Wedding Reception Forum

Cocktail Hour/Reception Timing Advice

Some background:
Our ceremony and reception are in the same place.  We will be taking our formal pictures before the ceremony.  We are not doing father/daughter and mother/son dances.  His BM and my MOH will be giving speeches.  We are not doing the bouquet toss or garter toss.  There will be no cake cutting as we are having cupcakes.

The cocktail hour will consist of butlered HD's and open bar.  Should we shorten the cocktail hour by 30 mins considering there are no formal pictures to be taken?

The reception will consist of a three course seated dinner for around 70 guests, 2 scheduled speeches, and dancing.  Should we take that half hour from the cocktail hour, move it to the reception and change the reception time to 7pm - 10 pm?


Should we leave the cocktail hour alone and buy an extra hour from the venue which will make the reception 7:30 pm - 11:00 pm?

Here is the tentative schedule:

6:00 pm - 6:30 pm

Cocktail Hour
6:30 pm - 7:30 pm

Reception Time
7:30 pm - 10:00 pm

I don't want everything to feel rushed, but I don't want everything to drag on...any recent brides have timing advice or is anyone else thinking about this too? Thoughts, ideas, suggestions???

Re: Cocktail Hour/Reception Timing Advice

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    Your total reception time seems short compared to the numbers I was looking at for my first wedding. I had a similar timeframe as you, except everyplace I looked at included a 5-hour reception (1 hour cocktail hour and 4 hour dinner and dancing). I'd be inclined to keep the 1 hour cocktail hour and add another hour or 1.5 hours to your dinner and dancing portion. If you can't do that, then yes, I'd probably cut the cocktail hour to 1/2 hour.

    For reference, here's the timeframe of mine, which is pretty "standard" in my experience:

    Ceremony 7-7:30
    Cocktail hour 7:30-8:30
    Dinner and dancing 8:30-12:30

    Oh and we did and didn't do similar to you: pics first, 2 toasts, did do parents dances but while guests were finishing first course, no bouquet or garter, did do cake cutting. If you have guests who like to dance and party, ending at 10 is going to feel early and you won't have much time for dancing; if your crowd isn't that into that kind of thing, it might be enough time.
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    I'd go ahead and shorten it by the 30 mins and add that to your reception.
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    edited November 2010
    In Response to <a href="">Re: Cocktail Hour/Reception Timing Advice</a>:
    [QUOTE]shorten it or omit your cocktail hour completely. i've never been to a wedding like that but it would be awesome as a guest to go from ceremony to meal in my opinion. if you would like to keep the cocktail hour, perhaps 30-40 minutes would be better.
    Posted by MissOwl[/QUOTE]

    I think I will shorten the cocktail hour and buy the extra hour.  Our ceremony is outside so there isn't the issue of having to rearrange the ballroom.  The preparations in there will start promptly at 3 pm.

    I scheduled my wedding itinerary based on my experiences as a guest. I've hated having to leave weddings early because my feet hurt  or I'm tired.  I've felt bad when I've become cranky from hunger and it  always leaves me feeling  like I'm being rude knowing the money that was spent.  But making guests wait a long time for seating and food can overshadow all of the hardwork put into one's wedding.

    P.S. - Thanks for the replies!
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    You sound exactly like me! I'm not doing any of that "traditional" stuff either.  I think the short cocktail hour is a good idea... I might just do that myself!
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    In Response to <a href="">Re: Cocktail Hour/Reception Timing Advice</a>:
    [QUOTE]You sound exactly like me! I'm not doing any of that "traditional" stuff either.  I think the short cocktail hour is a good idea... I might just do that myself!
    Posted by mm133123[/QUOTE]

    The more and more I think about it, the more I am loving the idea of a shortened cocktail hour.  My FI and I don't need all the time that people normally need to take pics or  to get from ceremony venue to reception venue bc it is all in one place.  All my guests have to do is walk from the courtyard to the ballroom.  Since we are having about 70 people, I think 30 mins is plenty of time for people to get HD's, mingle, and get drinks as everything will be butlered. 

    Your ceremony and reception are in the same location also?
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    What is your purpose for the cocktail hour?  IMO cocktail hours are to keep guests entertained while the WP takes photos and transitions between the ceremony and reception.  If you don't need this time to transition, move guests right to the reception, get them seated and make your entrance.  I'd rather have another course added to my meal than a cocktail hour which often doesn't have much seating or other entertainment.
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