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Food and Cakes

Scheduling Dinner

Hi! This is my first post, so I'll give a brief breakdown of our wedding plans...

Our wedding date is 8/20/16 and we are renting out the Chalet View Lodge, in CA for the weekend of the wedding. It's about a 4-hour drive for most of our guests and because of this we are expecting most guests to stay at the lodge or nearby (we're sending invites out early to allow people time to save and plan). Our ceremony is scheduled to be at 4pm and it will probably be pretty short and sweet, ending at 4:20 or 4:30 at the latest I'm guessing. Afterwards I'm sure we'll take a few pictures but we won't have bridesmaids or groomsmen, so there probably won't be many staged photos.

My dilemma: when should we plan to start the reception and the dinner?? I'm thinking 6pm but we won't have to change locations for the reception. Given this, is an hour and a half too long to wait? We are planning on having games and activities for people to partake in and fill the time. Then if we have dinner earlier (at say, 5:30), will it be too early? Will people be hungry again later? Will it be too bright out when we move onto dancing, since it will be outdoors in August? Am I totally overthinking this?

Any positive feedback would be appreciated! I've only had two other experiences on forums, both were on different sites and both were slightly negative and not very helpful, so I'm hoping this will be a better experience. :)
KnotRiley

Re: Scheduling Dinner

  • Oh, another question -- I just read someone else's schedule and she said they planned their first dance to take place before dinner. Is that the way it's supposed to go? I feel so lost!
    best4last
  • Can you clarify for us that you will be having a fully hosted cocktail hour directly following your ceremony, then onto dinner? Or are you having a gap with just games till dinner?

    If it is the former then cocktail hour is 1hr (1.5 tops, but I'd try not to) then directly to dinner. 5 or 5.30 is not too early at all. Your guest will be hungry and will start to feel as though they are hanging around if it goes on any longer, especially with alcohol involved. If it is the latter then my positive advice is not to have a gap, and take my advice to do the former. Games are not a suitable alternative to hosting your guests properly.
                 
  • Oh, another question -- I just read someone else's schedule and she said they planned their first dance to take place before dinner. Is that the way it's supposed to go? I feel so lost!

    There isn't really a rule here. I would have it after dinner when you want dancing to start as its a good signifier to guests that the dancefloor is open. But if you prefer before dinner you can do that so long as your guests are properly hosted while doing so.
                 
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    Viczaesar said:
    Hi! This is my first post, so I'll give a brief breakdown of our wedding plans...

    Our wedding date is 8/20/16 and we are renting out the Chalet View Lodge, in CA for the weekend of the wedding. It's about a 4-hour drive for most of our guests and because of this we are expecting most guests to stay at the lodge or nearby (we're sending invites out early to allow people time to save and plan). Our ceremony is scheduled to be at 4pm and it will probably be pretty short and sweet, ending at 4:20 or 4:30 at the latest I'm guessing. Afterwards I'm sure we'll take a few pictures but we won't have bridesmaids or groomsmen, so there probably won't be many staged photos.

    My dilemma: when should we plan to start the reception and the dinner?? I'm thinking 6pm but we won't have to change locations for the reception. Given this, is an hour and a half too long to wait? We are planning on having games and activities for people to partake in and fill the time. Then if we have dinner earlier (at say, 5:30), will it be too early? Will people be hungry again later? Will it be too bright out when we move onto dancing, since it will be outdoors in August? Am I totally overthinking this?

    Any positive feedback would be appreciated! I've only had two other experiences on forums, both were on different sites and both were slightly negative and not very helpful, so I'm hoping this will be a better experience. :)
    First, how early are you sending invitations?  You should not send invitations earlier than 8 weeks before the wedding, 10 at the most.  If you need or want to give information to people earlier than that so that they can save and plan that is exactly what STDs are for.

    You need to start hosting your guests immediately after the ceremony, so 4:30.  You can do this with a cocktail hour with beverages (doesn't have to be alcoholic) and light food (e.g. appetizers) from 4:30-5:30 and then go into dinner.  That's not too early for dinner, especially if you are doing courses or a buffet, which takes time to go through.  You can have games available for people to partake in as well, but the important thing is that they are hosted with food and beverages and places to sit. 

    In terms of when you do your first dance, that's up to you.  Some people choose to do it before dinner (I'm not sure why, to be honest, but I know that some people do and I'm sure they have a reason for it).  I personally prefer to have the spotlight dance(s) after dinner and leading to opening up the dance floor for everyone.  It just makes sense to me and seems to flow well.  But neither option is incorrect, it's just a matter of opinion.
    To answer the bolded.  I had my first dance and other spotlight dances prior to dinner.  My wedding took place all at the same venue.  After our cocktail hour H and I were introduced and went right into our first dance.  All in all our spotlight dances probably took 10 minutes (if that).  We did this because then once people had finished eating the dance floor was 'open' for them.  This way the party cold start as soon as dinner was finished and people weren't then left having to 'wait' for H and I to finish our table visits and then have to sit around and watch spotlight dances and what not before the party could really get going.

    But then only thing I will say, whether you have the spotlight stuff before or after dinner, just make sure to have it all done at one time.  Don't split things up through the course of your reception.  Having to interrupt the dancing and fun to have another spotlight thing is a huge party killer.

    lyndausvicharlotte989875jenna8984downtondiva
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado mod
    Moderator Knottie Warrior 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    The should start immediately after the ceremony or in the case there is travel, the earliest the guests would arrive.

    First dance can be at anytime you want.  I did mine before dinner.  Which opened up the dance floor for my guests (who did dance in between courses).  As people finished dinner they hit the dance floor too.

    I personally do not like being interrupted often for things.   So we did the intros, first dance and toasts/speeches before dinner.   Then later in the night we did the cake cut and father/daughter, mother/son dance while they ate the cake.








    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. 
    SoldiersMom
  • Another first dance option: After cocktail hour, we were introduced and had our first dance. Then everyone had dinner. My father/daughter dance was as dinner was wrapping up and that is what opened the floor.
  • madamerwinmadamerwin member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Third Anniversary Name Dropper
    edited January 2016
    I agree with PPs - whatever you do, you need to fully host the entire time and first dances can be done either at the beginning of the reception or after you eat. Cocktail hour can be stretched to 1.5 hours if absolutely necessary, though it is best to avoid it. I see no problem with starting dinner at 5:30, and I don't think it'll be too early for dancing. H and I got married on the first day of summer in the Pacific Northwest, and the sun set after 9pm. People still danced.

    The reason we did dances after dinner is because we only had about 30 minutes of photos after the ceremony, after which we joined our guests for the rest of cocktail hour. We thought it would be weird and confusing to do a first dance before the reception proper started, and I feel like doing them before only makes sense if you do a grand entrance right beforehand.

    One other option, if you don't want dinner quite as early: Why not move your ceremony to 5pm, and then everything will be moved back an hour?

    ETA more details
    BabyFruit Ticker
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited January 2016
    Hi! This is my first post, so I'll give a brief breakdown of our wedding plans...

    Our wedding date is 8/20/16 and we are renting out the Chalet View Lodge, in CA for the weekend of the wedding. It's about a 4-hour drive for most of our guests and because of this we are expecting most guests to stay at the lodge or nearby (we're sending invites out early to allow people time to save and plan). Our ceremony is scheduled to be at 4pm and it will probably be pretty short and sweet, ending at 4:20 or 4:30 at the latest I'm guessing. Afterwards I'm sure we'll take a few pictures but we won't have bridesmaids or groomsmen, so there probably won't be many staged photos.

    My dilemma: when should we plan to start the reception and the dinner?? I'm thinking 6pm but we won't have to change locations for the reception. Given this, is an hour and a half too long to wait? We are planning on having games and activities for people to partake in and fill the time. Then if we have dinner earlier (at say, 5:30), will it be too early? Will people be hungry again later? Will it be too bright out when we move onto dancing, since it will be outdoors in August? Am I totally overthinking this?

    Any positive feedback would be appreciated! I've only had two other experiences on forums, both were on different sites and both were slightly negative and not very helpful, so I'm hoping this will be a better experience. :)
    Your reception should start immediately after the ceremony.  Drinks and hors d'oeuvres can be served while you are having your photos taken.  Your invitation should say "Reception to immediately follow", which tells the guests that it will be in the same location as the ceremony.  You don't need a separate reception card.  (Yay!  Saves money!)
    5:30 is a good time to start your dinner.
    Games and activities?  Please, no.  Most of your guests will be happy to enjoy conversation and a drink for a while.
    The other posters are correct about sending out your invitations "early".  Send out Save the Date cards instead to give them time to make arrangements.  The formal invitation is sent 8 weeks before the wedding.
    You might want to post the text of your invitation on the Invitations board.  We can help you word it correctly.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
  • we started our dinner at 5:30 immediately after our cocktail hour.  We were not introduced (not our preference) and just enjoyed the remainder of cocktail hour with our guests when photos were over.  We did a receiving line after the ceremony to see all our guests and not have to do table visits.  We had a couple of toasts toward the end of dinner, and then immediately did 3 (short) spotlight dances.  Dancing was in full swing by 6:30 and the reception itself was starting to die down around 10!
  • I was planning on the first dance after dinner.  It seems to signify a change in pace and activities for the event.  That being said, after reading your comment, I found several example of people planning the first dance before dinner.

  • we had first dance before dinner. 
    cocktails and appetizers were and hour then we had intros then we did first dance speeches dinner then father daughter godmother and godson 

    (hubbys mom refused to dance with him shes older and set in her ways)

    no gaps so if you want people standing around playing games then you needt to feed them light appitizers and some drinks water, sodta juice is fine 
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