Wedding Customs & Traditions Forum

Venue times?

We are planning our wedding (although apparently, I will be getting an official proposal too, in the next couple months. Curious to know what that will be!) and I'm confused by the venue times.

A little background: I'm not from the US, my man is. Weddings here are around 4pm with ceremony, or 3 pm if church blessing is added (you have to get married at city hall first) - then cocktails, then dinner is for invited guests only (just family and close friends usually), then reception/party for large group until midnight.

Now I know that inviting only close people to dinner is Dutch and we will host a dinner for all guests invited, but I was expecting a similar timeline to be custom in the US. However, I found that at most venues we found and gotten quotes at, start at 1.30 for 5 hours (reception including dinner) - either I'm not understanding what they propose, or that will be a rather early time for dinner? 

Could someone please explain the usual timing for weddings in the US? I don't want to get it wrong :) 

Re: Venue times?

  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited September 2015
    I am slightly confused, but that was not the case when I got married.

    For our venue we got to choose what time we wanted our wedding to start because they would only book one event per day.  So we started our ceremony at 4:30 and then from 5-10 for cocktail hour/reception.  But then there are some venues that have multiple ballrooms that may book a morning/afternoon wedding and then an evening wedding so if the evening time is taken they may only be able to offer you a morning/afternoon time.

    For the venues you have gotten quotes from I would just ask the venue to provide an explanation about the start time.  If you prefer a later start time then I would let them know that you were looking to get married at 4, not 1.

    ETA:  Here in the US there is not specific time when people get married.  Here it can vary from 9 in the morning to 8 at night.  It really comes down to what kind of wedding couples want and their budget.

  • climbingsingleclimbingsingle NYC 'burbs member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    There's really not a specific time anymore that people get married. About 10 years ago, it did seem like all of the weddings I attended were in the evening (ceremony at either 5 or 6, reception right after). It's become more common now to have afternoon weddings (I had one - our ceremony started at 12pm). 

    My venue did dictate to me what time I could have my event, based on the room we choose. If we chose one dining room, it would be an evening wedding. With the event room we choose, we would have to have an afternoon wedding. 

    So really, you can have your wedding at whatever time you want. Just make sure you don't have a gap between the ceremony and reception, and that you are feeding people a full meal if it's during a meal time (which it sounds like you're already doing, so no worries there). 
  • I'm really learning a lot here, thank you for your responses!

    We received offers from 4 official wedding venues so far, apparently as we have a small guest list, we do not really get to dictate much. I think I will look at other options, like renting a whole restaurant (which I prefer really).

    It's difficult planning from 7000 miles away :)
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Where are you looking to get married?  Maybe check out the local board for that location on here to get some ideas and suggestions that you may not find just googling.

  • We are looking at New Jersey, as my FH is from NJ. I will check out the local board, that's a very good idea. Thank you!
  • If your ceremony will be at a church, your ceremony time could be dictated by if they have services on the day of your wedding or if they have another wedding scheduled for the same date.  Shop around for venues and make sure to check out local group & the vendor reviews on this site. Also, if FH has any family in the area that you plan to have the wedding at, ask them for recommendations for places that they have heard good things about or gone to themselves. Make sure to ask them for any places to avoid to based on bad experiences. But to give you a sample time line 

    3:00-3:30 PM Ceremony

    3:30-3:45 PM Guests exit venue & you make grand exit

    3:45 - ???  Whatever time is needed for guests to travel to reception venue, add a little cushion in time. So if it technically takes 10 minutes, maybe allow for 15-20 for bulk of guests to show up

    4:00 - 5:00 Cocktail hour

    5:00 - Reception  :)

     

     

  • Thank you Erikan73. I am planning about a similar timeline, just one hour later :) With all the food offered for cocktail hour with the venues, I'm not sure how a full sit down dinner will be able to be consumed, all within 5 hours. And a cake too. That's a lot of food :)

    (I have talked the 8 hors d'oeuvres down to 3, as there is a cheese /crudité station too. We will have a 5 course sit down dinner, so I kinda want people to be hungry. Or is that rude? I still have so much to learn - and so little time :) )
  • jacques27jacques27 member
    Knottie Warrior 500 Love Its 1000 Comments 5 Answers
    edited September 2015
    AnneNLNJ said:
    Thank you Erikan73. I am planning about a similar timeline, just one hour later :) With all the food offered for cocktail hour with the venues, I'm not sure how a full sit down dinner will be able to be consumed, all within 5 hours. And a cake too. That's a lot of food :)

    (I have talked the 8 hors d'oeuvres down to 3, as there is a cheese /crudité station too. We will have a 5 course sit down dinner, so I kinda want people to be hungry. Or is that rude? I still have so much to learn - and so little time :) )
    It isn't so much "is it rude" as what is customary?  To some extent that is regional as well as cultural.  Also, the variety of hors d'oeurves will also depend on how many guests.  The more guests, the more variety you should have.  Generally, 4-6 bites per person if you're serving dinner.  For variety, 3-5 types for groups of about 20, 6-8 for groups of around 40, 8+ for groups 50 or larger.  I don't eat gluten, so if your three hors d'oeurves are bruschetta, something wrapped in puff pastry, and stuffed mushrooms with a breadcrumb filling, it's going to be a long hour for me.  Likewise if you have vegetarians and all meat-based hors d'oeurves, etc.  There are lots of calculators out there to help you figure it out.  The above is just roughly and may vary depending on source.

    Going back to regional/cultural.  Is it rude only to have four types?  Nope, so long as you have an adequate amount for everyone - though you may be doing yourself a disservice if you have a large guest list.  You could still offer the large variety, but keep it to lighter bites (so think whipped goat cheese on endive or tuna tartare on a rice cracker instead of pasta and carving stations).  In my part of the U.S. (not NJ) and my cultural background, a lighter cocktail hour wouldn't be that out of place.  Admittedly, I'm going on stereotype here, but my impression of "the norm" for NJ weddings and/or Italian-American weddings (which is more prominent in NJ than where I live) is that cocktail hour tends to be really over-the-top lavish affairs on top of a full multi-course dinner and that's just the expectation without a lot of concern for waste or people not being able to finish dinner.  So it's possible that is what your FI's family is expecting (though it may not based on their background - the US is big and diverse and there are very few norms that apply to the country as a whole).

    That said, just because it may be their expectation doesn't mean you're required to provide it.  Concentrate on working with your budget and providing adequate food, drinks, and seats for everyone and you're fine.  Consult with your FI about his family's particular traditions if you want to stay close to that, because the US is way too diverse to generalize otherwise.


    ETA:  I guess there are a few general "truths". 
    • Start on time. 
    • Don't have any unhosted gaps between ceremony and reception.
    • Everyone invited to the ceremony must be hosted at the reception. 
    • Every person must have a place to sit. 
    • You must serve food and drink appropriate for the time of day (so only cake and punch won't cut it if you're hosting over a meal time) and enough of it for all your guests. 
    • Guests should not be put in uncomfortable situations (too hot, too cold, too wet, too dry, too hilly, etc.).
    • Guests should never open their wallet for anything at your wedding (not for alcohol or any other beverage, not to tip bartenders, not to dance with you, etc.)
    • Keep guests' comfort and preferences in mind and put them first ahead of "vision".

    Those are the major ones.  Beyond that, it's regional/cultural/family/personal preference and most anything goes.  Want morning and brunch?  Sure.  Don't want dancing?  That's ok.  Only want to serve beer and wine instead of a full bar?  Perfectly fine as long as guests aren't opening their wallets and purses.

    AnneNLNJ[Deleted User]
  • Thank you, that really is helpful!
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