New Jersey

Non-Religious Wedding, No First Look, Help!

edited June 2015 in New Jersey
The most important thing for me on my wedding day is that my future husband sees me for the first time when I walk down the aisle. I also do not want to miss any of my cocktail hour for pictures.

We are not getting married in a house of worship.  I wanted to do a wedding ceremony & reception on the same site with a break in between. However, I am getting a lot of pushback from relatives and venues.  It seems my only option is to have the ceremony in one place and a reception in another location.  Has anyone had experience with this? Do you have any recommendations for places that will accommodate a ceremony only on a Saturday afternoon?? Any feedback or recommendations are appreciated!!

Re: Non-Religious Wedding, No First Look, Help!

  • Jenn7778Jenn7778
    100 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer First Anniversary
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    edited June 2015
    Why would you want to make your guests wait around if you don't have to. If you don't want to miss cocktail hour then do a first look and your pictures before the ceremony...most photographers suggest this anyway.

    Most brides that are having church weddings do not want to have the gap but sometimes it is unavoidable...but to purposely book a wedding with a gap because you don't want to miss cocktail hour AND you don't want a first look is pretty rude and inconsiderate. Sorry but your family is right here...and I don't think you will find anyone on The Knot who is going to tell you different or what you want to hear.

    To answer your question since I hate when people are critical and don't at least answer...No, I do not know of any non-religious venue that will have a ceremony without also having the reception...unless you want an outdoor wedding in a public park.

    I would rethink your plan if I were you. While I do not mind gaps for church weddings as they are generally unavoidable I would be extremely aggravated if I went to a wedding and there was a planned gap that could have been avoided...and I probably would not attend. If you are ok with having people not attend or talking about you then have at it.
  • NowIAmSypNowIAmSyp East Hanover, NJ
    500 Love Its 500 Comments Third Anniversary First Answer
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    edited June 2015
    Jenn7778 said:
    Why would you want to make your guests wait around if you don't have to. If you don't want to miss cocktail hour then do a first look and your pictures before the ceremony...most photographers suggest this anyway. Most brides that are having church weddings do not want to have the gap but sometimes it is unavoidable...but to purposely book a wedding with a gap because you don't want to miss cocktail hour AND you don't want a first look is pretty rude and inconsiderate. Sorry but your family is right here...and I don't think you will find anyone on The Knot who is going to tell you different or what you want to hear. To answer your question since I hate when people are critical and don't at least answer...No, I do not know of any non-religious venue that will have a ceremony without also having the reception...unless you want an outdoor wedding in a public park. I would rethink your plan if I were you. While I do not mind gaps for church weddings as they are generally unavoidable I would be extremely aggravated if I went to a wedding and there was a planned gap that could have been avoided...and I probably would not attend. If you are ok with having people not attend or talking about you then have at it.
    Yes- the bolded.  OP, please re-think this. 

    As many brides on here have said, the ceremony is still special even if you've already done a first look.  You will still have that amazing moment as you go down the aisle, and your guests won't have to suffer with a (rude) gap.  
  • I am having an afternoon wedding with my ceremony beginning at 11:30am and cocktail hour immediately following. I am not doing a first look as I want to keep that one tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony. I also didn't want to miss cocktail hour but honestly it was either a first look or photos during cocktail hour. We chose photos during the cocktail hour. I wish I could have moved the cocktail hour back an hour but at my venue it wasn't an option and I didn't want to choose another venue since I fell in love with the one we chose. As for gaps, I do not agree with everyone on here that gaps are rude and inconsiderate. I'm from a big italian family and gaps are normal and in no way frowned upon. Guests understand that brides and grooms want to forever remember their day with amazing photos and if that means taking an hour or 2 for photos, then so be it. If you choose to have a gap and everything is taking place at the same location, you may want to consider a photobooth or some sort of entertainment for the guests while they wait for you to return and cocktail hour to begin. 

    One thing you have to note if you do choose to have a big gap between ceremony and cocktail hour is don't be offended should some people choose to skip your ceremony to only attend your cocktail hour and reception. 

    Sorry for the long winded response but honestly go with what you want and if my guests feel they are suffering through a gap, then honestly they're there for the wrong reasons.
  • ohmrs2014ohmrs2014 Dirty Jerz
    Moderator 500 Love Its 1000 Comments Fourth Anniversary
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    I am having an afternoon wedding with my ceremony beginning at 11:30am and cocktail hour immediately following. I am not doing a first look as I want to keep that one tradition of not seeing each other until the ceremony. I also didn't want to miss cocktail hour but honestly it was either a first look or photos during cocktail hour. We chose photos during the cocktail hour. I wish I could have moved the cocktail hour back an hour but at my venue it wasn't an option and I didn't want to choose another venue since I fell in love with the one we chose. As for gaps, I do not agree with everyone on here that gaps are rude and inconsiderate. I'm from a big italian family and gaps are normal and in no way frowned upon. Guests understand that brides and grooms want to forever remember their day with amazing photos and if that means taking an hour or 2 for photos, then so be it. If you choose to have a gap and everything is taking place at the same location, you may want to consider a photobooth or some sort of entertainment for the guests while they wait for you to return and cocktail hour to begin. 

    One thing you have to note if you do choose to have a big gap between ceremony and cocktail hour is don't be offended should some people choose to skip your ceremony to only attend your cocktail hour and reception. 

    Sorry for the long winded response but honestly go with what you want and if my guests feel they are suffering through a gap, then honestly they're there for the wrong reasons.

    To the bolded, I as well come from a big Italian family and none of our family had gaps, and if there was a gap and by gap I mean an hour to 1 1/2 between ceremony and reception, it allowed for travel as the venues were a distance from the church.  The one wedding that had a gap, lets just say everyone in the family was complaining about it.  

    Anyway, gaps are avoidable.  I understand wanting to keep the tradition of the groom not seeing you beforehand, but then you have to sacrifice the cocktail hour or miss most of your reception to get the photos you want.
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  • majesty318majesty318 NJ
    Knottie Warrior 100 Love Its 100 Comments First Answer
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    I also had a non-religious wedding and really didn't want a first look or to miss cocktail hour. Our ceremony and reception were in the same place, so honestly, I did not see any way around either doing a first look or missing cocktail hour. We ended up doing first look and I do not regret it.

    Do you really want to find a place for just the ceremony and then deal with transportation there, additional fees, etc.? It's just so much easier to do both in one place.

    While I am not as anti-gap as many on the board, if you do the ceremony & reception in the same place and STILL have a gap, that's beyond rude, because there is really nothing to occupy your guests. The only thing that I can think of is perhaps having a "pre" cocktail hour - after the ceremony you guys could take pics while the venue opens up perhaps just cheese & veggie trays or something - not the actual cocktail hour. I am sure they would charge for it and it would make the whole night longer but it might work.

  • JoanE2012JoanE2012 Exit 21 (Jersey!)
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 5 Answers
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    You have to choose - either you skip the first look and do photos during cocktail hour - OR - do a first look and enjoy your cocktail hour.  Treat your guest right and don't make them wait during a gap.

    Also, I'm not sure why you're getting push back to have the ceremony and reception in two different places?  I think the biggest perk of not having a ceremony in a place of worship is the convenience of being able to have everything at one location!  Our guests appreciated it, we loved it - one place, no moving around.  Why would you want to separate them??  

    No matter what you do, you should not have a gap.  That's rude.
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