Wedding Etiquette Forum

3:30 reception - light food or full meal?

Since there's absolutely no way we are having a gap, no matter how common they are with Catholic weddings, it's looking like our reception will start around 3:30 or so. 

Do we do an afternoon tea type meal with nibbly foods and what have you or are we late enough in the afternoon, we need to plan for a full meal?

I am leaning towards the tea, mostly as costs mean we can host a much nicer light meal with that caterer vs the full meal which is nice but not the special of the tea.  But if I'm wrong on timing being ok for a tea, full meal it is.

Re: 3:30 reception - light food or full meal?

  • Since there's absolutely no way we are having a gap, no matter how common they are with Catholic weddings, it's looking like our reception will start around 3:30 or so. 

    Do we do an afternoon tea type meal with nibbly foods and what have you or are we late enough in the afternoon, we need to plan for a full meal?

    I am leaning towards the tea, mostly as costs mean we can host a much nicer light meal with that caterer vs the full meal which is nice but not the special of the tea.  But if I'm wrong on timing being ok for a tea, full meal it is.

    How long will the reception be? If it's less than 3 hours or so, I think tea is fine. But if people are there from, say 3:30-8:30, dinner may be more appropriate.
    kimmiinthemittenMairePoppyClaraGrace
  • It really depends on how long your reception will be. I agree with PP, if it's not done by around 6 (dinner time), people will be expecting a meal.
    image
    ClaraGraceMesmrEwe
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited December 2015
    Tea would be very appropriate.  Generally a tea, or cake and punch type reception does not include dancing, and is much shorter in time than a full dinner reception.  Many people may be pleased that they can make their own evening arrangements afterwards, or that they can drive home before dark.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    STARMOON44ClaraGraceBlue_BirdVicTim328
  • It all depends on what you're going for. For a short event, tea is fine. My reception started at 4 and we did a full meal but we also had dancing.
    ClaraGrace
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Tea and appetizers sound very appropriate for the kind of wedding you're planning.  Best wishes!
    ClaraGrace
  • Since you're planning on having a shorter reception, I think afternoon tea sounds lovely. Enjoy!
    image
    ClaraGrace
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Your reception will be taking place during tea time, so go for it. I've never been to a tea wedding reception, but I'd love that. 



                       
    ClaraGraceBlue_Bird
  • With a shorter reception, tea would be lovely!! 
    ClaraGrace
  • scribe95 said:

    P.S. Some people don't like tea so I hope you have other options (me).

    We're having coffee, tea, hot cider and a hot cocoa bar. Plus some flavored waters and such. I'm mostly using tea as a term for nibbly finger foods and such.
    saric83SP29CMGragainInLoveInQueens
  • A tea is lovely for a shower, but for the main event (since it sounds like your ceremony begins at 2), it just seems not the right way to go...  I'd see about moving your ceremony maybe to 1:00 if you're set on the tea just so you're clear of meal time.  I'd do/prefer a longer Cocktail/apps hour with dinner served at 4:45/5:00...  then get things going/wrapped up so everyone's on their way by 7:30/8...  Reason being is that a tea can get expensive and you are sandwiching up to the dinner hour unless you can move things earlier depending on what your priest says.  Or, do a lunch if you do have some flex on things being earlier in the day. 


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  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    Thanks everyone! We just signed with the caterer, so tea it is. There's part of me that'd like the big fancy reception - but I don't like being out all night usually, the tea will be nicer than what we could afford to properly host for the evening reception and biggest reason is I can't figure out how to have the big reception without some kind of 2 hour or more gap. Which in the end is just far too rude to me to even consider. I may have grumbled mightily when Mom was drilling etiquette and manners in my head, but boy did her teaching stick and it's always served me well until now.
    Nice credit to your mom. She did a wonderful job.
                       
  • Our caterer is actually cheaper than the option for an evening reception, no matter what we get into. The caterer for evening was at $120 a plate for vegetarian, $140 a plate for vegan. Yes, it's a case of know your guests, but about 80% are one or the other, and the rest are used to vegan/vegetarian food. The caterer doesn't like doing those meals obviously. So I wasn't seeing real benefits.

    Our caterer is strictly vegan/vegetarian, has a great menu, doesn't do the weird fake meat, and we'll have better and more food than pasta with vegetables for under half the cost of full meal quote. I've had her teas before at 2-3 pm and not wanted dinner until 8 pm. I really hope people won't go hungry, but at some point, there's going to be plenty of food and I can't force feed people.

    Wedding is starting at 1:30, knowing our parish and wedding size, we're going to be around 90 minutes. It's a 15 minute trip to the hotel, so earliest will be 3:15 if people leave right away, and knowing our crowd, 3:30 is a pretty logical time frame. We'll start hosting as of 3 pm in case it's a lot faster. So it's either a over an hour cocktail reception (3:30 - 5:00 at minimum) which feels way too much like a gap or tea. Wedding can't move later, too close to our time for us to be comfortable.

    It's a case of we picked ceremony time first, decided how important parts were, and now have to figure out a reception without a gap. Which is a slight headache, but that's our own fault for having the full nuptial Mass and large families (my mom was one of nine kids, and we go from there) who are important to us.

    Are we going to please everyone the world over - nope. Granted, I figure between the long Catholic ceremony and a vegan tea, various people will be horrified.

    Are our guests going to be comfortable - yes. Our families expect the full ceremony, no matter how long it takes, and are a heavy majority of vegans and vegetarians.
    SP29
  • I think your plans sound lovely, and like they're perfect for what you want to do. You're fully hosting your guests in a manner appropriate for the time of day. Congratulations on the wedding.
  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!) member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
    Coffee and appetizers and getting home early? This would be a PERFECT reception for me!
    InLoveInQueens
  • I've been to afternoon tea a few times- and it is very filling. You see that little tray come out and think, "Oh a nice snack!" but man does it fill you up! I'm usually good for several hours later. 
  • MairePoppyMairePoppy Connecticut mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 5000 Comments 500 Love Its
    edited December 2015
    When you firm up your menu, I'd love to hear about the tea. I've been to many teas and the finger foods were ample enough to constitute a meal. 
                       
    Blue_BirdCMGragainshort+sassy
  • Blue_BirdBlue_Bird Bawlmer member
    Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 500 Comments First Answer
    When you firm up your menu, I'd love to hear about the tea. I've been to many teas and the finger foods were ample enough to constitute a meal. 
    I second that!
    ClaraGrace
  • You CAN have a full meal and longer reception at that time.  Our reception started at 3:45 after our Catholic wedding.  We started with cocktails and appetizers, then dinner was served just a little after 5.  Reception lasted until 9 with drinks, cake, and dancing.  You don't have to have a gap to have a dinner reception.

    BUT cake and tea sounds great too.  A light reception from 3:30-5:30 sounds great, then people can go get dinner afterwards.  If that's what you want, go for it.

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  • lc07lc07 Sunny Southern California member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    I may have an unpopular opinion here but I think this depends on where your guests are coming from. If your guests are local, you are in the clear. If you are inviting long distance and / or international guests or your event is a destination wedding, I think a full meal is in order. I invited guests from all over the globe to my wedding. No way I was going to invite people who had to spend thousands upon thousands of dollars to get their family to my wedding and not serve them a full meal. 
    JoanE2012
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