The time between the wedding ceremony and the reception, while the formal wedding portraits are being taken, has been an awkward time for as long as I can remember. In recent years that time has become the wedding cocktail hour. Since we don’t drink alcohol and we are having a church reception we are re-naming this the Garden Party hour.
A Recent Wedding Experience
We have had the Garden Party planned since the beginning of our wedding planning. The need for semi-structured activities was really brought to our attention at a recent wedding we attended. The wedding took place at the couple’s church then we drove across town to the reception hall. The wedding pictures were being taken outside of the hall so we followed each other across town.
We entered the hall at about 5:15pm, found some seats and waited. About 15 minutes later a DJ started playing smooth jazz music. He announced that there were some appetizers available so we nibbled on those for a while. At about 6:00pm it was announced that dinner would be served at 6:30pm, it wasn’t. Our friends, that we were sitting with left at about 6:15pm, they were hungry and tired of waiting.The wedding party finally made their entrance at about 6:45pm. They went straight into the couple’s first dance, father-daughter dance and mother-son dance. Then it was finally time to eat. Our table was at the buffet line at 7:15pm, 2 hours after arriving at the reception hall. This is just not acceptable at all. During that time there were 20+ toddlers and children running around, yes actually running between the tables. It was a mad house.
We only stayed because the groom is like family to us. If it were not a “family” wedding we would have left much sooner than we did. We are usually some of the last to leave a wedding reception but not this time. We stayed and danced a bit but the amount of little ones on the dance floor made dancing difficult. The moral of this story is…be organized, have a timeline and stick to it and parents-please keep an eye on your children.
Our Garden Party Plans
The ceremony is taking place outside, in front of the church. After the ceremony, the bride, groom, maid of honor and best man will greet guests in a receiving line that leads them to the Garden Party in the large back yard of the church. While the guests are at the Garden Party a few behind the scenes things will happen. Formal portraits and group pictures will be taken, some chairs will be moved inside for the reception, and the runner will go get the reception food.
Our plans for the garden party include beverages-iced tea, lemonade and water, appetizers, music, photobooth and games. We plan to have 2 types of games. We will have 3-4 corn hole games set up so several people can play at a time. We also plan to create some wedding mad libs so those who are sitting and relaxing can join in the fun. Our ceremony musician is also going to play a 30 minute music set to keep the guests entertained!
As we are wrapping up the picture taking-no more than an hour, the garden party will wind down and those guests who are invited to the reception, our reception venue is too small for everyone attending the wedding so it is invitation only, will find their escort cards and enter into the reception space.