getting hungry/antsy.

    You can cut your cake after dinner if you like, but if you are having dessert as part of your meal, I have most often seen the cake cut a little later. You could still do it after dinner and let guests help themselves when they want. I have also seen cake cut as part of the serving of the late night buffet, but you do run the risk that some guests may leave before this and not get some cake.

    I agree about leaving karaoke towards later in the night. Garter and bouquet toss, if you are having them are also usually done a bit later.

    Our ceremony was at 3:30pm and the party ran until 1:30am- most people stayed until the end. Our ceremony and reception were also in the same room, so we had a 15 min room change-over. This is when we did our receiving line out of the ceremony (we had access to a covered veranda for the room change), which took up that change over time nicely and then guests returned to the room for cocktail hour.

    4PM Ceremony

    4:15 PM Receiving Line

    4:30PM Cocktail Hour

    5:30PM Dinner- Toasts Between Courses

    7PM First Dance- Open the Dance Floor

    8:30/ 9PM Cut Cake/ Late Night Buffet Available

    10PM Bouquet/Garter Toss- Offer Karaoke

    11:30PM End of Reception

    charlotte989875kylexo
  • I like @SP29 's timeline. I definitely would not do cake cutting any later than 9pm. My ceremony was at 5pm, dinner served around 6:30, and people started drifting out around 9/9:30pm - especially those with kids or a long drive home. So, any activities that you really want guests to witness should be done before too late. 
    BabyFruit Ticker
  • SP29 said:
    Ask your venue/caterer about dinner- whoever is in charge will be able to tell you based on the meal you are serving (buffet? plated? family style? how many courses?) how long dinner will take.

    If you are doing courses, I personally like toasts given in between courses.

    Keep cocktail hour to an hour. IME, any longer and people start getting hungry/antsy.

    You can cut your cake after dinner if you like, but if you are having dessert as part of your meal, I have most often seen the cake cut a little later. You could still do it after dinner and let guests help themselves when they want. I have also seen cake cut as part of the serving of the late night buffet, but you do run the risk that some guests may leave before this and not get some cake.

    I agree about leaving karaoke towards later in the night. Garter and bouquet toss, if you are having them are also usually done a bit later.

    Our ceremony was at 3:30pm and the party ran until 1:30am- most people stayed until the end. Our ceremony and reception were also in the same room, so we had a 15 min room change-over. This is when we did our receiving line out of the ceremony (we had access to a covered veranda for the room change), which took up that change over time nicely and then guests returned to the room for cocktail hour.

    4PM Ceremony

    4:15 PM Receiving Line

    4:30PM Cocktail Hour

    5:30PM Dinner- Toasts Between Courses

    7PM First Dance- Open the Dance Floor

    8:30/ 9PM Cut Cake/ Late Night Buffet Available

    10PM Bouquet/Garter Toss- Offer Karaoke

    11:30PM End of Reception

    I think this timeline looks pretty good. However, I've usually see the cake cut earlier so the caterers have time to cut and plate it. I'd suggest the cake being cut right before the first dance at 7pm.  You can also skip the receiving line and do table visits, if you prefer. And I might move the late-night buffet just a tad later. 

    4PM Ceremony

    4:15 PM Cocktail Hour--bride and groom join whenever they're done with pictures

    5:15 PM--everyone starts to take their seats for dinner; if introductions are required, do them here

    5:30PM Dinner- Toasts Between Courses; table-visits by bride and groom (you have a half hour to eat, and an hour to do table visits)

    7PM Cut cake, First Dance- Open the Dance Floor

    9:30PM Late Night Buffet Available, Bouquet/Garter Toss if required; Karaoke is introduced

    10pm- Karaoke starts

    11:30PM End of Reception
  • scribe95 said:
    I find a seven hour reception to be very long. 
    Mine was 8 hours including the cocktail hour - that is very typical for my area. About half the guests bounced at around 9 p.m. and the second half stayed until the last song was played at 11:50 p.m.
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