Wedding Reception Forum

Coffee & Cake Reception

My fiance and I have had to change a lot about our wedding over the past couple of months due to COVID-19, and now we are considering just nixing the full reception for now and just hosting a cake reception at the church after our ceremony. We already have our date booked at the church for October 10th at 3:00 PM. When discussing the reception we realized that it will be somewhat difficult but not impossible to host in regards to seating, dinner, etc. with masks and social distancing. We talked about making table placements of households and us having our own head table with just the two of us, but also realized we wouldn't be able to have a buffet style dinner. His mom is worried about people not practicing social distancing and not wearing masks and thinks we should just have the cake reception. I understand the idea is a good one that will save us money and will be safer for everyone, but it's also hard to make that kind of decision. We haven't paid any deposits on the reception venue or DJ yet so it's plausible, but I'm worried either people won't come or I will feel like I missed out on things like our first dance. We have been tossing around the idea of having the cake reception now and planning the "big party" at a later date when we can party safely! Thoughts? 

Re: Coffee & Cake Reception

  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    madinor10 said:
    My fiance and I have had to change a lot about our wedding over the past couple of months due to COVID-19, and now we are considering just nixing the full reception for now and just hosting a cake reception at the church after our ceremony. We already have our date booked at the church for October 10th at 3:00 PM. When discussing the reception we realized that it will be somewhat difficult but not impossible to host in regards to seating, dinner, etc. with masks and social distancing. We talked about making table placements of households and us having our own head table with just the two of us, but also realized we wouldn't be able to have a buffet style dinner. His mom is worried about people not practicing social distancing and not wearing masks and thinks we should just have the cake reception. I understand the idea is a good one that will save us money and will be safer for everyone, but it's also hard to make that kind of decision. We haven't paid any deposits on the reception venue or DJ yet so it's plausible, but I'm worried either people won't come or I will feel like I missed out on things like our first dance. We have been tossing around the idea of having the cake reception now and planning the "big party" at a later date when we can party safely! Thoughts? 
    Congratulations on your wedding!  
    First I want to preface this by saying there is 100% nothing wrong about hosting a cake reception following your ceremony.  I am not sure, however, how that promotes social distancing more than any other food offering.  Also, if you plan on having a “big party” later, the cake reception won’t be saving you money; the cost is simply postponed.  Unless what you mean is that you hate to offer a full reception now and risk guests declining attendance.  That makes sense.
    I am also wondering, depending on the duration of your ceremony, whether it is almost too late in the day for cake.  It might be running closer into the dinner hour.  
    You could attempt to offer ready made and table placed foods.  Guests could enter the reception and immediately sit at reserved tables with prepared (possibly boxed) food waiting.  Local restaurants have been getting incredibly creative in ways in which to maintain their businesses and keeping their patrons safe.  
    Much could change between now and October, depending on where you live.  You know your family best.  If you expect many will be cautious and limited in their daily living experiences, it might be easier to make some decisions now and then prepare for them in the best way possible.  There are lots of fun ways to enjoy cupcakes or other individual styled sweets in a pre-set manner!  We just had a donut cake for my grandsons birthday!  Easy to share safely!


    Jen4948
  • maine7mobmaine7mob member
    500 Love Its 100 Comments First Anniversary Name Dropper
    If your ceremony is short (as in, not a full nuptial Mass), you will probably be done by 3:30, so you're looking at teatime. I think cake and tea/coffee is fine, but you might want to offer some finger sandwiches, too. I agree with MobKaz that you're not necessarily more socially distanced than if you had a dinner, but because a cake and coffee reception is a lot shorter, guests won't be exposed to one another as long.
  • MesmrEweMesmrEwe member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    By Mass I presume Catholic, which you probably can set your watch by 45 minutes for a simple service or an hour if it's a full mass.  That means 4:15 after recessional and receiving line at the earliest, so 4:30 if you're going anywhere other than the parish hall...  You're on the border for dinner.  That said, if you can move it to 2 that'd be a little more ideal time wise for cake/punch reception, offer coffee, but also punch and water as an option since not everyone is a coffee drinker, punch brings sugar issues, and water is the "safety net" option.  

    But to the bigger issue, unless you're in California, Michigan, or Illinois, they aren't going to be able to drag everything out until October and most people are going to be back to life as normal.  I'd also venture to say buffets are going to be back online by then with people being more cognizant about utensils or serving salad at the table instead of on the buffet.  By then most schools across the country are going to be back in session for the most part.  Some parts of the country school is back in already.  I really think you'll be able to do a regular reception by then if that's what you really want and I'd really gauge where things are at in early September (yes, you'll still find a venue closer to your wedding, especially if you're not doing a huge event..  Also, even if you use the parish hall for your reception you can us a personal computer for a single "first dance" to have the experience without hiring a DJ since the idea is to keep the event short.
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  • MesmrEwe said:
    By Mass I presume Catholic, which you probably can set your watch by 45 minutes for a simple service or an hour if it's a full mass.  That means 4:15 after recessional and receiving line at the earliest, so 4:30 if you're going anywhere other than the parish hall...  You're on the border for dinner.  That said, if you can move it to 2 that'd be a little more ideal time wise for cake/punch reception, offer coffee, but also punch and water as an option since not everyone is a coffee drinker, punch brings sugar issues, and water is the "safety net" option.  

    But to the bigger issue, unless you're in California, Michigan, or Illinois, they aren't going to be able to drag everything out until October and most people are going to be back to life as normal.  I'd also venture to say buffets are going to be back online by then with people being more cognizant about utensils or serving salad at the table instead of on the buffet.  By then most schools across the country are going to be back in session for the most part.  Some parts of the country school is back in already.  I really think you'll be able to do a regular reception by then if that's what you really want and I'd really gauge where things are at in early September (yes, you'll still find a venue closer to your wedding, especially if you're not doing a huge event..  Also, even if you use the parish hall for your reception you can us a personal computer for a single "first dance" to have the experience without hiring a DJ since the idea is to keep the event short.
    I think there’s still so much uncertainty on that I’d be really hesitant to say life will be back to normal. I’m in NY and we still have a state of emergency. We haven’t met benchmarks to begin phased reopening. So we’re weeks (months?) away from a full reopen, and even then businesses have to demonstrate they can maintain social distancing. I doubt we’ll see buffets for a very long time. 

    This will certainly vary by region but many colleges are not evening planning to be back in person for fall semester. So much is still unknown in a lot of the country I’d be careful about planning for things to be normal by then. 
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Tenth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    MesmrEwe said:
    By Mass I presume Catholic, which you probably can set your watch by 45 minutes for a simple service or an hour if it's a full mass.  That means 4:15 after recessional and receiving line at the earliest, so 4:30 if you're going anywhere other than the parish hall...  You're on the border for dinner.  That said, if you can move it to 2 that'd be a little more ideal time wise for cake/punch reception, offer coffee, but also punch and water as an option since not everyone is a coffee drinker, punch brings sugar issues, and water is the "safety net" option.  

    But to the bigger issue, unless you're in California, Michigan, or Illinois, they aren't going to be able to drag everything out until October and most people are going to be back to life as normal.  I'd also venture to say buffets are going to be back online by then with people being more cognizant about utensils or serving salad at the table instead of on the buffet.  By then most schools across the country are going to be back in session for the most part.  Some parts of the country school is back in already.  I really think you'll be able to do a regular reception by then if that's what you really want and I'd really gauge where things are at in early September (yes, you'll still find a venue closer to your wedding, especially if you're not doing a huge event..  Also, even if you use the parish hall for your reception you can us a personal computer for a single "first dance" to have the experience without hiring a DJ since the idea is to keep the event short.
    I think you need to go back and fact check this. School isn't back in (in person) anywhere in the US. Many school systems are announcing delays and modifications to the start of the fall session. On top of that, the expectation is that there is a risk of a resurgence in the fall with the weather changes. Companies are planning WFH and modified procedures into the fall and even 2021. Life is not going to snap back to "normal" instantaneously and people aren't going to be comfortable with the old ways that quickly. 

    OP, I think you're really going to have to hold off a bit to make a decision on this. While people likely won't travel to attend an hour long cake and coffee reception, it could be perfectly nice. I think you need to think about the number of people, the logistics of safely serving them and whether this is the reception you want. The world will likely not be back to "normal" in October, but we will likely never see the old normal again. Even if you do decide to postpone until you're comfortable holding the bigger event, it may be that caterers find that they can't safely serve buffet or that it isn't palatable to the majority of people. There is so much unknown right now; it's just too far down the line to totally predict what will make sense. 
    charlotte989875
  • banana468banana468 member
    Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    MesmrEwe said:
    By Mass I presume Catholic, which you probably can set your watch by 45 minutes for a simple service or an hour if it's a full mass.  That means 4:15 after recessional and receiving line at the earliest, so 4:30 if you're going anywhere other than the parish hall...  You're on the border for dinner.  That said, if you can move it to 2 that'd be a little more ideal time wise for cake/punch reception, offer coffee, but also punch and water as an option since not everyone is a coffee drinker, punch brings sugar issues, and water is the "safety net" option.  

    But to the bigger issue, unless you're in California, Michigan, or Illinois, they aren't going to be able to drag everything out until October and most people are going to be back to life as normal.  I'd also venture to say buffets are going to be back online by then with people being more cognizant about utensils or serving salad at the table instead of on the buffet.  By then most schools across the country are going to be back in session for the most part.  Some parts of the country school is back in already.  I really think you'll be able to do a regular reception by then if that's what you really want and I'd really gauge where things are at in early September (yes, you'll still find a venue closer to your wedding, especially if you're not doing a huge event..  Also, even if you use the parish hall for your reception you can us a personal computer for a single "first dance" to have the experience without hiring a DJ since the idea is to keep the event short.
    I think you need to go back and fact check this. School isn't back in (in person) anywhere in the US. Many school systems are announcing delays and modifications to the start of the fall session. On top of that, the expectation is that there is a risk of a resurgence in the fall with the weather changes. Companies are planning WFH and modified procedures into the fall and even 2021. Life is not going to snap back to "normal" instantaneously and people aren't going to be comfortable with the old ways that quickly. 

    OP, I think you're really going to have to hold off a bit to make a decision on this. While people likely won't travel to attend an hour long cake and coffee reception, it could be perfectly nice. I think you need to think about the number of people, the logistics of safely serving them and whether this is the reception you want. The world will likely not be back to "normal" in October, but we will likely never see the old normal again. Even if you do decide to postpone until you're comfortable holding the bigger event, it may be that caterers find that they can't safely serve buffet or that it isn't palatable to the majority of people. There is so much unknown right now; it's just too far down the line to totally predict what will make sense. 
    Agreed with the bolded.   CT was about to start to open on 5/20 and hair salons are now on the postponed list.   Kids are not in school now and town run camps are a no go for now.   Summer events scheduled for July are cancelled.  

    I don't know what the future holds for October but I don't think it's going to be business as usual.   Our local school system actually just budgeted for laptops for each child plus an ipad for every K and 1st grader knowing that they anticipate at least some distance learning next year.   
    charlotte989875
  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    MesmrEwe said:
    By Mass I presume Catholic, which you probably can set your watch by 45 minutes for a simple service or an hour if it's a full mass.  That means 4:15 after recessional and receiving line at the earliest, so 4:30 if you're going anywhere other than the parish hall...  You're on the border for dinner.  That said, if you can move it to 2 that'd be a little more ideal time wise for cake/punch reception, offer coffee, but also punch and water as an option since not everyone is a coffee drinker, punch brings sugar issues, and water is the "safety net" option.  

    But to the bigger issue, unless you're in California, Michigan, or Illinois, they aren't going to be able to drag everything out until October and most people are going to be back to life as normal.  I'd also venture to say buffets are going to be back online by then with people being more cognizant about utensils or serving salad at the table instead of on the buffet.  By then most schools across the country are going to be back in session for the most part.  Some parts of the country school is back in already.  I really think you'll be able to do a regular reception by then if that's what you really want and I'd really gauge where things are at in early September (yes, you'll still find a venue closer to your wedding, especially if you're not doing a huge event..  Also, even if you use the parish hall for your reception you can us a personal computer for a single "first dance" to have the experience without hiring a DJ since the idea is to keep the event short.
    I disagree with the concept that business will be back to normal by October. I have friends whose son is getting married in Maryland. Today was their original wedding date which was postponed to August. They have postponed again to next May because Maryland isn't allowing gatherings of more than 100 through the end of the year.

     OP, you will need to find out how your state is handling their restrictions then on how your guests will handle traveling/eating etc. Make decisions based on these elements (which could very well change between now and October). There is nothing wrong with a cake reception and usually it is frowned upon to have a big party later; however, these are unprecedented times and people are being more lenient on this rule of thumb.

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