Wedding Reception Forum

Reception timeline - no assigned seating, BBQ buffet

Hi everyone,

So we're having a non-traditional wedding and I'm a little stuck on how to schedule the timeline. Here's what we're doing:

We've planned a BBQ wedding for about 60 guests, at a small vineyard in the countryside. The ceremony (weather permitting) will take place outdoors. For dinner, we're doing a "sit anywhere you please" style, to promote more mingling and in general a more social atmosphere - plus, the small lodge on the property doesn't have a single room big anough to sit all guest in together. Tables  (seating about 6-8 people each) will be scattered inside the lodge (two adjoining rooms), out into an enclosed, windowed veranda, out onto a covered deck and down onto a grassy lawn.The BBQ will be set up outside, along with a buffet of sides. The bar will be inside.

Our ceremony is scheduled for 4:00pm and will be about 30 minutes. We'll then have photos taken for about an hour or so while cocktails (both stationary platters and passed canapes) are served. What I need ot know is how to schedule the rest of the evening given that this is not a formal sit-down event? The party is expected to go into the wee hours of the morning... :)

Thanks everyone!


Re: Reception timeline - no assigned seating, BBQ buffet

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    Are you having a dance floor?  If so, where will that be?
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    Yes, we will be having a dance floor. It will be inside the lodge, in one of the adjoining rooms (we'll move the tables out after the dinner, if we do put any tables in this room).

    I've attached a couple of pics to better explain the layout. In the first picture, I'm stanging in the central room that will have the dance floor, and am looking into the adjoining room where tables will be.

    In the second photo, I'm just inside that adjoing room with the fireplace, looking into the room where the dance floor will be. The room beyond this one has an open kitchen (where the bar will be, but all cooking will take place on the outdoor BBQ) which leads onto the veranda, and then onto the deck and outside.

    In the third photo, I'm further back in that room with the fireplace, again looking towards the room where the dance floor will be.

    Hope this helps!

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    I am having the same issue.  I was thinking that after the ceremony, everyone would go to the reception area and have a seat.  I was thinking of seriving an alcoholic beverage while we took pictures.  The kids could run around and play since there is an open big yard.  Once we were done with the pictures, the reception would start.  Our ceremony will be about 30 minutes and I gave about 45 minutes for pictures. 
    I think I may still have some work to do but I say let the guests have free mingle time since you have such an open area for them to mingle anyways.  I say forget the time line and go with the flow since you have all night there!  I mean do the normal wedding stuff like the first dance, garter toss, bouquet toss, etc but have fun.  This is my plan.
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    I would suggest making sure you have a DJ or someone who can announce things to people.  So when the ceremony is done, this person can announce that cocktail hour will go from blah blah time to blah blah time in the bar area with dinner starting at blah blah time on the back deck.

    Also, maybe plan to do a few of the structured things all right in a row (any speeches, cake cutting, first dance) while you have everyone's attention in one area.   

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    Thanks for you quick replies and ideas. My fiance actually had a good idea last night: Posting the "schedule of events" and where they'll be taking place at the front and back entrances and at the bar. This way, everyone will know what is happening when and where. We'll also have an MC who will annonce "events" beofre they happen throughout the night. So how does this sound:

    4:00 - 4:30: Ceremony
    4:30 - 6:00: Cocktails (and photos for us) - mingling, alcoholic beverages and appetizers.
    6:00 - 7:15: BBQ dinner -  grab your food and sit, stand, mingle as you please, inside and out.
    7:15 - 7:45: Slideshow in "dance floor" room, followed by speeches.
    7:45: First Dance, Father/daughter and Mother/son dance (we're doing them combined).
    8:00 - party starts! :)
    9:00 - bouquet and garter toss (and party continues...)

    I don't think we're going to have a cake cutting, as we're doing cupcakes...if we do, then I'll put it in right before the bouquet and garter toss.

    I think this works - any suggestions?


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    That looks great!! : )  Have fun!
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