An Afternoon Affair

Earlier this year, we ran into our first major stumbling block with our wedding planning. The reception venue that we chose only does one wedding a time, which is a good thing, but you have to pick from either 1-5 pm or 7-11 time slots. We selected the evening option, without really thinking much about it, and then carried on with the rest of our planning. Then we decided to have a Catholic ceremony and started looking for a church that would was available on the same date and that would marry an out-of-town couple. We finally found our church, but since Catholic churches have mass on Saturdays (usually around 4 or 5 pm) the latest that we could schedule our ceremony was 2:30 pm. We aren’t having a full nuptial mass, since I am not Catholic, so the wedding would be over by about 3:15.

That meant that our guests would have to wait around for almost 4 hours for the reception to begin, and they wouldn’t get to eat dinner until after 8:00. Now, I’ve been to Catholic weddings before where I’ve had to wait between the ceremony and the reception, but most receptions I’ve been to have started closer to 5:00, so the wait wasn’t as bad. The other big problem with this is that the vast majority of our guests are coming from at least a few hours away for the wedding, so it’s not like they can just go home between the ceremony and the reception.

We started trying to think of some way to remedy the situation, and came up with the idea of having some kind of place for our guests to gather in-between the ceremony and reception. My parents’ place would’ve been the obvious choice, but it is not nearly big enough and it’s on the other side of the city from the church and the reception venue. We thought of trying to find some kind of restaurant or something to rent out, but that would’ve been very expensive.

Mr. Radish and I are both from different parts of upstate New York, but we are having the wedding in Syracuse (which is where my parent’s live now) because it is right in the middle of the state, there is an airport there and plenty of hotels, etc. Most of our family and many of our friends are spread out across different parts of New York State, and they will be driving in for the wedding. Most of them will probably not want to get a hotel and will just come out for the festivities and head home afterwards. So, having a reception that ends at 11 pm might be tricky for them, too. Mr. Radish has a lot of elderly folks in his family (his parents are in their early 70s) who would probably want to hit the road home by 9 pm, the time that most receptions that I’ve been to end, so this would’ve been a big inconvenience for them.

We thought about having the wedding on a Friday evening instead, with the wedding ceremony starting at about 5:30 or 6:00 and the reception following at 7:00. But that seemed like a bad idea too because, again, most people are driving in from at least a couple of hours away and they would have to either leave work early or take the day off for a Friday evening wedding. We started asking everyone we could think of for advice and most people said, given the circumstances, that they would prefer a Saturday afternoon reception. Both sets of our parents said the same thing”¦ so we called up our venue and changed to an afternoon reception from 1-5, and then we called our church and changed to a morning ceremony starting at 11:30. The only people who seemed to not like the idea of a daytime wedding was”¦ me!

In many ways, I was relieved because we didn’t have to worry anymore about our guests getting hungry and cranky while waiting around for 4 hours between the ceremony and reception. We also realized that we would could save a lot of money on the bar tab (our venue does open bar by consumption) since most people won’t want to drink as much during the day”¦ so that was great. But I just felt weird about having a daytime wedding for some reason. I’ve never been to one before, and I just couldn’t envision what it would be like. Will people dance and have fun? Will it feel anti-climactic when it’s over at 5 p.m.? I just don’t know. But Mr. Radish convinced me that it would be fine and we started thinking about what our new, daytime wedding would be like.


Wedding Date:
August 2007
I'm Fine With Forever
Better Together... Yes We Are!
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  1. Guest Icon Guest
    CJ, Guest @ 4:41 pm

    I’m having a Sunday afternoon wedding and I had the same concerns as you. I want people to cut loose and have fun. But, being a “school nite” I know it’s probably just not going to happen. Our wedding will still be lovely and fun, just not the rager that might happen on Saturday night.

  2. Guest Icon Guest
    Linda, Guest @ 4:45 pm

    OH HOW I FEEL YOUR PAIN! My catholic ceremony is stuck at noon and my reception starts at four pm. Can’t have the ceremony later and parents want an evening soirée. How to cope? We are adding a “things to do” list on the map and the end of our programs to attempt to keep our guest occupied!

    Onto the topic of afternoon receptions. My close friend had your exact situation. 1pm wedding with afternoon reception to follow. It was fun and everyone danced. The best part was after it was over we still and the evening to relax and talk to our other friends who came from afar!

  3. Guest Icon Guest
    Miss Peppermint, Guest @ 4:47 pm

    I understand your frustrations, but I think it will be still be fantastic. Maybe you could have a casual thing at your parents afterwards or have an “after party” of sorts?

  4. Guest Icon Guest
    starjas, Guest @ 4:51 pm

    I too thought about the ending during the day for my afternoon reception as well. But you know what, everyone told me they were excited about it because it was ‘different’.

  5. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 4:55 pm

    You should have an afterparty with the parents and bridal party. So you can feel like it’s still going on and won’t be “anticlimatic.”

  6. Guest Icon Guest
    Tiffany, Guest @ 4:57 pm

    At least you’ll have lots of good sunlight for your pictures?

  7. Guest Icon Guest
    aoedorothee, Guest @ 5:04 pm

    aughh, i had the same issues. i really wanted a nighttime wedding, with the ceremony beginning when it was dark already! but i couldn’t have a friday because of your same reasons, and the latest i can have it on sat is 2:30, same as you. my cocktail hour won’t start until 6, but i am having a full nuptial mass, so i figure we’ll be done with everything closer to 4pm. i’m giving the guests a “things to do” list also in the program and it’s still 45 mins between the church and reception, so at least they have to kill only 1 hour in between. :\

    i know it’s hard to change gears after envisioning an evening wedding all this time, but maybe it is truly a blessing in disguise. perhaps you can book your departure for your honeymoon that evening, and truly have a “send-off” at 5pm when the celebration is over. i’ve been to an afternoon reception that felt just like an evening one, with dancing and some drinking (not as much, like you said), but it was just as much fun. and guests didn’t really think of the fact that it was earlier in the day or anything. they still partied it up. so just trust the dj to carry the party through. :)

  8. Guest Icon Guest
    AmandaB, Guest @ 5:52 pm

    I think it will be great!
    I almost wish we went with an earlier reception. our ceremony’s at 3:30, reception starts at 6. I don’t know how I’m going to last (i.e. stay awake) until 11pm! I’m just going to want to pass out when we get to our hotel that night.

    If you think it will be anticlimactic – have an “after party” at a nearby bar or other place to hang out. Or you can have the whole night to yourself and Mr Radish!

    The only afternoon reception I have been to was at a church immediately following the ceremony, so no alcohol was involved. But I am going to one next weekend — (reception starts at 3:30, anyway).

  9. Guest Icon Guest
    Pencils, Guest @ 6:08 pm

    I had an afternoon wedding in early June. Wedding at 11:30, reception started immediately after, over at 5pm. We had a great time. There wasn’t much dancing, but…it was a small wedding, with mostly older people. There were, I think, two people in their twenties there. Everyone else was thirties and up, with a lot of “up,” or were kids. So I don’t know if there would have been a lot of dancing if it were a Friday night, unless we turned the lights down, music up, and gave them no choice. Also, my husband isn’t much of a dancer, so I couldn’t get him to dance, and when the bridal couple aren’t dancing, fewer people get out on the dance floor.

    That said, we had an *amazing* wedding, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. Everyone told me they had a fabulous time because they met everyone and could talk to them, and we got to spend time with everyone there. One of the reasons I wanted an afternoon wedding is we have a lot of kids in the family, and they were able to have fun without getting overtired. It also leaves you time for an afterparty or gathering, AND it means you can have a really nice wedding night with your new husband. Like I said, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. 😉

  10. Guest Icon Guest
    Christine, Guest @ 7:35 pm

    Miss Radish, consider these change of plans a blessing!

    Just last month I attended a 10:30am wedding followed by a traditional reception, the B&G left at 3pm. They took add’l pictures after the wedding and time to chill before heading to a friend’s house for a BBQ. They (and all their guests) loved it. My FI and I loved it so much that we have planned our ceremony for 1pm and reception to conclude at 6pm. On a Friday. How’s that for non-traditional!

    I think most brand-spanking new newlyweds are so tired after their long day…you and Mr. Radish can relax with some wine and cheese in a bubble bath and giggle and chat about the day – simply enjoy those extra hours you have now “found” in your wedding day. :)

  11. Guest Icon Guest
    Salley, Guest @ 9:38 pm

    Miss Radish – a lot of websites say that you save a lot of money by having an earlier wedding. I didn’t even know that when my fiance and I decided to have a morning wedding followed by a luncheon reception. We’re planning to just hang around the house and order pizza with friends afterwards, which is much more our style. I think you’ll have much more fun at your wedding if your guests are comfy!

  12. Guest Icon Guest
    Jennifer, Guest @ 9:32 am

    My sister had a morning wedding and the reception was over by 4:30 PM. There was plenty of dancing, and drinking! The open bar tab was a lot higher than expected.

    We’re having an afternoon wedding. The hours of the Catholic Church we’re using are 10:30 or 2:00 PM. We have our reception hall for the entire day/evening. I never liked to have to fill in time between a ceremony and reception, so I’m opting for my reception to start immediately after the ceremony. I have been to plenty of weddings (mostly Catholic) where we had to fill in the time between the ceremony and recepton and although the guests understand, I’m sure they’ll appreciate the change you have made.

  13. Guest Icon Guest
    Jen, Guest @ 11:31 am

    we are also having an afternoon wedding…we end at 6 PM. We are thinking about hosting a bowling party afterwards for our friends just to hang out. You can do a little after party or something like that!

  14. Guest Icon Guest
    CS, Guest @ 12:43 pm

    I’ve been to several afternoon weddings and my suggestion would be to carefully evaluate your guest list.

    Do you have a bunch of friends that really love to dance and will do it whenever opportunity allows? Then go ahead and plan your reception like the evening reception you wanted. I’ve been to an afternoon wedding like this and had a blast.

    I’ve also been to a lower-key garden afternoon wedding, where the bride and groom knew without the cover of darkness and alcohol, most of their friends wouldn’t dance. They had a string quartet and it was lovely to mix and mingle and the “events” were well spaced out. A couple of people slow-danced. Also a lot of fun.

    However, I have also been to an afternoon wedding where the neither the guests nor the bride and groom wanted to dance to a DJ in the middle of the afternoon, in the bright light, and it was a bit of a fiasco because that’s what the hosts seemed to believe would happen during the last 3 hours of the reception. Everyone ended up leaving early and the couple was pretty disappointed.

    So the key is just to know your guests!

  15. Guest Icon Guest
    Sarah, Guest @ 7:38 am

    What’s funny for me is, back in fifth grade when I started planning my imaginary wedding, it was going to be at 10 am followed by a champagne brunch with a string quartet. And last month, when I got married, it was at 4:30 pm followed by dinner and dancing to a DJ.

    I think the after-party people have the right idea. That way the older relatives can get going, and the college buddies can dance the night away. Whatever you do, it’s got to be better than four hours of down time, right?

  16. Guest Icon Guest
    Weddingbee » Blog Archive » Our Happily Ever After... Party!!, Guest @ 10:30 am

    […] we switched to having a daytime reception, I kept feeling like I was going to be disappointed with the day being over so soon. One of the […]

  17. Guest Icon Guest
    Between the Ceremony and the Reception « The Wedding Lens - Blog, Guest @ 3:58 pm

    […] a wedding ceremony and reception requires some time coordination.  As Mrs. Radish of the WeddingBee reported sometimes the time that you can book the ceremony site and reception site may not align, leaving […]

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