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Customs and Traditions

Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?

Okay, my fiancee and I are having a wedding in Arizona in JULY. For those of you who aren't familiar with AZ, the temps in July are usually around 112 degrees and the sun doesn't go down until 7 pm. My FI is in the Army and we are moving right after the wedding, so this is why we chose this month. 
Anyway, the wedding starts at 6 and the hotel we picked has a beautiful outdoor area for the ceremony with an arch and everything else set up, however my coordinator suggested that we have the wedding indoors because it will be too hot to have it outside and all of the guests will complain. Which I definitly don't want, so I agreed. However the ballroom we would have it it is an empty, boring ballroom. So we would have to rent an arch and completely decorate it ourselves. 
But then I was thinking... what if we switched things around?? What if we have the cocktail hour at 6 inside, and then the ceremony outside from 7-7:30 (at sunset) and then go back inside for the reception. 

What are everyone's thought? I am in desperate need of help. My friends like the idea but basically none of my family does and neither does the coordinator.. :( 
I wouldn't be at the cocktail hour either way and we're already doing pictures earlier in the day, so on my part is would be easy to do. 

Any opinions are appreciated! Thanks.

Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?

  • Well, i feel like people might skip the cocktail hour or, guests may get tipsy (that always seems to happen to me! I think its the low food/high booze ration) OR get drunk and ruin the ceremony.

    Idk, I don't like the idea. i'd prefer the emtpy ballroom followed by the cocktail hour.
     Daisypath Anniversary tickers
  • i live in and am from the Phoenix area and the heat differential will not be that great seitching around your cocktail hour and the ceremony. I don't think the sun will have set by then even. Just do it all inside.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • I don't think it's a bad idea.  I actually went to a wedding once that had drinks/snacks for an hour before the ceremony, then the ceremony, then the reception.  I would just maybe limit the drinks to beer/wine/lemonade/iced tea and have a good amount of food for cocktail hour so no one gets totally wasted, and then if you want a full open bar have that for the reception part.  It's true that people might skip this part, but I doubt a very large number will skip the free drinks/food.

    Or, do you absolutely have to start at 6?  Could you just push your whole wedding back?  Just start ceremony at 7 when sun is going down, then cocktail hour, then reception like 8:30 to 1?
  • I've seen this done at Jewish weddings.  Not being Jewish, I've always found it a little strange for reasons that PP and your parents have (getting a bit tipsy before the ceremony).  At the ceremony for these weddings, I've seen it common to give out breathmints as you walk into the ceremony.
  • edited February 2013
    In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]I don't think it's a bad idea.  I actually went to a wedding once that had drinks/snacks for an hour before the ceremony, then the ceremony, then the reception.  I would just maybe limit the drinks to beer/wine/lemonade/iced tea and have a good amount of food for cocktail hour so no one gets totally wasted, and then if you want a full open bar have that for the reception part.  It's true that people might skip this part, but I doubt a very large number will skip the free drinks/food. Or, do you absolutely have to start at 6?  Could you just push your whole wedding back?  Just start ceremony at 7 when sun is going down, then cocktail hour, then reception like 8:30 to 1?
    Posted by [email protected][/QUOTE]

    Thanks for your thoughts. We did think a lot about pushing the entire wedding back, but decided against it because of the older people, like our grandparents, will be so tired by the time the dinner is even served. Even with this set up dinner isn't until 8:30. We definitely could limit the alcohol during the cocktail hour.
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Why don't you just start the ceremony at 7?



  • Are all your guests from AZ or used to this kind of heat? I personally think it's fine to have the short ceremony outside followed by Cocktail hour.

    I like the idea of having lemonade / Ice tea as refreshments before the ceremony and maybe passing around paper fans.

    IDK; the whole setting up the ballroom for the ceremony and then converting again for the reception is too hectic.

    We went to a 1:30pm ceremony last year and it was over 100 degrees outside. It was only about 15 minutes long and the reception was immediately after that. I was annoyed at this wedding but not because of the heat but because of the gap between dinner and ceremony.
  • Hi, 
    Well the ballroom that the ceremony and cocktail hour would be in is different than the ballroom the reception is in. So that wouldn't be a problem. There would be no converting one thing to another. I'll think about still having it outdoors beforehand, but I have been strongly advised against it. 115 degree weather is not fun.
  • Because then dinner wouldn't be until 9:30 pm. My poor grandparents wouldn't make it to the cake cutting, haha! In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]Why don't you just start the ceremony at 7?
    Posted by Viczaesar[/QUOTE]
  • I think it's fine to do this, but PLEASE tell your guests that this is how the evening will go.  We raced to get to a wedding that started at 7pm once.  We had driven about three hours, hit traffic, and skipped dinner to make it on time.  Imagine our surprise when we walked into a cocktail hour where the ceremony wouldn't start for another forty five minutes and the added bonus that dinner was NOT just around the corner, but that much later.

    Just put it on the invitation: We invite you to join us for pre-ceremony cocktails at 6pm then a dinner reception to follow.  Or something.  Give 'em some heads up!
  • I'm not particularly fond of the idea, but I wouldn't mind it. I wouldn't be upset if I were invited to a wedding like this.

    BUT, I disagree with the idea that people will get drunk and ruin your ceremony. I like to drink and I'm somewhat of a lightweight and even in a hardcore party mode I have never gotten drunk enough in one hour to not know to shut my mouth during a wedding ceremony. Sure people may get a little tipsy, but not enough to make a difference during the ceremony. 

    What would you and the bridal party be doing during this? Hanging out somewhere? Or would you attend the cocktail hour?
  • edited February 2013
    In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:[QUOTE]I'm not particularly fond of the idea, but I wouldn't mind it. I wouldn't be upset if I were invited to a wedding like this. BUT, I disagree with the idea that people will get drunk and ruin your ceremony. I like to drink and I'm somewhat of a lightweight and even in a hardcore party mode I have never gotten drunk enough in one hour to not know to shut my mouth during a wedding ceremony. Sure people may get a little tipsy, but not enough to make a difference during the ceremony.  What would you and the bridal party be doing during this? Hanging out somewhere? Or would you attend the cocktail hour?
    Posted by beardownbchs[/QUOTE]
    Thanks for your opinion. I don't think anyone could get that drunk to where anyone was affected either. It's only  one hour. I'm actually not sure what my FI and I would be doing. The wedding party is free to attend the cocktail hour, because our picture will have been taken or at least close to finishing! I personally would not want to attend the cocktail party, I wouldn't want anyone to see me yet. 
  • In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony? : Thanks for your opinion. I don't think anyone could get that drunk to where anyone was affected either. It's only  one hour. I'm actually not sure what my FI and I would be doing. The wedding party is free to attend the cocktail hour, because our picture will have been taken or at least close to finishing! I personally would not want to attend the cocktail party, I wouldn't want anyone to see me yet. 
    Posted by sabrinaleslie[/QUOTE]

    Yeah, that's what I was thinking, I just wanted to make sure you had thought about that. :)
  • I have seen this before and would be fine with it.  At the wedding I was at that did this, they took pictures behind a screen so no one could see the bride during the cocktail hour, which was a little weird, but whatever.  Like Joy said, just make sure you specify on your invitations ("cocktails at 6, ceremony at 7").  I usually arrive 15-30 minutes early for the ceremony, so I wouldn't mind having some refreshments during that time.  But I'd want to know that there was a cocktail hour first, so I wasn't arriving 15-30 minutes early for cocktail hour.  

    My two questions for you are: 
    1. Are you sure it will actually be cooler if you wait until 7?
    2. Why is your venue coordinator against it?  Does she have a legit reason, or is it just because it's unusual?

  • I think its a GENIUS idea! Great thinking!!! I would totally do it. Its different, but not crazy.
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]Because then dinner wouldn't be until 9:30 pm. My poor grandparents wouldn't make it to the cake cutting, haha!  In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony? :
    Posted by sabrinaleslie[/QUOTE]
    Why wouldn't dinner be until 9:30 pm?  Cocktail hour is traditionally for hosting your guests while you and your wedding party/family are doing photos.  If you're not using cocktail hour as the hour between your ceremony and your reception then just have the ceremony at 7 and go straight into the reception.  You don't need to have a cocktail hour. 



  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]Perhaps I missed this but if you are doing pictures before why do you need a cocktail  hour? Why not just start the ceremony at 7 p.m. and then go straight to the reception?
    Posted by scribe95[/QUOTE]
    Exactly.



  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited February 2013

    My brothers both got married in AZ.    I don't think the temp difference between 6 and 7 is that much.  Let's face it the average high in Aug is 104 and the average low is 83.  Chances it being 83 at 7 pm are pretty slim.  Those temps are generally felt in the middle of the night.   I would be really annoyed at an outdoor wedding sunset wedding in Aug in AZ.  Another vote to having it inside.

    That said, I've both worked and attended weddings with cocktail hours before the ceremony.  Ive enjoyed all of them and no there were not drunk people at the ceremony.  Later in the night maybe, but not the ceremony.

    ETA - replace Aug with July.  Brain dead.







    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • I'm on team "don't have a cocktail hour"

    It's not necessary if you've already done pictures.  Just go straight into reception/dinner.  Then party late all night with all the cocktails you want.

    Also, I actually don't think your original idea is bad.  A sunset ceremony will be nice, but make sure that the sun isn't setting in everyone's face, and that it's still a tolerable temp outside.  Even an hour later, it may still be too hot.

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  • KatWAGKatWAG Chicago member
    2500 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    edited February 2013
    I dont really think it matters what order you do things in 

    As someone who spent many years living in Phoenix. I PROMISE you, there will be little to no difference in temp between 6 and 7pm. It will still be super hot and sweaty not sound like much. Also, did you know that AZ can get humid? 20 or 30% humidity might but add it to 110 degree and people start to faint.

    As a guest I would not be happy to sit outside (even for a short ceremony) and get all sweaty. I would not want to sweat through a nice dress and make up. And I know H would completely sweat through his shirt. Multiple that by 100 people, yuck.

    Have your ceremony inside, whenever you do your cocktail hour, why not set up table both inside and outside to give people the option, if you are really set on using the outside space. You can always take pictures outside after the ceremony.
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  • I think it's probably a good idea to still do it inside, but I like the idea of the cocktail hour first.  Sounds like fun to me.
  • I hadn't thought about this... Genius though!! Thanks!
    In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony? : Exactly.
    Posted by Viczaesar[/QUOTE]
  • Okay everyone has convinced me, I am doing everything inside-just to be safe! 
    Thanks for everyone's advice. I'm also going to talk to my coordinator about taking the cocktail hour out all together and just have a longer reception with an extra hour of open bar! 

    I'm sure everything will turn out great!
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    good call.  Your guests will be happy.

    I was a BM at my brother's wedding.  We had to wear green velvet dresses in mid-April during the day.  It was 85+ degrees out.   I was so miserable.   That was 16 years ago and I'm still annoyed.






    What differentiates an average host and a great host is anticipating unexpressed needs and wants of their guests.  Just because the want/need is not expressed, doesn't mean it wouldn't be appreciated. 
  • In Response to Re: Switching around the cocktail hour and ceremony?:
    [QUOTE]Okay everyone has convinced me, I am doing everything inside-just to be safe!  Thanks for everyone's advice. I'm also going to talk to my coordinator about taking the cocktail hour out all together and just have a longer reception with an extra hour of open bar!  I'm sure everything will turn out great!
    Posted by sabrinaleslie[/QUOTE]

    Good call! Definitely do the whole thing inside! July in AZ is miserable! Hopefully there are some nice big windows in your venue to admire the outside landscape from the comfort of central air! And if you must, run outside for a few pictures and leave it at that. You will be glad you kept it 100% indoors because it will keep your stress levels down considerably, along with your body temperature. 
    As far as the cocktail hour before the ceremony... I've seen this done before and it was really nice. However, after reading through this thread, I don't think you need a cocktail hour at all if you're not using the time to take pictures or actually attending with your guests. Just skip it. Welcome everyone in, have the ceremony, and then go straight into your reception. And the extra hour of the open bar is a great idea too.
    Also, I really commend you for thinking about this in depth beforehand and not being one of those brides who doesn't care about the outside elements... claiming it will be a short ceremony so everyone (wp and guests) will be fine. Not so! I was MOH in my friend's wedding in Scottsdale, AZ in December. We were outside and it was FREEZING!!! I was so miserable I wanted to scream. I can't imagine it being the opposite and us all being in 100 degree heat. Yikes. 

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  • I know I'm late to the game, but another drawback to consider that hasn't been mentioned is that evening will cause the sun to be at an intense angle that will strike people in the eyes if you hold the ceremony outside.  It doesn't matter how you arrange the setting, someone is getting blasted in the face.  This happened at a girl's wedding that I attended last year (we live in high desert), and the guests were MISERABLE.  

    Not only that, but you have to worry about sunburns all around. (I get exactly 15 minutes myself before it's lobster city).  Not worth it.  Just decorate the hall and have a beautiful pergola to marry under.
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  • I love everyone's comments! Thanks so much. I am postive I have made the right decision after reading all of these. Everything inside :) 
  • Just wanted to add that we were married in JULY in FLORIDA heat, and there is no fing way I was going outside for anything.  The photographer told me three times that he could create some trick shots outside.  The last time I told him that HE could go outside,m and he could take anyone with him but me, because the temperature was about 99 and unbearable.

    If it's a high of 112 on your wedding day, it won't even be below 100 at sunset.
  • I love the idea!   I am having a small wedding (30-40) people, and all of my guests will be traveling over an hour to the ceremony/reception site.  This will give them a chance to relax and get a little something to eat so they are not starving during the ceremony.  It also spreads out the eating a little bit.  I am usually so full after cocktail hour that I can't eat the meal at the reception.  I recently went to a wedding with this "switch".  The ceremony was outside in December in upstate NY!  We were able to bring our wine, brandy, hot chocolate, etc. right to the ceremony with us.  It was lovely.....so relaxed.....not so stuffy.  Good Luck!

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