Addicted to novelty since 2001

The Perfect Wedding Schedule Starts at 4:00pm

As I mentioned, last weekend I was at my cousin’s wedding in California. Bret and Kirstin did a very wise thing, and started the ceremony at 4:00pm. Why is this smart?

  • It largely eliminates that eddies-in-the-time-space-continuum that is the gap between ceremony and reception. That eddy is particularly painful for out-of-town guests–what do they do for the ensuing one to three hour break?
  • If you’re having an outdoor, summer wedding, it reduces the sunstroke factor. This pasty Canadian appreciates that sort of thing.
  • If you’re not getting married in a church or other specialized location, you can have the ceremony and reception in one spot. This saves money, and enables everybody to stay put.
  • It reduces the duration of the entire enterprise. Let’s be frank, if the wedding starts at 2:00pm, you’re likely to be in formal wear for 10 hours, and spending too much time with your great aunt Gladys. Weddings are fun, but there is too much of a good thing. This is doubly true for those who don’t know a lot of people at the wedding–which is usually the majority of guests.

Of course, the obvious downside of all this is that you probably have to do your photos before the ceremony. This will upset traditionalists who don’t think the bride and groom should see each other beforehand. We did it that way (heck, our ceremony started at 7:00pm) and haven’t split up yet (er, touch wood).

Ultimately it should be the bride and groom’s decision–that’s who the day is about. I say you should shirk tradition, think of your guests, and start the wedding in the late afternoon.

6 Responses to “The Perfect Wedding Schedule Starts at 4:00pm”

  1. Derek K. Miller

    My wife and I got married at 11:30 a.m., but then we had a lunch reception at the same place (Hart House in Burnaby) and then went back to our house (a few minutes away by car) for a party afterwards. The party went on for awhile, but we left around 4 p.m. and everyone else went on as long as they wanted. That worked well too, over a similar time span, and there were neither any long delays nor any pressure on people to stick around. Everyone thought that was a good plan.

    As a musician in a wedding band, I’ve participated in a lot of receptions, and my corollary advice is, (a) start some sort of food and drink right away, (b) intersperse any speeches and toasts in between breaks in the entertainment, (c) keep the speeches and toasts short (5-7 minutes each, max!, shorter if you can), (d) avoid off-colour “roasts” and embarrassing bride or groom stories, and (e) NO POWERPOINT! (I can’t believe I even have to say that). A tasteful slideshow off to the side that people can look at casually over the course of the event is fine, but there’s no reason short wedding speeches should require visual aids, and certainly no reason a bunch of guests would want to watch an enforced narrated slideshow.

    The point is for everyone to relax and have a good time after all the stress leading up to the big event. It’s a denouement. Tedium and awkward speeches don’t help that. In fact, a basic schedule and a minimum of structure for the reception is a good thing. It’s a party! Act like it!

  2. Carlos

    yeah, that schedule works great. Been to a couple of them like that myself.

    One slight change though – tradition can be kept if the ceremony was held at 3, ceremony done by 3:30, pictures with the photog nearby (gardens or a beach nearby are handy), and reception starting sometime around 5 or 6. One I went to was like this and there was an open bar until the dinner was served.

    Good times had by all.

  3. Metro

    Mastercowfish (or as I affectionately refer to her, Mme Metro) and I assembled our nearest and dearest at 4:00 and had them process to us at 5:00 after general-milling-about and (a) drink.

    No-one had to wait for anyone, and a certain excitement was created for our guests.

    We don’t suggest, though, that anyone else do this in March. It was getting darkish and a little chilly by the time we went in.

    Still, late afternoon is definitely the way to go. Also good time had by all.

  4. richgold

    If you elope, you can set the reception for whenever.

  5. Eh... not so much

    We had lots of people coming to our Princeton, NJ, wedding from Connecticut, New York, and Washington. So to make it a bit easier for them if they wanted to go home that night, we started the ceremony at 3:00. We did take family photos before the ceremony. Cocktail hour followed right after reception at 3:30. We had everything in a hotel, so there was no gaps between anything. Folks went right into dinner at 4:30. Reception wound up around 8:30. Some of us retired to the hotel bar until about 10:00. I think it worked out great!

  6. Spring

    I am glad to hear that (1) later afternoon weddings are preferred, (2) tradition is not essential. I am going to marry, looked at Hart House, also looking for an outdoor venue to have a fancy BBQ, appies, cocktail type event, but don’t want to start early. The suggestion of photos first is a good one, too! I think it would be exciting to see your groom to be for photos and then say your words after that. Or do the photos another day too. Cool ideas.

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