Wedding Invitations & Paper

Cocktail Hour Before Ceremony - Wedding invitation wording

So I am doing my cocktail hour before the ceremony. The cocktail hour starts at 3:30 PM and this is the time I would like to put in my invitation.

 However, I also want to let people know that the cocktail hour is starting at 3:30 and not the ceremony. I would also like to to make it clear that there will be a dinner reception following the ceremony.

Not sure how to word this invitation.. instead of just saying "reception to follow ceremony"

Re: Cocktail Hour Before Ceremony - Wedding invitation wording

  • My cousin did this, she used something like:
    3:30: Cocktails and slide show
    4:00: Ceremony
    4:30: Reception

    I don't love it, but there aren't many alternatives. Maybe
    "Ceremony begins at 4:30, but please join us for cocktails one hour before. Dinner reception to follow."?
  • You don't need to give your guests a schedule of events.  Just put the time you would like them to arrive, and they should be greeted at the door by someone who says, "Drinks are being served.  The ceremony will begin at ___ o'clock."
  • Since this is a few days old, if it's not too late, I would let guests know in advance about cocktail hour but not list cocktail hour as a start time.

    If a pre-ceremony cocktail hour wasn't stated but the invitations says 3:30, I would try to get there between 3:00 and 3:20. That's 10-30 minutes before cocktail hour even starts and 1.5 hours before the ceremony starts. Based off of a 30 minute ceremony, that's 2 hours prior to a meal time. A 3:30 start time would make me think that we'd be eating somewhere around 4:30.

    If the invitation stated 4:00, I would attempt to arrive between 3:30 and 4:00. That would be more appropriate, as cocktail hour would have already started, but I would still be waiting around for 30-60 minutes.

    If you let me know that the ceremony is at 4:30 but include information on your website, maybe put a little insert in the envelope, or by word of mouth, that lets me know I'm encouraged to show up early, I wouldn't feel mislead about the "real" start time, and would assume dinner would be around 5:30 so I would eat lunch accordingly.

  • NYCMercedesNYCMercedes BOS, NYC, DC. Forever a city girl member
    Sixth Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited August 2014
    When I receive a Wedding invitation for 3:00, I expect the processional to start at 3:00. As you're doing something out of the ordinary, I think you should say the cocktail reception starts at whatever time and the wedding is at whatever time.
  • I would def make it known there is a cocktail hour before the ceremony.  I recently attended a wedding that did this and there was no indication on the invite.  Luckily through word of mouth we found out just hours before.  I would have been annoyed to show up for an hour long cocktail hour before the ceremony (which was followed by another cocktail hour). 
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I agree with those that say to make it known that the cocktail hour is happening prior to the ceremony.  Most people are used to arriving 15-30 minutes prior to the start time on the invite so that they do not miss the beginning of the ceremony.  Since you are doing something a little out of the ordinary then it would be prudent to let people know so that they aren't showing up early and then finding out that the ceremony isn't happening for another hour.

  • I would be super annoyed if I hauled ass somewhere so as not to be late to the ceremony, only to realize that was the cocktail hour start time and I could have acceptably been 10 minutes late. Definitely put both start times. Maybe the ceremony time on the invitation, same as always with "reception to follow," then include a separate enclosure card saying "we invite you to join us for cocktails immediately preceding the ceremony. Cocktail hour begins at 3:30."

  • I went to a wedding with the cocktail hour before the ceremony.  None of us knew, and many of us rushed to get there because traffic was awful.  We even parked illegally risking a ticket, because we got there barely in time, only to run in and find out we were all standing around for an hour.  

    I think it's important to make it known what time the wedding ceremony actually starts.  Maybe put the start time of 3:30 on your invitations, but include an insert card with a brief schedule of events:

    "Cocktail hour will begin at 3:30, with the ceremony beginning at 4:30pm. Dinner will be served immediately after the ceremony."

  • I worded mine like this:

    Meet & Greet begins at 10:30, followed by ceremony, followed by brunch!
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