Can We Have A Reception Before a Ceremony?

I’m having a very small informal wedding in the Arizona desert with approximately 50 guests. We’ll be having the ceremony and reception in the same location and we’re planning on a sunset ceremony. Can we have the reception before the ceremony, ending the evening with the sunset ceremony and have our guests leave after the ceremony? The attendees are very close friends and family who we see frequently. I would envision that at some point just before the ceremony, my fiancé and I would leave to go get ready, then return to the party ready for our ceremony. 

Wedding Professional

Before I can answer you, I need to ask a question: 1. You say sunset ceremony? What time is sunset? Thanks! Looking forward to hearing from you…

Florida Wedding Planner

I personally love out of the box ideas such as the one you’ve described! I think it would be great to have a reception before the ceremony to celebrate with the ones you love beforehand. Just make sure that you inform your guest of the format so that they are aware. The only thing I would suggest is making sure that you have your photographer booked for sometime after your ceremony so that you can get some neat sunset shots of the two of you and guests in your different attire. Good luck!

Ceremony & Reception At Different Times

Is it appropriate to have the wedding ceremony in the morning with the reception starting late in the afternoon (with nothing in between)?

Wedding Professional

This sounds like a bad idea. Guests expect to go straight from the ceremony to the reception (maybe a few hours in between max). Wedding dresses and suits are not fun to wear all day, especially for people who have gone to great lengths to get ready for the day. People get tired, bored and there is lots of momentum lost throughout the day. If you’re adament, then I’d recommend you make the gap between ceremony and reception by organizing a central, fun place for guests to spend time. Maybe a fancy hotel or local restaurant or organize a local tour guide to drive guests around giving impromptu tours.

Bride Next Door

I agree, this is a horrible idea. Why don’t you just have a lunch reception? You can take advantage of your guest’s party mood at the end of the ceremony organize a luncheon reception directly afterwards. The reception will be fun and you’ll all finish early (you’ll be surprised how much you will appreciate that). Alternatively, you could always have the ceremony later in the day. Some churches that don’t hold Saturday afternoon ceremonies due to conflicts with other events-but double check that this applies to your church! If you’re not planning to get married in a church, then there’s much to be said for simply holding the ceremony at the reception site. Most popular reception sites can easily be set up for ceremonies as well.