It happens. It's the wedding site of your dreams, but it has a curfew. Whether it's because of neighborhood sound ordinance or the owners just want to to home early, sometimes you've only got a few hours to have a party. But don't fret - it's totally possible.
Couple of things to keep in mind:
1. The pros and cons of putting an earlier time on the invitations. You know, 4:30pm when the ceremony starts at 5. It's my experience that folks usually show up 15 minutes or so earlier than the stated start time, so you might have a lot of people hanging around for 45 minutes. BUT, you know your guests. If you really feel that the majority of your guests, or rather, the really important ones like close friends or family, are prone to lateness, then go ahead. But think about having a back-up just in case, like an open bar or hors d'ouerves before the ceremony.
2. The pros and cons of shortening the cocktail hour. Like, making it a half-hour instead of a full hour. The cocktail hour isn't just a time for people to eat appetizers and drink, but also for your vendors to set-up for the reception, and for you to get your pictures taken. Everyone depends on that hour.
3. Food Service. A lot of places/caterers will not serve while there are other things going on, such as the first dance, toasts, etc. This is for your benefit, so everyone has their attention on you, and it's kind of nice, really, so don't just ask them to serve anyway. I recommend that you ask how much time they'll need to serve x amount of people, and incorporate that into your timeline.
So, a possible timeline would look something like this:
5:00-5:30pm - Ceremony
5:30-6:30pm - Cocktail hour, wedding party pictures, reception set-up
6:30 - 6:45pm - Grand entrance and first dance, followed by parents dances (you can shave even more time off of this if you and your fiance dance with your parents to the same song)
6:30-7:00pm -Dinner is served (again, check with your caterer to see how long this will take them, and adjust your timeline accordingly)
7:00-7:15pm - Family intros and toasts (make sure you know who is giving toasts, and ask them to keep it short)
(7:15 - 7:30 - Alternate time for first and parents dances, if you don't want to do it right after the grand entrance)
7:15-7:30 - Finishing dinner
7:30-7:40 - Cake cutting, served immediately afterwards
7:40 - 9:20 - Wow, look at all the time your guests have to eat cake and dance! And make up for anything that took longer than expected!
9:20 - 9:30 - Bouquet and garter toss. OR, you can use the last 10 minutes from your dancing time to do this, and end the party with a last dance by you and your new spouse.
Any questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.