Wedding Reception Forum

Timing and general reception advice

So I am very newly engaged but even before my Fl proposed, we had disagreements on how long the reception should actually be and in general how long the entire wedding ceremony and reception should be (we are not having a cocktail hr or any alcohol at the wedding). We want to have a live band play after we arrive,before will be ipod music. We also want to release lighted lanterns as our farewell. So I want the timing to be later in the day to go with the colors of our wedding and the vibe of the reception, but I do not want to have to feed  everyone a huge meal or spend alot of money on food. I want to have more desserts then actual food. Another issue we are facing is we both do not want to be there super super late because we will be leaving early the next morning to catch a plane. What times does everyone suggest and any ideas on how to solve the food issue? what is the proper way of doing things? Oh and keep in mind budget is a huge issue for us, we don't have the money to go all out on food etc. Also we will not be seeing each other before the walk down the aisle so pictures will take time too. 

Re: Timing and general reception advice

  • if dont wanna feed pple i say have reception end by 5ish so pple can go eat dinner. any later and dinner should be served.
  • edited August 2012
    Well if all you want to serve is desserts, you are limiting yourself on time. If your wedding is at a meal time, you need to serve a full meal or enough heavy appetizers to equal a full meal. If you only want desserts, I'd either do a 2:00 wedding or make it late after dinner, like 8:00. Otherwise, people will be expecting (and you should provide) a full meal.

    You could do pics beforehand, have the ceremony at 730 or 8, if it's only a 20-30 min. ceremony, you could go have a dessert reception immediately following and leave by 1030 or 11.

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  • Thanks for the advice everyone. We have some things to work out as these are the very general details of it. Its good to know about the times. I want to do heavy appetizers and several desserts for food, but we haven't even talked to many people yet or even have a set budget at the moment. I really wanted to know etiquette and timing issues and y'all's advice has helped alot. 

    Thanks again. 
  • I am having a dessert only reception beginning at 7PM - and I know people think that is too early but I am having a small wedding and all of my family know to eat before.  I am having a coffee/hot chocolate bar with lots of desserts, breads, etc. (I am having a winter wedding..)

    Anyways, I am also having iTunes music played on my Macbook. I am having someone be in charge of the music to makes sure it goes smoothly. 
  • Personally, I think you can start as early as 7 for a ceremony and do a dessert only reception, especially if it's on a day of the week that most people typically have off work.  Dry weddings tend to not last as long - 2-3 hour receptions instead of 4-6.  So if you did a 7 pm ceremony with a dessert reception at 7:30, most likely all of your guests would be gone by 9:30-10.
  • Yeah, that's what I am expecting too. Just a short reception with enough time for people to eat desserts, drink coffee & for us to go around and talk with each one : )
  • I would really look to doing an afternoon event.  While 8:00 pm is technically considered after dinner, most people would still expect to be fed dinner at that hour.  I wouldn't start a dessert only event until 9:00.  

    It's much better to do a non-meal event at around 2:00 in the afternoon.  People can spend a couple of hours and then go have dinner afterwards.  
  • Ditto Stage on the timing. 

    If you're going to do a dessert reception, I think you'd need to make the entire event start later.

  • A friend's daughter had a dry reception and no dancing either,(as per the groom's family).  they had a 1 pm wedding with a dessert reception from 2-5pm.  We weren't able to attend,(prior committment), but I was told be many that it was a lovely reception.

  • Just to clarify we want to have a 4:00 or 4;30 ceremony, start the reception about 4:30-5:00 for guests,  we would get to the reception no later than 5:00-5:30 , then be done and pullling out by 8:30. I understand that this is right in the middle of dinner time, but is it acceptable to have heavy appetizers/easy foods like chicken salad sandwiches,  possible comfort foods  etc. and focus more on offering more desserts, like a cheesecake bar, cupcakes, cookies for the kids, and a small  1 tiercake to have the first cut into? I want the food to be easy and not very heavy so they can dance and enjoy the music from the live band (which is friends of ours so its not costing alot) Whereas we don't have a friend to make dinner for 150-200 people. So while I want my guests fed and able to enjoy the celebration realistically we can't probably afford to have a sit down dinner or several stations with tons of food that will be wasted if not eaten. 

    Also how do y'all avoid the typical reception meals of grilled chicken, steak or fish? I mean my FI sister had a carnival themed reception and had corndogs, cotton candy and popcorn, but her's was in the middle of the day with essentially no budget and we want a more classy elegant event. Just on a strict budget. 

    Thanks for the advice I am not opposed to a later dessert reception but my FI doesnt want to wait that long. Out of respect for him we want to agree on this so we are seeking all of the advice we can get, on start times and guidelines. We want to please guests but we knoe we can't please everyone and at the end of the day all that matters is that we are married. 

  • Consider pasta (meat and veggie options), salad and bread on a buffet or served family-style -- different from the standard chicken/steak/fish, light enough to dance after, but substantial enough to be a meal.  A friend of mine did light appetizers (grapes and hummus with crudite and bread to dip), then a pasta buffet (2 options, I think) and it was simple, but really nice.  Pasta also tends to be less expensive than most meat-based options (even BBQ, in this area). You might look into having a local restaurant cater or having them prepare and deliver the food; this is often less expensive than using an independent caterer.
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