Thoughts on a gap between the ceremony and reception when they are held at the same place?

We have booked a venue for both our ceremony and reception. The issue is that the venue is not large enough to have he ceremony and then have guests move to another room in order to flip the main room for the reception. We will have to ask our guests to leave and come back a couple hours later. 95% of our guests will be staying in hotels that are within walking distance (3 blocks in August) and will have to walk due to limited parking at the venue. As of now we will have the ceremony at 4pm and then the guests will have to leave, the bridal party will go take pictures and then everyone can return with a reception start time of 6pm after the room has been flipped for the reception. I feel as though the main issue is with asking the guests to leave a place that they have already traveled to. If the ceremony and reception were at different locations I would feel fine with the break. I am also on board with opening a small tab at a local bar for guests to socialize near by during the flip but there are a handful of guests with children and that wouldn't work for them. The downtown area is also only 2 blocks away. Any ideas on making this situation more beneficial for our guests rather than feeling like they have been put out by having to leave? This wedding will be in Lawrence Kansas. 

Re: Thoughts on a gap between the ceremony and reception when they are held at the same place?

  • I think that opening a tab at a bar for your guests to go get a drink while they wait is a great idea!
  • I'm sorry, but this idea is terribly rude.  Your instinct that it would be too much to ask is correct.  Your guests have already traveled to your wedding.  It is perfectly fine to have the ceremony in the same place as the reception with your guests seated at their tables.  After the conclusion of your ceremony, cocktail hour can begin (and should last no longer than 90 minutes, max).  But please don't tell your guests to "leave and then come back." 

  • I also wanted to add that if you need help with timeline or creative ideas on managing a ceremony and reception in one place while keeping your guests comfortable, the ladies on the etiquette board have great ideas and are a lot of help.  They might be blunt, but they want your guests to feel appreciated and comfortable (and to keep you from embarrassing yourself), as the reception is a thank you for attending your ceremony. 

  • It is kind of awkward to ask people to leave the place you're asking them to be at in 90 minutes. Is it possible to eliminate the "flip" time? Have the room decorated for the reception. Cover the bar area (and anything else you don't want shown for the ceremony) with linen. Anything that doesn't look out of place, just leave it in the room even if it isn't specifically for the reception. Make your centerpieces super simple, and just announce to the guests "now that Mr. and Mrs. Knottie are hitched, we're going to start bringing out tables for dinner. Please help yourself to a drink at the bar while we move your chairs for dinner." Then remove the linen to reveal the bar, and have your team of whoever is helping you, roll out tables, throw on some linen, and plop an elegant yet low-maintenance centerpiece on top.

    Idea #2: Have your guests be part of a "crowd picture" outside from an elevated angle. That way you have a picture of everyone who came, and it gives you a convenient excuse to get everybody out while you do the "quick flip" I described above. 
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