Wedding Etiquette Forum

Time between the ceremony and the reception

Our ceremony will start at 5pm and will be right next door to where the reception will be held.  I am torn between having the cocktail hour start right after the ceremony or having a half hour space and starting it at 6pm.  I hate to keep my guests waiting but I also want to be able to take some quick pictures and then enjoy most of the cocktail hour with our guests.  The ceremony/reception is at a ski resort where probably about 40-50% of our guests will be staying and there are a few bars located on the resort within walking distance.  Should we have cocktail hour start right away at 5:30 or would it be ok for it to start at 6pm?
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Re: Time between the ceremony and the reception

  • Start it right away.   Let the guests start to eat and then you join them when the photos are done. 
    PrettyGirlLostSP29Blue_Bird
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Cocktail hour should start right after. You'd seriously consider making your guests stand around and wait for you for half an hour to start? WTF?

    If you want to be at most/all of cocktail hour, take your photos before the ceremony.
    InLoveInQueensPrettyGirlLostSTARMOON44SP29
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    right away.  It's rude for your guests to wait just so you can take some pictures.  That is the whole point of the cocktail hour.   Your guests are entertained while you take pictures.






    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. 
    InLoveInQueensBlue_Bird
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Start the cocktail hour right away. Don't keep your guests standing around waiting for you to take photos with no place to sit and nothing to eat or drink.

    Sadly, I think due to venue error as opposed to conscious planning, that happened at my brother's wedding. Even once some 30 minutes or so of photos were taken following the ceremony (same venue as the reception), the venue staff had not finished setting up the reception room and kept everyone standing in a really tight little spot in front of it for another 15 to 20 minutes.
    Blue_Bird
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Start it right away.  The care of your guests trumps pictures.


    image
    Blue_Bird
  • ViczaesarViczaesar Central Coast, CA member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    Our ceremony will start at 5pm and will be right next door to where the reception will be held.  I am torn between having the cocktail hour start right after the ceremony or having a half hour space and starting it at 6pm.  I hate to keep my guests waiting but I also want to be able to take some quick pictures and then enjoy most of the cocktail hour with our guests.  The ceremony/reception is at a ski resort where probably about 40-50% of our guests will be staying and there are a few bars located on the resort within walking distance.  Should we have cocktail hour start right away at 5:30 or would it be ok for it to start at 6pm?
    It's not okay to make your guests wait around for you for a half an hour, especially not so that you can be selfish and enjoy cocktail hour as well.  The whole point of cocktail hour is to host your guests while you do pictures. 



    PrettyGirlLost
  • I guess I should have mentioned that the guests would have the opportunity to go to the bar during that half hour...and the main reason I don't want to miss the cocktail hour, or half hour in my case, is so I can mingle with the guest and make sure we talk to everyone since we won't be having a receiving line and have a large invite list...not sure if that changes anyone's opinion..
  • I guess I should have mentioned that the guests would have the opportunity to go to the bar during that half hour...and the main reason I don't want to miss the cocktail hour, or half hour in my case, is so I can mingle with the guest and make sure we talk to everyone since we won't be having a receiving line and have a large invite list...not sure if that changes anyone's opinion..
    Nope. Etiquette is etiquette. You have to host your guests the entire time. You need to provide food if you're providing alcohol, so just start the cocktail hour immediately post-ceremony and then join them for the end of it... and then you can talk to everyone during table visits during dinner... doesn't matter if its a large list, you need to find a time to talk to all your guests...

    For what it's worth, we hosted a cocktail hour and only missed half an hour of it to take a few pictures after the ceremony, then we were able to join the cocktail hour and mingle with some of the guests until it was time for dinner. 
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    PrettyGirlLostBlue_BirdInLoveInQueens
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    I guess I should have mentioned that the guests would have the opportunity to go to the bar during that half hour...and the main reason I don't want to miss the cocktail hour, or half hour in my case, is so I can mingle with the guest and make sure we talk to everyone since we won't be having a receiving line and have a large invite list...not sure if that changes anyone's opinion..
    It doesn't, to be honest.  Your entire event should be hosted, so asking guests to pay for their own beverages for that 30 minutes is still rude.  If I were your guest I would assume you had a cash bar.  Also, if the guests can still drink at the same bar they'll be served from for the reception, there's a good chance the bartenders could still be setting up since their itinerary will say bar at 6 and the guests are really arriving at 5:30.

    But you do need to consider a game plan to make sure you have time to greet everyone.  Have you added table visits to your timeline?  I didn't want to do a receiving line but likely will since there's a pass through to the cocktail side and we also have a large guest list.
    image
    PrettyGirlLost
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I guess I should have mentioned that the guests would have the opportunity to go to the bar during that half hour...and the main reason I don't want to miss the cocktail hour, or half hour in my case, is so I can mingle with the guest and make sure we talk to everyone since we won't be having a receiving line and have a large invite list...not sure if that changes anyone's opinion..
    Sorry, but guests don't want "the opportunity to go to the bar during that half hour."  Especially if they are charged for drinks.  If you want them to stick around for that half hour, pay for the drinks yourself.  Don't just send your guests to the bar-many of them don't see that as any "opportunity" except to leave your reception and not come back at all.
    STARMOON44PrettyGirlLost[Deleted User]InLoveInQueens
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    We didn't attend cocktail hour at all, but we still had plates of apps and drinks brought to us to snack on while we got pictures taken.  In fact, as soon as H and I walked back up the aisle there was a server standing there with a tray of mini crab cakes which I immediately grabbed and scarfed down.

    I also think that table visits are a necessary thing if you aren't having a receiving line.  During cocktail hour people are up and moving around.  There is no way for a couple to be able to hit up everyone in such a limited amount of time without missing some people.  So even if you attend cocktail hour you should also do table visits.

    PrettyGirlLostBlue_Bird

  • scribe95 said:

    It can be done but there really is no point. Basically the reception has started then. 

    It's interesting that you say this, because maybe we're just working with different semantics. I consider cocktail hour part of the reception. Like, I'm on a huge Gilmore Girls binge-watching trip right now. When Lorelai and Rory go to the grandparents' house for "Friday Night Dinner" they always start with cocktails in the sitting room before dinner begins. It's their cocktail hour. They're there for dinner but cocktails simply come first. 

    And anyway, I would find it weird if I was ushered from a ceremony to a table to sit down and eat a meal. I don't think it's in human nature to do that. After a church ceremony, people congregate in the lobby and parking lot and talk to people. After a secular ceremony, people start talking and congregating anywhere after the couple has retreated down the aisle. People are going to mingle and it's herding cats to expect otherwise. Hosting that mingling time with drinks and munchies just makes a lot of sense to me... and I was happy to mingle with guests during mine rather than be taking a million more formal pictures. 

    Agreed.
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    scribe95 said:
    It can be done but there really is no point. Basically the reception has started then. 
    It's interesting that you say this, because maybe we're just working with different semantics. I consider cocktail hour part of the reception. Like, I'm on a huge Gilmore Girls binge-watching trip right now. When Lorelai and Rory go to the grandparents' house for "Friday Night Dinner" they always start with cocktails in the sitting room before dinner begins. It's their cocktail hour. They're there for dinner but cocktails simply come first. 

    And anyway, I would find it weird if I was ushered from a ceremony to a table to sit down and eat a meal. I don't think it's in human nature to do that. After a church ceremony, people congregate in the lobby and parking lot and talk to people. After a secular ceremony, people start talking and congregating anywhere after the couple has retreated down the aisle. People are going to mingle and it's herding cats to expect otherwise. Hosting that mingling time with drinks and munchies just makes a lot of sense to me... and I was happy to mingle with guests during mine rather than be taking a million more formal pictures. 
    I agree with this too.  Cocktail hour to me is all part of the reception.  We, I believe, on here tend to break it out into ceremony, cocktail hour and reception for timeline purposes, but in reality cocktail hour is part of the reception.

    STARMOON44PrettyGirlLostSP29
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    Yes, cocktail hour is part of the reception, and it's typically the part that occurs while the bride and groom are taking pictures.

    If you as the bride and groom want to be present for the cocktail hour, then your options are to do a 1st look and limited pictures post ceremony, extend the cocktail hour by 15mins-30mins so that you can participate, have a "cocktail"/food station reception rather than a formal, sit down dinner, or just make sure the apps served during cocktail hour are available to you during dinner.  You can have your venue/caterer save you a tray.

    You need to start your reception- cocktail hour- right after your ceremony, no gaps just because you want to take pictures AND have apps.

    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


    SP29
  • scribe95 said:
    It can be done but there really is no point. Basically the reception has started then. 
    It's interesting that you say this, because maybe we're just working with different semantics. I consider cocktail hour part of the reception. Like, I'm on a huge Gilmore Girls binge-watching trip right now. When Lorelai and Rory go to the grandparents' house for "Friday Night Dinner" they always start with cocktails in the sitting room before dinner begins. It's their cocktail hour. They're there for dinner but cocktails simply come first. 

    And anyway, I would find it weird if I was ushered from a ceremony to a table to sit down and eat a meal. I don't think it's in human nature to do that. After a church ceremony, people congregate in the lobby and parking lot and talk to people. After a secular ceremony, people start talking and congregating anywhere after the couple has retreated down the aisle. People are going to mingle and it's herding cats to expect otherwise. Hosting that mingling time with drinks and munchies just makes a lot of sense to me... and I was happy to mingle with guests during mine rather than be taking a million more formal pictures. 
    I'm on a huge Gilmore Girls binge now too! I'm always so jealous of the Friday Night Dinner cocktails. I wish my parents would do cocktails before dinner haha. We're hosting Christmas Eve this year for my husbands family and definitely doing cocktails before dinner! 

    But anyways we didn't have a first look so we did all of our formals and even drove around to different cool sites on the property to do photos of just us and we still got back with 15 minutes left in our cocktail hour. I had people save me a plate of food so I got to snack and mingle for 15 minutes, it was great! An hour was definitely long enough and our guests had something to do that was hosted by us right away! If you don't think 15 minutes is enough do a few less photos (we have like 500 from the cocktail hour alone so cutting that short would still leave you with plenty of pictures) or just tack on 15 minutes to your cocktail hour. That is of course if you are against having a first look like my now husband was, it's still possible to enjoy part of your cocktail hour.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  •  If I were your guest I would assume you had a cash bar.

     aurianna said:
    You would be making your guests kill a half hour of time where they'd have to leave the site, go into a crowded bar (definitely crowded if your guest list is large), pay for their own drinks, then walk back to where they just were.
    I'm not advocating for extra time between the ceremony and reception, but OP said "guests would have the opportunity to go to the bar". 
    There was no specific mention of a cash bar. You know what they say about assumptions...
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
     If I were your guest I would assume you had a cash bar.

     aurianna said:
    You would be making your guests kill a half hour of time where they'd have to leave the site, go into a crowded bar (definitely crowded if your guest list is large), pay for their own drinks, then walk back to where they just were.
    I'm not advocating for extra time between the ceremony and reception, but OP said "guests would have the opportunity to go to the bar". 
    There was no specific mention of a cash bar. You know what they say about assumptions...
    I'm not going to assume there is a cash bar for the reception itself.  

    However,  if the guests have an opportunity to go to a hosted bar then their cocktail hour would be starting then, No?  

    So it's not a far stretch to think their opportunity to go to the bar would be on their own dime.   Because, like I said, if it was hosted then that would be the start of the cocktail hour and this whole thread would be moot.






    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. 
    Maggie0829madamerwinHeffalump
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair member
    5000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its First Answer
    scribe95 said:
    It can be done but there really is no point. Basically the reception has started then. 
    It's interesting that you say this, because maybe we're just working with different semantics. I consider cocktail hour part of the reception. Like, I'm on a huge Gilmore Girls binge-watching trip right now. When Lorelai and Rory go to the grandparents' house for "Friday Night Dinner" they always start with cocktails in the sitting room before dinner begins. It's their cocktail hour. They're there for dinner but cocktails simply come first. 

    And anyway, I would find it weird if I was ushered from a ceremony to a table to sit down and eat a meal. I don't think it's in human nature to do that. After a church ceremony, people congregate in the lobby and parking lot and talk to people. After a secular ceremony, people start talking and congregating anywhere after the couple has retreated down the aisle. People are going to mingle and it's herding cats to expect otherwise. Hosting that mingling time with drinks and munchies just makes a lot of sense to me... and I was happy to mingle with guests during mine rather than be taking a million more formal pictures. 
    So who is cooking if they are sitting around, slamming Manhattans?


    "Love is the one thing we're capable of perceiving that transcends time and space."


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