Reception Ideas

2-Hour Cocktail "Hour" ideas/thoughts/tips

My Catholic mass starts at 3 pm at the latest and the transportation from church to venue is 10 minutes tops. We plan on holding back 30+ people at the church to take altar pictures (my mother is one of 8 so we want a family pic, and they grew up going to the church). With all that in mind, we did not want to start the cocktail hour right after the reception and have family miss half of it. We also didn't want to start dinner before 6.

The best option to fill the gap was to expand the open-bar cocktail hour so that it goes from 4-6. A "two-hour cocktail hour." Which brings me to my first question -- the extra hour includes drinks but passed apps won't start til 5. To tide people over, we can provide snacks. I'm thinking spicy corn nuts, fried fava beans and Marcona almonds. Substantial enough?

Second question. Our guests are of a character that would enjoy extended drinking and mingling. We're bringing together a lot of friends and family who live in different cities and friends who live in the same city and like to see each other. As far as activities go, we plan to display some pictures of our parents and grandparents on their wedding day. We'll also have cocktail hour music. And then once passed apps starts it's basically Pokemon Go catching all the apps - at least that's how I see it. I think people will be occupied, but I'm interested to know if there are any easy ideas for providing a little extra distraction to the cocktail hour.

Related, since we have so much time for drinks, I was thinking of maybe capping it off with a toast. Maybe my dad and then the MOH and best man can speak after dinner. Is that weird? 

Re: 2-Hour Cocktail "Hour" ideas/thoughts/tips

  • Agree with the above.

    Are you having a receiving line? That will take up time as well.

    I agree that your guests will not likely arrive until 4:30pm, and having a cocktail hour until dinner at 6pm would be fine. Do make sure though you start the cocktail hour as soon as guests would be arriving. The point of cocktail hour is to give your guests something to do while photos are being taken. Don't make the rest of your guests stand around with nothing to eat because your family is still involved in photos. They can join in when they join in.

    I would offer platters of cheese/crackers, fruit and veggies. Guests can serve themselves.
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
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    I agree with PPs.

    The whole point of the cocktail hour is to host and occupy all of the guests that are not involved in pictures while you are taking pictures.  It's inappropriate and bad hosting to delay hosting your guests just because you and some of your family members don't want to miss out on the appetizers.

    If you're worried about missing out, then have your caterer make a platter of apps just for you and those stuck back taking pictures with you, and then you and your family can sample the apps once your pictures are done and you all arrive at the venue.

    But don't delay serving actual, substantial food to the rest of your guests until you all show up.  You should begin your cocktail hour and app service as soon as the 1st guests arrive, so ~4:15pm.  Talk to your venue/caterer and have this timeline adjusted- don't wait until 5pm to serve actual food.  If for some reason you can't get your venue/caterer to adjust the timeline, then you should have cheese and cracker, antipasta, and fruit platters out starting at 4pm.

    Guests will arrive at your reception venue around 4:15pm or so- not everyone stays and bullshits after mass and not everyone goes through a receiving line, though I think it's a good idea to help fill that two hour gap before dinner.

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


    InLoveInQueensMyNameIsNotSP29Jen4948
  • levioosalevioosa Southern California
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
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    Thanks for responses. More food seems to be the consensus, as well as wisdom on realistic timing. I'll adjust accordingly.

    Well.  That was refreshing.  


    image
    PrettyGirlLostHeffalumpGreenjinjo ahoywedding
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta
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    I agree with everyone else but I think we've covered that already.

    One additional note, I would make sure there is plenty of seating in the cocktail hour space. Venues often don't have enough seating in the cocktail area, which is usually ok for an hour, but with 2 hours, I would really want the option to sit down for a bit. It doesn't have to be full tables, some couches mixed in with high top chairs and tables would be fine.
    InLoveInQueensPrettyGirlLosteileenrobHeffalump
  • Agree with others - two hours is too long. 1.5 hrs at the MAX.

    I'd plan on a schedule like this:
    3-3:45 ceremony
    3:45-4:15 receiving line
    4:30-5:30 - guests arrive at the reception venue (serve app/drinks immediately)
    4:30 - pictures for WP and family
    5:30 - picture people arrive at the reception venue
    5:35 - introductions
    5:40 - first dances
    5:45 - toasts
    6:00 - dinner

    *********************************************************************************

    image
  • Agree with others - two hours is too long. 1.5 hrs at the MAX.

    I'd plan on a schedule like this:
    3-3:45 ceremony
    3:45-4:15 receiving line
    4:30-5:30 - guests arrive at the reception venue (serve app/drinks immediately)
    4:30 - pictures for WP and family
    5:30 - picture people arrive at the reception venue
    5:35 - introductions
    5:40 - first dances
    5:45 - toasts
    6:00 - dinner

    They won't get a full Catholic Mass done in 45 minutes; it will be an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. There may be an issue with doing a receiving line at the church depending on whether they need to be out by a certain time to avoid a conflict with the parish's evening Mass. So if there is no receiving line, your timeline would be good starting from the 4:30 time and if there is a receiving line, the cocktail hour would get cut a little more.
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs
    5000 Comments Seventh Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    member
    I agree with everyone else but I think we've covered that already.

    One additional note, I would make sure there is plenty of seating in the cocktail hour space. Venues often don't have enough seating in the cocktail area, which is usually ok for an hour, but with 2 hours, I would really want the option to sit down for a bit. It doesn't have to be full tables, some couches mixed in with high top chairs and tables would be fine.
    Agree!  I can handle a true cocktail hour if necessary, and forego sitting.  I usually take a small portion of that time to freshen up.  If this "hour" is extended to anything beyond an hour, I will be looking for a chair. 
    eileenrob
  • Worst cocktail hour I ever went to had those tall tables with about 20 chairs/couch seats for 200 people. I was in pain in my heels and people were being downright mean and rude about the seats.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
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    geebee908 said:
    Agree with others - two hours is too long. 1.5 hrs at the MAX.

    I'd plan on a schedule like this:
    3-3:45 ceremony
    3:45-4:15 receiving line
    4:30-5:30 - guests arrive at the reception venue (serve app/drinks immediately)
    4:30 - pictures for WP and family
    5:30 - picture people arrive at the reception venue
    5:35 - introductions
    5:40 - first dances
    5:45 - toasts
    6:00 - dinner

    They won't get a full Catholic Mass done in 45 minutes; it will be an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. There may be an issue with doing a receiving line at the church depending on whether they need to be out by a certain time to avoid a conflict with the parish's evening Mass. So if there is no receiving line, your timeline would be good starting from the 4:30 time and if there is a receiving line, the cocktail hour would get cut a little more.
    And yet they want to take pictures with 30ppl at the altar after the ceremony.

    They are going to run into the same issues with the pictures.

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


  • ILoveBeachMusicILoveBeachMusic Indiana
    1000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    member
    geebee908 said:
    Agree with others - two hours is too long. 1.5 hrs at the MAX.

    I'd plan on a schedule like this:
    3-3:45 ceremony
    3:45-4:15 receiving line
    4:30-5:30 - guests arrive at the reception venue (serve app/drinks immediately)
    4:30 - pictures for WP and family
    5:30 - picture people arrive at the reception venue
    5:35 - introductions
    5:40 - first dances
    5:45 - toasts
    6:00 - dinner

    They won't get a full Catholic Mass done in 45 minutes; it will be an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. There may be an issue with doing a receiving line at the church depending on whether they need to be out by a certain time to avoid a conflict with the parish's evening Mass. So if there is no receiving line, your timeline would be good starting from the 4:30 time and if there is a receiving line, the cocktail hour would get cut a little more.
    And yet they want to take pictures with 30ppl at the altar after the ceremony.

    They are going to run into the same issues with the pictures.
    Not necessarily. DD was married in a Catholic church where they had to be out 20 mins after the ceremony ended. We had several different groupings of family members and WP pictures done. A photographer use to dealing with these kind of time restraints can get the job done.
  • lyndausvilyndausvi Western Slope, Colorado
    Moderator Tenth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its
    mod
    geebee908 said:
    Agree with others - two hours is too long. 1.5 hrs at the MAX.

    I'd plan on a schedule like this:
    3-3:45 ceremony
    3:45-4:15 receiving line
    4:30-5:30 - guests arrive at the reception venue (serve app/drinks immediately)
    4:30 - pictures for WP and family
    5:30 - picture people arrive at the reception venue
    5:35 - introductions
    5:40 - first dances
    5:45 - toasts
    6:00 - dinner

    They won't get a full Catholic Mass done in 45 minutes; it will be an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. There may be an issue with doing a receiving line at the church depending on whether they need to be out by a certain time to avoid a conflict with the parish's evening Mass. So if there is no receiving line, your timeline would be good starting from the 4:30 time and if there is a receiving line, the cocktail hour would get cut a little more.
    And yet they want to take pictures with 30ppl at the altar after the ceremony.

    They are going to run into the same issues with the pictures.
    Not necessarily. DD was married in a Catholic church where they had to be out 20 mins after the ceremony ended. We had several different groupings of family members and WP pictures done. A photographer use to dealing with these kind of time restraints can get the job done.
    SIL had 1 of 2 options.  Pictures by the altar.    Receiving line.   Could not have both.  Either one had to be done in 25 minutes.






    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. 
    PrettyGirlLost
  • PrettyGirlLostPrettyGirlLost A Land Filled with Unicorns and Cat Hair
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary First Answer
    member
    geebee908 said:
    Agree with others - two hours is too long. 1.5 hrs at the MAX.

    I'd plan on a schedule like this:
    3-3:45 ceremony
    3:45-4:15 receiving line
    4:30-5:30 - guests arrive at the reception venue (serve app/drinks immediately)
    4:30 - pictures for WP and family
    5:30 - picture people arrive at the reception venue
    5:35 - introductions
    5:40 - first dances
    5:45 - toasts
    6:00 - dinner

    They won't get a full Catholic Mass done in 45 minutes; it will be an hour to an hour and 15 minutes. There may be an issue with doing a receiving line at the church depending on whether they need to be out by a certain time to avoid a conflict with the parish's evening Mass. So if there is no receiving line, your timeline would be good starting from the 4:30 time and if there is a receiving line, the cocktail hour would get cut a little more.
    And yet they want to take pictures with 30ppl at the altar after the ceremony.

    They are going to run into the same issues with the pictures.
    Not necessarily. DD was married in a Catholic church where they had to be out 20 mins after the ceremony ended. We had several different groupings of family members and WP pictures done. A photographer use to dealing with these kind of time restraints can get the job done.
    The issues I was referring to were the possible time constraint for pictures or a receiving line due to evening mass following their ceremony, not that it isn't possible to take pictures during that time constraint.

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


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