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
    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!

  2. 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.

  3. 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!

  4. 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!

  5. 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?

  6. 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 […]

  7. 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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