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Reception Ideas

The dreaded "gap"

It was always sort of my understanding (as I gather is generally accepted here) that the cocktail hour should start right after the ceremony. But two of the last three weddings I went to have had a gap between them (and the only one that didn't was one were the ceremony and the reception were at the same place).

Now that I'm planning my own wedding, I find the gap seems almost inevitable, and -- for some guests -- maybe even helpful. Am I crazy? Is there a better solution here?

The problem is that we go to a Catholic church that has a 4 p.m. mass on Saturdays. Which means our wedding needs to end early enough for them to get everything back to normal by 4 p.m. It's an hour-plus ceremony, so we're thinking start at 2 p.m., done by 3:15 or 3:30. The reception venue is maybe 15-20 minutes away. If we didn't have a gap, we'd be serving dinner by 4:45 and kicking people out at 9 p.m.

On top of that, the hotel where the reception is (and where most of our guests will be staying) doesn't allow check-in until 4 p.m. So guests driving in that day won't be able to check in until AFTER the ceremony. Is it crazy/rude to plan a gap between the ceremony and the reception to push dinner back to a reasonable time and allow guests to settle in to their rooms?  I think what we're leaning toward is having the ceremony end around 3:15 p.m. and having the cocktail hour start at 4:30 p.m.
dionnewedding1
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Re: The dreaded "gap"

  • As an addendum, the hotel has a bar and seating in the lobby, so people could always hang out there while they're waiting if they don't have rooms.
    lconnely1
  • MyNameIsNotMyNameIsNot Atlanta member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its First Answer
    It was always sort of my understanding (as I gather is generally accepted here) that the cocktail hour should start right after the ceremony. But two of the last three weddings I went to have had a gap between them (and the only one that didn't was one were the ceremony and the reception were at the same place).

    Now that I'm planning my own wedding, I find the gap seems almost inevitable, and -- for some guests -- maybe even helpful. Am I crazy? Is there a better solution here?

    The problem is that we go to a Catholic church that has a 4 p.m. mass on Saturdays. Which means our wedding needs to end early enough for them to get everything back to normal by 4 p.m. It's an hour-plus ceremony, so we're thinking start at 2 p.m., done by 3:15 or 3:30. The reception venue is maybe 15-20 minutes away. If we didn't have a gap, we'd be serving dinner by 4:45 and kicking people out at 9 p.m.

    On top of that, the hotel where the reception is (and where most of our guests will be staying) doesn't allow check-in until 4 p.m. So guests driving in that day won't be able to check in until AFTER the ceremony. Is it crazy/rude to plan a gap between the ceremony and the reception to push dinner back to a reasonable time and allow guests to settle in to their rooms?  I think what we're leaning toward is having the ceremony end around 3:15 p.m. and having the cocktail hour start at 4:30 p.m.
    Gaps are always rude, and never inevitable.  They are usually the fault of selfish couples who are insistent on a particular reception venue or time of day.  Guests do not need to check in after the ceremony, and they certainly don't need to relax afterwards.  Why would someone want to stop by the hotel in between the ceremony and reception to put their bags in the room just to turn around and leave?  

    Our Catholic mass also had to be at 2:00.  We managed to start the cocktail hour at 3:30, have dinner and have a great party.  We stretched the cocktail hour to an hour fifteen and put a blessing and some things before the dinner to stretch it a bit so that the meal was actually served after 5:00.  
    PrettyGirlLostlodele47
  •  Guests do not need to check in after the ceremony, and they certainly don't need to relax afterwards.  Why would someone want to stop by the hotel in between the ceremony and reception to put their bags in the room just to turn around and leave?  
    I don't know what sort of hotels you guys are used to staying at, but I have never been to a hotel that had check-in any earlier than 3 p.m., and since our wedding needs to start earlier than that, they won't be able to check in before the ceremony. If they wait until after the reception to check in, they're going to be going out to their cars for luggage after dark, tipsy and with sore feet from dancing. :P  The reception is at the hotel, so they wouldn't be going to the hotel and leaving again. They'd be going to the hotel and then just heading down to the ballroom.
    wuerfleinrsxoxmichaelaxoxBrandylkijaprincess24
  • JCbride2015JCbride2015 Dirty Jerz member
    5000 Comments 500 Love Its Second Anniversary First Answer
     Guests do not need to check in after the ceremony, and they certainly don't need to relax afterwards.  Why would someone want to stop by the hotel in between the ceremony and reception to put their bags in the room just to turn around and leave?  
    I don't know what sort of hotels you guys are used to staying at, but I have never been to a hotel that had check-in any earlier than 3 p.m., and since our wedding needs to start earlier than that, they won't be able to check in before the ceremony. If they wait until after the reception to check in, they're going to be going out to their cars for luggage after dark, tipsy and with sore feet from dancing. :P  The reception is at the hotel, so they wouldn't be going to the hotel and leaving again. They'd be going to the hotel and then just heading down to the ballroom.
    I don't think this makes the situation any different.  

    Just start your reception at 3:30.  If the reception is already at the same location where the guests are staying, they will already be in the building to check in afterwards.  Easy peasy and no gap.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
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    "I'm not a rude bitch.  I'm ten rude bitches in a large coat."

    PrettyGirlLostlodele47smgold6
  • Jen4948Jen4948 Houston member
    10000 Comments Sixth Anniversary 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    edited May 2014
     Guests do not need to check in after the ceremony, and they certainly don't need to relax afterwards.  Why would someone want to stop by the hotel in between the ceremony and reception to put their bags in the room just to turn around and leave?  
    I don't know what sort of hotels you guys are used to staying at, but I have never been to a hotel that had check-in any earlier than 3 p.m., and since our wedding needs to start earlier than that, they won't be able to check in before the ceremony. If they wait until after the reception to check in, they're going to be going out to their cars for luggage after dark, tipsy and with sore feet from dancing. :P  The reception is at the hotel, so they wouldn't be going to the hotel and leaving again. They'd be going to the hotel and then just heading down to the ballroom.
    I have checked into hotels earlier than 3pm.  Sorry, but my advice stands.  If they get there early, they leave their baggage in their cars and check in after the reception ends.  Whether or not they are tipsy or have sore feet from dancing is not your concern.  It is their issue, not yours.
    PrettyGirlLostatlastmrsgashley8918[Deleted User]
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    Every single hotel that I've ever stayed in (and this ranges from Holiday Inn, to Hiltons, to luxury resorts) have between a 12 noon - 1:30pm check in. I've never in my life seen a hotel with a check in past 3pm.

    But I guess that's besides the point, because my experience doesn't change your hotel's policies (although, maybe find a different hotel?).

    Your guests will be fine to check in after your reception, and I think that'd be better than driving to the hotel, checking in, "relaxing" for 10 minutes (which is really just more annoying than anything, since you're just staring at the clock the whole time), then leaving again.
    PrettyGirlLost
  • My hotel also had a 4pm check in which was kind of a pain, but our ceremony started at 5:30 so it was only a hassle for the WP and my In-laws traveling in. I checked with the hotel about an early check in for those people and they were very accommodating (also had a shuttle set up to bring guests to the ceremony and reception at 4:30 and 5pm)

    OP: Is there a possibility of doing your ceremony after the 4pm mass? 
    image


    Anniversary
  • CMGragainCMGragain member
    10000 Comments 500 Love Its Fourth Anniversary 25 Answers
    edited May 2014
    The ceremony is planned first.  The reception is planned around the ceremony, not visa-versa.
    If you must have a 2:00 PM ceremony, then you need to plan an afternoon reception.  No gap.  3:30 is a good starting time for your reception.
    Most hotels have a baggage room that they can keep your guests luggage in securely until they can occupy their rooms at a later time.
    httpiimgurcomTCCjW0wjpg
    PrettyGirlLost
  • climbingwifeclimbingwife NYC 'burbs member
    10000 Comments Fifth Anniversary 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Contact the hotel to see if they'll allow your guests to check in early. 

    Meggera
  • Won't most of your out of town guests check in the night before for a 2pm wedding? Driving/flying in the day-of seems awfully risky. Also if you are holding your event there and clearly having many people book rooms with them the hotel should allow your guests early check-in if you explain the situation to them. As for your event ending at 9pm, you can probably purchase additional time for the reception if you want, but honestly dedicating seven hours to your event (not including getting ready, travelling to, and waiting for the ceremony) is plenty to ask of your guests, and asking them to wait around some more before you serve them any food is extremely unreasonable.
    PrettyGirlLostMGP
  • Cookie PusherCookie Pusher Looking over your shoulder member
    Seventh Anniversary 2500 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Check-in time at our hotel is 3. Our ceremony starts at 3. However, it is clearly state on our accommodations card so people know that they either need to call the hotel to arrange an earlier check-in time (which the hotel already said would not be a problem) or they can check in after they leave the reception. The hotel is more than willing to hold people's luggage if they can't check in early so they won't have to futz with it when they get back.
    ~*~*~*~*~

    PrettyGirlLostbmeza21
  • I think you could stretch your cocktail hour to an hour and a half if you really wanted to, as long as you had plenty of food. So ceremony 2-3:30, cocktail hour 3:45-5:15pm, then have some toasts and a first dance, etc, and serve the first course around 5:30. 7 hours is MORE than enough to expect of your guests, so yes, you'll still be ending by 9pm. If you want to be extra considerate, I'd have a "late night snack" type of station come out at 8pm if you want, since people ate pretty early. Then plan an after-party at a separate location if you want to keep partying. If you just spread it by word of mouth and it's a separate event "Hey, we'll be at X bar after the reception), you don't have to pay for anything. 
    SKPMTemcdade
  • JennyColadaJennyColada Awesometown, CA member
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    I think maybe the gap thing is an example of knowing the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. It probably would be good to see if we can get early check-in and then maybe nudge the cocktail hour to slightly more than an hour, but I can't believe there are people on here who are upset about the idea of a 1-hour gap, but who had their own wedding ceremonies at 5:30 or so.

    I, personally, would be much more put out as a guest by a wedding that didn't start until dinner time than by a wedding where I had to kill a little time between the ceremony and the reception. When did it become acceptable to have a wedding during a standard meal time? Doesn't that mean no one got to eat dinner until like 8 p.m.? That's much more of an imposition, IMHO .... In fact, the one wedding I went to that had timing like that, I know at least two people had to leave without eating because they needed to catch the last train home and dinner still hadn't been served …
    The good thing is that those aren't your only two options when planning a wedding. A good host would take care to pick a time that is convenient AND not have an un-hosted gap. Best of both worlds!
    Kaurisbeharringtonreetzmom06
  • Maggie0829Maggie0829 Ravens & Bohs & Crabs & O's member
    Eighth Anniversary 10000 Comments 500 Love Its 25 Answers
    I think maybe the gap thing is an example of knowing the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. It probably would be good to see if we can get early check-in and then maybe nudge the cocktail hour to slightly more than an hour, but I can't believe there are people on here who are upset about the idea of a 1-hour gap, but who had their own wedding ceremonies at 5:30 or so.

    I, personally, would be much more put out as a guest by a wedding that didn't start until dinner time than by a wedding where I had to kill a little time between the ceremony and the reception. When did it become acceptable to have a wedding during a standard meal time? Doesn't that mean no one got to eat dinner until like 8 p.m.? That's much more of an imposition, IMHO .... In fact, the one wedding I went to that had timing like that, I know at least two people had to leave without eating because they needed to catch the last train home and dinner still hadn't been served ...
    No matter what time the ceremony is and the reception is set to start, I eat accordingly.  So if the ceremony starts at 5:30 or 6pm I would probably eat a late lunch or a snack before I get there.  It is not rude nor against etiquette to hold a ceremony during a "meal time" especially because once the ceremony is over with guests are served appetizers and drinks immediately.  What is rude is making your guests stand around for an hour or more with nothing to do because the host decided to plan the event poorly.

    As for your example of the two guests who had to leave to catch a train.  Well they most likely knew what time the ceremony was and about what time the reception was going to start and that they were unfortunately going to have to miss dinner.  But chose to go to the wedding anyway despite that.

    PrettyGirlLost
  • tammym1001tammym1001 Akron, Ohio member
    500 Love Its 1000 Comments Second Anniversary 5 Answers
    I think maybe the gap thing is an example of knowing the letter of the law but not the spirit of the law. It probably would be good to see if we can get early check-in and then maybe nudge the cocktail hour to slightly more than an hour, but I can't believe there are people on here who are upset about the idea of a 1-hour gap, but who had their own wedding ceremonies at 5:30 or so.

    I, personally, would be much more put out as a guest by a wedding that didn't start until dinner time than by a wedding where I had to kill a little time between the ceremony and the reception. When did it become acceptable to have a wedding during a standard meal time? Doesn't that mean no one got to eat dinner until like 8 p.m.? That's much more of an imposition, IMHO .... In fact, the one wedding I went to that had timing like that, I know at least two people had to leave without eating because they needed to catch the last train home and dinner still hadn't been served ...
    My ceremony starts at 4:00. Cocktail hour 4:30-5:30. Dinner starts at 5:30. I have no gap and people aren't sitting through my ceremony at dinner time. So those aren't your only two options. It is entirely possible to plan a wedding without having to inconvenience anyone, but sometimes that means you have to make some sacrifices of what you want and take your guests comfort into consideration.
    image
    PrettyGirlLost
  • If you are going to do it, make it clear to your guests I guess. I went to a wedding ceremony and there was a 2 hour gap between the ceremony and the cocktail hour during which they took pictures I guess? My date was IN the wedding. I knew no one there and had nothing to do for 2 whole hours.
    ChefTori2010ashleyepblondeej
  • Gaps are inconsiderate, no matter what your reasoning is. Please don't do this to your guests.
    ashley8918
  • MoiramabMoiramab member
    Tenth Anniversary 100 Comments 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited May 2014


    tcnoble said:


    Our ceremony isn't until 6:15. Guests will be served dinner shortly after 7. I fully expect that because our guests are adults or under the care of an adult that they can prepare themselves accordingly to eat a later dinner. I don't think that's an imposition at all.

    I'm sorry, but I don't exactly see the distinction. What I hear you saying is that adults are capable of rearranging their entire meal schedule for the day to accommodate an unusual ceremony time, but aren't capable of figuring out what to do with themselves for an hour to accommodate a break before the reception, which they will know about in advance? That's crazy. Also, just 'cause I'm curious -- how on earth are you serving dinner so fast? Is your ceremony at your reception venue? Our ceremony wouldn't even be over by 7 if that was us!





    One is grabbing a granola bar on the hour drive to the ceremony/wedding, the other is a waste of my time. Apples and oranges.

    The cocktail hour is the hosted break for pictures, but if you have ceremony and reception in the same place and take pictures beforehand, or quickly after the ceremony, there's no reason to have a cocktail hour. It is entirely possible to jump straight from ceremony to reception, therefore eliminating the "gap" that is usually filled with the cocktail hour.


    Eta: broke the box.
    image
    PrettyGirlLostSKPMemmaaa
  • MobKazMobKaz Chicago suburbs member
    Ninth Anniversary 5000 Comments 500 Love Its 5 Answers
    Speak with your hotel and ask for possible early check in for your guests.  Most hotels will offer luggage service where guests can drop off their luggage at the front desk until their rooms are ready.

    And gaps are NEVER inevitable.  They are only inevitable if you CHOOSE that a gap is necessary.  Your cocktail hour should start at 3:30.  Period.
    I have yet to attend an OOT wedding where I wasn't able to check in early.  I think when a hotel knows it is hosting a large block of rooms, they do their best to check-out and clean those rooms first.  When making room blocks for family weddings, we make a point of politely asking whether this is a possibility.  We also inquired as to whether guests could leave bags behind the desk if early check-in became an issue for our guests.
    PrettyGirlLostashleyepGyselFonsecasmhubbel
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